Husbands, Love Your Wives By Being The “Bad Guy” -- By: Rob Lister

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 18:2 (Fall 2013)
Article: Husbands, Love Your Wives By Being The “Bad Guy”
Author: Rob Lister


Husbands, Love Your Wives
By Being The “Bad Guy”

Rob Lister

Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies

Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

La Mirada, CA

The title of this article has its genesis in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” This command to husbands is, of course, part of a broader passage depicting the arrangement of the husband-wife relationship and other household relationships (Eph 5:22-6:10). The fact that the husband-wife relationship is predicated in this context upon the pattern of the Christ-church relationship is one key indicator that Paul’s instruction for husbands and wives is transcultural, as opposed to being restricted to first century marriages in and around Ephesus.

Having said that, twenty-first century husbands may still wonder how they ought love their wives as Christ loved the church. What does that mean in practice? That is an excellent question to ask, and the good news is we need not look any further than Ephesians 5 for an answer.

According to Paul’s argument in this passage, the pattern that Jesus laid down was one of “giving himself up” for his bride, the church, in pursuit of her sanctification (vv. 25-27). Then he states to husbands, “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body” (vv. 28-30).

The directive is clear. After the pattern of Christ, husbands are to love, nourish, and cherish their wives as they do their own bodies. It does not get much more practical than that! So, let us consider a fairly common scenario in which Christian husbands might love and lead our wives in accordance with this instruction. Though the possible applications are vast, the particular exhortation I have in mind at the moment focuses on those husbands who are also (or perhaps soon to be) fathers.1

From the vantage point of my own marriage, I have noticed (and have heard similar assessments from others) that one of the most routinely stressful seams in the day is the transition that occurs when I come home from work. This hour often generates a host of conflicting expectations about “what come...

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