You know, those of us in the interfaith section are constantly bombarded with what makes us different and arguments on who is right about this or that...mostly the nature of Jesus.
However, I thought perhaps it would be nice for us to discuss the roles within the family. Specifically the roles of Husband/Father and Wife/Mother. This is something that can a common ground for our faiths and also be different in our understanding.
Lets start with Husband/Fathers. What are the main roles of a man in the family?
I think we can all agree that scripturally, the holy books define the role of the husband as the head of the family. He is the spiritual head of the family responsible for the direction his family travels in their faith. He is also the main provider of the family, responsible to provide sustance and shelter to his family. He is also a teacher, the mentor of his sons and daughters.
As a husband, he has a responsibility to take care of his wife. To love her, cherish her and to protect her. This means having a gentle hand and showing her respect.
There are many instances of the Prophets of the Books showing love and respect to their wives. Jacob loved Rachael so much he labored 7 years for her, and then another 7 even though he was tricked by her family. Abraham loved his wife Sarah, he did not cast her aside even though she could not give him children. He cherished her so much that he (with much heartache) gave up his son Ishmail and sent him with his mother into the desert. And in Islam, there are many incidents that show a deep respect and gentleness that Muhammed (pbuh) showed to his wives.
So, what things do each of us find the most important role of a husband/father?
For me, the most important role is love. I don't mean that gooey love that comes from Hallmark cards. I'm talking about love in a divine manner. Love as charity. Love is more than just romantic love. Its a genuine concern for the welfare of others. To be a source of love in the family is very important and is not just the domain of the woman.
When a man brings love into the family, he brings with him the desire to work towards the best for his family. He treats his wife kindly, respects her and is concerned about her feelings and her welfare. He's not cruel or selfish. He also spends time with his children. He works with them on their studies and takes and interest in the little things that are important to them.
There is nothing more precious than a father patiently listening to his 5 year old daughter describing her latest adventures with her friends or his son's hunt and capture of the frog that they found in the yard.
There is no greater love a husband can show than to get up and help his wife with dishes after they have both had long days. The job is done quicker and some precious moments can be shared as they work together.
For me, these simple things mean more than material things a husband can bring to a family.
So, what do other people think? I base my arguments in 1 Corinthians 13. Feel free to quote other sources for your ideas.