Volume 14, Issue 4: Husbandry
Two by Six
Normally I don't like wooden defintions, but the versatility of wood is such that there are some forms of definition that
are done best with wood.
In building a house, the external walls are normally constructed from two by sixes, spaced sixteen inches apart. On one
of his rare visits to our building site, the building inspector tried to talk me into spacing the studs two feet apart, but I
wanted structural stability more than I wanted the improvement in insulation efficiency. But regardless, the framed wall of wood
still defines the boundaries of the house.
Consequently, this wall defines, for as long as the house stands, the difference between
inside and outside. This wall
provides support for the trusses, which support the roof, and thereby maintain the difference between
wet and dry. This wall, unlike all
the other walls in the house, has two faces. On the external side, the sheathing is fastened, the housewrap attached, and then
the siding. On the internal side of the same wall, the sheetrock is screwed on, just like all the interior walls. Most interior walls
are solid, while this perimeter wall which defines the house is filled with windows.
Good wood has cured somewhat, and when you cut the metal bands holding a lot together, the two by sixes don't
suddenly curl up like they were specialty french fries or something. They will usually have a moderate crown which can be identified
by looking down the length of the wood, and it is a good idea to have the crowns all on the same side of the wall.
These two by sixes are not finish woodno one is going to try to make cupboards out of themand the point is
for most of their value to be completely out of sight. At the same time, they are usually pine, and fresh cut pine has a
Husbands are a lot like these two by sixes. They have a responsibility to define the boundaries of the familywhat is
the difference between inside and outside. The husband and father is called to name, and know by naming, the members of
his family. When Scripture requires us to refrain from coveting anything that is our neighbor's, it is assuming this kind of
wooden, and very rigid, definition.
Husbands and fathers are to support the roof. Their duty of protection and provision is fundamental. Because of
the support of the roof, children are warm and dry instead of cold and wet. They should grow to maturity, and in this grow to
the point where they no longer take all this for granted. But when they are little, it is the father's duty to see to it that they take
if for granted. A man's wife doesn't take him for granted, but she trusts and believes himand she was there at the
wedding ceremony when he promised that he would support the roof.
A husband has two sides, just like the exterior wall. The side of the wall that faces his family is very much like the
other walls of the house. The sheetrock is the same, the texturing is the same, the color of the paint is the same, pictures are hung,
and so on. This means that the man of the house is to live with his family
as family. The face he presents to them is conducive to
the warmth of life together. But unlike the other walls, six inches away from the warmth of the living room, is the hard snow
or cold rain. And he has to deal with this at the same time. He presents a wall of protective siding to the world, and warmth to
Some men have trouble with performing these two tasks rightly. Some have the hard protective siding facing both ways,
so that they are hard against the world and hard against their own family. Otherssensitive, modern maleshave sheetrock
on both sides. But the sheetrock doesn't weather well. And a few men, the worst kind of all, have sheetrock against the
elements and siding on the inside.
The perimeter wall has windows in it; these enable those who live in the house the pleasure of seeing the world. A
husband and father is to teach. He is to show his family what the outside is like. The family should be able to look through the
worldview windows he supplies, and come to see and understand what is happening outside. These windows enable the family to see,
but they must perform the same protective functions that the wall does. And this calls for great wisdomhow to explain the
world to the children without exposing them to it. Some men opt out and "protect" their children by leaving out the windows.
Others let their kids deal with the world without protection and directionbut these are not windows, but are simply holes in the wall.
A good man isn't warped. He has cured somewhat, he is mature. Many young men believe they are ready for a
family because they have come from a tree that is the right size. Freshly milled at the age of nineteen, they believe they are prepared
to be built into a wall right now because their dimensions are right. They
are two by six, and ten feet long, but when you cut
the metal band, they still sproing all over the driveway.
It is important to remember that the two-by-six husband is not necessarily finish wood. It is far easier to get splinters
from handling this wood than from the hard wood meant to build a coffee table. He is not the prettiest thing, especially with
that Boise Cascade stamp on top of the knot.
This is wood that is meant to be nailed, meant to be fixed, meant to be cut. And when a saw runs through this kind
of wood, the smellan aroma of sacrificeis one of the sweetest smells on earth.