By Justin Edwards
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. - Ephesians 5:22-24
It is true that wives are to submit to their husbands because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. She is to be subject to the authority of her husband and respect his decisions as long as they do not place herself or her family in physical or emotional harm. But, and that is a very big but, the man is expected to be the spiritual leader of his home, which is to say he is to lead his family in the Word of God with gentleness and be the Christ-like example God has called him to be.
But there is more. The love we are to have for our wives, husbands, is a love that is sacrificial. The Lord Jesus Christ laid His very life down for His Bride, and that is what is expected of us - to lay our lives down for our bride. The welfare of our wives must be our priority, and we must value them more than our very life. We must consider her desires and feelings of greater worth than our own, and we should count it joy to place her well-being before our own needs.
Paul gives us these words in Ephesians 5:25-29:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
This is a great responsibility for husbands or future husbands. My desire, though a major work in progress, is to see to it that my wife is spiritually fed that God would sanctify her in His truth. However, having learned a lesson a couple of months ago, I must take care not to be overbearing but to do so with gentleness and respect. Though we may have the best intentions, we must be careful not to be legalistic and trust that God will sanctify our bride in His perfect timing. If there is an area of disagreement, sometimes it is best to back off, even if you might be correct on the issue (or think you are), and let God take care of it. In such a situation, pray that God would give you patience and ask Him to remove any pride in you and show you if it is you who may be at fault in the matter or handled the situation the wrong way. This was the case for me, and thanks to the frank advice of a dear brother, I did back off, God showed me my pride, and I asked my wife's forgiveness. We were then able to hash the situation out, and came to an agreement and a plan of action should a similar situation arise in the future.
So husbands, maybe you find yourself in a situation such as this right now. I challenge you to ask God to examine your heart and show you anything that is displeasing to Him, especially pride, and ask Him for the grace to repent should it be required so you may go before your wife in humility and reconcile your differences. At the end of the day, the purpose of marriage is to bring glory to God. Be resolved to do whatever is necessary to glorify Him in your marriage. Be the spiritual leader of your wife, but also be her humble servant. Love her like Christ loves His Church, and give your life to her each day.
I still have much to learn in this regard, but one thing I've gathered over these last two years is that the more I love God, the more I will love my wife. So make sure you yourself are remaining spiritually healthy through prayer and study, and let the application and the fruit of your diligence carry over and bless your marriage.
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. - Ephesians 5:33