Wives, be subject unto your husbands.
Husbands, love your wives.
Isn’t it something how the Holy Spirit always touches us where it hurts? What we are most inclined to do, what comes naturally, we are either forbidden or warned not to do.
It is natural for a wife not to want to be subject to her husband. Submission, we noticed, includes the following: recognizing the headship of the husband as a div appointment, listening to the husband when he speaks upon the authority of the Word of God, obeying him in the demands he makes, and seeking his advantage in all the details of life. What wife cares for such a strait jacket. Her very nature rebels against it. Just as teenagers don’t want to listen to mom or dad, the laboring man resents the demands of the boss, the average citizen likes to resist the law, so a wife feels like rebelling against her husband. Yet the Holy Spirit comes to every Christian wife and touches her where it hurts, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord,” Eph. 5:22.
The same thing, however, holds for the husband.
God places upon every husband the responsibility to do the following in exercising his calling as head of the home: making the will of Christ known to everyone in his household, expecting that the will of Christ will be followed by himself and every member of the family, punishing all disobedience and encouraging all obedience to this will of Christ. In exercising this calling, it is most natural for a husband to become a tyrant. Such authority may easily go to his head and he may think that being head of his wife makes him boss of her and the family. He may think that he can treat his wife as he pleases, either making her his slave or even leaving her if she no longer pleases him. Now the Holy Spirit touches the husband where it hurts, where he is most inclined to fail and says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.”
THE LOVE OF A HUSBAND FOR HIS WIFE
Before entering into the sacred bonds of marriage, it is important for a covenant young man to understand what God expects of him within the marriage relation. Once being married, a husband needs repeated reminders. In one brief word the Holy Spirit tells him: love your wife!
It takes some doing for us to properly understand what this love involves. This is primarily true because God’s idea of love is so often distorted with man’s idea. Covenant young people have to filter out all the contaminants that so quickly pollute the pristine beauty of this divine reflection. One sees a pert lass walking bare toed down Pennsylvania Avenue bearing a sign printed in blood red, “Make love not war.” Another scene: beaded youth squatting together passing their pot infested peace pipe and calling it a love feast. Still more: a terribly erotic scene on the marquee of the local cinema labeled, “true love.”
How are we to hear clearly God’s words, “Husbands love your wives?” Only by way of filtration and inspiration, cast aside all corruptions and search the Scriptures.
The opposite of love is hate. If husbands are to love their wives, they must also heed the exhortation ofCol. 3:18, “Wives submit yourselves unto your husbands as it is fit in the Lord, husbands love your wives and be not bitter against them.” Bitterness is an expression of hatred. All hatred has its source in the heart; one detests a person so much that he wants to hurt him and ultimately have him removed from his pathway. A husband can express this in two ways. First by non violence. This may be by not paying proper attention to her; he may speak to her only when it is for his own advantage, or worse yet, he may give her the silent treatment. He may neglect her as a person; perhaps he works so long and hard that he either doesn’t have time or energy to share his fife with her in the least way. Perhaps he finds pleasure in recreation: sports of all sorts, watching television, being out with the boys, to the extent that he neglects his wife, Then there is a violent form of hatred: verbal abuse when he becomes disgusted with her, physically attacking her and making her afraid of his superior strength, sometimes sad to say, even to the extent of actually killing her.
Against this dark background, the light of Scripture illuminates the beautiful picture of true Christian love of a husband for his wife. Let’s notice that we can distinguish three elements. First, when a husband loves his wife, she is his dearest friend. The emphasis is upon friend. Love is interpersonal; it is a reflection of God’s love in Himself and His love for Christ and His people. Such love is the moving cause of His covenant with His people. So intimate is that friendship that it is a marriage relation: God marries us to His Own Son, and thereby we become His children. Thus the love of a husband for his wife is also that of friend with friend. And what makes a friend? It is this which constitutes the second element, that is conversation. If a husband truly loves his wife, he will show it by his conversation with her. According to Scripture God’s love for His people is that, “The, secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him and he will show them His covenant,” Ps. 25:14. Divine love is demonstrated in a sharing of His secret will. Our love reflects this in our openness toward each other. A husband’s love for his wife follows the same pattern: the more he loves her the more he shares his whole life with her. This includes his secret thoughts, his daily interests and activities, and his future plans. Finally, such love brings about the enrichment of the wife. The love of husband for wife is not self centered; it has a more noble end, namely, that the friendship which he has with his wife will benefit her.
This love of a husband for a wife is basically the same as a wife’s love for her husband. It is emphasized here for the husband, in order to off set the temptation to abuse his headship.
How can a husband express this love to his wife? In three ways. First, in a spiritual union of faith. When a young man and woman are united in the Lord, they possess in common a regenerated heart. This heart possesses the love of God and this is what attracts them to each other. Such a husband shares Ids faith with his wife and loves her in Christ. He converses with her concerning the promises of God and always seeks to lift her up to a higher spiritual plane to the glory of God. Secondly, love is expressed in a true love of the person. Sometimes this is forgotten by a husband who thinks that beautiful gifts and showering her with all the conveniences that her little heart desires is all he has to do to show love. If such a husband doesn’t love his wife as a person, he soon learns that his wife is alienated from him. Personal love is expressed in taking time to share life together, talking together, doing things together, sharing life’s joys and sorrows. This is what leads an elderly couple to be able to sit quietly in a chair by each other and be able to think each other’s thoughts. Their lives have been fused into a complete union. Thirdly, love is expressed in a sexual union of the physical body; this is mentioned last because it should take this place in relation to the preceding two. Only love that is spiritual in Christ and expressed daily in a personal union of one’s whole life can be truly sealed in a physical union. Today the sexual side of life is blown way out of proportion to the reality of life. Many newlyweds are conditioned by the overemphasis on sex and think that marriage is the magical door to marital bliss if only they can make out with each other in bed. Soon they realize that sexual love apart from the spiritual union with Christ and the personal fellowship in their daily lives becomes a cause of strife instead of bliss. The physical union must be an expression of the union of heart and soul and when this takes place it is to the enrichment of every husband and wife. It is the calling of the husband to promote this.
Why should a husband desire to love his wife in this manner? We notice that the spiritual union of faith provides the answer, “As Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it,” Eph. 5:15.
Let’s consider four things.
First, Christ loved the church within the context of the will of God and so a husband must love his wife within that same context. Just recall how Christ loved His bride; it was the will of God that He redeem His bride. In love He was reconciled to this task; He would love His bride even unto the pains of hell, “Not my will, but thine be done,” Luke 22:42. So it must be with a husband, he must be convinced that it is the will of God for him to take his wife not only, but be guided by the will of God in all his dealings with his wife.
Secondly, Christ’s love for His bride was expressed in making His bride fit for His Heavenly Father. Notice verses 26, 27, “That he might sanctify and cleanse it … that he might present it to himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle.” Christ loved His church so much that he desired to make her pleasing in God’s sight by cleansing her from the horribleness of sin. So a husband must love his wife. Christ’s love is unique in that it is an atoning love; a husband’s love must be sanctifying. Through their love for one another, they both must rise above the lusts of the flesh and serve God with body, soul, and spirit.
Thirdly, the love which Christ has for His bride is a self denying love. God so loved He gave; Christ loved so much He gave; “greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friend,”John 15:13. So a husband must love his wife. He shows this love by giving; all that he has is his wife’s. Most of all he gives of himself!
Finally, this love which Christ has for His church is perpetual. Christ’s love for His bride is not a one time thing that could come to an end. It is an eternal love bond which began in the eternal counsel of God, continues through all of time, and will be consummated in heaven itself. Note carefully, the church as the bride of Christ often makes herself unworthy of Christ’s love; she commits spiritual adultery. Yet, He does not cast her aside, in love he brings her back through repentance and forgiveness. You see how terrible it is to commit adultery; it is a breach of the love bond. Faithfulness, marital fidelity, promotes the love of a husband for his wife. At the same time we see the error of divorce. If a husband loves his wife he will never put her away; the love bond can never be broken. It may be necessary to separate on account of sin, but sin can never dissolve the union, Through trials and troubles, through joys and sorrows, the Christian husband loves his wife until God terminates that union in death.
Now you can understand why a Christian husband must seek a Christian wife. Unless their marriage is in the Lord, both husband and wife mutually married to Jesus Christ, there is no power to obey this exhortation. Apart from Christ there is selfishness, lust, adultery, and divorce. By nature there is not one husband who can heed this exhortation. Soul searching brings every husband to his knees in repentance and prayer.
In Christ we can appreciate the amazing wonder that in an earthly way a husband can love his wife even as Christ loves His church.
Such a home is truly blessed. Such a marriage is strong, for the cords of divine love hold it together. Such a marriage is blessed, for the blessings of God are showered upon it. Such a marriage is glorious, for it reflects the perfect marriage and reaches up to God in thankful praise to Him.
Wives, submit, yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.
Such a divine touch hurts, but it heals. Thanks be to God!