“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (ESV – Read the chapter)
If Paul’s words to wives were tough here, his words to husbands are even more challenging. Wives are called to submit to their husbands as a function of their prior and larger submission to Christ. Husbands are called to love their wives after the pattern of Christ’s love for the church. That, of course, prompts a question: How did Christ loved the church? Answer: He died for her. He committed Himself to the last breath to seeing her become fully who God created her to be. Everything he did was for her benefit. Every single decision He made was filtered through the lens of whether or not it was going to be to her advantage. For husbands, this is our standard.
Culturally, as with Paul’s advice to wives, this runs hard against the grain. Culturally, our call is to put ourselves first in all things. We are encouraged to seek the advancement of our interests first. This, though, is the way of children. Kids put the fulfillment of their most immediate desires above and before everything else. If you have kids, you know that when they want something, nothing else matters so much in the world as getting whatever it is. Most kids are not able to even fathom the concept of delayed gratification (and those who do tend to succeed much better in life). This kind of thing is encouraged into adulthood, again, especially for males. The result is that there are very many males in our culture who never quite become men. They remain as boys who cannot see out past the end of their noses to what might be wise planning for the future; to what might be ultimately to their benefit even though at the present time it is clearly more to the benefit of someone else.
The broader result of this is a culture of husbands who put themselves first in all things. The first question they ask–whether they realize it or not–is: How is this going to benefit me? How will this make me feel good? They may love their wives and be devoted to them, but their primary interest is in taking care of themselves. This is not the way of Christ.
When Jesus loved the church, he went for broke for her. He gave everything down to His last drop of blood. Listen guys: Every woman dreams of a guy who will do this for her. Watch Hallmark movies for a week sometime. Every single leading man is a woman’s dream because he does just this in whatever contextually appropriate way the director had in mind. A woman is glad to submit to a guy like this (which, if you read my blog on what Paul had to say to wives, you would know is not some kind of self-debasing forfeiture of personal rights and opportunities for advancement, but rather a voluntary elevating of the needs and interests of another often at the expense of self, done from a position of strength and power) because she knows that he is going to return the favor with interest.
Indeed, that interest is what Paul goes on to talk about. Because of a husband’s love, his wife should gradually begin to look more and more like Jesus. She should become in every single way possible more of who God designed her to be. She should become more holy and righteous. Her relationship with her heavenly father (to whom you must have submitted yourself before you even try to start this project) should be stronger because you have loved her than it was before you did.
And, at the end of the day, God, her heavenly Father, is going to come looking to you for an explanation as to why the relationship looks the way it does; as to why she is in the state she is in. That’s the burden that rests on the shoulders of the head of a household. It may be a position of authority, but it’s also one of responsibility. In other words, becoming a husband is no light duty. It is to take on the onus of responsibility for the spiritual state of another person and eventually more than one other person. If you are going to be a husband after the pattern of Christ, this is your duty. Anything less won’t ultimately lead to the marriage relationship you most desire. Let’s get to it.