The Complete Husband
Posted by Carl Chambers, 5 Dec 2019
Carl Chambers reviews a practical guide for husbands in the latest edition of Churchman.
All us husbands know (or should know!) that we can be better husbands, so the idea of reading over 300 pages on that subject might induce the most horrible guilt trip (if it hits close to home) or prove to be a waste of time (if it is too full of bland or impossible instructions).
This book does neither. Yes, it gets under the skin and does not pull its punches. But it is so full of biblical wisdom and grace that it becomes addictive to read. It is full of helpful observations and questions and gives the framework as well as encouragement for building on the marriage any husband has. It is like having a trained biblical counsellor at your side, walking with you on the way to improving your marriage. It does what it says on the cover and is well worth the read for any married man. I dare say, it is well worth the read for any married woman, perhaps principally to fuel her prayers. This is a very easy book to read, but will leave only the most hard-hearted husband unmoved.
It is also brilliant for its clarity and practical use. I know I have been frequently guilty of this, but I had never heard the phrase “man fog” before. That’s where a husband drifts into inattentiveness and thereby stops loving his wife as Christ loved the church. Priolo also highlights the danger of interrupting your wife when she is speaking, something I wrote down as “man fog horn.”
Every page is centred on biblical truth, rooted in the gracious gospel of Christ, with the call to love him in all that this means. He is graciously uncompromising. Every chapter has a list of helpful questions at the end to work through, as the reader seeks to apply what is being taught. They are real and practical and the kind of questions you want to embrace not run from. At the end there are several appendices (ten in all!) covering particular aspects of marriage in a specific way. These range from “How can I be saved?”, through “Common ways in which husbands sin against their wives,” to “Hints, suggestions and attitude helpers about sex.” Yes, it covers it all. Those “Common Ways” come to six pages of questions to ask yourself and your wife. Which husband could read the list and remain unmoved? Yet the book is so full of grace and so focused on Christ that it empowers rather than disables the convicted reader.
There is one tiniest little blip on what I might call the “heresy meter” when Priolo describes three Christian husbands as being close to God in different ways. He is making the point that your heart attitude towards God is what matters, but what he suggests seems to deny imputed righteousness and union with Christ. The other 316 pages are so full of godly wisdom and instruction that I genuinely believe this is a book for every husband.
At one stage, Priolo refers to Revelation 2 and the command not to forsake your first love. He applies this to a human marriage and leads us to compare our marriages now with the best moments of courtship. In another man’s hands, it might lead to despair and guilt, but the whole thrust of this book is to lead us back to love for Christ, and if married, the love for the wife he has given us.
THE COMPLETE HUSBAND: A Practical Guide for Improved Biblical Husbanding (Revised and Expanded)
Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2017 317pp £14.99pb ISBN: 9781629951034
This review is taken from the latest edition of Churchman, our quarterly theological journal. Purchase this edition here or subscribe to the journal here.
Carl Chambers is vicar of St Michael and All Angels, Wilmington.
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