Not too long ago, there was a tiny little ripple about women submitting to their husbands. And though it really didn’t amount to much, the general consensus was WTFWhatever. Now, I disagree with the consensus. I think that a woman should submit to her husband, unreservedly and wholeheartedly. Now, before anyone goes thinking I have gone completely off the reservation hear me out, because this is only a segway into what I actually want to talk about. I want to actually address how men should love their wives, and though the Bible does not put conditions on either command (sorry people, you aren’t excused from your responsibility just because someone else slacks on theirs.) the two concepts are deeply interwoven. Because the submission issue was brought up from a Judeo-Christian biblical perspective - and also because, though many religions societies and cultures have taught “submission” , it is the one I am most familiar with – I will use the same perspective.
The Bible states that marriage is a representation of the relationship between Christ and the Church (singular collective reference to all believers on earth). In this representation, the man represents Christ and the woman represents the Church. The point that was already brought up was that the Church is to submit to and obey Christ. Great, good we got that. Let’s now look at the other end of the shelf shall we?
We are told that men are to love their wives. And that sounds great to my American ears, I just find a woman that makes me happy, marry her and bing bang boom it’s set; so long as she stays thin and pretty and cooks and cleans for me, and obeys me and continues to make me happy I will love her: WRONG ANSWER. So then how are husbands supposed to love their wives? The answer is both easy and difficult (and supremely difficult at that); we are to love our wives as Christ loves the Church (giving Himself for her). Wow, easy answer, easy to give lip service to, yet in practice it becomes much more difficult.
Romans 5:8 says “God commends His love toward us in this, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
That says a lot right there about what a husband is supposed to be; more, I think, than most men and certainly most Americans can even dream about living up to. It’s a real struggle. Look at the picture this is painting; this bride (the people who would come to make up the church) is an offence to the groom (Jesus), and yet He DIES for her. And not only does He do so, but it is His singular focus, something He refers to many times as He walks and talks with His friends.
Now, it may be easy to say “well, He is Jesus, we all know the story and if He is God then that’s easy for Him to do.”, really? If we take the Bible as a reliable historical narrative, and for the sake of this conversation pertaining to this part of history we are, then far from being easy this was something that He dreaded doing. The Bible tells us that just before His death Jesus prayed in the garden in anguish to the point that He sweated blood, that he pleaded “if there is any way, remove this cup from me, none the less not my will, but yours be done.” That doesn’t sound to me like someone who is eagerly jumping into a situation.
So let’s look at the picture we have painted so far. This bride was offensive to the groom, yet because of His love for her He submitted Himself to a dreaded fate for her sake. We could leave it there and it would still be an image of marital love that seems unobtainable, but let’s go ahead and try to look a little more clearly at it.
Jesus was not dragged into this fate, and looking further we see He had an unshakable resolve. He was offered an easy way out. Satan said to Him, “I will give you the world if you only bow to me.” and Jesus rebuked him. When Peter tried to rebuke Jesus for saying that He would die Peter received a rebuke in return, and a strong one at that “get behind me Satan”. Wow, when one of His best friends, speaks out, presumably with motives for Christ’s own best interests Jesus rebukes him in one of the harshest ways possible. He will not be deterred from making this sacrifice for the one He loves.
So let us look again and compare; how many men today are willing to take the hard path? How many will say “no” to their friends when they come around telling him to take the easy way? When the wife is angry and fuming and quite frankly unpleasant to be around, how many men would rebuke their friends for trying to get them out of the house and instead stay by her side until the issue is resolved? I don’t know of many.
I want to go back in to look at one more thing, and that is how Jesus handled rejection. We are told that He stood on a hill overlooking Jerusalem and wept saying “I would have gathered you under my wings like a hen with her chicks.” He did not get angry and slander the lost ones (his words for those causing them to be lost is a completely different matter), and He did not mourn for Himself. His concern was the empty vain pursuits of those who would not come. He was sorrowed by the loss of the people and not His own loss. This man who made his own whip and drove out marketeers from the temple cried over the people who rejected Him because of the consequences it held for them. We may be tempted at first to think this sounds like the abusive ass that says “no one else will ever love you”, however He did not confront the people and declare to them their loss(at least not in that way), rather wept over them privately with genuine concern for their well being.
So here we are, looking once again at this picture, which still not being complete (I doubt I am able to even attempt such a task) is a wonder to behold. We see a groom, who while pursuing his bride seeks her best, even when rejected he does not throw it in her face, but mourns for the love she walks away from. He never takes the easy way, instead struggling and striving, even when the method was something he did not want to do, to reach the point where he can finally give his own life for her.
How does that look in our lives? Ha, that’s an entirely different post. I think though that there are few women, if any who would object to being loved this way. Ladies, what do you say?