"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up
for her.” – Ephesians 5:25
for her.” – Ephesians 5:25
In the year 1141, Emperor Konrad laid siege to the
of Weinsberg in Bavaria,
Wolf, the duke of Germany ,
resisted the siege as long as possible, but the day came when he realized that
he must surrender. As retribution for Wolf’s lingering stubbornness during the
drawn out conflict, Emperor Konrad planned to kill every resident of Weinsberg
and burn the castle to the ground. Bavaria
In response, the wives of Weinsberg begged Konrad to spare the women’s lives. He consented to their request, even granting each woman permission to carry her most precious possession with her as she left the city. After all, he didn’t want the women to be a drain on society by being left penniless. So, the time came for the women to safely exit the city, and one by one, each woman walked through the city gates and filed past Emperor Konrad’s soldiers. But what Konrad and his soldiers witnessed left them speechless: Each wife walked out of the city carrying her husband on her back. Emperor Konrad was so moved by the women’s faithful love for their husbands that he spared all of the men’s lives and even chose to leave the castle standing.
As touching as this story is, it paints a vivid picture of a sad reality in many marriages today: When it comes to the responsibility spouses have to love each other, wives carry a lopsided amount of the burden. It’s far too common for husbands to relinquish their God-given duty to love their wives as Christ loves the Church, and to let their wives “carry” the relationship.
Many husbands have a view of love that is shallow and sexualized, but Christ’s idea of love is deep and pure. Many husbands fixate on what they can get out of the marriage; Christ’s love is focused on what we ourselves can put into the marriage. Many husbands cling to a love that is temporary and conditional based on whether or not their wives deserve their love, but Christ’s love is unchanging and unconditional.
Bottom line: Christ’s love for his church is sacrificial. Therefore, a husband’s love for his wife must also be sacrificial. Ephesians 5:25 says it so plainly. “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” A husband’s love for his wife must be sacrificial, but according to Ephesians 5:26-31, it must also be three other things.
First of all, a husband’s love must be cleansing. Just as Jesus died on the cross to wash us clean from our sins, God’s word commands a husband to similarly wash his wife. That sounds interesting, but what does it mean for a husband to wash or cleanse his wife? To put it simply, a husband’s love must lead her toward understanding and obeying God’s word, not toward distorting and disobeying it.
This begins in the dating relationship. If a young man aims to “score” with his girlfriend, he is not only planning to sin himself, but he is also breaking God’s command to love her with a cleansing kind of love. To put it simply, instead of helping to preserve her chastity for her wedding night, he is selfishly defiling it. Similarly, when a husband flirts with another woman, he is tempting his wife to become angry, bitter and spiteful toward him. Obviously this is 180 degrees from the way a husband is commanded to lead his wife. Loving husbands lead their wives closer to Christ, not closer to sin. A husband’s love must be cleansing.
Secondly, a husband’s love for his wife must be nurturing. Not only does God expect a loving husband to tend to his wife’s spiritual needs, He also expects him to tend to her physical needs. Just as a husband feeds and takes care of his own body, he must feed and take care of his wife’s body. Regardless of what kind of work a husband can or cannot do and regardless of what earning potential he does or doesn’t have, God has called husbands to do their best to take care of the physical needs of their wives. When a wife is hungry, exhausted or sick, her husband should be the first in line to nourish her with food, rest and Nyquil. A husband’s love must be nurturing.
Finally, a husband’s love for his wife must be unbreakable. In Genesis 2, God makes it clear that a husband must “cleave to” his wife. The word God uses literally means to be “glued to” or “cemented to.” So, a loving husband is responsible before God to make sure that he and his wife remain cemented together until separated by death. Sadly, our culture has replaced God’s marriage cement with Velcro. If our marriages get too difficult or we find them unfulfilling, husbands simply peel themselves off from their wives and attach to another woman. How far we’ve strayed from God’s original design for marriage! A husband’s love must be unbreakable.
Dane Davis is the lead pastor of First Christian Church of Victorville and the author of Holy Huldah! Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of. To hear Pastor Dane's messages for for more information about the church, visit www.fccvv.com.