Canadian Flag Justice
For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.
Kidd Family Blog | Online Library



Book Summary: Reforming Marriage

Premarital Texts Index
Date: SEP-01-00
Source: by Douglas Wilson, Canon Press
Keywords: marriage, children, respect, love, submission
Comment: Summarized by Ryan Kidd. This summary may not reflect accurately Wilson’s views.
Posted: JUL-09-01

Introduction, nine chapters, and epilogue.

To produce a sweet spiritual aroma in your home, consistently obey the Law of God from your heart in your marriage relationship. True love proceeds from an obedient heart attitude, not from a set of external actions. A genuine primary love for God is key to relating properly to your spouse.

1. A Practical Theology of Marriage
Recognition of God as your Lawgiver is necessary for you to thrive in the marriage institution which He designed. Human marriage should reflect the spiritual union of Christ with the Church. The creation ordinance establishes important norms of marriage: exclusive covenant bond where two individuals become one, both now named “Adam.” Eve was taken from man, and yet she was named “life-bearer,” thus reflecting the interdependence of the sexes.
Purposes of marriage: First, man needs help in his work of taking dominion over the earth, and the woman requires help and protection in her nurturing role. Second, the marriage bond provides the ideal environment for the procreation and training of a godly seed. Third, and closely related to the second point, marriage is the only lawful way to satisfy the God-given urge for sexual intimacy.

2. Headship and Authority
By the very nature of marriage the husband is the head. He holds the position of inescapable leadership, even if he abandons his duties. A husband’s behaviour will always reflect Christ to his wife and children: he must exhibit loving, constructive dominion. While husbands must give attention to the physical/emotional/spiritual welfare of their wives, so the wife must respect her husband as evidenced by her behaviour in the home, and her conversations abroad. Each spouse must fulfill these duties, even when the other has not earned it. The only alternative to godly headship according to the creation ordinance, is selfish oppression of women by men. Men should feel a holy terror recognizing the weight of their callings, and should humbly accept God’s gift of a suitable helper. Whether his fault is tyranny or abdication, the husband is always responsible for the state of the home, though the guilt may lie elsewhere. A husband must honour his wife’s weakness, using his strength for her benefit, and avoiding conflict/rivalry. Each spouse must recognize the other’s position on the team, and seek to help them fulfil their roles well. A woman must marry a man who has the spiritual maturity, and intellectual and physical strengths which she can genuinely respect and submit to. A man must find a woman he can love and lead with a servant’s heart. The husband must endeavour to be the spiritual/theological leader in his home, instructing the family by both words and example in detailed confessional orthodoxy.

3. Duties of Husbands and Wives
True love is doing the duties the Lord commands, and it may contradict our feelings. Husbandry entails lordship characterized by great care, tenderness and sacrifice. He must cherish and care for his wife; he must jealously guard her purity; he must make a priority of providing her food and raiment; he must fulfil her needs for intimacy, tenderness, verbal communication; he must give her opportunity to bear children; he must be “enraptured by her love”; he must guard her against the making of foolish vows. Husbands are responsible for their wives spiritual condition, therefore her duties are also his: She should honour and obey her husband; she should gladly bear and nurture children for the Lord; she should be industrious, stewardly taking dominion in her domain; she must endeavour to enrapture her husband sexually; she must not be contentious; she must seek scriptural instruction from her husband; she should be engaged in charity/serving if her primary family duties permit.

4. Efficacious Love
A husband should love his wife sacrificially so she becomes more lovely with time, both in form and in character. Husbands must show visible courtesy and preference to their wives. Romantic love is a modern idol of the heart/mind/emotions. What is required is biblical love which recognizes the orientation of the woman to help her husband in his vocation, and the duty of both to be sensitive to their respective callings and needs. Love is a series of actions which transform a person, not an emotion or sentiment. The mature relationship between man and wife resulting from a pattern of obedience, is a love far, far better than the initial romantic thrill.

5. Keeping Short Accounts.
Marriage problems result from lack of conformity to the Word of God in thoughts, words, actions. As in other relationships, prompt confession of sin is required to restore quality fellowship. Confession of sin, or apology, should be genuine, from the heart, and should be met with genuine forgiveness. A couple should bind themselves in principle to always resolve wrongs immediately, before separating, or moving on to something else.

6. Miscellaneous Temptations
First, nice guys who will not bear the weight of leadership in the home. They indulge their wives rather than loving them through leadership - authoritatively managing and caring for their wives and households. A woman is made to respond positively to firm, loving leadership. The husband must take responsibility for all decisions, regardless of whose idea it was. A man who avoids input from his wife on important decisions is acting selfishly thereby renouncing his office of authority. A man must repent of failing to provide firm, godly leadership in the home the same way he would repent of stealing, or adultery.
Second, men and women are different, and these differences must be taken into account to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding. Men need to make extra effort to communicate; they need to recognize that women are less analytical/task oriented; he must respond to her troubles accordingly with more listening than advice.
Third, husbands must set and enforce responsible financial limits. Entering debt usually involves sinful self-enslavement, and giving a woman lots of things is a poor substitute for godly leadership.
Fourth, husbands have trouble with sexual temptation (pornography); wives must be sensitive to his weakness. Wives, on the other hand, tend to look elsewhere for security, emotional and physical, when they are not receiving biblical love from their husbands.
Fifth, tact and wisdom should be used when confronting failings in a spouse. Listening and sincerely trying to understand the issue is essential. Before responding to an accusation spend time in thoughtful study and prayer.
Sixth, the husband especially must value and guard the chastity of his spouse. By submitting to one man, a woman receives protection from all others.

7. The Marriage Bed is Honourable
The Word alone defines what is acceptable in human sexuality. Couples should be content with “normal” sex, avoiding lustful search for new thrills. Pleasure, emotional union, and procreation are normal aspirations. Song instructs us about the attitude, demeanour and limits of sexual activity between spouses. The act of lovemaking is sensual requiring an atmosphere of beauty: sight, sound, taste, smell, touch. Sex must not be lustfully idolized as it is in contemporary culture, but each must seek finite sexual satisfaction in his/her spouse only. By recognizing that our primary pleasure comes from God, we see the futility of seeking excitement from passionate sexual immorality. Each should possess his body and mind in utmost purity. Contrary to the creation ordinance, polygamy was invented by man. While polygamy disqualifies a man to become a church leader, pagan converts with multiple wives may be admitted to church membership. To avoid harmful one-on-one relationships with the opposite sex, spouses should function socially as a couple.

8. Multiplying Fruitfully
Many children are a blessing, if they are trained properly under the gracious hand of God. Young couples should eagerly anticipate raising many children, but discipline, perseverance and hard work are required. Consistent, practical support, prayer, spiritual support, and extreme thoughtfulness by the husband will ease the burden of the wife’s task of bearing children. In our culture use of birth control is usually a result of ungodly motives – a sinful, rebellious attitude toward children. However, intentionally avoiding conception by non-abortive means is not intrinsically wrong; spacing children in consideration of the woman’s health may be the most faithful way to multiply. We are entrusted with the gift of procreation, so we are responsible to use it wisely for the benefit of God’s kingdom.

9. Divorce and Remarriage
Marriage is a covenant oath taken before God binding one man to one woman in an exclusive sexual relationship. Divorce is the dissolution of that oath-bound covenant. When divorce occurs the cause is the sin of at least one, but usually both spouses. The “innocent” party may lawfully sue for divorce in three circumstances: sexual immorality; willful desertion; commission of a capital crime. However, these do not offer an automatic “out” for the “innocent” party. The conduct of both spouses, their spiritual state, and the whole body of scriptural teaching must be considered to determine whether the primary victim ought remain with the offender. The victim especially must guard against sinful attitudes/words/behaviour surrounding the lawful dissolution of marriage.

Epilogue: (a fine summary in itself)
“As we pray for the reformation of marriage, we must pray that the Christian husband comes to renew or make some basic covenantal commitments before the Lord.

  • He must first decide that he will thoroughly acquaint himself with the bible’s teaching on marriage, headship and family, and that he will gladly submit to it, and put it into practice in his home. He will find himself able to say with understanding, for the first time, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
  • He will love his wife as Christ loved the church, giving himself up for her. He will assume the responsibility for her loveliness.
  • He will not place any responsibility for the spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial condition of his household on his parents, wife, children, church, or society. He will assume, before the Lord, all responsibility for the home he represents before God, and he will pray for the grace to stand.
  • He will not allow his children to be taught, educated or raised by men and women who live and teach in rebellion against God. He will remove his children from the government schools and educate them at home or in a godly school.
  • He will not take his wife away from her primary duties as a mother and manager of the home. He will bring her home to the children, the place God ordained for her to be, and he will encourage and love her in that vocation. He will establish her in the place where she can attain greatness, and when she has attained it, he will rise up and call her blessed.
  • He will not mistake the love for his wife that God requires of him with the counterfeit “niceness” that abdicates his responsibility for leadership.
  • He will teach is wife the Word of God, and together they will teach their children.
  • He will work hard so that his wife is able to clothe and feed the family.
  • He will be devoted to his wife sexually, treating her with understanding and wisdom.
  • He will set the tone of his home through his patience, reverence, dignity, kindness, and courtesy.
  • And he will thank God for His mercy, through the Lord Jesus Christ.


[Back to Top] [Home] [Email Corrections]