In The Death of Christian Britain Callum Brown explains that the evangelical narrative in Britain in from the 1800s until the collapse in the 1960s was that if a woman’s husband was godly she was sure to be in love and happy (emphasis mine):
In featuring women’s relationships with men, the evangelical narrative was invariably drawn into romance…
Romance was a test for all manner of virtues…
Finding the right Christian husband was the uppermost consideration rather than the age of engagement. The ending, as in all evangelical stories, was always happy — as in Love’s Healing in the 1920s which concludes with the heroine marrying ‘a splendid Christian man. She is fortunate indeed and will be a happy wife.’ By the 1930s and 1940s, scores of paperback religious novels appeared, aimed almost exclusively at teenage girls and young women. Love was the dominant theme, following a format familiar to Mills & Boon readers, but with a Christian ‘spin’, ending with lines like: ‘What are you thinking of, darling?’ whispered her husband. ‘I was thinking how good God is. I’ve never been so happy in my life.’ Romance was set within a tough system of moral values, but it was invariably the man’s moral values that were the criteria, making the women’s issue the arrival at the right judgment on the man’s worthiness.
Readers of this blog may recall that Pastor Douglas Wilson teaches this same theology in his book Reforming Marriage. Wilson explains in the introduction that this is in fact the foundation of the message of the book. Moreover, if the husband failed to make the wife happy by doing as the book instructed, Wilson explains that this is God’s sign that the man is a hypocrite and is not a Godly man (emphasis mine):
In other words, keeping God’s law with a whole heart (which is really what love is) is not only seen in overt acts of obedience. The collateral effect of obedience is the aroma of love. This aroma is out of reach for those who have a hypocritical desire to be known by others as a keeper of God’s law. Many can fake an attempt at keeping God’s standards in some external way. What we cannot fake is the resulting, distinctive aroma of pleasure to God…
Christ has loved the Church in the same the way He wants men to love their wives. He has done so as an example. The love and affection of Christ has been set upon His people alone. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives alone. This is the duty I hope to explain and amplify throughout the course of this small book.
But we should already know from all of this that such obedience is not exhausted by the external conformity to God’s requirements. Godly obedience will always bring in its train a host of intangibles. These intangibles constitute the aroma of obedience, and this aspect of true obedience frustrates the paint-by-numbers approach to marriage enhancement. This is why I am afraid that this book will be of little use to those who simply want a “formula” to follow that will build them a happy marriage. When it comes to the externals, the mere copyist can always say of himself what the unregenerate Saul could say, “concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Phil. 3:6). However hard the externalist tries, he cannot produce the aroma of godliness.
…In the same way, the love of the Christian husband does not proceed from reading the “right books,” including this one, or going to the right seminars. God will not patch His grace onto some humanistic psychological nonsense—even if that nonsense is couched and buried in Christian terminology. It proceeds from an obedient heart, and the greatest desire of an obedient heart is the glory of God…
…When a husband seeks to glorify God in his home, he will be equipped to love his wife as he is commanded. And if he loves his wife as commanded, the aroma of his home will be pleasant indeed.
This silly game must have seemed so harmless in the 1800s and early 1900s. But following the advent of second wave feminism and the divorce revolution we can see how immensely evil this game really is. In the era of “the problem with no name”, and divorce made moral by the death of women’s romantic feelings, telling women that if they aren’t happy, if they aren’t feeling the tingle, that these things are God’s message that their husband is to blame for their discontentment is truly, profoundly, evil.
- Modern Christian teachers of the lesson in The Wedding of Sir Gawain.
- How to tell if you are a godly man.
- Don’t blame Heartiste for the equation of Alpha with virtue.
- God’s secret plan for every married man’s life.
- Her soul essence is your master, and sets the terms for oneness.