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Scripture makes very clear what a husband’s responsibility to his wife is:

“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)

But some might read a set of verses like that and wonder, “But what does that look like?  How did Christ love His bride, the church?”  Well, God not only gave the admonition to love like Christ in chapter five, but in throughout the rest of the New Testament there are ample examples of the manner in which Christ loved the church.

What follows is a list of some of the ways in which Christ has loved His church to accomplish her purity and sanctification (please note that this list is not exhaustive).

  • He has accepted me in Christ (1 Pt. 2:5)
  • He was made a Savior that He might be with me (Mt. 1:23)
  • He gave Himself up for my transgressions (Rom. 4:25; Gal. 1:4)
  • He paid the ransom for my debt of sin (1 Tim. 2:6)
  • He offers gentle patience to bring me to repentance (Rom. 2; Ps. 25:18)
  • He has reconciled me to Him (2 Cor. 5:18-21; Col. 1:20-23)
  • He has forgiven me (Eph. 1:7; 4:31-32)
  • He has provided me the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26) to teach me and comfort me
  • He has given me abundant life (Jn. 10:10)
  • He has demonstrated His love for me through His actions towards me and for me (Rom. 5:8)
  • He has freed me from the bonds of sin and released me from the destiny of hell (Rom. 6)
  • He gave himself for me (Eph. 5:25; Rom. 5:8)
  • He continues to intercede before God on my behalf (Rom. 8:34)
  • He defends me against the accuser Satan (Rev. 12:10; Heb. 7:25)
  • He has made me a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17)
  • He has justified me — given me His imputed righteousness (Rom. 5:1; 2 Cor. 5:2)
  • He has sealed me (guaranteed my future) by the gift of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14)
  • He has protected me (Jn. 10:29-30; Rom. 8)
  • He has shepherded me (Jn. 10)
  • He has given me the truth (Jn. 14:6; 1 Tim. 3:15)
  • He has remained faithful to Himself and me (2 Tim. 2:15; Lam. 3:22-23)
  • Through these truths, He provides the following gifts —
  • access
  • purpose in life
  • confidence and security
  • fellowship
  • spiritual gifts
  • conviction of sin
  • peace
  • spiritual life
  • comfort over unsaved loved ones
  • church body (fellowship and ministry with other believers)
  • holiness and blamelessness

So let’s ask the question again:  “how can I love my wife, who is my body — one with me — in the same way that Christ loves the church, His body?”  Answer:  I love her by providing a context in which all of the above take place in a gracious manner.

Consider:

  • 1 Pt. 3:7 — I understand her and her spiritual position of submission before the Lord and me
  • Col. 3:19 — I do not harbor bitterness
  • 1 Cor. 7:3 — I give intimacy in accordance with her needs
  • 1 Cor. 7: 10ff — I stay with her
  • Prov. 10: 12 — through love, I cover (forgive) all her sins (cf. 15:1 also)
  • Prov. 17:9 — I forgive and protect her
  • Prov. 15:28 — I respond to her with words of gentle grace (Col. 4:6)
  • Prov. 16:24 — I speak with sweet, healing, pleasant words (10:19)
  • Eph. 4:15 — I speak the truth in love

Here are two fundamental questions to ask myself:

  • Is my home a place of grace (do I demonstrate the grace Christ has demonstrated to me)?
  • Do I put her first as much, as often, as fully as I can?