“Husbands, love your wives…” (Eph 5:25 NASB)
This is a command from Holy Scripture. The beautiful thing is that Scripture not only describes duty, it also give us illustration. The duty of loving your wife is such a high command, but the illustration of how to do it seems impossible. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…”
The illustration of how to do this is as much a part of the command to do it.
How does a fallen soul rise to the call of duty to love like this? He must look to his Redeemer. Look further in the text. In verse 28 there is another interesting command “husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.” This is the second great commandment “love your neighbor as yourself.”
This is possible only with help. We are by (fallen) nature, selfish and interested only in ourselves. To love another as you do yourself is nearly impossible because of our selfish (fallen) nature. To love your wife as your own body should, at the least, be slightly easier. But if we don’t understand the supernatural act of becoming one flesh in marriage, husbands won’t understand our duty to love like Christ loved as the most romantic thing we can do for our wives.
But remember, romance is not our aim.
Rejoice in every heart warming moment you have with your wife, but know that loving your wife displays the glory of God to your wife, your children, your neighbor, your church family, the nations. It is essentially a gospel work. Not to be confused with speaking the gospel, preaching repentance, or missionary advancement of the gospel banner to nations and language groups. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.
In his book, Domesticall Duties, William Gouge (1578-1653) provides the best marriage handbook I’ve ever read.
Here is a short excerpt from the chapter, “Husband’s Providing for His Wife.” (updated and edited by Joel Beeke and Scott Brown)
Neglecting to Maintain Their Wife
The lawless carelessness of husbands, who care no more to help and assist their wives than any other person, works against this.
- Some more fear to offend their wives than they care to do them good, and in that respect they let any sort of people come to their wives that are welcome to them. If magistrates in a nation shall answer for allowing seditious men to come into their dominions to deceive their people, much more shall husbands answer for allowing them to come and deceive their wives, for several reasons. First, they have a greater responsibility for their wives than magistrates for their people. Secondly, wives ought to be dearer to husbands than people to magistrates. Thirdly, because they may sooner see them them in their house than magistrates in the nation. Fourthly, because they may be much more easily kept out of a house than out of a nation or a city.
- Others do not care where their wives wander, and if they do go out of their house, they shall never be sought after by their husbands. Though this may be a just punishment on wandering wives, yet it is not just for husbands so to deal with them. If Christ our Husband should so deal with us, we should soon be lost, for we often go astray like wandering sheep, but He is that good shepherd, who seeks after the lost sheep until He finds it.
- No wonder then that many husbands are no more affected with the bad reports and rumors raised against their wives, when they so little regard who come to them, or where they go. Assuredly the dishonor of a wife will turn to the man’s dishonor, for as “a virtuous wife is a crown to her husband,” so by the rule of contraries, and infamous wife is a shame to her husband. If therefore not for his wife’s sake, for his own sake a man ought not to carelessly pass over the bad reports which are raised against his wife.
(from pages 254-255 Building a Godly Home; A Holy Vision for a Happy Marriage, William Gouge – edited by Joel Beeke and Scott Brown)
I recommend this book to every married man, about to be married man, and every man thinking about being married some day. It not only speaks to husbands, but also to wives. My next step will be to read this with Renee and our sons and their wives. It’s that good. Really.