The Sacrificial Love of Husband and Wife

I mentioned yesterday that I am busy doing pre-marital counseling. Today we dealt with the Biblical understanding of a wife and a husband. The Biblical material is extremely provocative and deep, showing, if understood, that marriage is the safest relationship to be in! Naturally, marriage is based upon love–true love that is not self-centered or one-sided.

Are you aware that although the Bible calls us to love each other, nowhere does it say that the wife must love the husband! But, it is implied. The wife loves the husband through being submissive and the husband loves the wife through sacrifice.

Read through the following passage:

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

The wife needs to love through submitting to the husband in the same way she submits to her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (v22). You see, under the Lord Jesus, her husband is her earthly lord (Gen 3:16). So, how does this work?

Look at v25 and following. How is the husband to love his wife? Through sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed Himself, His all for the object of His love, the Body of Believers. He gave up His life–that is, He left His glory and stupendous comfort as God the Son and took on flesh. He lived for a time in this wicked world. He self-excluded Himself from the Holiness of Glory. He was abused and insulted for more than just His three years of ministry. He was tried, beaten, abused and eventually executed in the most brutal manner … that is what “gave up His all” means. That is the Biblical description of love and that is the way the husband needs to love his wife. He needs to give himself up for her. All the bachelor traits, hobbies, friends and self-care–whatever could affect the new relationship of marriage–needs to be sacrificed. The husband needs to die to his past so that he can live for his future as the earthly lord of his wife. This is heavy. This is total. This is real sacrifice.

This is putting the wife in the number one place after Jesus! Once such sacrifice is in place, the husband has all the resources to give his full attention, care, protection and provision to every area of marriage … and then the wife shall willingly surrender herself in full submission to her earthly lord.

The real end of Biblical submission because of Biblical sacrifice is the wife completing and complimenting her husband. Then the following verse makes sense:

Ge 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

And the progression from here is …

Ge 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

One man, one woman in a lifelong, permanent monogamous relationship.

And God gets all the glory because the Biblical Marriage is a miniature church, and such miniature churches together form the local church. So the foundation of the church is based upon real love in sacrifice and submission to one another–and God gets all the glory.

Feel free to close with this prayer:

Lord Jesus, help me to be a Biblical husband/wife [or, Lord, prepare me to become a Biblical husband/wife] so that you are glorified in my life, my marriage and my relationship. This I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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