Christian husbands, you don’t have the freedom to “fall out of love” with your wife. There are always contributing factors, but in the end it is this claim that “we fell out of love,” “the feeling isn’t there,” “the spark is gone,” or something similar that is often the stated conclusion for why a couple is divorcing. And more often than not (in my experience) this comes from the husband. Now, let me be very clear, this is not always the case. And there are many marriages which end in divorce for biblical reasons. This is not a commentary or post about divorce. The point I want to make sure we all understand is the one that began this post: the Christian husband does not have the freedom to “fall out of love” with his wife. This just isn’t an option.
In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul tells husbands to love their wives six times in eight verses. You would almost think Paul is trying to make a point! The evangelical world has twisted itself in knots about the verses just prior to Paul’s admonition to husbands in which the wife’s responsibility to submit to her husband is commanded. And yet Paul spends only three limited verses on that subject, but devotes fully nine verses to husbands loving their wives. We spend too little time thinking, teaching, and encouraging Christian husbands to love their wives.
Every Christian husband knows that in Ephesians 5 the husband is exhorted to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. What many of us need to hear, especially in Western modern culture, is that an aspect of Christ’s love for the Church is that it endures. Christian husbands must take note that Christ’s love for the Church is not momentary or even for a season. It is a love that continues. It is steadfast and true. And these qualities are to mark a husband’s love for his wife.
There is no other option. In Ephesians 5:28 and Ephesians 5:33, the Apostle makes this point strongly. He says husbands “must” love their wives. For the Christian husband, loving his wife is behind door number one, number two, and number three. Whichever way he turns in his relationship, he knows that this is to be his manner, mindset, and pursuit. He has no freedom to do anything else.
And what is the primary reason for this? Well, we often make the mistake of talking about Christ’s relationship with the Church as comparable to our marriage relationships, but that is not what Paul says in Ephesians 5. He says that Christ’s relationship with the Church is the substance and our marriage relationships are just a reflection of that. Therefore, our marriages either rightly or poorly reflect the relationship between Christ and His Church. This means that for the Christian husband, he knows that he cannot and will not fall out of love with his wife, because that would speak falsely about His Savior. He knows that within his marriage, there is an even higher calling in loving his wife, and that is the glory of God.
Therefore, the Christian husband gazes upon his wife and knows that no matter how difficult, how trying, or what temptations are offered that he must persevere in loving her. Why? Because the Christian man, who has been bought with a price, is a bondservant of Christ Jesus, and a son of God, wants above all else to give glory to his God. So what does a Christian husband do when he is tempted with giving in to “falling out of love” or something similar? He is to remind himself that he is a member of the bride of Christ. And so Christ’s love for the Church is not only the example, but the means by which he must and will continue to love his own wife until death do they part to the glory of God. He knows there is no other option for him under the sun.
This post first appeared at Kevin DeYoung’s blog and is posted here with permission of the author.