"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." - Eph. 5:25
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." - Eph. 5:22
As a pastor, often I am asked by couples desiring to be united in marriage to give advice concerning the upcoming wedding. When asked, I immediately give this answer, "I know of only two words of advice that have any significance concerning the rules for marriage, and they're found in God's word"
- To the husband, "love your wife even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" Christ has loved the church (those given to Him by the Father from all eternity) with an everlasting, inconceivable, and unparalleled love. His love for his church is sovereign and unchangeable. Of course, I know that as frail creatures, we cannot love with a love that is equal to His, but as loving husbands, there should be some likeness or shadow of His love in our relationship to our wives. He "gave himself for it." Eph. 5:2 says, "He hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour" The scripture does not say that He gave himself for every person without exception, but gave himself for the church, the elect, the sheep (John 10:15). Christ gave himself for those chosen in him by the Father before the foundation of the world, "that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" (Eph. 1:4). At Calvary, Christ offered up himself as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of his people. By the giving of himself, "He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Heb. 10:14). As Christ's love for his church was evidenced in the giving of himself, a husband's love for his wife will also be evidenced in the way that he gives of himself for her according to the word of God.
True believing husbands in the Lord Jesus recognize their marriage to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church (Eph. 5:32). For this reason, they take seriously their responsibility (as being the head of the wife) that the marriage is honoring to Him. How soberly must husbands consider their duty to their wives to "dwell with them according to knowledge (prudently, using wisdom and good sense) giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7). As God "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6-7), the church will be displayed as a trophy of His wonderful grace found only in Christ Jesus. Likewise, a man that loves his wife treats her as the queen in their home and places her, so to speak, on a pedestal of honor. As the Lord "hath shewed me his marvelous kindness in a strong city" (Ps. 31:21), that strong city being Christ himself, a husband shows, speaks, and acts toward his wife kindly. As the Lord "hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble" (Ps. 59:16), a husband that loves his wife will take her side, striving always to defend her character and cover or hide her faults.
As the Lord has said, "Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called", (Is. 54:4-5) likewise a husband will be careful not to bring shame and embarrassment to his wife (especially in front of others) by exposing her mistakes. As the Lord has loved His people with an everlasting love and has shown that love in the giving of himself for his church, a husband displays his love for his wife in the giving of himself for her. As in (Phil. 4:19) "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus", a husband will provide for his own, for if he doesn't, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. (1 Tim. 5:8) That loving husband will not make his wife feel that she has to be a beggar to have the necessities of every day life. Remember husbands, your wife has taken up your name to be hers and has left her home to make one with you. She is not a doormat that the husband wipes his feet upon …love her respectfully.
- To the wives, "submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord." "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." (Eph. 5:24) As the church yields and is subject sincerely and heartily unto Christ, likewise the wives are to be subject to their own husbands in everything. This is not only her privilege, but it is her responsibility. If the Lord has graciously given a husband to a wife that loves her, i.e. provides for her, protects her, defends her, and comforts her (as Christ certainly has for his church), let her see to it that she reverence (with an attitude of respect) and obey (to hear, listen, and attend to) her husband as Sarah did to Abraham. (1 Peter 3:6) A woman that submits herself to her own husband adapts herself to him in the affairs of the home. Since the Lord has given a husband to be the head (authority) of his wife, let that husband be careful to constantly strive to win the reverence of his wife by his love to her. Likewise, let the wife be careful to reverence her husband.
It is easy for a wife to submit herself to a man that loves and respects her, and easy for a man to love a woman that submits and reverences him.