Warning: This is a challenging teaching that you might not want to read. I would hope you would open your heart to the Holy Spirit and glean from Him what He wills you to learn.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. ~Ephesians 5:25-27

The Lord has given His male, married children instructions about how to live as servant-leaders in relationship to their wives which is quite different than how the world tells men to live. As we discuss this passage, remember these 3 words: Command, Method, and Goal.

COMMAND (Ephesians 5:25)

The world says to men…

  • You deserve to be happy. She should fill your love tank.
  • Love yourself first, then others, and next God (if at all).
  • Find ultimate fulfillment in your wife or else get a hobby or worse – a divorce.

But God says to men…

  • You deserve hell apart from Jesus Christ. You give love rather than looking to receive it to fill your own “love tank” (whatever that is).
  • Love God first and then your neighbor as much as you already love yourself.
  • Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
  • Find ultimate fulfillment in Christ and serve Him rather than seeking to be served.

METHOD (Ephesians 5:26)

The world says…

to Adam:

  1. Listened to the voice of your wife…“Happy Wife, Happy Life” (Comedian Jeff Allen’s famous line!)
  2. Work is what makes a man (his identity).

to Eve:

  1. Painful to raise children so put them in daycare; nuisance
  2. Your desire will be for your husband but he will rule over you. Desire for husband may be manifested in two opposite ways: Rescue Me or Obey Me.

But God says…

to Adam:

  1. Obey God and LEAD your wife with the Word. Wash her in the Word.
  2. Find your identity in sacrificial love for God, wife, family, church, and others. Leading-servants who initiate God’s love to a lost and dying world by going and making disciples of all nations.

to Eve:

  1. Ps. 127:3-5: Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
  2. Desire must be for Christ and to be the helper-suitable (or “completer”) of your husband.

GOAL (Ephesians 5:27)

The world says to men…

  1. If you find a blemish in your wife, divorce her and get a new one. She exists for your happiness.
  2. You find your hobbies and let her find hers.
  3. Let her go and do her own thing. You cannot control her, so don’t try. She’s really the boss anyway.

But God says to men…

  1. If you find a blemish in your wife, teach, show, and serve her with the Word. Help her to be holy (“set apart”) and pure.
  2. Foster your companionship with your wife through communication and serving Christ together.
  3. Men are responsible for the way they lead their wives. Goal is not to control her but there are times to rein her in with love. You truly are the servant-leader in the relationship. You must be willing to die for her. (Conversely, she must be willing to live for him!)

Hopefully you can see the stark contrast in what the Bible teaches Christ-followers regarding the marriage relationship in a day and age where marriage is under attack and being redefined in a variety of ways. We need real men to step up and lead their wives sacrificially (which means hurting themselves to help another person – think about a sacrifice bunt in baseball). Men cannot be afraid to lead their wives.

One more note: Do you know what Adam’s first sin was in the Garden of Eden? Some might answer wrongly, “He ate the forbidden fruit” but that was not his first sin according to Genesis 3:17: And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it…’ The words “listened to the voice of your wife” mean that he obeyed her rather than God’s Word in an attempt to please her. In other words, Adam sought to obey the voice of Eve rather than the voice of God (His Word). It is not about just listening but also heeding, or obeying, the person. That was the problem. (NOTE: Men must listen to their wives to love them well but this teaching has to do with listening to obey which is what the Hebrew word in its original context means.)

-Rachel and Mark Shaw (learning God’s ways about marriage)