The apostle Paul is often accused of putting women down because he says a wife should submit to her husband, but most people forget that the same writer had some very strong words for the Christian husband. In this short article I am not going to tackle the subject of women’s submission, but instead I will look briefly at this command to husbands.
First of all lets see exactly what Paul has said,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Eph 5:25–33).
This command is one that should fill any Christian husband with awe, the Apostle calls us to love our wives in the same way as Christ loves the Church, it seems to me that this command is so much greater than anything the word of God requires of our wives. We are to show the same self sacrificial love to our wives as Christ showed to the church, how then any Christian husband think of himself as the lord of the home. Surely we are called to give up everything we hold dear if need be for the sake of our wives. This is radical stuff surely submission would not be a problem if there was this depth of love in a relationship. A wife knowing that her husband has her best interests at heart a wife will return that love. I have been in Christian homes where the husband orders the wife about as if she was his servant, this attitude runs contrary to the teaching of the Apostle Paul in this passage.
Furthermore we are called to love our wives in the same way as we love our own bodies and then Paul makes this amazing statement,
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— (Eph 5:28–29).
Self centeredness is ruled out of the marriage relationship because of the profound union between a man and his wife. We are called to care for our wives, to shower them with love which mirrors the grace of God. I believe that too often we ignore this command to love because it will be costly to us. Surely we dare not make demands of submission from our wives if we are not willing to submit to this as the Lord’s command to us. The Christian husband is called to a radical love for his wife,when he recognises this he will see how far he has to go and as a result will do two things, (!) He will seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of love, (2) He will seek to love his wife in deeper ways.
At times I feel overwhelmed by this command, but I can not escape from the fact that this is what I am called to as a Christian husband.