“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 9 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverences her husband” (Ephesians 5:25-33).
It is a plain commandment of God as recorded in Scripture that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. The need for such a command came in the first century because of loose morals in society, the acceptance of concubines, and the freedom of divorce. The biblical way men are to love their wives is found in Ephesians 5:25.
Ideally, men should be willing to die for their wives if necessary.
The story is told of a young girl who asked her boyfriend,
“Would you die for me?”
“No,” the boy replied.
“Well, why not?” the girl asked.
“Mine is an undying love,” she was told.
If the supreme sacrifice is willing to be made, lesser details should be no problem in comparison such as providing for the wife’s physical, financial, social, and spiritual needs. The objectives of authentic love are many, especially if there is to be a Christian marriage.
First, the believer is to have a marriage that is holy and without blemish. This means, in part, that there is no room for cutting, critical remarks, selfish desires of immediate gratification, or needless arguments over money, or anything else. The Bickersons might make for a fun comic strip, but they are a blight on the body of Christ if they represent a Christian couple.
Second, the Christian marriage should be characterized by such a love as a man loves his own body. This means he should be gentle with his wife, and be concerned for her by nature. I read of a woman who was in a car wreck. When she called her husband, he immediately started to tell her what to do about the insurance, and with the police report. He told her in detail what to say and do. After listening for several minutes, the wife waited until she could speak and then she said, “I will do all that you said. And, just in case you wanted to know, I am alright.” And with that she slammed the phone down. Her husband should have naturally cared more and thought about her and her wellbeing above all else.
Third, the objective of authentic Christian love is to nurture the wife in the things of Christ (Eph. 5:9). Men are appointed by God to be the spiritual leaders of the home. They should take this responsibility seriously. In the Day of Judgment, many husbands will be found wanting for neglecting to assume their ordained role as spiritual leader in the family.
For those men who need encouragement in this area, know this. It is never too late to learn to lead in spiritual matters. This can be done in part
by making sure you are born again, and the family is in a Bible teaching Church;
by praying before meals;
by reading and studying the Bible;
by providing a Divine perspective on life,
and by being a godly man in speech and conduct.
A fourth objective of authentic love in a Christian marriage is to live faithfully for life with the wife of one’s choice (5:31). Ideally, young men are to leave their own nuclear families, emotionally, financially, and physically, in order to unite with the wife of their youth intimately and exclusively.
A fifth objective of authentic love, for the man, is to live in such a way as to receive the reverence, or respect of the wife (Eph. 5:33). What kind of man will a woman respect? Perhaps the answer in part is the man who wants to be better. With that in mind, I wrote the following many years ago.
If I Were the Man I Would Like to Be…
I would have the mind of the apostle Paul, who was able to understand all the great mysteries of God.
I would have the ears of Noah, who heard the voice of God telling him to build an ark, and did so by faith.
I would have the eyes of Peter, who was able to weep over his sins, and yet see Jesus as the Son of the Living God.
I would have the mouth of Stephen, who was able to preach with power, after being filled with the Holy Spirit.
I would have the shoulders of Moses, who was able to bear the responsibility of leading over a million people to the Land of Promise.
I would have the arms of Samson, to have physical strength to do the work of the ministry.
I would have the heart of David, who was fearless when all others cowered before a Philistine, who was outside the covenant of grace.
I would have the loins of mercy of Hosea, who loved without measure, and pleaded with others to follow the Lord God.
I would have the knees of the apostle John. He was so well known for his life of prayer that the early Christians called him, “Camel Knees.”
I would have the thighs of Jacob, who was touched one night by the Angel of Jehovah, that he might learn to lean on Jesus for the rest of his life.
I would have the legs of Joshua, who stood up in old age and said, “Give me this mountain for my inheritance,” and then he went forth to conquer his enemies.
I would have the feet of Philip, who went forth preaching the gospel, as the Spirit directed him.
For character, I would possess the faith of Abraham, who believed God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.
I would have the courage of Gideon, who despite his fears, went forth to battle.
I would have the vision of Ezekiel, who witnessed afresh great, and marvelous, things.
But most of all, I would have the burden of Andrew, who longed for souls to come to the Savior.
I would have the grace of young Samuel, who submitted himself to the God of the Universe, and said, “Speak Lord, thy servant heareth.”
I would exercise the authority of Titus, who was able to go to a local assembly, and set in order the things that were lacking.
I would have the intense spirit of Jeremiah, who had fire in his bones. He could not keep silent.
I would have the patience of Job, to deal with the adversities of life.
I would possess the wisdom of Solomon, to know how to counsel others.
For clothing, I would wear the prophetic mantel of Elijah, the humble desert sandals of John the Baptist, and the robes of Joseph showing the favor he had with the Father.
For food, I would eat the manna given from heaven, even the Bread of Life.
I would desire the sincere milk of the Word of God, like a newborn baby desires the milk of its mother.
I would drink of the cup of Living Water.
But most of all, I would be like Christ who loved me, and came to give His life for me.
Most Christian woman could respect a man who wants to be better, and to be like Jesus.
Finally, the objective of authentic love is to witness to a lost world through marriage about the relationship that exists between Christ and His bride, the church. In order to meet these noble objectives, there are several principles that can be observed.
First, there is a particular man for a particular woman according to the pattern established in the Garden of Eden.
Second, God designs a man and a woman to balance each other emotionally, socially, physically, intellectually and verbally.
Third, marriage is a divine institution and is not to be broken except in the cases of death (Rom. 7:2), divorce for pornea (Matt. 5:31-32), or desertion (2 Cor. 6:15).
Fourth, marriage is for mature, rational, adults.
Fifth, the framework which marriage is to operate in, the foundation on which marriage is to be built is authentic love as opposed to the eros love of the world (1 Cor. 13). There must be a touching of the souls before there is a touching of the bodies.
Sixth, in every structure there must be a final and ultimate authority. Where marriage is involved, God has given this position to the man (Eph. 5:22).
Concerning Ephesians 5:22, several truths should be noted.
First, the word “submit” speaks of rank and authority, not brains or ability. The Bible does not denounce or degrade women. Historically, women have been liberated and elevated in the countries where Christianity is accepted. The woman becomes the object of respect, not a piece of chattel. The woman becomes a partner, a helpmate with her husband, not someone who is kept in ignorance. Christianity liberates women in as far as they accept their role and responsibility which is to be under the authority of their husbands. Even if the man proves to be “unworthy” of submission, God still desires obedience as long as no unspiritual principles are involved.
Second, Ephesians 5:22 teaches that women are to submit to their own husbands. There is a limited area to submit to. Ladies need to be careful of giving obedience to men who are not their husbands. They need to submit in a positive way as unto the Lord. A spiritual lesson is set forth when this is done according to verse 23. As the church is subject unto Christ, so the wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.
An honest effort to obey the teaching of this passage will bring harmony to the home, a proper role model for children and the elimination of superficiality whereby a couple is loving in public but rude in private. There will also be a measure of freedom for women as the burden of responsibility is given back to the husband.
Third, submission is not another word for manipulation. Women are not to use food, sex, tears, anger, or anything else to get what they want. They are to be under the authority of their own husbands as unto the Lord. There is no room for secrecy, rebellion, or willfulness. Ultimately, no man can make a woman obey or submit in her heart who does not want to.
A woman must desire to please her husband. A Christian woman will want to please her husband as unto the Lord. When a biblical marriage is practiced the love of God and His faithfulness is made manifest and the gospel is preached to a watching world. In health or in sickness there is to be love and faithfulness.
The world must see our love and our faithfulness to Christ our Savior. The story is told of a woman sitting beside her sick husband’s bedside looking at him. He said in a feeble voice, “What are you doing?” And she replied, “Just loving you.” When the Lord looks at us and says, “What are you doing?” let our answer be, “Just loving you.”