"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless." (Ephesians 5:25-27)On balance, Paul, in his letter to the Ephesian church, devotes far more space to instructing husbands to love their wives as he does instructing women to submit to their husbands. I believe this is for two main reasons. First, because, for most men, loving their wives does not come naturally. Men can be very task focused leading them to pursue their goals, hobbies, and carriers with singular focus. Men also tend to compartmentalize their lives. They have their work life, the leisure life, their church life, and their home life. Sometimes, if men are not careful, their pursuit of things, like their carriers, can occur at the expense of other things in their lives, such as their spiritual life and the family life. Men need to be reminded frequently not to disregard one for the other and to remind themselves of what really matters in life.
The second reason Paul spends more time exhorting men to love their wives is because, as the head of the household, God holds them ultimately responsible for what happens in their families. In speaking of the fall of mankind, Paul writes this of the woman, "And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." (1 Timothy 2:14) However, he writes this of the man, "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam." (Romans 5:14) It was the woman who was deceived but it was Adam who sinned. God places the greater part of the culpability for the fall of mankind upon Adam then He does upon Eve. More instruction is given to men by Paul because of the greater responsibility they face for their family and the greater judgment they will receive for their failings in their families over those of their wife.
So how are men to love their wives? Paul shows us by reminding us how Christ loves the church; Christ being a figure of the husband and the church that of the wife. Paul reminds us how Christ gave Himself up for the church and asks men to do the same for their wives and their families. This Greek word used here for "gave" means to surrender, yield over, or to give to another. Men are asked to surrender their life for the well being of their family. They are asked to choose to give themselves to their family above all other duties and obligations they might have, even above their work and their church. This word can also mean to betray, bring into prison, or to hazard. Men are to betray their other pursuits and desires for those of their family. The are to hazard all other goals for the goal of a godly, joyful, and secure family. They are to imprison their wants and needs that they may pursue the wants and needs of their family. All this Jesus did for us and, as men, we should be willing to do the same for our families.
Jesus not only gave up His life for the church, but He loved her with action. Jesus said of Himself, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) I have meet many men who are passive and disengaged at home. They live at home to be served and not to serve. You can see it as their wife busies herself with cooking, cleaning, and raising the children while her husband sits around watching TV or pursuing one of his other many entertainments and hobbies; never raising a finger to help his hard working wife. A man who does not serve is a man who has not yet come to understand Christ in truth. If the very Son of God came to serve us, are we too great to serve others ourselves? Especially those of our own family? Yes, a man may work hard at work, but that is no excuse to turn a blind eye to the needs of their wife or family when he is at home. After all, work will one day come to an end and all we will have left are the relationships we have formed and nurtured in this life. Jesus said, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36) The same could be said for the soul of a man's family.
Jesus not only loved the church with action, but He also loved her with purpose. He loved her that He might present her to Himself as a pure and spotless bride. This Greek word for "present" means to stand beside or to exhibit. Jesus is looking forward to the day when we, as His bride, will stand side-by-side with Him in glory; when we might be exhibited to all of creation as His pure and spotless bride; as that which above all things He prizes and loves. To this end, He ministers tirelessly through His words and by washing us with His love. Here's the point of this for us men: men, what kind of marriage do you want to have? What kind of relationship do you desire to have with your wife and children? We can have what ever kind of marriage and what ever degree of relationship with our family we desire, if we will work to produce it through our actions, words, and love. As men, if our marriage isn't great, that's our fault. If we lack a depth of relationship with our wives, then we need to do something about it. Jesus doesn't just sit around hoping things in the church will get better, rather He is actively working in the church through His love to bring about change and to build a greater bond of love and fellowship with her. We can have what every kind of marriage and wife we desire if we will just devote the time, effort, and faith in the pursuit of our marriage as we do in many of our other pursuits. It's time for men to get off the couch and learn to love and serve their families. If we will do so, then we will find the blessings in our marriage and families that God always intended for us to have.