Principles for Husbands
By Skip Heitzig
Last week I talked about the wife’s role in a marriage, and now I want to talk to the men. In Ephesians 5:22-33 the wife is told one time to submit to her husband, but the husband is told three times to love his wife (vv. 25, 28, 33). That must mean it’s pretty important!
Husbands are called by God to be loving leaders of their household. The husband’s basic role is to love. That word is agape, a deep, unconditional, irrevocable type of love. That’s the standard: Husbands, unconditionally, irrevocably, love your wives. Not “rule your wives” or “order them around,” but “love them.”
The husband is to initiate with love. Though he is to be the head of the home for the sake of authority and structure, in another sense he’s to be the heart of the home. The husband sets the tone of love in a household, with leadership balanced by affection.
Verse 25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” That may sound unattainable, but Paul wasn’t saying, “Never make a mistake.” Here are some principles to model your love as a husband upon the love of Jesus Christ.
Your love is to be sacrificial love. Jesus loved us enough to come to the earth, take on the form of a man, and die for us. Some men can honestly say, “I’d take the bullet for my wife.” But if you can do that, it should mean you can do lesser things. The Word calls you to live sacrificially for your wife. Agape love isn’t based on the other’s performance, it is a choice. You make the choice to sacrifice for your wife.
It’s to be sanctifying love. Jesus’ love for us didn’t stop at the cross. It continues as He sanctifies and nurtures us. The verb “to husband” means “to till the ground.” The husband is to cultivate, to till the marriage ground, so that the wife is nurtured. The husband is drawing her away from worldly influences and closer to Jesus Christ. This means that husbands need to spend time with their wives. One key factor in a good, healthy marriage is that the couple spends time together. Cultivate that love; let her know you want to be with her.
It’s to be secure love. “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” (v. 28). In other words, a man’s wife is an extension of himself. When he cares for her, she will have a great sense of security in his love. She will feel a part of him. As Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). Wives are to be nourished and cared for. Tell her, “I love you,” and do it frequently. Say it, and mean it.
It’s to be stable love. “The two shall become one flesh” (v. 31) speaks of a permanent, stable love. Everything takes a back seat to this relationship. Becoming one flesh means to be glued together, inseparably and permanently. The absence of this stability in marriages causes many of them to fail. After marriage, some men think, “I’ve won. I can relax now.” But without fuel to stoke the fire, the flame of love will soon subside.
Somebody wrote, “Love is caught, not taught. One heart burning with love sets another heart on fire.” Husbands, be leaders but be lovers. A husband who is leader and not lover will be a tyrant. But if he’s all lover and no leader, he’ll be sappy. And either way, he will lose his wife’s respect.
To follow God’s design for a marriage takes humility, forgiveness, love, and submission. And speaking as one husband to other husbands: We need to die to ourselves, to humble ourselves. It begins with us. Love as Christ loved.
All that sounds like a tall order, but it’s attainable as you are empowered by the Holy Spirit. It will be not only a great blessing to your family but to the world. In today’s selfish society, where the primary goal is, “What’s in it for me?” a good Christian marriage is a great witness. The love, forgiveness, and humility of a godly marriage makes redemption visible. It lets unbelievers see how Christ loves.
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