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Husbands

December 26, 2010 Leave a comment

In Ephesians 5:21 through 5:33 Paul writes about the relationship between husband and wife, and likens it to that between Christ and the Church. He starts by saying that we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Notice please that it is a mutual submission guys. This is not a one way street. Notice also that it is a different word that is used here than that used in Ephesians 6:1 where children are told to obey their parents. My point is that wives are not called to “obey” their husbands.

In this entry I will speak to husbands, since that’s what I am. “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” (ESV). As men we have a tendency to look at that passage and think very highly of ourselves: we’re sacrificing ourselves for our wives. We’re amazing people, we husbands, aren’t we.

Trust me when I tell you, I have done my share of thinking well of myself. But that is not the point of the statement that Paul is making.

Let’s start with the church. What kind of people make up the church? Are they holy, righteous, kind, merciful, tolerant people? Is that what you have found when you do more than scratch the surface of the church? Or have you found another kind of person, the kind that needs a bit more grace than you’re willing to extend?

I have found all kinds of people in the church, but without exception I can tell you that every one of us is a sinner. The church is full of people who need forgiveness. The church is made of people who have lied, stolen, cheated, lusted, committed adultery, who are arrogant, have dishonored parents, who are combative, depraved, who have participated in all kinds of sexual deviations. You name it, someone in the church has done it. So I repeat, the church is made up of real sinners.

If ever there was a group of people more undeserving of God’s love you would be hard pressed to find them. Yet there you have it, we’re called the bride of Christ. Jesus loves us as a husband loves his wife, but not as a human husband. We don’t set the standard for loving wives, and you wives have God to thank for that. If we husbands set the standard for God’s love then God would not be a very loving God, would he?

God’s love is different than the world’s love. Christ made an amazing sacrifice for people who certainly did not deserve it. An absolutely holy God made this sacrifice for the most vile people. And we husbands are called to do the same. Now, I’m not calling our wives vile. I’m just saying that the love we’re supposed to extend to our loves is not like the world’s love. It is not like human love.

The way we love most of the time is dependent upon something that we see or find in our spouse. She has some beauty, wealth, personality, or other characteristic that we find engaging. This is what some of my friends recommend. Find a woman that has prestige, personality, and panache: some positive characteristic. It’s not a bad idea really. But that love will be fickle. What happens when you discover, much to your dismay, that she no longer has some of those characteristics? What if she never really had them? Most men move on to the next woman. They become serial monogamists.

God’s love is not like that. First, God is not partial with his love, and second he doesn’t expect us to be worthy of his love. As I said above, if he were to only love those who are worthy of his love, then no one would be loved by God. But it’s in his nature to love what he created.

So, husbands, what does this mean for us? We are commanded, yes commanded, to love our wives, period. Love her not only when she deserves it, but also when she doesn’t deserve it. Love is not about being attracted to her, it’s God’s command. If you can love her when you’re not attracted to her, she will become attractive. That’s part of what it means when it says that she will be “sanctified” as the result. Love is not about what, or who she is. It is about what and who we are in Christ.

There will likely come a time in your married life when you are not attracted to your wife. In fact, there will likely come a time when you find that she is not the person you believed her to be. Some, or maybe all, of those engaging characteristics of hers disappear. Husband, you are still obligated to love her. Indeed, you are under a greater obligation to do so since she needs it more. There is something powerfully redemptive about being loved when you need it.

Divine love is such that God loves us despite the fact that he knows us.

That’s the love that Christ has for the church. That’s the love that husbands are to have for their wives. That’s the call that God has laid on you as a husband. But let’s take it one more step. She is in the world just like you are in the world. That means that she’s been wounded like you have been wounded. She needs you to be Christ to her in the very place where she hurts the most, where her wounds are deepest. This may be a place of great pain for her, and it may call you to be very dependent on “supernatural” love and grace.

The role of husband is to be the leader in the home. So, lead already. Leadership is not the same as boss-ship. It means “go first.” Set the example. Establish a vision.

Love first.

Categories: Love, Marriage