How does a husband submit to his wife when he is supposed to be in a position of spiritual leadership? The answer to that question is simply by loving her according to the Scripture.
Ephesians chapter five says that a husband is to love his wife: 1) As Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it; 2) As he loves his own body; 3) As he loves himself.
Wow! Three word pictures for the husband and only one word picture for the wife. You know what they say; a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe this explains why our wives have the capacity for so many words. Perhaps it just takes more words to get through to us.
Men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. What does that look like? Probably the best way to see it is to just list the characteristics of Christ’s love for the church and then ask oneself if these are the characteristics of my love for my wife.
Here are a few of those characteristics that were listed by an adult Sunday School class I taught many years ago in southeastern USA:
Sacrificial love – Christ laid aside the use of His attributes, left heaven, made Himself of no reputation and laid down His life for the church. When a man takes a wife, his priorities should change.
Unchanging love – He chose the church and He loved her first. He loves even when that love is not returned. He will never fall out of that love. Christ abideth faithful.
Communicating love – God gave the church His written Word. He listens to our prayers and answers them. He guides us by His Holy Spirit and He fellowships with believers throughout the day.
Nourishing love – He is always available to us. He is always ready to strengthen and enable us. He is the God of all comfort to us. He equips us and grows us into His image.
Forgiving love – He washes us and cleanses us as we confess our sins to Him. His mercies are new every morning.
Chastening love – He corrects and chastens His own. He teaches and admonishes us by His Spirit and through His Word. Whom the Lord loveth, He chastens.
Shepherding love – He leads us and directs those that are His throughout life.
Secure love – Nothing can come between us and the love of God. No man can pluck them that are His out of His hand. Christians are God’s children and nothing will change that.
Here are some characteristics of a man’s love for his own body. He takes care of his body in the following manner:
A man likes his body to be well fed. A wife and mother raising children will often neglect herself by taking care of everyone else’s needs first. A loving husband will see that her needs are met.
A man likes for his body to be well rested. A wife and mother raising children will often fail to get needed rest. A loving husband will allow her to rest by taking over or sharing her duties when necessary.
A man likes for his body to be well groomed and clean. A wife and mother raising children may not have time to give herself physical attention. A loving husband will make sure that she has time.
A man likes for his body to be well dressed even if its only for comfort. A wife and mother raising children may very well spend any funds she has on the needs of her family. A loving husband will see that she has the resources and time to dress herself comfortably, attractively, and adequately.
A man likes for his body to be secure, protected and not unduly stressed. A wife and mother raising children may live in a house that does not offer security, protection and freedom from stress. A loving husband will see that the place where she spends the bulk of her time is functionable, comfortable, convenient and secure for her.
Here are some characteristics of a man’s love for himself:
Fulfillment – Purpose and achievement. A wife needs to see gratitude for the oft perceived as menial tasks performed daily that keep the household and family on track. A husband’s career goals may need to be put on hold for the good of the family.
Respect – Accepted for who he is and what he does. A wife needs to be accepted for who she is and what she does. The husband should teach and require his children to respect their mother. The husband should be the model of respect for his wife to his children.
Recognition – Value placed upon his role as a provider. A wife and mother needs value placed upon her, for her many roles and responsibilities.
Security – A faithful wife, paid bills, and a plan for the future. A wife needs a faithful husband. She needs a husband in whose priorities, love, wisdom and provision she can trust.
I recall the words of a pastor from years gone by who said; If a wife knows her husband loves her, I believe she would live with him in a shack! I wouldn’t put her in a shack to find out. It would be wiser to just love her as instructed.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!
Note: These lists are not intended to be exhaustive. You should make your own lists and keep them nearby for periodic review.
If you are an unbeliever, you will not be able to have biblical love for your wife or husband. This Spirit filled submission to one another is only possible for believers, because it is supernatural or God given. This is just another reason why a Christian should marry only in the faith, to one who is trusting Jesus Christ as his/her only hope of salvation. An unbeliever cannot love you in this God given way. A prospective mate’s claim to be a Christian should not be taken at face value. There should be evidence. The manifestation and observation of evidence should take time in order to be credible evidence.
…let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…