As a single woman, I loved Paul’s instructions to husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are parts of His body. ~~Ephesians 5:25-30 (NASB)
I dreamed of marrying a Prince Charming who would devote himself to me, laying aside his wants and needs in order to make me happy. I looked at Ephesians 5:25-30 and envisioned a husband who served me so lavishly that my submission to him would be effortless. In fact, I’d heard a few sermons and Bible Studies on marriage that promised as much. And I couldn’t wait for a Christian husband to love me as Christ loved the church!
By the time John proposed, I was 47, so I’d developed more realistic expectations of marriage. To my surprise, John took Ephesians 5:25 extremely seriously. Even now, as our 19th wedding anniversary is less than three months away, he recites that verse as if it was his singular mission in life. And I praise God for blessing me with a man who loves me so deeply,
But the Lord has convicted me of abusing John’s love. Even worse, He’s convicted me of twisting His command to husbands. In these convictions, I suspect that other wives also misconstrue God’s instructions to husbands in selfish ways.
So let’s think through Ephesians 5:25-30 a little more carefully before we demand that our husbands serve as personal genies who exist to indulge our every wish. After all, Ephesians 5:22 clearly commands us to submit to them as the church submits to Christ. We talked about this submission in my last post, as you’ll recall. If God commands us to submit to our husbands, it doesn’t make sense that He would turn around and command them to enslave themselves to our girlish whims.
If we pay attention to verses 26-30, we get a clearer idea of how Christ’s sacrificial love for the church sets the pattern for our husbands to love us. This passage emphasizes Christ’s commitment to make His church holy. The Lord doesn’t spoil His church by giving her whatever she wants whenever she wants it. Her wish is never His command! On the contrary, Christ’s love for the church causes Him to purify her with His Word until she is holy and blameless before Him.
Similarly, Christian husbands love us, not by giving us everything we want, but by nurturing us spiritually. They encourage us to grow as Christian women by leading family devotions, drawing us to theologically sound churches and keeping us from following false teachers. They decide how to raise the children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
John has had to say no to two of my fondest dreams: owning a dog and moving to Boston. Fulfilling either dream would, among other things, ruin us financially. Furthermore, the strain most likely would harm our ability to serve our local church. Therefore, loving me forces my husband to deny my requests in favor of maintaining a lifestyle in keeping with our physical and financial limitations. These responsible decisions enhance our testimony for Christ.
Ladies, I understand the temptation to use Ephesians 5:25 as a tool to manipulate our husbands. But we must remember how wickedly Deliliah used it to persuade Sampson to disobey the Lord. She flat out said that he didn’t love her because he wouldn’t divulge the secret of his strength. Such manipulation, however, proves a man’s moral weakness much more than it demonstrates his love.
As godly women, we must guard against the temptation to twist Ephesians 5:25 to suit our selfish purposes. When we submit to God’s idea of how our husbands should love us, we might be pleasantly surprised by little ways that they end up spoiling us!Follow my blog with Bloglovin