Ephesians Chapter five deals with the rolls of husbands and wives in a biblical marriage. It’s been the subject of great controversy over the years. Often in marriage counseling sessions I’d have husbands quote verse 22. They’d say something like, “the bible says she’s supposed to submit to me,” then they’d quote the verse: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” My first response is always, “yes, I know the verse, but please notice the very first word; “wives.” It’s a vocative case noun that makes it a title of address. Paul is speaking to wives, not to husbands. In other words He’s not talking to you. He does have some things to say to you however. Let’s focus on that. In verse 25 he uses the vocative for husband. He says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” Let’s focus on that.

I’ve seen how many husbands focus a lot of attention on doing good things for their wives. They work hard, they make sacrifices, they give gifts, etc. I can remember my father saying that his hard work every day was the clearest demonstration of his love for my mother. This is true in some ways, but I’ve seen many wives go unfulfilled in their marriages because husbands have failed to do the most important thing. When a husband loves her as Christ loves the church and “gave himself” for her, it changes everything. I’m not telling husbands how to love their wives, because I so often fall short of this standard myself. My wife and kids would readily agree that I have much to learn with respect to this issue. But God always chooses the imperfect to present a perfect standard he’s laid out for us in the Bible. Indeed, I’m one of the most imperfect to be speaking about this perfect standard of perfect love that was so powerfully demonstrated for us on the Cross.

I do believe, however, that I’m a much better husband today than I was when I began my Christian journey hand and hand with my wife. Hopefully, she would agree with that. Further, whenever I read this exhortation regarding a husband’s call to love his wife like Christ loves the church, I’m challenged to become the husband that God wants me to be. Even though I often fail, I’m always motivated to try again. I’m always wrestling with how I can obey this command in such a way that my wife will feel the results. I’m convinced after 35 years of trying, that when a husband demonstrates Christ’s love for his wife she will experience a profound sense of security, intimacy, identity and spirituality. David Jeremiah says, “The husband has great power to influence his wife; every day is a new opportunity to build up the most important person in his life. And the way a husband does that is by obeying the principles God sets forth in His Word.”