Every guy that has been married for a while knows the phrase, “Happy wife, happy life.” Is that sound advice? Or, is it more world philosophy that not only goes against God, but doesn’t even work?
The first goal for the Christian husband is not to make his wife happy, but holy. Holiness is being perfected and set apart. It is an attribute of God Himself. We know that no human will be perfect until Heaven, but Scripture says we are to grow in Him throughout our lives.
The apostle Paul gives this task in Ephesians 5:25-29. Husbands are supposed to help their wives “be holy and without blemish.” The ultimate goal for the Christian husband is to lead his wife to Christ, help her see Him, and follow Him more.
From the outside, it may seem that Christian women are being cheated. Wouldn’t happiness, not holiness make a better life? The reality is that sin destroys happiness. It causes death (James 1:15). This is not just physical death, but it could be relational death, emotional death, fiscal death, or spiritual death. The fact is that sin doesn’t bring lasting joy, but it destroys joy. True joy will only be found in honoring and obeying Christ, being holy.
The question then is, how are we supposed to bring joy to our wives through holiness? Well, we lead them in the truth of God to obey God. We also do so through love. This is what the Ephesians 5 passage says. If we really love our wives, we will help them grow in holiness and righteousness with God.
For those who think this means that husbands just boss their wives around, and that they are oppressed, I would like us to consider what kind of love we are talking about. This relationship isn’t domineering so that husbands can have all their desires fulfilled.
In fact it is the opposite. We know this because when husbands are told to love their wives, they are told to do so sacrificially. The passage says, “love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her.” Christ loved us through sacrificing His life for us. This is the pattern for husbands loving their wives.
How does “Happy Wife, Happy Life” look different from “Holy Wife, Holy Life?” For the most part, if my wife wants something, I try to meet that need or desire. I sacrifice what is mine for her. I am called to give up my time, money, energy, sexual desires, interests, so that she can be loved, and be holy.
Since we are called to lead our wives in holiness first, there are times that we don’t give our wives what they want, just because they want it. We need to make sure that it fits into the mold of holiness. Let us look at two case scenarios where we need to put holiness in front of happiness.
The first is when her perception of things is not correct. In other words, she is believing something she feels she has experienced, but that belief is not true.
An example would be that she thinks that someone slighted her when they didn’t. If we know, after listening to her, that this is not the case, we don’t go along with what is not true to have a “happy wife.” If she believes a lie, it could destroy a relationship that would be spared if she knew the truth. I should direct her in holiness to see the truth, not happiness to see what she perceives as the truth, but isn’t.
A second scenario is if she herself is sinning. Husbands are not to go along with her sin or ignore it. For example, let’s say that a wife is not spending money God’s way. I don’t mean, she bought one too many latte’s this month outside of the budget. I mean she has a real problem with money. She is spending way outside of the budget for unneeded things, and it is hurting the family. The husband is called to love her by pointing out if she is misusing money, and lead her in how they are to use money God’s way.
If the husband would just let her spend whatever she wants, and she is not doing it God’s way, he is not leading her in holiness. In the end, this sin will not make her happy, but will actually destroy her, and the family. This is where the husband must put holiness before her happiness, which in the end really won’t make her happy.
Men, we should love our wives, and lavish them with love, praise, and gifts. We should attempt to bring much joy into their lives. We should sacrifice where we can to treat her in a way where she feels like she cannot be loved any better. At the same time, we cannot allow happiness to be the goal while ignoring her holiness. In the end, holiness is the goal, and that goal will lead to happiness and joy.
Husbands, do you lovingly lead your wives in holiness? Do you sacrifice to make them happy? Do you make sure that you are not sacrificing holiness for short term happiness, which will steal their joy in the end? Wives, do you let your husbands lead you in holiness?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.