“The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man” (1 Cor. 11:3).
In the miracle of God’s work of salvation, he promises to save families and their generations after them. As he establishes his covenant with a man and a woman in marriage, he establishes a system in which husband and wife are to live in their state of marriage. To the man he instructs to rule over his wife in love, to lead the home in the fear of Jehovah. To the woman he instructs to submit to her husband, to obey him and to guide the household. When husband and wife faithfully submit to their covenant callings, they see a beautifully harmonized system through which God saves them and their families.
The world hates this system of harmony between husband and wife because it hates God. It rebels against him by rejecting this order that God places in marriage and in the church. The wicked world does this by promoting feminism and all sorts of notions that insist women have equal standing with men. One can see this wicked phenomenon in apostate churches today which allow women into office. They usurp the authority that God gives to men alone who are called to rule the church and their homes in obedience to him.
The idea of a young man ruling over his girlfriend may not be so apparent in the early stages of their courtship when they are only getting to know each other better. Nevertheless, as they become more committed to each other in their courtship, a young man must prepare himself to lead and to rule over her as they prepare to be united in marriage. The responsibilities of being the head of the woman are not small because his headship is a reflection of Christ’s headship over the church. His rule over her must therefore be a faithful testimony to this truth.
Covenant courtship is a process in which a young man grows in an intimate knowledge of his girlfriend. It is striking how married couples can fail to meet each other’s expectations simply because they do not know each other sufficiently well. The common, frustrated expression from married individuals seems to be, “You just don’t know me well enough!” Emotional and spiritual closeness begins with knowledge. The Scriptures aptly instruct husbands to dwell with their wives according to knowledge (1 Pet. 3:7). This has important implications for covenant courtship. It teaches the young man that he must strive to know his girlfriend as much as possible so that he knows how to lead her in a way that is glorifying to God. Knowing her unique individuality, character, mind-set, personality, lifestyle, temperament, habits, preferences and dislikes are essential. Christ the bridegroom knows his bride with a perfect knowledge. That is why he can lead her in the perfect way. Godly young men reflect this beautiful truth when they diligently seek to grow in a deeper knowledge of their girlfriends to rule over them with the rule of Christ.
The process of courtship also prepares a young man to love his girlfriend adequately with the knowledge of Christ’s love for him. As he understands the truth that Christ condescended to save his people in the way of the cross, so the young man gives himself selflessly in love for his girlfriend. Quarrels and bickering are not uncommon in any relationship, but a godly young man covers himself with the cloak of humility and adorns himself with the wisdom of Christ to resolve those differences. He learns to love her in biblical ways that will meet her expectations.
He dwells with her as the weaker vessel, seeking her welfare and caring for her needs. The Scriptures are clear that God made the woman to be the weaker sex. This is especially true from a physical and emotional viewpoint. For this reason God so ordained the man to make up for these weaknesses by ruling over her. Together man and woman complement and make each other complete. A man of God understands and appreciates these weaknesses, not criticizes them harshly. He bears patiently with his help-meet despite her weaknesses, knowing that God loves him in spite of his sinfulness.
The rule of Christ renders honour unto his bride. He honours her because she is his prized possession, chosen in all eternity to be his. For her he bleeds and dies to redeem from corruption. As his body he cherishes and nurtures her until the final day of their consummation. So too a godly young man must honour his girlfriend as his help-meet. He honours her by praising her qualities, appreciating her uniqueness and defending her from all criticism, harm and danger.
As the head of the woman, it is above all else necessary for the young man to be responsible for his girlfriend’s spiritual well-being. Her spiritual welfare is his responsibility. This means that he functions as her spiritual guide and counselor. He is responsible for creating and sustaining a spiritual and godly atmosphere in their relationship. Being entrusted as her head carries the heavy responsibility of ensuring that she is spiritually healthy. A spiritual relationship bears testimony to the truth that God is in and at the center of it.
To rule well a covenant young man must always be striving for spiritual excellencies, desiring to develop his spiritual gifts. He must equip himself with the knowledge of God so that he can use that knowledge to lead his girlfriend in God’s covenant ways. It is extremely deplorable that the church world today is engulfed by spiritual ignorance. Our covenant young men must be men of knowledge, men who study the Word of God diligently. They must know the doctrines of the Reformed faith by heart, and be skilled at dividing the Word of truth. With sound, spiritual knowledge they will then know to lead their future spouses in covenant courtship.
At various points in a couple’s relationship, they meet with unique problems and difficulties. Only God’s Word is able to solve those problems. That is why our covenant young men and women must be thoroughly and deeply acquainted with the Word of God.
Service to God in the church should also be in the minds of young men who desire covenant courtship. God calls them to lead his church as much as he calls them to rule over their wives. The young men are the future leaders of the church. They are called to bear the offices that Christ has ordained for his church.
True and biblical rule is always done in love for God and for the woman God places in a young man’s life. A godly young man acknowledges that he is sinful, and that his rule over his girlfriend is therefore sinful. He needs the grace and wisdom of God to execute this rule in love for God and his girlfriend. While this rule is never perfect because of our sinfulness, God nevertheless is pleased to bless a young man in the way of his faith and obedience.