Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 04/24/2010 by John Bird.
Recommended. Outside of the Bible, the best resource thus far on being a Christian husband.
The home is the most important area of ministry for husbands. It can also be the most difficult, and it is often the most neglected. The characteristics of an exemplary husband do not come naturally. Nor are they taught in school. We need help. Outside of the Bible, Dr. Stuart Scott's The Exemplary Husband is the best help I've found.
The Exemplary Husband is divided into four parts: A Husband’s Understanding, A Husband's Responsibility, A Husband's Resolves, and A Husband's Regrets.
In part one, Dr. Scott gives the biblical and theological background for the rest of the book. Before a man can succeed as a Christian husband, he must understand who God is. He must also understand his own fallen condition, and he must know and understand what the Bible says about relationships, marriage, and the husband's role in marriage.
Part two deals with the husband's responsibilities. First and foremost, the exemplary husband must worship Christ alone. Other responsibilities of a husband discussed in part two are love, leadership, physical intimacy, and stewardship.
In part 3, A Husband's Resolves, Dr. Scott says that the fundamental commitments of the exemplary husband should be humility, service, sensitivity to his wife, helping his wife deal with her sin, good communication, and conflict resolution.
The book closes with part four, where Dr. Scott deals with those sins common to men that do great harm to a marriage: anger, anxiety and fear, and lust.
The first thing I appreciate about this book is its layout and formatting. There are 4 parts comprising 21 chapters that fit neatly into the parts, totalling 372 pages. At the end of the book are nine helpful and practical appendixes along with several pages for notes. The text is divided into headings and subheadings with many bulleted lists in between, and there are wide margins and an extra space between every paragraph. All of this makes for easier navigation, reading, and note taking. Dr. Scott writes in a clear and simple manner. He thoroughly explains each concept, and there's hardly a wasted sentence.
I also appreciate the use of Scripture; it is easy to see what the teaching of the book is based upon. There is scarcely a page without an appropriate and deftly applied passage. At the same time, Dr. Scott seldom quotes other writers from outside the Bible. I found this refreshing.
The author sums up his book in these two points: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and lovingly lead and cherish your wife for the glory of God." That is a fitting description of the book’s message. Another statement that summarizes the book is that "God’s will for every Christian husband is to shepherd and love his wife the way Christ shepherds and loves the church." Because Dr. Scott has a high view of God and a burden for strong, biblical marriages, his standards are high. They should be, considering that Christ is the ultimate example of an exemplary husband.
I agree with Dr. Scott that, though men and woman are equal in the eyes of God, they have been given different roles within marriage. In places, however, the book seems to imply that the husband has a higher level of maturity, wisdom, or sanctification—more like a father/daughter relationship. In chapter 15, Dealing with the Wife's Sin, the author gives steps to address minor sins—maybe, he says, the wife has yelled at the children. A suggested step is to "ask her to please take some time to think through what happened and whether or not she sinned in her thinking or actions." This sounds like a teacher's request to a student rather than a husband's request to a wife. A few other examples of this tone could be given. Perhaps the analogy between Christ's relationship to the church and the husband's relationship to his wife is pressed beyond what the Scriptures intended. In the same chapter, Dr. Scott writes: "We know that God grants us forgiveness on the basis of confession and sincere repentance, which is evidenced by a turning away from whatever sin is being confessed (Psalm 32:1). Since God has this conditional element to His forgiveness, it should be clear that our granting of forgiveness to others should also have a conditional element to it." While I agree that our repentance is necessary for God’s forgiveness, it doesn't follow that we should require others to confess and repent before we forgive them. God is perfect; we are not. Christ is infinitely greater than His church, while husbands and wives are created equal.
Regardless of my criticism, which is based upon my imperfect perspective, I highly recommend this book to all husbands. It would be perfect for a men's group to study together. It would also benefit young, single men—I wish that I had read it a few times before I walked the aisle. And I hope to read it several more times; my marriage would be better for it.