How to Love Your Wife

The Bible commands men to love their wives as Christ loves the church. This is a very difficult command to obey because Christ gave His own life for the church. In fact He died for it.

  • The church is spoken of as the Bride of Christ and Jesus is the Bridegroom and the two are engaged to one another.
  • The marriage feast of the Lamb of God will take place after the consummation of the marriage at His return.

The kind of love that Christ has for the church is the divine kind of love; a self sacrificing and unconditional love that humans can only hope to experience. So, how are husbands to love their wives the way that Jesus loves the church? There is no better marriage advice for husbands given anywhere, by anyone, at anytime, than in the Bible.

Two Become One: The very first marriage ceremony was done so by God himself in Genesis 2:23. When a man marries a woman, the two become one. The fact that Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” is important. That means when she feels pain, then he should feel it. When the wife rejoices, then the husband should rejoice. They are sharing everything in life; the ups and the downs.

The one flesh teaching also has a literal sense in that this new family unit produces children. Also, one flesh teaches that each should person in the couple may share in the benefits of this new marital consummation. Sexual activity produces an intimacy that is not to be fulfilled in any other relationship or activity.

Another important thing in this verse is the addition of a man leaving his father and mother to be united to his wife. These two separate humans now form a new family unit where the previous family will not have influence or authority. Think of the problems a young couple has when this principle is violated.

Love Your Wife Through Action: Few people understand a little known command for husbands is given in Colossians 3:19 “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” After a long day of work, a husband has the potential to come home and be harsh to the one he loves. His actions will speak louder than his words.

Love is a verb – it’s an action, its something we do. Saying “I love you” is important, but showing it by demonstrating kindness, consideration, and a soft spoken tone is more important. Husbands, don’t wait for her to show kindness first. Romans 5:8 tells us that while WE were yet sinners, Christ died for US. Love your wife by demonstrating that love through actions.

Wives and Husbands – Co-Heirs and Co-Equals: This tends to be hotly debated, male-headship or egalitarian? Bottom line here is that a wife needs for her husband to be considerate. Tell her thank you for making dinner, cleaning the litter box, washing your clothes, or making the bed. Modify your expectations and roles. Why not take some of this heavy load off of her shoulders? Listen to what the Apostle Peter tells husbands in 1 Peter 3:7, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” This is a pretty strong verse; the way you treat your wife affects your spiritual life!

Loving Her As You Love Yourself: Ephesians five is regarded as the biblical marriage instruction manual. No amount of human reasoning can match the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and since the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we should listen to God’s advice for marriage. Ephesians 5:28 says, “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” In what same way is Paul talking about?

Reading the previous verses tells us in Ephesians 5:25-28, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

This “same way” is how Christ treats His church. Paul equates loving the wife as we love ourselves. If the husband runs all the hot water out of the hot water tank by taking a long shower, he is not loving his wife the way he loves himself. A husband is to look out for her best interests. If we are cold, we turn up the heat; if we are hungry, we eat; if we are tired, we rest. So, with this same regard that husbands have for themselves in taking care of themselves, husbands should treat their wives.

Redeeming Your Time Together: The wisest man who ever lived shared some wisdom about marriage. In Ecclesiastes 9:9 Solomon writes,“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.”

A man’s wife ought to be his best friend. Before marriage, they are usually friends first, and God intends that we enjoy each other after the ceremony. Have fun together and spend time together. What about sex? Well, sex was God’s idea, and was created not just for procreation, but for marital recreation. God doesn’t make mistakes.

The Faithful Husband: Husbands made a vow before God and family to love their wives until death. God does not take that lightly because adultery is a very serious sin. Husbands will pay severely for marital infidelity. There is no room for compromise in moral purity. The lesson for husbands is to remain forever faithful to their wives. Adultery, or even flirting with another woman which can lead to adultery in the heart, can shatter families, wreck a home, cause bankruptcy, destroy children’s faith in marriage, and can bring down any man.

  • Ephesians 5:3 has Paul’s warning to husbands, as well as wives: “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;”
  • Exodus 20:14 is the seventh commandment where God warns couples to not commit adultery.
  • Ephesians 5:5 says: “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
  • Colossians 3:6, we are told that fornication, uncleanness, and inordinate affection will cause “the wrath of God to come upon the children of disobedience.”
  • Adultery can come from the heart as Jesus declares in Matthew 5:28, “Whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Loving Your Wife Like Christ: Ephesians 5:25-28 shows what type of love husbands ought to show their wives; “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” This is something that husbands can not do in their own strength. It takes a supernatural empowerment by the Holy Spirit. It is not within human strength, power or capacity to love someone like Christ loves the church.

Christ was also forgiving, even while they were crucifying him. He told the Father to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing. Husbands can not hold onto past grievances only to bring them up at a later date. To bring up old issues is not loving their wives as Christ loved the church. He gave himself up for us and so husbands must give up themselves – including their own interests – for their wives.

[print_link] [email_link] Adapted from Jack Wellman

Equality of the Genders

John MacArthur supports the “traditional view of women,” but he has a nice summation of the equality of the genders before God, in his book Different by Design.

The prevalent Jewish tradition about women did not come from the Old Testament, which makes it clear women are spiritually equal to men in that:

They Had the Same Responsibilities as Men: To obey God’s Law (in Exodus 20 the Ten Commandments are given to both men and women), to teach God’s Law (Deuteronomy 6:6–7 and Proverbs 6:20 indicates both are responsible to teach the Law to their children, which means both must first know it), and to participate in religious festivals (e.g., Exodus 12 and the Passover).

They Had the Same Protection as Men: Penalties given for crimes against women are the same as those for crimes against men (e.g., Exodus 21:28–32). God equally values the life of a man and the life of a woman.

They Took the Same Vows as Men: The highest level of spiritual commitment available to an Old Testament believer was the Nazirite vow, which was an act of separation from the world and devotion to God. Women as well as men could take that vow (Numbers 6:2).

They Had the Same Access to God as Men: God dealt directly with women in the Old Testament; He didn’t go through a man when He wanted to communicate with a woman. For example, the Angel of the Lord (a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ) appeared to Hagar (Genesis 16:8–13) and Samson’s mother (Judges 13:2–5).

The New Testament, like the Old, teaches the spiritual equality. Galatians 3:28 teaches the absolute spiritual equality of men and women in Christ. The New Testament does not treat women as spiritual inferiors:

They Had the Same Responsibilities as Men: All the commands, promises, and blessings of the New Testament are given equally to men and women. We have the same spiritual resources and the same spiritual responsibilities.

They Had the Same Access to Jesus as Men: The first person Jesus revealed His messiahship to in the Gospel record was a woman (John 4). Jesus healed women (Matthew 8:14–15), showing them just as much compassion as He did men. He taught them (Luke 10:38–42), and allowed them to minister to Him personally (Luke 8:3). The first person to see the resurrected Christ was a woman (Mark 16:9; John 20:11–18).

He goes on to explain that roles between men and women were different, but I do not agree with his position on leadership and ordination being limited to men alone. When a woman is called by God into the ministry, she has an obligation to follow that leadership and calling as much as any man.

Patrick Morley, in his book Man in the Mirror has a chapter on how to be happily married and brings up roles.

If a man’s greatest need is to be respected, then submission is the appropriate response to a husband since the opposite of submission is resistance. The main problem with marriages on this topic is that men don’t know what it means to love as Christ loved the church. Biblical love is a decision, not a feeling. He adds four types of marriages in in a submit/resist and love/hate matrix:

  1. Love and Submit (Ozzie and Harriet Nelson): these couples share life together and share responsibilities. Biblical examples could be Abraham and Sarah or Mary and Joseph.
  2. Hate and Submit (Edith and Archie Bunker): this may be the most common type of marriage that is not working. The husband does not get it (Colossians 3:19, 1 Peter 3:7, 1 Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 5:28-29).
  3. Love and Resist (The Lockhorns comic strip, or the BBC’s Keeping Up Appearances): this is about a wimpy little guy dominated by a strong willed and screechy woman. Perhaps this has grown out of the feminist movement, but even a “housewife” is not immune to this. It is the man’s responsibility to love her irrespective of his wife’s response.
  4. Hate and Resist (JR and Sue Ellen Ewing): she nags him, idles the day away, contends with his authority, disrespects him, she is sarcastic towards him. He treats her harshly, doesn’t consider her feelings, and disrespects her. More than likely those in this type are already divorced, except for one partner hanging in there to make it work.

I’m not an expert on marriage but have been with the same godly woman for over 30 years.

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Being a Spiritual Leader

Men, we often don’t lead our families as we should. I sense that most wives are aching for their husbands to be the spiritual driver in the home. Most of the time we drift and outsource that leadership somewhere else.

The Courageous movie will challenge each husband and father to make a resolution… to be resolved… that they will be an active force for God on this earth and in their family.

I once heard Kenny Luck, men’s ministry leader at Saddleback, as he  encourages you on how to be the spiritual leader of your home.

Kenny tells us to:

  1. Own it – own our spiritual lives, don’t outsource that to anyone else.
  2. Show it – demonstrate outwardly what God is doing on the inside.
  3. Lead her and the marriage – not lording over her, but providing leadership.
  4. Lead by serving them – leadership is service, not position.
  5. Love them – love is an active word, not a feeling.

Our Wedding Celebration

Saturday November 5, 2011 was one of the most joyful and proud days of my life: our son Stephen married the love of his life, Alicia Ingram.

Stephen and Alicia Chafee, November 5, 2011

Words can’t express the joy I have in my heart that Stephen has such a wonderful young woman who loves him, perhaps more than Kim and I do. Alicia is a joy and a treasure, and Stephen knows it. One thing that makes their relationship so strong is the fact that they were best friends before they became a couple.

I also can’t express in words the pride I have in Stephen for the man he has become. Last Saturday I heard person after person, friends we had known from our Woolridge Road Church days, tell me what a fine young man Stephen is. It is one thing for me to have these feelings, but it is quite another for other people to affirm what I already know.

Maybe all of us married men need to look back at our wedding day and remember all the reasons that we got married in the first place. Remember the anticipation, the fun, the fear, and the joy of journeying together as best friends and partners. Reflect on and rejoice in the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18), and then go tell her what she means to you.

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