How does "Ephesians 5 Men" work?
E5men gives Christian men the opportunity to make a true, unselfish gift to their wives: eating only bread and water for one day is a selfless act that can bring grace, spiritual healing, and growth to their wife, or to their future bride if they're single.
And the men fast one Wednesday a month?
Yes--generally, the first Wednesday of the month. We do it in communion with each other and give each other strength. But any day is fine. The requirement is simply a minimum of one day a month. Many men choose to fast every Wednesday either for their wives or other women in their lives. Or they fast for e5 women, who join because they want to be prayed for-for healing in their marriage or their life. When you say e5men fast for their wives' spiritual healing and growth, is there the idea that the wife may need that more than the husband? No. In fact, the idea is that if the husband is healed, the wife will soon follow. If he was more kind, gentle, and patient, if he thought of her more often, she would be glad to respond in kind. The idea is that both need healing. The husband often needs healing from being selfish, and this act is a way for him to become holy as well. He works at his self-mastery and at bringing God's grace to that marriage. Through that he becomes more patient, kind, and gentle. I've seen many cases where this happens. I know in my own case, my temper is much less. So there are a lot of good things that happen for men and their spirituality. So it's kind of a complementary growth and healing, but the man takes this on as a burden for both himself and his wife. And the wife often responds in kind with her own renewal of her spiritual life. Why fasting? Why doesn't the husband just help his wife by, let's say, taking out the garbage more often? He should be doing that. But there are several reasons why fasting works and why it's attractive to men.
Right. It's not a perfect analogy, as Christ was sinless, and we obviously are not [laughs]. But the headship of the husband, relative to the headship of Christ to the church, is one of service. It's not that the man is needed as the "savior," but the one at the service of the bride. That's similar to the Promise Keepers' idea that the husband's headship in the family is one of "servant leadership." Yes. That eliminates this tyrannical "headship" approach, which can often be misconstrued. Once he lives the fast, the man quickly recognizes that he is not exactly the world's greatest person [laughs] and recognizes how weak he really is. The fast actually often knocks him down a few notches. From the outside, it looks as though women need us-and women do need us, to say that women don't need us would be wrong, to say that men don't need women would be wrong. We need all their spiritual gifts as well. This is just one way a man can conform himself to Christ in a particular way. So what is a man's vocation today?
The man's vocation is to recognize his true nature as a kingly servant, one who is to lay down his life for his bride and for all women, to serve women with the gifts he is given as a man, and to raise up women above men.
Yes, that's a perpetual intention of the e5men: praying for all women hurt or abused by men. Men are asked first to love their wife rightly, but through that, to love all women rightly.
There are many women in the world who just don't have a good man in their lives, and no one praying for them. This fast is a way to pray for all sorts of women in difficulties, even if they're not signed up with e5. For example, we can pray for all the women in prostitution, harmed by abortion, or raped.
Simple bread, just something to keep up the sugar level and keep you going. Nothing with raisins or butter. It would taste too good [laughs]. I tend to eat breadsticks. Usually I don't eat anything, though-it's easier just not to think about it and just drink water.
Is there a tendency to chow down the Tuesday night before the fast, like with Mardi Gras?It happens [laughs]. I won't say I don't enjoy my meal a little more on Tuesday night, take an extra piece of meat, or maybe have a little snack later in the evening. But what's really neat is the day after the fast. It's like a death and resurrection thing: you go through the death of Christ by fasting, a death to self, and then you have this celebration. Food never tastes so good.
What do the wives say when they hear their husbands are doing this?
I just got an e-mail today--and I see these almost every other day--where a woman breaks down in tears.
Any other testimonials?
On the men's side, they become much more patient, gentle, and kind, and grow deeper in their faith. They do this and recognize they do have some self-mastery and control and therefore decide to develop their prayer life, which they would never have considered before. They just become holier men.
You can hear in the e-mails that people are making serious strides in healing their marriages. This has given them the courage to do it. To men, it's giving courage; to women, it's giving hope.
And even if your marriage isn't troubled, this can make it stronger?
Yes. I have a very good marriage, I would say. Since starting fasting, I've become a better person. I've noticed, my wife has noticed. I'm much less grouchy.
The key benefit of fasting for men is this: they know they need to improve, and they just can't seem to do it. Fasting seems to get them there. Say they want to be less lustful and less angry, and fasting is the thing that detaches them from those enslavements. And even little personality faults they think they'll never get rid of start to fade away.