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Joe Rigney: A Framework for Manhood

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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August 24, 2022 2:00 am

Joe Rigney: A Framework for Manhood

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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August 24, 2022 2:00 am

How do we define the roles in our household? Joe Rigney gives us insight by using an easy 3 sentence framework.

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One of my definitions or summaries of masculinity comes from C.S.

Lewis, and it's from Narnia. It's when King Loon of Arkenland says, this is what it means to be a king, to be first in every desperate attack, to be last in every desperate retreat. And when there's hunger in the land, as must be now and again in bad years, to wear finer clothes and laugh louder at a scantier meal than any man in your land. First in, last out, laughing loudest.

That's the pitch of masculinity. If there's an option, if there's a choice, he should be the first through the door. He gets to die first. That's part of his glory. His glory is not he gets to be the boss.

He has the privilege of dying first. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So one of the things we talk a lot about here at Family Life is men, women, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers. I mean, it's central to what we do.

It's central in the Word of God. But we've got Joe Rigney back in the studio, the second ever president of Bethlehem College and Seminary. I know you think about this. You write about this.

You're even going to be preaching about biblical manhood and womanhood. I'm so intrigued because he has three sentences. I do. Well, at least that's what he told us.

We'll see if he's going to be able to deliver. Yeah. So this is, in our culture today, this is an issue, isn't it?

Oh, yeah. There's so much confusion. So in trying to get deep and think about the biblical picture of this, of a three-sentence framework that I think is biblical and that will help people put things in the right bucket. So here's my three sentences.

God's acts establish basic facts. Number two, God's commands fit those facts. And then number three, our applications ought to fit those facts and those commands. So three very simple sentences.

Another three words you could put with each of those. Indicatives, imperatives, applications. So indicatives are statements of fact, just what is. And God has established those in the way he made the world. And you could think about this in terms of, you know, in the beginning when he made man and woman and he made Adam first and then said it's not good for man to be alone.

He makes a helper fit for him. There's all sorts of things there that God just establishes basic facts. That's where a husband's headship comes from is it's a fact.

That's how the Bible treats it. The husband is the head of the home. It doesn't say, and this is important, it doesn't say the husband should be the head of the home. It says he is. The only question is, is he going to be a faithful one or an unfaithful one? The burden of leadership rests on his shoulders, period. The question is whether or not he will exercise it. He'll be a husband like Jesus or a husband like Adam who abdicated and then blamed her. So those are basic kinds of facts that God establishes in creation. These are facts of nature and these are the sort of things that in our day are controversial kind of coming out of that or like the ways that men and women are just kind of wired different. Could you say briefly what is headship?

What's that look like? Headship, yeah. So headship would include I think two elements at least. One is a responsibility to order, I don't mean like order people around, but like kind of structure internally and then to represent externally.

Jesus is the head of the church and he's responsible for caring, providing, protecting, and ordering internally and then representing the church as the head. So that's headship. And I think that God has designed the world such that husbands are to be the head of their home and that's a good and glorious thing.

Now that's a fact. Now what's the command that fits the fact? Well, husbands love your wives like Christ loved the church. That command fits that fact. Similarly, wives submit to your own husbands as the church submits to Christ.

That command fits those facts. So there's basic facts and then when you read through the Bible and you say these commands, they're not just arbitrary willy-nilly, God flipped a coin. It's God's commands fit the facts that he has put in place. And then now we have all sorts of decisions to make in our lives that the Bible doesn't specify. But how do we make those decisions? How do we apply the Bible? Well, we want our applications to fit God's commands and God's facts. So that's the basic framework and it's been a really fruitful thing for me because it allows us to kind of try to cut with the grain of the way God has made the world and not feel like men and women have to be identical because we're not. It's glorious that men are different than women and women are different than men.

You're talking to college students all the time. How does that fly with women today in a culture where women are pushing back more than ever, you know, in terms of I feel like I'm a leader. I feel like, you know, I hear that submissive thing and there's more pushback than we've ever had.

That's definitely true. And I think that if it's just phrased that way as here submit and it's not put in this larger context of how's God made the world. When it's reframed as God has given a particular glory to women, you were made for something. And one of the things you were made for is you are every man is a son of a father, everyone, and every woman is a daughter. And that means every man is a potential father and every woman is a potential mother. That's true whether or not they ever actually bear children or not. There's the potential for.

There's the potential. And God has built you to fulfill that calling whether or not it's your biological children or in other contexts. So like I'm a fatherly like figure to college students. So spiritual fatherhood or spiritual motherhood. And if you think about that, the quality of fatherhood and motherhood, it's liberating, I think, for men and for women to feel like I'm free to be a man or a woman. I'm free to be a father or a mother. So a woman doesn't have to compete or try to be a better man than a man.

That's not going to work. Instead, she's free to be a mother, a sister, a daughter, and that there's a particular glory to that. There's a feel and a quality that she should just lean into and flourish rather than feel like I've got to compete in the man's world.

Does that make sense? And by man's world, I don't mean whether she can go work outside the home or not. Like, I mean, if you look at Proverbs 31 or something like that, like that lady today, if Proverbs 31 was written about today, like she's running like a mid-sized company. She's like the household manager in that day is like she's got all kinds of people that work. So it's not about competence.

You're saying why would she want to become like the man when God has made her so beautifully unique as the woman. And that position is just as glorious in a different way than the man. That's right. And one of my favorite quotes, G.K. Chesterton said, if I put the sun beside the moon and if I put the city beside the country and if I put the mountains beside the sea and I put the man beside the woman, I suppose some fool would ask which one was better. Yeah, that's great. There's a particular glory to each of them. Who said that?

Chesterton. That's good. Like it's foolish to compare in that way. It's good to recognize the differences because the differences are good. So we had Sam Albury on Family Life Today months ago talking about this very topic and he was pretty insightful. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Yeah, I'd love to listen. I actually think that's a hard question to answer. We know that it's more than just our biology. We know it certainly includes our biology, but it's got to be more than that because most of what God has to say to humanity in the Bible, he says to us as men and women without distinction, as men and women in common. But because there are some things God says to men and some things God says to women, that shows us that there's a difference between male and female that is not just biological. There's something about the way we think and the way we behave that means that God has particular things to say to us. But I think I'd want to be hesitant to try and pin down what the essence of each of those things is. I think true masculinity is being a male person who's godly and true femininity is being a female person who is godly.

And those two things will end up looking slightly different, but I'm not sure I can quite pin down exactly what that difference consists of. In 1 Timothy 2, Paul talks about men lifting holy hands in prayer without brawling. And again, that may reflect that actually there's something in us, men that likes to brawl.

And so the focus seems to be rather than wrestling with each other, why don't you wrestle with God in prayer and turn that tendency into actually something that is spiritually productive and godly. Yeah, I think he's right to say it's a difficult thing to pin down. And yet it is something that we intuitively recognize there's a difference between men and women. Like a father's relationship to his son is different than his relationship to his daughter.

And he loves them both and they're both his children. But there is no, or even flipping it around, we talk sometimes about parenting as a category. There's really fathering and mothering.

And there's a lot of overlap between fathers and mothers. They both kind of issue commands and they both care for and do provide and all that kind of stuff. But there's a difference in quality and the way to, I think, draw out those qualities is to recognize God has given us both a mission. I think this is what Sam was getting at. The commands are given to both.

And if we faithfully pursue the mission of God, those qualities will emerge in the course of it. How do you address the men that become abusive or just they take that role of headship and yeah, they mistreat it or mishandle that. Yeah, so headship's the given.

It's just going to be there. It can be abused in multiple ways. So domineering headship, the guy who thinks mainly what a head means is being the boss, getting to order people around. It's like that's not headship. But who's the model for headship?

Jesus is. Now Jesus does issue commands and he does put things in order, but it's his presence that is kind of the fundamental thing. When I think about like my role as the head of my home, it's my stable, grounded presence that is the thing that kind of brings stability to the whole thing. That's me exercising headship, not by barking orders, right? I hardly ever do that.

I don't need to do that if I'm doing the other thing well. It's my steady presence, just being there. The happy father thing, we talked about that in previous interviews about being the smile of God to your kids.

Like that happy father thing is meant to be a stabilizing thing in the home. And another image that we use a lot is I'm trying to set a beat and then my wife is going to what's going to give the harmony. And the harmony is what people notice.

The harmony is the thing that people go, whoa, the baseline, that beat is what that harmony launches off of. But it's kind of it's more foundation and therefore it's more hidden at some level. It's a different kind of image, but the idea is there's a glory to that expression, but it needs something stable and sturdy.

And I think that that's part of what a husband's headship, a father's headship is supposed to be in the home that is a kind of anchor. How have you taught that to your sons? Like what does that look like, you know, to be a godly man? Yeah, so there's a chapter in a little book called Designed for Joy and I wrote seven things.

I won't be able to remember all seven of how I try to impart things to my son. One of them is from C.S. Lewis and it's from Narnia. It's when King Lun of Arkenland says, this is what it means to be a king. And I think you could substitute this is what it means to be a man in his definition here. So I think that he's using kingship as a way of getting at masculinity. This is what it means to be a king, to be first in every desperate attack, to be last in every desperate retreat. And when there's hunger in the land, as must be now and again in bad years, to wear finer clothes and laugh louder at a scantier meal than any man in your land. First in, last out, laughing loudest.

That's the pitch of masculinity. If there's an option, if there's a choice, he should be the first through the door. He gets to die first. That's part of his glory. His glory is not he gets to be the boss, he has the privilege of dying first, of taking the bullet first. Now she may have to take the bullet next.

That make sense? Like he's going to make the first sacrifice. She may have to sacrifice, but he should be the one. If he pushes her through the door first, I think even in our confused culture, I think everybody would say, that feels off. We just had this conversation. If there's somebody in your house, you hear a noise, who goes and checks? I just think universally.

Now there could be some women that are like, I'm going to go protect my husband. But generally speaking, I don't care. Dave is stronger than I am.

He's bigger. Yes, I am. But I think most women would say, yes, you're first out, you're last out. I think we generally... And I love laugh the loudest. Me too, that's good. That's the smile of God. That's right. And if masculinity is the glad assumption, that's the definition a pastor friend of mine uses, the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility.

The laugh is the glad. Sacrificial, first in, responsibility, and the responsibility means he not only needs responsibility, but he needs to have the support, encouragement, help in order to exercise that. This is why the Bible doesn't, when it gives commands, this is what the commands fit the facts thing. It says to the husband, love your wife. And it says to the wife, honor your husband. And we go, well, does that mean that he doesn't need to honor her and that she doesn't need to love him?

It's like, well, of course not. But there's a particular element there. He's going to feed soul-wise on her honor more than her love. And she's going to feed on his love more than on his honor.

His respect for her is a good thing and it should be there. But there's a different fuel that we're running on as men and women. And part of our task as Christians, I think, in the culture we live in where people don't get it, is first to just live it. Because it is attractive.

It is actually attractive. And God's made the world in such a way that people will go, whatever they may say, whatever lies they may want to believe, push comes to shove. Like a woman, whatever she may think and say, she wants the guy who's going to go through the door first. That's what she's actually going to follow. And so then I'm wanting to teach young men, find your mission and go do it. And what you will find is, if you've got a mission, if you've got something that God's called you to do, the right kind of woman will look at that and say, I want to come along and I want to help. That was me with Dave.

That's right. I want to help. I just thought this guy's going to change the world and I don't want to miss it because I want to do that too and I want to be with him. And I'm going to help him.

Yeah. I'm going to be a helper. I'm going to aid him. Helper fit for him. And that's not like a helper, like a servant. It's a partner out of his side next to him.

One rabbi said it means to contend with. That's what I feel like. I want to contend with Dave to take this territory and I will help him to do that.

He's just going to be in front of me protecting me. That's exactly right. That's exactly right. That's David Ann Wilson with Joe Rigney on Family Life Today. Don't go anywhere because we're going to hear what each of them thinks good leadership from a husband can look like in just a second.

But first, if you're looking for studies for your small group that can help you feel connected and known and help you love and know God more, check out the studies at And while you're there, you can use the code 25OFF. That's 250FF to save on all leader materials.

Again, the code is 250FF at All right. Now, back to Dave and Ann with Joe Rigney as they each share how a husband leading can be a really good thing.

So even talking about headship and leadership, think of specifically as a husband or maybe a dad, if headship could look something like to be the head, to be the leader means I'm going to be the first to blank. Yes. I'm not waiting. I'm not passive. I'm going to be the first to lead in this way. Think of two ways. We each get two. I'm just going to do one. Okay, do one. Okay, I have mine.

It doesn't matter what we think, Joe. I'm going to go first. I want to hear you go first. Yeah. See what he just did? I like that.

Oh, look at you. Let your wife go first. When I think of a husband is called to lay down his life for his wife, the thing that comes to my head is the husband should be the first to out-serve or serve his wife and family. And the picture that comes to my mind is Jesus washing the disciples' feet. And this is the God of the universe who created not only all of creation, but created each of them and knows every part of them. And he's washing their feet.

Like, it's mind-blowing to me. And so, when I think of a husband serving and out-serving his wife with a smile on his face, he may not always want to do it, but still, no, I want to do this because that's my role. If that's headship, I'm all in.

All in to follow that. I'm all into that definition of serving. Because when we hear headship, what, as a woman, we can tend to think is domineering. Right. And controlling. Yep. Some women would say abusive. And they are running as far as they can from that.

But to serve, to out-serve everyone in the family, whew, that's remarkable. What do you got, Joe? I've got a couple. And they need to, there's a package. All right.

We'll allow the package. Does that make sense? So, one of them is going to sound like, oh, okay. I'm trying to figure out how to say it with the first. A husband should be able to stand up to his wife.

This is the one I thought, oh, no, people are going to do it. Here's what I mean. A man who can't stand up to his wife can't stand up for his wife. Now, what I mean by that is not put her in her place, but the capacity to receive criticism from her and to not buckle and blow up or shrink back, but to be able to hear and listen and not be undone by it.

To have enough stability in himself and who he is in Jesus to be able to receive criticism, feedback, push back, advice, counsel, help, and not shrink. That's what I mean by stand up to. Does that make sense? Yes. He's not shrinking. He's standing up. That's one. The second one is he should be the first to apologize.

Now, you see how those pair. So on the one hand, he needs to be able to endure criticism from his wife and be able to listen and not react and not blow up or not shrink away. But then if he's been wrong, if he had done something wrong, he needs to be the first to say, I'm sorry. Even if it was 90% her fault, if that fight they just had, 90% of it was her sin and 10% was his, he gets to say he's sorry first for the 10. That's so interesting because I just met with a group of women a lot, probably 50 women. We had this conversation. Who apologizes first in your home?

I would say 80% of the time it was the husbands. That's right. And that's leadership. Yeah, which is amazing. But I think in my heart, because Dave is definitely the first to apologize, I feel like I'm more prideful.

It's terrible. But I think that really is a sign like, wow, that's a humble and beautiful thing that a husband can do. Way to go, Dave. And what it does is if I'm leading and I'm thinking, I want my wife to apologize. She just spoke disparagingly or she was cruel and what she just said, whatever it was, she said something that was rude. And I want her to apologize. Well, show her how. Lead.

Lead. You said something rude. So I should say, I'm sorry for what I said. That's the beat of our home is we keep short accounts and now she can fall in there and say, I'm going to say I'm sorry. And then similarly, if I didn't sin, then I want to be able to absorb that and not simply apologize to make peace. So I remember one time a friend of mine was at a Christian bachelor party and his advice to the groom was, if you didn't sin, never apologize. And don't lie to your wife. Never lie to your wife.

Because if she's just upset and you're just trying to make it go away, so I'll say I'm sorry, even though I don't think I was wrong, I'm willing to lie to smooth it over as opposed to standing up to her, which means now we have to have a harder conversation. It's going to take more work and more effort. That's leadership. Hey, Dave.

What are yours? Well, I want to make one more comment on what you said, though. It's interesting. We did a seven-day reignite your marriage challenge on our social media. And it was sort of like the fire's gone or the fire's low. You want to get that fire stoke back up?

Reignite. And so as we were laying out, what are we going to talk about? Like a seven-day, 15-minute workout for a marriage, right? Guess what the first one we thought, like, wow, this never occurred to me.

It was that. If you own your sin and say I'm sorry for it and apologize, something happens to the fire in your marriage. That lights up your wife's heart. She's like, anyway, I just thought that. I mean, it's bigger than just apologize. It's like, man, something happens in a relationship that's good.

I changed mine when you were going, Joe. I mean, you were talking and I was like, wow, I had to be the first to initiate reconciliation, which is apologize. But when you were talking, here's what hit me. Be the first to get in the Word and lead your family. Because I've so often, especially as a pastor, seen women leading the family spiritually, knowing the Word. And again, I'm not saying that's bad. Women, I want you to know the Word and be digging in there. But I so think so often the man is passive and lets her do that.

And she does it because she sort of has to in some ways. Well, we're with the kids more than the husband. Even if we're working, a lot of times we're still with the kids more. And so I think we do generally teach our kids.

It's an overflow, I think. But you're saying for the men, step into that. Yeah, I mean, I'm just saying, man, wouldn't it be something if we were the first to initiate, let's dive in the Word together. And the other one was, I mean, they both sound so spiritual, but it's pray.

What if you're the first one to pray? You've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Joe Rigney on Family Life Today. Have you ever found yourself doom scrolling? You know, it's where you just keep seeing post after post of the world kind of just losing its mind. It's scary and frustrating, isn't it? You start to feel like, can someone do something about this?

Somebody should do something. Well, when you partner financially with Family Life, you're doing something. You're helping parents and families grow in God's Word and His plan for their lives. You're doing something by making a difference one home at a time. And today, when you give at Family Life, as our thanks, we'll send you a copy of Jenny Allen's book, Find Your People. It's our gift to you when you give at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the Word today. Now tomorrow, it's easy to follow God when He's vibrantly moving in our lives.

But what about when He seems just kind of gone or silent? Nicky Koziarz joins Dave and Anne tomorrow in studio to talk about the necessity of hope when we go through incredibly dark times and disbelief. That's tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-12 14:04:33 / 2023-01-12 14:15:41 / 11

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