God Institutes Marriage: Husbands Lesson 7
How does the marriage of God affect husbands’ relationships with their wives?
Husbands need to understand that they stand in the place of Christ in their relationships with their wives. By his love for her, the husband confesses his faith in Christ, and shows that he understands Christ’s self-sacrificial love for His Bride, the Church.
What does that entail?
That entails understanding that the fulfilling of this relationship is not primarily a response to the Law, but showing the Gospel love Christ showed. He then reflects Christ, and His love, by his love for his wife at home.
Why is it important that he understands the Gospel aspect of this?
In order to properly reflect Christ, the husband must do so with the sense of love and compassion that brought Christ to the cross. Too often the responsibilities are borne as yokes around men’s necks, if they are borne at all. Men are driven by “have to” which causes resentment and disunity. When fulfilling these responsibilities is seen as an act of Christ-like love, it eases the yoke of burden, and empowers the husband to greater service. It also allows him to see his actions as a joyous response to the love shown him by Jesus, and as a means of showing that same love to his wife.
What does this mean to his conduct as a husband?
It means he sees his love for his wife as a confession of His faith in Jesus who sacrificed Himself for His Bride, the Church. The husband seeks to show Christ to his wife by his self-sacrificial service. He makes himself vulnerable in order to make her secure. He places himself between her and danger, serves her needs with no thought to his own, and looks for opportunities to lead by serving her in love. These acts vary with the personalities of the man and the different needs of their wives.
How is he head of his wife?
The husband is head of his wife as Christ is head of the Church. Christ took primary moral accountability for His Bride. The head of the household recognizes his accountability before God for the whole body, which includes his wife with whom he is one flesh. This is not to be a yoke around his neck, but an opportunity to love as Christ has loved us.
How does he express his headship?
Christ came as a servant. He expresses His headship by serving us to death (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus taught us that to be the head is to serve (Matthew 20:20-28; John 13:1-17). Therefore husbands lead by serving in love, as Christ has served us in love. So headship is not power, nor burden, but service in love, having first been loved by Jesus.
What does serving her mean to her own self-fulfillment?
Human wisdom would assume that serving her would leave him unfulfilled. Our sinful nature leads men to want to shift responsibility on to the woman, as Adam did in the Garden (Genesis 3:12). But men truly find their greatest fulfillment when they channel their aggressive nature toward filling the life of their wives in particular, or women in general. To show self-sacrificial, Christ-like love is the most fulfilled a man can be.