“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 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. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Eph. 5:22-28)
Passages like this one reveal a destructive tendency in all of us: We tend to read them in terms of how the other person is, or is not measuring up to their responsibilities, rather than focus on what addresses us.
He’s not doing X. She’s not doing Y. And I won’t do X or Y until he or she does.
All of which is wholly contrary to the nature of the love of Christ. For if He will not love us and act toward us in grace, forgiveness and sweetness until we rightly love Him – we are hopeless.
You and I, each of us are responsible for our part, irrespective of how any other parties do or do not take theirs up fully. My obedience can never be regulated and dependent upon whether or not someone else is obedient to Christ. Their failure never negates my responsibility. My privilege.
That said, here is a brief word to we husbands.
Husbands, how do you “present” your wife to yourself each day? Do you look on her with spots and wrinkles, or in purity and without either? The choice is up to you. You can choose to see her nakedness and behold blemishes, or you can choose to array her in finery and be ravished at the sight. See her cleansed from her sin in the blood of The Lamb. See her washed and clean and perfumed and dressed in the dazzling white of the righteousness of Christ. Keep her before you in that sweet aspect and you will not fail to find much to love and adore. Fail to do it, and you have but yourself to blame for a sight that repulses you – for you fail to see her in Christ. You will fail to deal with her, as Christ does with you.
So if on the other hand, you are preoccupied with blemishes, shortcomings, or simple dislikes and differences – do not be surprised if you lose attraction for her, and open yourself up to all manner of sins. You will be easily led to imagine other women as better. You will feed discontent in your own soul. And above all, you will not be able to love her as Christ loved the Church. You will grow cold, distant, demanding, frustrated and hard. Not because of who she is, but because of what you are. If she does not meet your standard, then think for a moment how much less you meet Christ’s. And move toward her as He does you. We are set here like our Savior, to bless, not to be blessed. And if we set about the business He has given us, if we transact in His name with the “talents” He has given us, in due time, we’ll hear His “well done.”