Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.
Marriage is a God-sealed, covenantal, life-long relationship between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18-25), who are created as spiritual equals (Genesis 1:26-28). This covenant is to be lived out in mutual love and respect under male leadership. Most of the members of our churches, I suspect, follow along with this description of marriage until the last three words: “under male leadership.” But if this is the biblical understanding of marriage, then we, as pastors, must faithfully model it before our congregations.
The reason some people struggle with male leadership is not because of its biblical understanding, but rather, because of its sinful distortion—male domination and tyranny as described in Genesis 3:16. As a result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, the woman was told her desire would be to control her husband and the man would respond in tyrannical domination. Of course, another implication of this curse is that the woman would actually control the man, and the man would abdicate his leadership, becoming passive as Adam had in Genesis 3:6.
Both are distortions of God’s design of biblical manhood and womanhood. Consequently, what we experience today is the perpetual battle of the sexes: the woman fighting for control and the man suppressing the woman in tyranny or simply giving up in passivity. It’s important to understand that secular feminism, in opposing biblical male leadership, fails to distinguish between leadership and domination. Therefore, it argues against male leadership on the basis of sinful male domination.
Pastors, Love Your Wife!
As Christians, we need to know that the Bible clearly argues against tyranny of any kind and that male leadership is not male domination. The Bible corrects such distortions, and in Ephesians 5, we see how the apostle Paul paints a picture of a Genesis 2 marriage in an effort to correct wrong views of the husband and wife relationship produced by the fall. The Bible commands the husband’s leadership be exercised in love (Ephesians 5:25). This is a strong command, which if not followed hinders the husband’s prayer life (1 Peter 3:7) and disqualifies him from church leadership (1 Timothy 3:2). This is an important reminder for all married men who tend to forget to express love for their wives. So then, husbands, pastors, how ought you to love your wife?
Pastor, Love Your Wife with Sacrificial Love!
Since we men need to live with our wives in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7), the Bible spells out for us how to express marital love (Ephesians 5:25-33). First, we are to love our wives with a sacrificial love. The love that we express toward our wives is not a “warm fuzzy” kind of passing love but a lasting and sacrificial love. We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church. He gave His life for the church. Pastor, are you willing to die for your bride? Sadly, we may be tempted to sacrifice our wife and family for the sake of the ministry. The gospel demands we be willing to sacrifice the ministry for the sake of our wife. There will be other churches, but we only have one wife. And one of the qualifications of being a pastor is that we are men of only one woman (1 Timothy 3:2).
Pastor, Love Your Wife with a Servant Love!
Second, we are to love our wives with a servant love. If we are to love our wives in the way that Christ loved the church, then we must remember that Christ did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom (Matthew 20:28). Remember, Christ said that true leaders do not lord it over people, but they must be servants of all (Mark 10:42-45). Pastor, how are you serving your wife? Oftentimes, our wife may feel neglected because we are serving everyone else BUT her. Ask her how you can serve her. Try to find a daily time when you can have conversations about your day, either before it begins or at the end.
My wife and I regularly try to run down what each of our day holds every morning as we get ready. Comically, these conversations happen in our bathroom. When our children were younger, I would come home, and she and I would spend about 10 minutes on the couch just catching up. We purposely communicated to our children that their mother was my priority. After our “couch time” in the living room, then I would hang out with the children until supper time. Brother, find time to get to know your wife, and ask her how you can serve her. Then, do it! Nothing is more frustrating to our wives than unmet expectations, so let us be men of our word.
Pastor, Love Your Wife with a Sanctifying Love!
Finally, we are to love our wives with a sanctifying love. The purpose of our love is that our wives would grow in holiness, just as this is the purpose of Christ’s love for us. Think of your wife as a flower. You have responsibility for this ONE flower. You must water it, tend to it, fertilize it. As a result, that ONE flower should grow, blossom, and flourish. What does your flower look like? Is she growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ? Is she blossoming as a woman of God, a faithful wife, and, if you have children, a gracious mother? Is she flourishing as a faithful church member, encouraging other women to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ? Let us resolve to love our wives in the way that Christ loves His church. I can’t imagine any woman who would reject such love. And I can’t imagine any congregation that would not benefit from such a beautiful picture.