I’ve been a husband for over 3 years. I’m sure I still have a long way to go, but learning about Christ’s relationship to His Church has taught me a lot about marriage. Likewise, marriage has helped me to better understand our relationship to Christ.
It’s a bummer that we cherry-pick scripture all the time. One area I believe many Christians have succeeded in this is in the passages where Paul speaks about marriage and the husband / wife roles. I’ve heard so many Christians prescribe a marriage where the woman is treated like a second-class citizen. That’s just not God’s plan. Unless of course you take scripture out of context. Or take one sentence out of an entire letter in which to base your doctrine off of.
I’ll get to my point but first let’s go to passage I’m referring to:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might 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. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
- Ephesians 5: 22-33
Note that every aspect refers to the example of Christ and His Church.
As the Church, why do we submit to Christ?
Do we submit to Him because He demands it with threats and fear? Absolutely not. If that’s why you submit to Him you clearly haven’t heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We submit to Christ because of the great love He has for us. As 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” It’s His loving kindness that draws us to Him. In order for us to submit to Him, He gave Himself up and loved us first. The first step is not having a wife that submits to your every command. Our first step as husbands is the example given by Christ, to give ourselves up for our wives. To put their needs first and to have their best interest in mind. Our job is not to lord authority over them in order to keep them silenced, in fear or without their own opinions.
Christ loved the Church by giving Himself up for her. By giving up His very life with the Father and then even His earthly physical life. This was done so that God could get His creation back. So that He could get His family back. This was done out of love.
Sometimes we give our lives up for our wives by doing something as simple as washing the dishes or enjoying time with them doing something we may not really even enjoy apart from them. Giving yourself up for your wife means turning off your cussin’ phone and looking her in the eye to have a real conversation, undistracted from everything else.
Loving your wife means telling her in word and deed how special she is, how much you love her. It means encouraging her in Christ to place Him above everything else through prayer and the Word. It means encouraging her to seek Christ when you’re apart. It means lifting her up in prayer and learning Christ from her.
So what do you say husbands? Let’s love our wives like Christ loves the Church. Let’s give ourselves up for them. Let’s outdo one another in showing them honor and encouraging them. Just as Christ does for us.