Your wife is hurt. At some point a God-given part of her femininity was taken from her. Perhaps it was taken with the best intentions for her future. Maybe she herself opted for this rite of passage. Either way, she carries the marks of Female Genital Cutting. And when you became one flesh you took on her body as your own (Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:8-10, Ephesians 5:29).
Along with the pain, bleeding and ongoing risk of infection, she will endure long-term effects
Your wife has not merely suffered the short-term physical consequences of a procedure. No. Along with the pain, bleeding and ongoing risk of infection, she will endure long-term effects around her sexuality, childbirth, and womanhood. There might be years of chronic pain, painful sex, dangerous complications in childbirth, and perhaps even the inability to conceive; not to mention battles with PTSD, anxiety, and phobias.
A Husband’s Manifesto
Dear husband, can you see that your wife has great needs? She needs a husband who pursues Christ and, in turn, loves her like Christ (John 15:5). In the midst of your wife’s loss and suffering I want to urge you to take up the husband’s manifesto. A manifesto that includes dying to yourself, renouncing cultural wrongs, and bearing witness to the Lord Jesus.
Live For Christ
Dear husband, Ephesians 5:25-30 is the grand call for all Christian husbands. It is your particular call as you love your wife in her unique battles with FGC. This scripture should be the scripture you read, pray and—by the Spirit’s power—embody toward your wife. However, husband, you cannot do this if you do not first revere Christ (Ephesians 5:21). All love toward your wife must start by drawing on Christ’s love for you. For self-sacrifice toward your wife can only be sustained by reverence for Christ and his lordship.
All love toward your wife must start by drawing on Christ’s love for you
Perhaps one of the hardest areas for you to love self-sacrificially will be around sexual intimacy. Your wife’s sexual experience might be painful or not very pleasurable. Thus she may want sex less than you do. She might even be physiologically unable to enjoy sex. Understandably, this reduced pleasure for her will affect your sexual pleasure too. No doubt you will be frustrated and tempted to wrong her.
Consider Her Sexual Needs
But, dear husband, God exhorts you not to take wrongful advantage of your wife, “the weaker partner” (1 Peter 3:7). Rather treat her with loving respect. Consider her needs. Please do not abuse your headship. Recognise your wife as an equal heir “with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (Genesis 1:27; 1 Peter 3:7).
Remember that your duty is not to enforce your wife’s submission. You must always submit to Christ
Remember that your duty is not to enforce your wife’s submission. You must always submit to Christ (Ephesians 5:24), and love her (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33). This will mean caring for her needs, even when she seems unlovely and undeserving. Kenneth Boles writes, “This divine kind of love is not motivated by self-interest or the attractiveness of the one loved, but by a sincere interest in that person’s wellbeing.”
In your headship strive to embody Christ’s tender self-sacrifice for his Church
So model your attitude and behaviour on Christ’s (Ephesians 5:23, 25, 29). In your headship, in your love and in your nourishment and care for your wife, strive to embody Christ’s tender self-sacrifice for his Church. An unhesitating, total self-sacrificial love.
Dear husband, though your society expects you to accept FGC as a necessary cultural norm, I encourage you to be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Ephesians 4:23, Romans 12:1). I encourage you to reflect on the deep-rooted cultural practices that affect the wellbeing of women and girls in your community. Your wife, along with others, bear much as a result of FGC: irreparable damage to her body, ongoing pain that is physical as well as emotional, and the threat of death that pregnancy entails. There’s also likely great guilt and a feeling of failure when she doesn’t desire physical intimacy.
This marker of womanhood is deeply entrenched in communal identity. It requires boldness and wisdom for you to pursue another way.
You know this marker of femininity and womanhood is deeply entrenched in communal identity. It requires boldness and wisdom for you to pursue another way. We must challenge anything that so blatantly threatens the wellbeing of a woman.
At its root, FGC resists the creation that God declared “very good” (Genesis 1:31). That means when God made women, he made her fit for the purposes and plans he had for women in relation to man and the world. So, as a Christian husband, reconsider cultural expressions that denigrate women—no matter how noble the ideal it aims to achieve. You are called to reject what is evil and to receive what is good (Romans 12:9).
We must challenge anything that so blatantly threatens the wellbeing of a woman
Husband, redeem the culture you are living in. Uphold its glorious aspects while simultaneously renouncing its corrupted facets. Ultimately God in Christ will redeem what is broken and lost in your society.
Dear husband, the grand story of loving redemption will be spelled out for others as you reconsider your sexual appetites and place your wife’s needs and discomforts ahead of yourself. Every moment of patience instead of bored irritation at your wife’s expressions of fear and sadness imitates Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, Ephesians 4:2).
Every moment of patience instead of bored irritation at your wife’s expressions of fear and sadness imitates Jesus Christ
Your relationship toward your wife is a picture of Christ and the Church. As Paul says, “This is a profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:29). Every action and word toward your wife testifies to the action and word of Christ for his Church. Together you and your wife are a portrait of the excellencies of the gospel. Despite the harm of FGC, when you lay down your life for your wife, you become a living testimony to others. You visibly show God’s deep love to the world.
Your love for your wife is among the most noteworthy ministries you will ever be in
It is a remarkable charge to be a husband because the call to love your wife is at the same time a call to embody the gospel. It is a supreme and glorious call to offer up your life for another. Your love for your wife is among the most noteworthy ministries you will ever be in. It is likely, of all the ways, the supreme way you will witness to the world the depth of Christ’s unconditional love. In your actions your wife will see Jesus and experience his love.
Rest In Christ
Yes, you will stumble, fall, and fail. But Christ’s blood covers you still. Rest in his love and work from it. You will grow weary and weak. Christ’s love remains yours. Run back to your first love so that you can die to yourself. Renounce wrong and bear witness to our Lord Jesus again and again.