"The woman was not taken from the man's head to be over him, nor from his feet to be walked on by him, but from his side to be his closest companion, from under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him" - an old Jewish sayingJust like the rib cage protects the hearts vital organs, the woman was created by God to protect, encourage, and love her husband, her God-given rib. In When a Woman Loves a Man, pastor James Ford explains the significance of God taking the woman out of the man's side and placing her in a position to walk alongside of him as his helpmate, lover, and emotional protector.This book is written for women who are either engaged or married and who want to know how to Biblically and practically express love to her man the way God intended.
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About the Author
JAMES FORD, JR. (Moody Bible Institute, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) has been the Senior Pastor at Christ Bible Church (formerly South Shore Baptist Church), located on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, since 1982. He serves on several boards, including the Alumni Board of Moody Bible Institute, is President of Impact Ministries, and provides the messages for Impact Ministries¿ radio broadcast, Treasured Truth for Troubling Times. Pastor Ford is a contributor to the book Heart for the City and is the author of When A Man Loves A Woman and Seven Reasons Why God Created Marriage. He and his wife, Leslie, have three children and six grandchildren, and live in Chicago, Illinois.
Read an Excerpt
when a woman loves a manPursuing His Heart
By James Ford Jr.
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2011 James Ford Jr.
All right reserved.
Chapter Oneby divine design
when a woman loves a man, she fulfills God's design
YOU'RE PROBABLY familiar with the old motto: A woman's place is in the home. Well, in today's society that idea has changed drastically. I know some women are saying, "Thank God things have changed." As a matter of fact, the change has been so dramatic that I actually saw a bumper sticker that read: A woman's place is in the mall.
With the prevalence of this postmodern mind-set, a woman's world has been transformed exponentially. But you may be surprised that a few women believe it has expanded too much. They feel that too much is expected of women and wives today. Someone once said, "They expect us to look like a girl, dress like a boy, think like a man, and work like a horse."
However, when you stop and consider what the Word of God has to say about the woman's role in marriage, there is a good deal of truth revealed in that comment. That's why, if you want to know the real truth about anything, you have to go back to its source. In this case, I'm referring to the Word of God. It contains the Divine Design, the blueprint of God's plan for all of creation.
A PERFECT WIFE?
When a woman loves a man, God has equipped her to give that man something he can feel—physically and spiritually. As I was thinking about the concept of what makes a good wife, I asked myself the question: What would the average man consider to be the attributes of a perfect wife? No doubt most men would agree with my answer.
The perfect woman looks like Halle Berry, has a body like Tyra Banks, keeps house like Martha Stewart, cooks like Paula Deen, has the mind of Mae Jemison, and possesses a fortune like Oprah Winfrey. Moreover, the perfect wife exemplifies the personality of Phylicia Rashad, the compassion of Mother Teresa, and the sex drive of Madonna. Can I get an Amen from the brothers?
When I put all of these traits together, I conclude that she needs to be a woman just like my wife.
Yet, it shouldn't be a surprise that the passage in chapter 31 of the book of Proverbs portrays a completely different picture than the amusing one described above.
The truth is, everyone has expectations. Husbands have expectations for their wives as much as wives have expectations for their husbands. Sometimes those hopes are met, and sometimes they're not. Not only that, but many times the expectations are not known, so a lot of friction comes into play because of these hidden expectations.
So what does a man expect from the woman he marries? Here's one person's take on the answer:
A man wants his wife to be beautiful without ever needing to get her hair done. She doesn't like manicures and pedicures. She's always cheerful and never gets sick. Fortunately for her husband, she's allergic to jewelry and fur coats. She's an expert in keeping quiet. Her favorite pastime is taking out the garbage, and she loves to mow the lawn. She's got Einstein's brains and the body of a goddess. Lastly, and this is extremely necessary, she wants you to go out with the boys often so she can be free to sew and iron.
Well, ladies, please forgive me for that bit of levity. It's merely a little attempt at amusement and I just added it because the brothers always say that I dog them out. So I hope this makes me an equal opportunity commentator.
First Things First
Putting all humor aside, I want to begin by addressing the subject of what God anticipated when He created man and woman. After some careful consideration of God's Word, we can find out what God expects from both genders. This is important for all of us to know because He will hold every individual accountable for our actions.
So let's back up to the beginning and find out what was going on in the book of Genesis because it's time to set the record straight. Listen to this account from Genesis 2:
"Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:15–17)
In this first verse we find that God put the man He created in the garden and told him to take care of it. By these actions, God gave Adam dominion and stewardship over the rest of creation. Dominion meant he was to rule well. Stewardship was to rule and take care of it. Cultivate it to keep, nurture, and do what needs to be done to ensure healthy growth. In the next two verses, God told Adam what He expected of him. "You may eat freely," God said, indicating His provisions for the man. When Adam heard this gracious invitation, worship was to be the proper response because man was created to worship the Almighty God.
This applies to all of us. We should be eternally grateful in worship to God because of His bountiful blessings. Then, the final instruction for Adam was a warning from God: "You shall not eat ... you will surely die." Altogether, this interaction between God and man bound the two of them in a mutual relationship.
But from Adam's viewpoint, this is where the story gets real interesting. Scripture says God saw that none of His created beings were compatible with the man, and He declared, "It is not good for the man to be alone," (Genesis 2:18a). Having Adam's needs in mind, God was ready to create a suitable companion for the man, a partner with whom he could fellowship. Clearly, God wanted Adam to have someone he could connect with; someone who looked like him. I can only imagine what Adam was thinking when he opened his eyes and discovered his lovely bride—Eve, who resembled him in form but not aesthetics. Thank God! This new creation of God's thought like him, moved like him, felt like him, talked like him. In other words, God presented Adam with a creation designed specifically to complement him.
Who's in Charge?
In all of His creation work, God set definite patterns for how things should function. Adam and Eve were first, but they represent every man and woman. Through the first couple, God established the details of the relationship He envisioned for married couples. However, we have a lot more to learn about the very specific roles that God intended for us and how we are to relate with our Creator.
The apostle Paul reiterated God's plans when he laid out the divine hierarchy for our relationship with God in this way,
"I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ ... For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake." (1 Corinthians 11:3, 7–9)
When God drew up His master plan, the blueprint for all of creation, this is the way authority was designated. According to His divine design, there is absolutely no inferiority implied between God and Christ, nor between man and woman. Following this analogy, there is equality in the respective relationships with distinction in the definition of roles.
Here is where we also find that God made Adam in His image, the Imago Dei. Endowed with a personality, intellect, emotion, and will, Adam became a human reflection of God's own image. He holds the distinction of being created first and was given the responsibility of being the spiritual leader in his household.
Eve was the prototype of the model woman. As the reflection of every woman, we study her to learn how she was designed to function. Since she came "out of the man," Scripture identifies her as "the glory of man." Clearly, the Master Designer established these role assignments out of His infinite love and wisdom. I believe that it causes God much pain when He watches us misuse and abuse His excellent plan.
Follow the Blueprint
So when God created marriage, what did He create it to do and to be? Sounds like a good question to me. The reality is that no one knows better than a designer what the intent of a respective design should be. For the purpose of understanding marriage and our roles in it, we can find the answer when we consult with His divine blueprint. God gave us the diagram for marriage by laying out His instructions in His Word. This is what He said:
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)
This Scripture encapsulates Gods view of marriage. When a man and woman are joined together they are no longer "me and you." They become "we." God considers the two individuals as one cohesive unit. As a result, sharing "one flesh" involves physical and spiritual intimacy and it is the greatest human bond that exists. It is even greater than the bond between a mother and child because without two parents first coming together, there can be no child.
But too often you and I abandon the divine blueprint and reject the design of God for our marriages. Both men and women are guilty of this. We set aside God's plan and adopt that which the world has offered us. Instead of listening to what God says about who we are as husbands and wives, we listen to the voices of society spouting secular wisdom. We would be so much better off if we understood that God has a purpose in mind and He wants that purpose to be fulfilled in us.
In case you're searching for the meaning of your relationship, find out by checking the divine blueprint. That way, whenever your marriage hits the wall of adversity, you and your mate will rise up with a stronger bond. I like to put it this way. As long as you're working with God's instructions, you'll bend where you're supposed to bend and hold where you're supposed to hold.
If you want to be on the right side of life, you have to understand that God's view and the world's view are in direct opposition. The world says, "Until debt do us part," but God says, "Until death do us part."
Therefore, when God's Word of instruction is hidden in our hearts, we don't look for reasons to abandon the marriage, we unite in our determination to stay together. Marriages can endure until death because God designed them to. They don't because we have altered God's plan. We have made changes to the original blueprint and as usual we have created a mess. Financial problems may arise, but they don't make us want to get rid of each other. That's what the world says we ought to do. But the divine blueprint says, when a marriage faces trouble, a husband and wife can withstand it regardless of personality differences or disagreements. The marriage can endure to the end because that's the way God designed it.
To get a better picture of this, here is an illustration. The designer of an automobile will test his concept car to see if it will perform the way it was intended. He pays careful attention to every detail and meticulously crafts his design so that it meets his stringent specifications. In other words, he wants it to bend where it's supposed to bend and hold where it's supposed to hold. The ultimate goal is to put the finished product on display when it reflects the image he had in mind.
In a similar way, God made marriage the way He did so He could put it on display for the world to see. Did you know that godly marriage is a picture of Jesus Christ and His church? God has given us a priceless image of what a marriage is like when He's in control of it. When such a marriage is exhibited, people will know that Christ is in the midst of it. The two partners don't act like people without God in their lives. The relationship becomes a tested and proven representation of God's standard much the same way people can spot a Porsche when they see one. This was God's plan for marriage. People should look at a Christian marriage and see Christ.
As a woman who desires to be a virtuous woman, you want to know how to govern yourself. Don't consult with someone's philosophy or rely on anyone's educated opinion. If you want to know how to be a godly wife—don't talk to any woman or man. If you want to be a virtuous woman and godly wife, consult the Designer. There are godly women, mature women around, and the Bible tells them to instruct the younger women. But keep in mind that God is the ultimate and final answer. After all, it is His creation, and who knows it better than Him? When you're ready for the righteous answers, you must go back to the divine design and rely on the unadulterated Word of the living God to show you the way.
When you consult with the Divine Designer of the marriage institution, you will find that the wife was intricately fashioned in these three ways:
a) to fulfill the purpose God gave her
b) to prepare for her God-given role
c) to complete the life-giving process
The overall design of God for a woman comes together in how she loves a man. Just as Adam was fulfilled in her, Eve was fulfilled in him. God's blueprint describes how He has created woman so that her role would reflect the reason for which He made her. She was equipped for the man that He was going to bring into her life.
Eve was given a specific role and certain things were expected of her. In fact, the first reference God made to Eve became her number one purpose. God said, "I will make him a helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18b).
So here we have it. Eve was designed to be her husband's helper. The reason her role was so special is because there are only two people called "helper" in the Bible. Eve was one of them, and you may be surprised to find that the other was God. Before He gave her to Adam, God instilled in the woman's design the ability to be a natural source of protection and support for her man. If you have ever wondered why women are natural nurturers and fiercely protective, now you know.
The word "helper" comes from the Hebrew word ezer, which means "one who helps." It is used twenty-one times in the Old Testament. Now get this: nineteen times the word is used about God. The other two times it describes the woman. Please don't miss this. God has given woman a designation that she alone shares with Him.
Let me clear up any misunderstanding that may exist right here and now. The woman's role cannot have anything to do with inferiority because there's nothing inferior about God. She and God share a role and God is Supreme, Majestic, Magnificent, and Marvelous. God is everything that is good. He wouldn't give Himself a designation that would degrade Him.
Now think about how incredible this is. The woman alone shares the name that God has taken for Himself. To show you the tremendous effect this produces, I want to give you some examples of where that name is used in reference to God. Keep in mind some of the synonyms for the word "help" are "support," "rescue," "improve," "assist," and "relieve."
"Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help [ezer] and our shield." (Psalm 33:20)
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help [ezer] in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
"But I am afflicted and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help [ezer] and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay." (Psalm 70:5)
"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help [ezer] come?" (Psalm 121:1)
Do you see the awesome power God has instilled in the workings of a virtuous woman? By calling both Him and the woman ezer, He has given the woman a position like none other. But I must point out the main distinction here. Yahweh is the Big Ezer and the woman that He created is the little ezer. You see, God wasn't going to supply some things for Adam. Through Eve, He could channel blessings to the man that was her counterpart.
As a result, there are some blessings that God has reserved for a husband that he will only get through his wife. God made Eve to protect Adam in certain ways and to cover his back. Because she was in relationship with God, guess what she was to remind Adam of when he looked at her? That's right, the Big Ezer.
Let me illustrate what I'm talking about. My oldest grandson, Little J, and I hang out together. We were on our way down to his daddy's barbershop so I could get a haircut. But first we stopped at the gas station. I had given him five dollars, and you know how it is when a five-year-old has five dollars in his pocket. He is rich and has a burning desire to start spending his wealth.
Excerpted from when a woman loves a man by James Ford Jr. Copyright © 2011 by James Ford Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
When a Woman Loves a Man . . .Chapter 1 She's a mate to him not a menace against him Chapter 2 She's a complementer to him not a competitor Chapter 3 She cares for him and is not a concern for him Chapter 4 She is a source of peace not just a piece Chapter 5 She's consecrated to him and not a cancer on him Chapter 6She communicates appropriately with him not cursing Chapter 7 She understands and undergirds him Chapter 8 She nurtures him not nags him