Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
~ Ephesians 5:25-28 ~
While many people, mostly women, get caught up on the handful of verses prior to this section, the command for men is grave indeed. This is not to say that their command is bad, but that it is weighty. Wives are to submit to their husbands as the Church does to Christ, but what are the husbands commanded to do? To love us. That seems simple enough. What does a little love cost? But no, this command is more. This is not some flighty, fleeting love that comes and goes with the passing week; this is not a “I can fall out of love with you” kind of love; this is not a love you can say but not act upon. Instead, this is a love as Christ loved the Church.
What does this mean? It means that the husband must not only lead, but take upon himself all the responsibility of his and the wife’s. This is not just decisions and a control factor as some might suggest, want, or balk at. This responsibility includes debt, shame, guilt, reward, and sacrifice. He does not get glory in this position but a burden. His is to sacrifice his wants and desires, and even oftentimes his needs, so that he can take care of his wife and, as the case may be, children. He is to put his wife above himself, caring for her first. After all, this is what Christ has done for us. And this is why he does it. As Christians, we learned what love was because of Christ. Before that, we only knew the good feeling associated with attraction. But Christ love demonstrates true sacrifice, grace, mercy, and forgiveness that comes with true love. This is no simple task and no easy measure, but it is one that men have been commanded to follow.
And this is not to say that such a love will be easy. Men, you will often find that your wives are difficult to love. After all, we are sinful and need forgiveness as much today as we did yesterday. This is why we should daily be thankful and praising God for His grace poured out upon us. How does this look in the marriage relationship?
While this clip and this movie are about a broken marriage that is trying to heal, and one that has yet to know Christ, I think the message puts into perspective not only Christ’s salvation but also the way men are supposed to love their wives. Like I said before, this is not a love that is half-hearted or self-serving, but a sacrificial, whole-hearted love that mirrors Christ. Yes, your wife might not be acting the way she is supposed to or called to. Love her anyway. She might reject what you do. Love her anyway. She might not be submitting as the Church submits to Christ. Love her anyway. Just as women are to give respect even when you are not seemingly due it, we are to give it anyway. If you find this charge difficult, remember this: while we were dead in sin, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6-8).
This is true for both men and women, but in regards to marriage, husbands are to love in the same way. This is a difficult standard to live up to. Christ expects much, and that is why we need grace, mercy, and forgiveness from God. We need His love, and He loves us even though we do not deserve it. So too do our spouses deserve this kind of love. While your wife might be dead in stubbornness or anger, love her and sacrifice yourself for her. In this way, you will be fulfilling your call as a Christian husband.
This not only a command to men but also a wake-up call for women. Do not desire your husband’s position. Take contentment in yours and measure out your responsibility within it. Yours is no less meaningful, but take care that you do not harm your husband’s spirit by negating what he does or making him feel as though he were less by usurping it. We too need to work to be more what Christ desires for His Church: to be submissive and helpful, not overbearing and hurtful. Respect regardless of our selfish nature. Each of us have our responsibilities; let us not neglect ours to make our husband’s duties more difficult.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of your should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant , being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!
~ Philippians 2:3-8 ~
This passage is for men and women, husbands and wives. Yet I say to men especially: you are to take on Christ as an example in your marriage. This is for you, for your wives, and for your children. You are the example and head of your family; you are also a servant who is to seek out the best interests of others before your own. In this way you will not only be fulfilling your duty as a christian father and husband, you will also be discovering true manliness. For a man is not the strongest, meanest, or best at what he does, but he is one who is providing and protecting those who depend on him, whoever they may be, becoming someone worthy of the respect given him, and sacrificing himself for them, just as Christ did for the Church. This is love.
Blessings to you and yours,