The Bible says much about loving our spouse. Yes, this goes both ways, but God has some specific commandments for husbands. These are not “holy suggestions” as we will be accountable to Him for how well we did them.
1. Love your wife “as Christ loved the church (his bride) and gave himself up for her”. Most of us are very familiar with this passage from Ephesians 5:25, but the question is….do we actually understand what this means and do we do it?
Simply put – how did Christ love His bride? Answer? He loved her to death…he died. He gave everything up for her: his daily agenda, his comforts, his desires, – his very life. He volunteered for this assignment. He initiated. He subjected himself to a frail human body, was tempted, ministered long hours to people who never really understood him. At a young age he was unjustly accused, sentenced and suffered an agonizing death – why? Because he loved his bride (us) too much to let her suffer God’s wrath and live eternally separated from Him. We are called to love our wife – to death.
2. “Sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish”. (Eph. 5:26-27)
We are called to sanctify or “set her apart” and protect her from being stained, spotted and wrinkled by the evil, fallen world we live in together. It is our great responsibility to pray for her, read God’s Word with her and encourage her to thrive in the gifting she has been given by God. We are to fight the enemy on her behalf. We are to keep her eyes and ears from seeing/hearing/experiencing evil , harmful things that would “stain” her. She is God’s precious daughter and we are to treat her as such.
God places us as the “head” of the home not to be the king or the bully, but to be the servant leader. We are to follow His example by humbling ourselves, putting her needs ahead of our own – and laying our life down for her. We are to protect and defend her, love and pray for her – like He does us.
3. Love your wife “as your own body” (Eph. 5:28). This verse reminds us that we are to “nourish and cherish” her in the same way we nourish and cherish our own bodies. Think about it – we treat ourselves pretty well. We eat when we’re hungry. We indulge our appetites for food, entertainment, adventure and pleasure. It comes very naturally that we think about and pamper ourselves above everyone else. We don’t have to be taught to be selfish (self-focused). When our body is tired – we rest. When we are hungry – we eat. We don’t like to deny ourselves.
What then does Jesus mean when he tells us to love our wife like this? Basically, he is calling us to a very high standard. He is calling us to put her needs, desires, agenda ahead of our own. He is telling us that her life and her needs should come first – in the same way we currently put our own first.
The commandments to husbands are not meant to frustrate or exasperate us. It is easy to see that they are impossible to obey without help – His help. That is why we are first called in Ephesians 5:18 to “be filled with the Spirit” because it is impossible to love our wife “as Christ loved the church” without His life living and loving in and through us.
Marriage was never intended to be lived apart from God. It is only as we walk with Him (every day) that we will ever experience marriage as it was created and intended by Him.