a letter, often critical, addressed to a particular person or group of people but intended for publication.
Dear brother in Christ and husband of my friend,
I’m the one who holds your wife’s hand when she cries. I’m the one who counsels her over messaging. I’m the one who cries for her when she tells me how badly you have mistreated her.
What I’m about to tell you isn’t really my place. This should be said to you by your friends, your father, your brothers, your pastor, and your elders.
But, no one is saying it. No one is coming to her defense.
So I will.
I say this with all the love and gentleness I can and with a broken heart for my dear sister in Christ, your wife.
I would like to start by explaining that I have a great husband. He has never physically or verbally abused me. He is kind, compassionate, and gentle with me. He’s far from perfect. However, we’re way past the honeymoon period, so I can safely say that I know what kind of man he is –flaws and all, no rose-colored glasses.
When I talk to your wife about my husband, I get sad looks of longing and sighs of resignation.
Did you know that because you mistreat your wife it makes it harder for me to have a good relationship with her? It’s hard for someone in an unhealthy marriage to identify with someone in a healthy, loving relationship.
She says it’s okay, that it makes her happy to hear that another man treats his wife as he should. But, I hear the tormented grief in her soul. I hear the fact that she has accepted that you’ll never treat her as you should.
I’ve been on the other end of messages after you spent 3 hours yelling at her, belittling her because she didn’t live up to your expectations. I’ve spoken to her on the phone as she described how horribly you’ve treated her because she’s weaker and more sickly and ill than you are, and you refuse to give her any grace.
I’ve sat in your classroom as you taught an adult Sunday School about husbands loving their wives and then couldn’t even bring yourself to be in the same room with her in a house full of company and be kind to her at least until the company left.
I’ve seen you publicly criticize, contradict, and humiliate her.
I’ve seen other men, who should have corrected you, shy away from you because of how you treat her. These are decent men who know that what you’re doing is wrong.
You who promised to love, cherish, and honor, have become the one who attacks her, thus breaking the sacred vows you made before God.
The single most important job you have is to love your wife and be a living example of God’s love to those around you.
God gave you one job as a husband: to love your wife.
I’m not talking about physical intimacy. We all know God didn’t need to command that. You’d do that willingly.
Your single job was to love her as Christ loved you.
What God commanded was selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. The example He gave was Jesus suffering, bleeding, and dying for us, His bride, the Church.
It is the hard kind of love, the dying-to-self kind of love.
Are you willing to be crucified for your wife? To die a horrible death for her?
How can you be willing to die for her when you won’t even give her grace for being late or making a mistake or not doing something as perfectly as you wanted?
Are you living a life that shows that you’re willing to make that sort of sacrifice?
That’s the kind of love you are called to imitate.
But, you are so wrapped up in your own selfish desires that you can’t even be kind to her –let alone sacrifice for her.
God called you to unconditional love.
Unconditional love is loving without any conditions. It means we don’t have to be good enough, do the right stuff, meet any conditions to be loved.
No matter what your wife does you are still called to this level of love. It’s not a reflection of God’s love if it’s not unconditional.
Admittedly, I don’t see what she does behind closed doors, but, truthfully, it doesn’t matter because unconditional love is unconditional.
Paul Washer said “You worship the Lord for grace, but you demand that your wife live in such a way that she not be in need of it.”
When you make conditions on you behaving lovingly, you are not reflecting God’s love, and you are not a testimony of God’s love to those around you.
You are failing at the one job God gave you as a husband.
The name of God is not praise in your life. How you treat your wife is a testimony to those around you as to the kind of man you are, the kind of Christian you are.
If you want a good look at how far God takes this concept of unconditional love, read the book of Hosea. Hosea’s wife was a prostitute, and he continued to forgive and love her and even take her back after her unfaithfulness.
That’s the example that God used to show how much He loved Israel.
That’s how God loves.
That’s how you are called to love.
Did you notice that God didn’t give wives the command to love? We are naturally given to unconditional love –think of the love of a mother. We were created to be different, and so we have different commands.
When you do not take leadership in the loving and selfless role, your wife is forced to take that role in an effort to keep the marriage together.
Did you know that? A lesser woman would have left you, but she hasn’t because she meant those vows she took.
She values her promise before God more than what any man can do to her, even if that man is the one who shares her bed and should be protecting her but is not.
When you fail to love unconditionally and your wife takes up that role, you force your wife to be Christ in your relationship. In a proper relationship the wife is reciprocating that love, but the husband is the one who initiates unconditional love toward her as Christ first loved us.
If she wants her marriage to survive, she knows that someone has to have selfless, unconditional love. All it takes is one person in the relationship to do it.
So, she does it.
She becomes the one who loves unconditionally when you don’t.
Shame on you!
Shame on you for expecting her to fulfill your God-given role.
Who cares if you can provide a house, cars, and food, teach Sunday school classes, lead choirs and church committees, if you fail at the one, single, solitary thing you were absolutely commanded as a husband to do?
Scripture is quite clear that God will not hear your prayers if you are treating her the least bit harshly.
If this letter doesn’t gnaw at your conscious, if the Holy Spirit isn’t showing you just how wrong you are in how you approach your marriage and how you treat your wife, then maybe you need to reconsider if you’re even saved.
Those of us who are saved do not choose to keep living in our sins.
This is a habitual sin in your life for as long as I have known the two of you.
I hope this letter gives you pause. I hope you take a good solid look inside yourself at your heart, your motivation, your selfishness, and what God has called you to do.
I hope you humble yourself before your wife and the Lord, asking both their forgiveness for this sin in your life.
I hope you make it right with her.
I hope you see how blessed you are to have a women godly enough to love you without conditions and value her marriage more than her own rights.
Above all, I fervently pray that your marriage will heal to become the example of God’s love that it should be, that I know it can be.
I pray that those around you will say, “We knew what God’s unconditional love and grace looked like because we saw it in your life and in how you treated your wife.”
In Him with earnest,
P.S. I prayed a lot about how to address this issue. I agonized about the best, most biblical way to present my argument.
There’s a difference between having an opinion about something and actually confronting someone. Since I don’t believe, according to my understanding of scripture, that it’s my place to personally rebuke you (I hardly know you and my husband doesn’t know you), I chose this letter form on my blog.
‘You’ are a group of men and not a specific person. This a virtual letter, one that will never be sent. But, I’m hoping that those who read this letter and identify men like you will take it upon themselves to do the correcting. I am hoping this letter will encourage and honor women who are married to men like you. I could not, in clear conscience, stay silent any longer –even if some people think just writing this letter is overstepping.
(Please note that this isn’t a pulpit or a Sunday School class. It’s a blog which is the equivalent of an internet diary that you let other people read.)
If no one else will say it, I will. If the men won’t defend the helpless, it falls to the women. I don’t believe I’m expected to sit idly by and say nothing.
My husband and I have talked extensively about this topic and are in agreement on this issue.