What does it mean for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church?

God tells us as Christian husbands that we are to love our wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. This is both a beautiful picture and at the same an intimidating proposition for any Christian husband. God tells us that our relationship with our wife is much more than just any human relationship. Marriage is a symbol, of the relationship between God and his people, and as such, we as men have the awesome and solemn responsibility of modeling God’s attributes toward his people in our relationship with our wife.

The Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of God states:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” – Ephesians 5:25 (KJV)

Not only does Paul tell us as husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the Church, but he follows that statement with the greatest example of Christ’s love for his church, that he “gave himself up for it”.

I would venture to guess that most Christians and even many non-Christians would wholeheartedly embrace this statement of the Apostle Paul. Feminists and egalitarians love this teaching (although they hate the previous statements about submission).

How to did Christ give himself up for his Church?

A lot of people think the only way Christ “gave himself up” for the Church was in dying on the cross for our sins and while I would agree that was the greatest way he “gave himself up”, it was certainly not the only way he did.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Philippians 2:5-8(KJV)

Christ as part of his sacrifice for us confined himself to an earthly body. While he was still fully God and at the same time fully man, he chose not to use all his powers. Christ not only sacrificed himself on the cross, but he also sacrificed himself every day for 33 years by confining himself to mortal human form. Jesus Christ, being the very God who created the universe, humbled himself to the point that he washed his Apostles feet.

Why did Christ give himself up for his Church?

This is a question that many Christians fail to ask, or they will give it a simple answer. Many might answer “He died to pay for our sins” and leave it at that. While it is true that Christ gave himself up for our sins that is not the ONLY reason he gave himself up.

Paul tells us not only that Christ gave himself up for the Church, but he tells us why he did it:

“that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 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.” – Ephesian 5:26-27(KJV)

Christ did not sacrifice himself only to give us eternal life in heaven when we die. He did this also to sanctify his Church, or to make her holy. He washes her and cleanses her through his word.

When Christ died on the cross he gave us positional sanctification – this makes it as though we never sinned when we die and face judgement – God will only see Christ’s righteousness when he looks at us. But that does not mean he wants us to keep sinning in the here and now because he has purchased our salvation. Instead he wants us to fight against our sin nature and live holy and righteous lives even in these sin cursed bodies, something we can only do through submission to his word and his will, and only with the help of his Holy Spirit – this is called progressive sanctification.

How a Christian husband can love his wife the way Christ loves his Church

So now that we understand how Christ loved the Church – by giving himself up for her, and also why he loved the Church – to make her holy we can practically apply these truths to how a husband can “give himself up” for his wife.

A man sacrifices himself when he marries a woman

I had a friend from high school who dated many women but always ended up breaking up with them. Years later when we were in our thirties, I asked him why he had stopped dating, and he said he realized the reason he kept breaking up with all those women was because he did not want to make the sacrifices that marriage demanded.  He had many hobbies and he was on bowling leagues, baseball leagues and enjoyed his job and being with his friends and family. He felt that he would have to give up a lot of that if he were to get married and would have to sacrifice the things he wanted to do for his wife and kids.

While I might not agree with his selfish reasons for not getting married, I appreciated my friend’s honesty. Many men think they can get married and nothing will change, they can continue with all the same activities they did before they were married, but marriage takes time, sacrifice and work.

With marriage we gain companionship but with these blessings comes responsibility and obligation to sacrifice ourselves for our wives.

Five examples of a husband sacrificing or “giving himself up” for his wife

Here are some real life scenarios where you may be called to sacrifice yourself as a husband:

  1. Your wife has been caring for a sick child all day and the house is a wreck and no dinner is made when you get home from work. You would need to sacrifice yourself for her by making dinner and taking care of the other kids.
  2. Your wife is sick – you will need to sacrifice yourself for her by taking care of the kids, dinner, laundry and all the other things she does, in addition to caring for her physical needs. In addition to these other sacrifices, you will also need to sacrifice you sexual needs for her greater physical needs at this time.
  3. Your wife experiences the death of a close friend or loved one, and this causes a great deal of emotional stress on her. You may need to help out more around the house while she is experiencing this emotional pain, and you will need to sacrifice your sexual needs for her greater emotional needs during this time.
  4. You’re getting ready to plan your hunting trip, taking the calendar and talking with your wife about the week you are thinking of going. She tells you that a church in the area is having a woman’s conference and she really would like to go. You sacrifice yourself by either canceling or rescheduling your hunting trip so that your wife can have her greater spiritual needs met.
  5. You are shopping for new furniture and you have given your wife the budget she has to spend. You see a set you would like, she compares it with a set she would like (and you really don’t like her set), but you sacrifice you preference for furniture for hers, knowing that she as the manager of your home needs to feel comfortable the type of furniture that goes in your home.

Conclusion

In this post we discussed the Biblical principle that God wants us as husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. He gave himself up not only to pay for the sins of his Church, but also to make her holy and blameless. As husbands, God expects us to emulate Christ’s sacrificial love for his Church in how we love our wives. God expects us as husbands to sacrifice our own needs for the needs of our wife.

Now that we have discussed the Biblical foundation for a husband loving his wife sacrificially as Christ loves his Church, in my next post we will look at principles for Christian husbands to know whether they are sacrificing themselves or their faith for their wife in any given situation.

What Wives could learn from Secretaries

WifeSecretary

What Wives could learn from Secretaries? Consider the relationship between a man and his female secretary, not just the actions, but the attitudes that female secretaries generally have have toward their male bosses.  Then let’s compare and contrast those actions and attitudes with the actions and attitudes many wives have toward their husbands:

WifeSecretary13a WifeSecretary12a
“May I get you some coffee?” “Get you what? You have two legs and two arms – go get it yourself.”
“Would you like me to get you some lunch?” “I am not your waitress, go get your own lunch.”
“Do you need me to pick up your dry cleaning?” “I am not your maid, pickup your own clothes, and you could do some laundry too.”
“Is there any way I could assist you?” “Help you? I am the one that needs help around here.”
“Is the way I did this ok, or would you like it done differently?” “This is the way I do it, and if you don’t like it keep it to yourself.”

The first thing that many people would say to these two lists is, the comparisons are not fair, because a secretary is an employee of her boss(and thus a paid servant of sorts) and a wife is an equal partner, not her husband’s servant.

But as we have pointed out several times in the this blog, the modern teaching that marriage is an equal partnership between a man and a woman is not found anywhere in the Bible.  God, the creator of man, woman and marriage, defines marriage very differently, and equality has little to do with marriage.

God’s purpose in creating man, woman and marriage was to demonstrate his eternal qualities, and the relationship between himself and man kind.

In this symbolism, Man represents God, in his loving leadership, protection and provision qualities, while woman represents the people of God, and the attitude and actions that God’s people should have towards him.

In Ephesians 5:22-33 we have this symbolism very plainly stated by the Apostle Paul:

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 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.

29 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 reverence her husband.

In our modern day, if you asked most Christians if the Church was made for the glory of God, that the church should submit to Christ in everything, serve him and humbly reverence him they would say all of these things are true of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

In fact if you were to ask most people, is the Church equal to Christ, they would say – Absolutely not!

Yet if you ask many of these same Christians(including Christian feminists), these same questions about the relationship between a husband and wife the answers are very different.

“Of course a wife is equal to her husband, and marriage is a equal partnership” they say.

“A woman is not her husband’s servant!” they say.

While we are all equal in our humanity, the Bible never says men and women are equal beyond that. Especially in marriage, men and women are not equal, and the symbolism and roles within marriage from a Biblical perspective make this very plain.

So let me bring this back around to the secretary illustration I began this article with.

Do you wonder why men often are drawn to actions and attitudes of their secretaries?

No it is not because all these men are selfish and egotistical as our feminist friends would have us believe. It is because men are wired by God himself to desire to be respected and served.

Let say very clearly – I am not saying it is ever right for a man to have an affair with his secretary. Many of the men who have had affairs with their secretaries have had loving wives at home who may be respecting and serving their husbands as they ought to.  But far too often, we neglect another reason why men have affairs with women who work under them.

This is explained by the fact that many times the secretary may not be as attractive as the wife.  The reason is because of how the secretary gives the man the respect he so craves, and she serves him willingly, and humbly.

Again – I am not saying these are excuses for a man to have an affair with his secretary, I am only identifying a reason that is often ignored.

Conclusion

I invite Christian women to truly examine Ephesians 5 and many other Bible passages I talk about on this site.

Contrary to the false accusations that are often hurled at those Christians who believe in the gender roles as God created them, Christian men are not selfish beings looking to stomp on women.

We as Bible believing Christian men are simply seeking to live out our design, our role, and our symbolism in God’s design, or at least we should be.

The question is Christian woman, will you submit to God’s design and be willing to do the same?

Do you want your to please God and your husband as a Christian woman? Then respect him and serve him.