The role of the husband in the Bible is weighty and sobering to men intoxicated by selfishness and flippancy. It is a radical call amid a culture that values immediate happiness and comfort over commitment.
Ephesians 5:25-30 lays a foundation for this call, as Christ demonstrates robust love, by giving His life to redeem His bride. He makes His ransomed bride holy by cleansing her and presents her as glorious without a hint of tarnish.
Jesus is able to love the Church because He has taken great care to make sure that He is holy and blameless. As the two become one flesh in marriage, Christ and the Church become one flesh. Christ loves His bride well, serving as the example for the husband in marriage.
In Ephesians 5:28 Paul writes that “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” This verse presupposes that husbands love themselves well. For what good would it be for a husband who loves his body poorly to love his wife with the same kind of poverty?
Essentially, Paul applies the Golden Rule to the marriage union. Of course there is a sinful kind of self-love that pollutes the self with narcissism and pride. However, there is a biblical kind of self-love that allows husbands to love their wives well.
This self-love starts with a husband going to the source of love, God, not only to be loved but to learn love, as well.
The Father loves believers relentlessly and intentionally. He ferociously pursues His bride and tenderly adopts her into His family.
The Son loves believers selflessly and sacrificially. He commits to His bride who forsakes her commitment for lesser loves. Jesus leads by example and does whatever is necessary to pursue reconciliation.
The Holy Spirit comforts and speaks the truth in love toward believers. He encourages the afflicted and gently but firmly guides His bride to truth even when it is difficult.
Practically, this plays itself out in the disciplines of the spiritual life. Husbands: Are you spending time in the Scriptures, getting filled so that you can pour out? Are you spending time in prayer with God, just to be in His presence without merely going to Him to get things? Are you worshiping the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength?
Husbands, we love you and are praying for you. Many of you are in a season of bitterness and stagnancy in your marriages. Know that the enemy is on the prowl and seeks to devour your marriages because he hates us and knows the cascading, destructive effect it will have on the vitality of the Church.
Husbands, you cannot sit casually by and think your marriages will thrive with little to no effort on your part. Your first responsibility is to fix your eyes on the LORD and cultivate your walk with Him. If you are not ferociously pursuing Him, your marriage will suffer.
Husbands, learn to love your wives well, as you learn what true love looks like from God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love yourselves by loving God so that you can love your wives.