As I was cleaning off my desk, I stumbled across a note I wrote during a counseling session a while back where a man asked me, “What does it mean to be a Christian husband?”. He didn’t grow up in a Christian home and didn’t know what scripture said, so he didn’t have much to draw on. I was powerfully impressed by his desire to know what God wants from him, and turned to a passage that I believe summarizes a Christian husband’s responsibilities, Ephesians 5:25-32. I then took it apart in the simplest way I possibly could and asked him to read over that section for a while to listen to what God wants to tell him about it.
Here’s what I gave him to work on, and relate to you for your consideration:
1. A Christian Husband loves his wife the way Jesus loves the church (vs. 25):
Consider what Jesus did and how that can apply to how a husband loves his wife. He chose to love us when we were unlovable. He chose to humble Himself, relinquishing things He deserved so we could be in a better relationship with Him. He opened His heart to us, even risking rejection, embarrassment, pain and being misunderstood, just so we could know His love. He stopped working when people needed Him. He wept when His people were being foolish, but continued to pursue them. He was public in His affection for God and His people.
Ask yourself: What did/does Jesus do for Christians? How can you do the same for your wife?
2. A Christian Husband sets his wife as uniquely special (vs. 26-27):
The main thrust of this passage is about making the wife know she is special, loved and prioritized above all except God. Remember that to make something “holy’ means to treat it as “special, dedicated, blessed”. Whenever you take a piece of sports memorabilia, like a hockey card or a signed jersey, and hang it in a special place of honour, you have made it “holy” to you.
A husband can’t wash away the sins of his wife (only Jesus can), but he can make sure she knows that, to him, she is uniquely special. After God, she gets first dibs on his time, talents and treasure. She is the first number on his speed dial. She has access to everything he does, and there are no secrets from her. Her opinion matters more than all others. She is the only woman he desires sexually, and she is the object of his fantasies — there is no other woman for him.
Ask yourself: Does your wife know she is uniquely special to you? How do you show her?
3. A Christian Husband protects his wife (vs. 28-30):
Your wife’s physical, emotional, and spiritual safety and development are of paramount importance to you. The passage here says, “no one ever hated his own body…”, implying that we have a natural desire to protect ourselves. That protecting instinct, that makes us flinch from pain, rest when we need it, eat when hungry, etc. should be extended to our wife. We hurt when she is hurting, and we do what we can to make the pain stop. When she is tired, we make sure she finds rest. When she is sick, we seek her healing. When she is lonely, we give her company. When she is down and needs encouragement, we are there. When she needs to be motivated to action, we find a way to make that happen.
This also extends to her spiritual life. It is not enough that she is protected and safe, we must also make sure she is growing spiritually. In the same way that we care for our own spiritual life, we also care for our wife’s.
Ask yourself: How is your wife’s prayer life? Is she reading scripture? What does she need to help her grow as a disciple? In what ways is she practicing her faith? Are you holding her accountable to the things that will help her be closer to Jesus? Are you praying for her, defending her from demonic attack? Are you being the spiritual leader of your home, helping each person there to follow and grow in Jesus? These are major priorities to a Christian husband.
4. A Christian Husband prioritizes His wife over all other family (vs. 31):
When the Bible says “leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” it means that once you marry you are unified with that person in a way that no other human relationship can compare to. This includes the sexual union, but it also means that you have left your parents and have established a new family. Before you were married your main priority was your mother and father, now your main priority is to your wife, above anyone else. Yes, you still obey the fourth commandment and “honour your father and mother”, and even provide the needs of your extended family when they need help (1 Timothy 2:8), but not at the expense of your wife and children.
Ask yourself: Have you demonstrated that you have left your parents and are now cleaving to your wife? In what ways have you not “cut the apron strings”?