Last week I wrote a post entitled, Wives, beware! In that post I was confessing the danger I pose to my husband and family when I do not handle the power my husband grants me with great care. My scriptural support was based on Genesis 3 and supplemented by research in Interpersonal Communication.
I hope my words had credibility as I addressed the role wives can play in harming their man.
Because I am a wife, after all.
This week I hope I have credibility speaking about husbands as well.
Because I am a wife, after all.
In an effort to be a great wife to my husband of now 20-plus years, I have studied the verses that apply to wives. In so doing, I have also studied the verses that apply to husbands because the verses lay side-by-side on the page.
Husband and wife verses are intertwined, just like husbands and wives are supposed to be.
This week I also begin my discussion rooted in Scripture. God’s design for marriage is described in Ephesians 5:22-33. I have highlighted a series of portions that will underline the major point I am making today. The highlights are for teaching purposes only, not meant to suggest that any portion of scripture is more important than another.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 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. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church–for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Using the bolded thread as our guide, Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. We, men and women alike, then submit to Christ as the head and as our Savior. Christ loved the church (us) so much He laid down His life for us. The purpose of His laying down his life was so He could present us as radiant. Christ feeds and cares for us like we feed and care for our own bodies. Marriage is a profound mystery. It has never been about us, but about being a display of Christ’s relationship to the church.
God’s optimum purpose for marriage is to be a display to the world of Christ’s love for the church (us) as His Bride or body.
I think because this portion of scripture starts with, Wives, submit to your husband as to the Lord, that people can perceive that wives are to be the ones that have to “go first.” By this, I mean they are obligated to make the first move on the path to a successful marriage. I believe it is possible that some men believe it is the wife’s role to first submit before he is obligated to then lay down his life for her. This is what I mean by the wife having to go first. If a wife happens not to submit, the husband may think he is off the hook with regard to loving her back in a sacrificial way. I would argue this is not the order of things. Just look at the verses about Christ’s love for the church threaded through the above verses.
On every page of the entire Bible, God’s love goes first.
After Adam and Eve broke relationship with Him in the garden, God took the initiative and pursued then with, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). While were still sinners, and you and I were still not yet born, God sent His Son to die for us (Romans 5:8).
Using the analogy of Christ and the church, the husband is to first lay down his life for his wife like Christ laid down his life for the church.
Then the wife responds in safe and eager submission.
How much easier it is for a wife to submit to a husband who is denying himself on her behalf, whose goal is to present her holy and blameless without stain or wrinkle. Submission is how all of us…men and women alike…are to respond to Christ’s perfect, unselfish love.
I think husbands have a tougher time imagining that they too are the Bride of Christ. As men of God, they too respond in daily submission to Christ. It is only here on earth that men play the role of husband. In eternity they too will be the Bride.
Love goes first, then we respond. All of us live like that.
A husband loving his wife in this way does not stain her day with his actions. He does not wrinkle her heart or mar her identity with his words. Each year of their marriage, a wife living with a husband loving her in such a way becomes more radiant every year.
So here’s the warning for husbands today…
Are you laying down your life for your wife?
By that, are you denying your own interests, esteeming her, providing for her physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually? Because that is how Christ loves the church…and you are part of the church, dear man. You are loved in this same way by Christ too.
Or is the opposite true?
Are you asking your wife to go first? Does she have to first submit before you love her like Christ loves you? If so, I hope I have shown, that is the reverse order found in Scripture.
Christ loved first. Then men and women responded.
Men love first. Then wives respond.
Even our bodies are built that way.
Husband, if you demand submission without first laying down your life for your wife, then you are asking her to submit to you out of obedience to God more than out of love for you. It gets tricky if you are married to a wife who loves God with all of her heart. She will submit to you even if are not loving her like Christ loved the church. Such a wife could cause a man to think that he is doing okay, or that he can get away with a careless love for his bride.
If I was a husband, it would break my heart to find out that my wife was submitting to me more out of obedience to God then because she trusts me and enjoys living life with me.
Sure, you are imperfect like she is, but does she see you trying?
Men who are trying to love God’s way are stunningly beautiful.
Husbands, please remember you too are the Bride of Christ, right along with your wife. You are granted leadership as a husband in this life so that you can display Christ’s amazing love for the church to the world. So the next time you go home, walk into your home as a representative of Jesus Christ and a model for how He loves the church.
What you will get back is a wife submitting more easily because both you and God make her feel safe.
To the two men that live in my home at this time, may you each lay down your life for your wife like Christ laid down His life for the church, His bride.
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