If your wife can’t see Christ’s love in your life, it’s time to get with the program

UPDATED APRIL 20, 2007

Bookmark LoveYourWife.org as a shortcut to this page.

I’ve heard probably hundreds of stories over the years about allegedly Christian husbands using Ephesians 5:22-24 to bludgeon their wives into “submission” without giving one whit of thought to their own obligation to Christ. And I’ll venture a guess that far too many wives have wondered how God could be such a sadistic misogynist because of the way their husbands have treated them.

If you’re a husband who thinks the wife’s duty is to submit carte blanche to you because you’re the husband and God said so, it’s time to step back and look at what He first demands of you. And if you’re a wife whose husband who claims to be a Christian but whose life shows none of His love, I hope this site will help you start to heal.

Let’s start with the passage in Ephesians 5 that too many husbands just throw at their wives without any thought to context:

22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

I think it’s safe to say that half the truth is probably worse than none at all. OK, so according to the Bible, wives are to “submit to their husbands in everything.” But what does the rest of this passage say?

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Look at verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Did Jesus come demanding blind obedience just because He said so? Not at all! He did not come demanding to be served. Rather, He came to serve and to love. (Matthew 20:26-28; Matthew 23:11; Mark 9:35; Mark 10:35-45; Philippians 2:7) If your wife is submitting you but you are not submitting to Christ as His servant, then your wife is being obedient to Him but you are not. You were never meant to be your wife’s master. You were meant to be her spiritual leader. And if she is obeying Christ by following you but you are not obeying Him by following Him, you will leave your wife bitter and resentful toward you and toward God.

What rights does a servant have? None at all. A servant who obeys his master is simply doing his job. (Luke 17:10) And if you’re not doing your job in submitting first to Christ, brother, you’re missing the point altogether. The purpose of your marriage has much less to do with you and your spouse than it does with how your marriage glorifies Christ. And if you are not submitting to Christ–and if in the process you are not loving your wife as Christ loves the church–then you’re not obeying Him. The point is not your wife. The point is Christ. If your relationship with Christ is not right, then your relationship with your wife will not be where He wants it, either. And if your relationship with Him isn’t right, you’d better do what it takes as soon as possible to get right with Him and to let Him take you where He wants you. And the longer it takes you to do it, the longer you’re robbing the woman He gave you in marriage to love as Christ loves us. What’s it going to take for you to get where He wants you to be? And how long will it be before you start heading that way?

What about your kids?
I think there’s more than enough evidence that husbands who don’t show love to their wives end up with kids whose self-esteem ends up shattered and whose own faith in God is snuffed out because of their image of their earthly father corrupting their image of their Heavenly Father. If husbands claim to be followers of Christ but their lives do not show His love to their wives, don’t think for a moment that you can fool your kids. They’ll see your hypocrisy for what it is. And they’ll turn away from God in a heartbeat.

Pastors: You’re being held to an even higher standard
If the Lord has called you to shepherd His people, your ministry starts at home. Let’s look at 1 Timothy 3:1-5:

1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

Here’s the deal: If you are not serving your wife and your children through the love of Christ in your heart, there’s absolutely no way you can expect to serve the rest of God’s people. It’s hard to take the speck out of your congregants’ eyes when you can’t see the tree in your own eye. If you aren’t first loving and serving your own family, then your efforts to shepherd your congregation will be in vain. You cannot serve your congregation with the love of Jesus if you are not serving your family with this same love. You might have the people skills and the Biblical knowledge to be able to fulfill the job description entrusted to you by your congregation–but without Christ’s love shining through your life, you can’t expect Christ’s blessing upon your life and your ministry. You will either be a servant to your family and your congregation with the love of Christ, serving them as you serve and follow Him, or you will lead them down the dead-end path of your own making.

Why I started this site
The short answer is that the Lord told me to. Over the past several months I’ve read news stories about a Tennessee pastor named Matthew Winkler, whose wife was convicted of voluntary manslaughter on April 19, 2007, for killing him with a shotgun blast after claiming that he emotionally, physically and sexually abused her during their 10-year marriage. I will offer no opinion on this particular case but will simply say that I’m sick of hearing story after story after story — whether true or not — that men who claim to be Christians are being accused of living un-Christlike lives, starting with their own families. If we can’t love and serve God’s people at home, then nothing else we do will make a positive difference for the Kingdom of God.

Feel free to discuss anything and everything relevant to this site.
This forum is yours. The floor is open for discussion, and I look forward to hearing from you and talking with you.

If anyone in your congregation–especially your pastor–needs to read this message, please print this out and pass it along.

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15 Responses to “If your wife can’t see Christ’s love in your life, it’s time to get with the program”

  1. Marmie Says:

    Thank you for taking a strong Biblical stand on a neglected and essential issue. If even half of Christian husbands loved as they should, Christianity would be revolutionized in America. Thanks again. I hit on this just a bit on my blog at http://www.woychikstuff.wordpress.com.

  2. mikebforjesus Says:

    I needed to hear this. Our first ministry is to our family. Thanks.

    In Jesus,

    mike b.

  3. jhbrut Says:

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been a Christian for about 6 months now. I started out with lots of fire and enthusiasm and it’s already starting to fizzle. This article made me realize that it’s probably the way that I treat my wife. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of these guys that expects her to serve me. Actually, I prefer that she doesn’t. It’s just that I get so grumpy when she gets home. I don’t want to talk to her and I don’t want her to talk to me. I’m a real asshole (excuse the language), but I can’t seem to change, no matter how hard I try. I try to think about what made me fall in love with her, and I can’t. I bought her a gift certificate today to a spa so she can get a massage. I know she’ll be happy to get it, but I’ll just get grumpy again. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. She’s a great woman and she deserves someone so much better than me. I just pray that God can take away my depression so I can move on and take care of my wife like I should.

  4. drewme Says:

    How can you love a hateful woman? She yells instead of ask. She demands rather than ask. Nothing you do can please her she finds fault in all you do. When I do as she asks she condems. why is she so hateful? She falsely accusses me of things I never even knew happened, and GOD knows she accusses me a lot and she is wrong! I pitty the day GOD shows her of her mistakes!!

  5. muleskinner61 Says:

    OK, I need a little help here. I know there are cases of the husband not loving his wife at Christ loved the church, and after reading the story on the pastor that was abusing his daughter it is evident he didn’t love his wife or child. I am sure there are many of these extreme stories in our world. Me claiming to know Christ but still continue to live their lives like they did before they knew him and even worse.
    I am really tried of all the male bashing that is going against Christian men. We are not perfect. We will never be like Christ. Jesus say this himself. While we are in these bodies we will never be perfect. All we can do is strive to be more like Christ and to follow his examples. But if a wife thinks her husband is going to be someone she read about in a Fairyland story then she really needs to come to terms and realize that no one is perfect.
    I have seen really good men make bad mistakes. I know real Godly men that have some bad thoughts. We are human and we make mistakes. It is by Gods Grace that we saved and loved.
    I am still learning to offer Grace to others and I do see improvements. My wife doesn’t because I don’t run home and tell her about every piece of Grace I extend or the good I have done. ( your right hand shouldn’t know what your left is doing) . But if there is a Mr. Perfect out there, i would challenge him on some of these subjects: Has he ever looked at a woman or her body in an offesive manner. Has he ever been angered or upset with someone. Has he ever told a dirty joke or had a dirty thought.
    I don’t believe that man exists. Before you can love someone like Christ loves the church then you must first be like Christ. I don’t believe Christ ever had a dirty thought or idea. I don’t believe he ever talked about someone behind there backs or said something bad. He was and is perfect. I am not. He was Gods own son. I am not. I have been adopted into his kingdom and he is my father.
    We husbands are to love our wifes like christ loved the church. but if we are to love like that then we must also love others on the same level.
    And there are very few men that can love on that level. Ex: If someone did something really really terrible what would you feel or think?
    I will love my wife like Christ loves the chruch with what I am able to with how I am led by the Holy Spirit. I have been a Christian for the pasts 25 years and love the lord. I read my bible everyday, not because I have to but because I want to hear what the Lord has to say to me. I fail daily but I ask for his forgiveness and pick up the pieces and try to work continuesly toward the goal he has for me. There are times i know I am lost and there are time when i know I am on the right track.
    This is my opinion about Husbands loving their wifes as Christ loves the Church but I think many wifes have taken this verse completely out of proportion. We men do love our wifes and want to take care of you but that doesn’t mean letting you spend as you wish or gossip as you want or etc. You let us love you and you’ll see. We married you TO love you. But some women will not let their husbands be the man God want them to be. They want to control or manupulate them when they do want something and it doesn’t go their way. God is working in your man but you need to move out of the way and let God do his work. God is planting seeds in all of us Christian men and he doesn’t need your help. He created the world without you and he can deal with your husband. This may sound a little strong but I truely believe that there are alot of men that want to be led by the Holy Ghost. They want there faces at the foot of the cross but have there faces between them and the cross.
    I apolize if I have stepped on anyone feet but this is a real issue with me. I normally wouldn’t have responded, But God is in control and maybe he led me to make a response to this message.
    Again forgive me if i have offended you or said something that you dissagree with. Some times I come accross a little to strong but I contripute that to my 36 years with the DoD.
    Last note here: Wifes Take care of what YOU are suppose to do according to what the Bible and let the men take care of what WE are suppost to do. Let God change us, not you.
    Thank you and may God bless you all

  6. muleskinner61 Says:

    Forgot to proof read my response so I thought I clear up some of the mixed up sentences above.

    1st paraghap:: Me claiming to know Christ,,,, should read Many

    6th paraghap:: The example,,,, I someone did something really really bad to your child what would you feel or think?

    8th paragraph:::there are many men that want their faces to the cross but thier wifes face is between them and the cross.

  7. truthseeker777 Says:

    I am searching for an insight into what would turn things around in my marriage. For years I have thought I was giving my christian wife freedoms within our marriage. She cheated on me within less than 2 years of marriage. I forgave. She had another 3 affairs in about a year. I forgave.
    One day, I had a friend tell me about these verses and I then made it clear to her I expected her to submit on decisions I made along the way. God doesn’t tolerate sin(the sinner will ultimately pay).
    I believe I need to love her unconditionally. But some one has to make the final decision. I usually go with her choice. When I don’t a war of words ensues. I find myself almost always giving in to keep the peace. We have had counseling and discover years later however she hadn’t told me about a couple of affairs she had prior to the submission discussion.
    I have basically tried to look beyond the moment. Sure I have got angry. How much do I put up with in trying to be a good husband. So I am living with someone who is less than honest, gets their own way, and can’t be held accountable. She has almost always befriended other men (over the woman in a marriage). She hasn’t had to work a job while she raised our family. She is in charge of the money(I work hard and bring in all of it); likes spending it (has own car, house in her name, etc.). My oldest daughter commented that her mom “acts like a spoiled brat”. So no submission, no accountability, no personal bible devotions, won’t go for marriage counselling. After some forty years, what is a husband supposed to do? I’m tired of always giving; but I know I need to press on to the mark of his high calling and let God be the judge.Any ideas?

  8. How to properly beat your wife if you’re a Muslim | Reason To Stand Says:

    […] this revelation may be to those of us who are instructed to love our wives as Christ loved his Church it shouldn’t be considering that Muhammad prescribed the beating of disobedient wives in the […]

  9. azmike56 Says:

    Muleskinner61 – God created woman as a HELP MEET to help man. This help is not for cooking and cleaning but has a very strong spiritual aspect to it.
    Man lost his spiritual sensitivity that he once enjoyed with God when he fell to rebellion in the Garden. Man’s HELP MEET (his wife) has that missing sensitivity that we NEED to completed us spiritually. When we “Love our wives as Christ loved the church” means we will have to be more Christlike. This will take dieing to self. The Spirit and the Flesh war against each other. As we begin to “Love our wives as Christ loved the church” our wives will respond to the example we set and become the wives that they should be.

    No one said this was easy and it will take a real man to fit in these shoes.

    The reward – This is God’s ultimate goal for you, that you be LIKE CHRIST.
    How will you know you are getting there?

    There will be evident fruit in your life.

    Love – “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Through Jesus Christ, our greatest goal is to do all things in love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

    Joy – “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

    Peace – “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

    Longsuffering (patience) — We are “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11). “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

    Gentleness (kindness) — We should live “in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left” (2 Corinthians 6:6-7).

    Goodness – “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11). “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9).

    Faith (faithfulness) – “O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isaiah 25:1). “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16-17).

    Meekness – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

    Temperance (self-control) – “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

    To ALL Christian men – be THAT MAN and you will have the wife that will delight you. God’s gift to you.

  10. ng1226 Says:

    So what does it specifically look like for a Christian man to love himself? What does that mean in a Christian home. The same for toward his wife. What are the basics for someone who just doesn’t “get it” or needs some “how to’s” for both loving yourself AND loving your wife? What are a man’s and husband’s marriage and home-owning responsibilities?

  11. sandyrik Says:

    I guess the bottom line is that as Christians…we should be different…
    If our relationship with our spouse is the closest thing we have to understanding the relationship Jesus has with the church, we have alot of work to do…and like it or not ..the world is watching

  12. roaringlionpreciousprince Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave HImself for it. I am in a situation where my wife has taken a stance that she no longer wants to be married to me. She has decided that she won’t live up to the covenant that she made with God to be a wife to me and to be my helpmeet. We have had our issues and I’ve made my mistakes, as she has, but she (so far) has been unwilling to fulfill her obligations to the covenant that she entered into with God at the altar. So, what does that have to do with how I, the husband, am to love my wife? Nothing! I think we must look at the way the church treated Christ while He was loving it. The church rejected Him, persecuted Him and crucified HIm. Never does it say in scripture that the wife is to love the husband. She is directed to respect and submit. In my case, neither is done, however, I continue to love her. I fail often; the weight of constant rejection weighs heavily on me, but it’s that weight that causes me to run to the cross and unburden myself. Remember, that God does not allow any temptation beyond that which we can bear. Also, we serve a God of order and not chaos; therefore, there is a purpose for all that the Lord allows in our loves. Seek His face moment by moment for guidance and strength. When we endeavor to love or do anything by our own strength, we fail miserably. In the Spirit, there is victory! Remember that there is no growth in comfort! If everything was as we wanted it, we would not be motivated to change. I believe we must first accept that we must love our wives as Christ loved the church. We must then have a heart to follow this commandment. From this point, our job is to be a willing vessel through which Jesus can love them through us!

    Dear Lord, I thank You for Your presence in my life! Thank You Lord for giving me my wife. Lord, You are the One Who searches hearts and minds and You know that I have mind to love my wife and to be obedient to You. I submit myself to You this day and every day after to allow Your love to flow through me to my wife. Help every husband who reads this to surrender his will and to align himself with Your will. Empower HIm to love the wife that You gave them despite how she may treat him. We have seen many examples of how independence from God ends in some form of death. Therefore, we submit to be wholly and completely submitted and dependent upon You. Not our wills, Father, but Yours be done! Lord, bless marriages today and Glorify Yourself in them. Finally Lord, I pray that Your Spirit be magnified in me so that my wife sees You and not me. Let Your spirit be magnified in my marriage so others can see You and not the two broken vessels in it. Lord, thank You! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!

  13. msaishe73 Says:

    @muleskinner61
    Now I know its been over a year since you’ve posted your comment and I’m sure things may have changed since your post. I actually understood your viewpoint on alot of things. The one thing that stood out is when you said: we are striving to be Christians. That’s the point. Alot of men (and women) are not striving. I think its easier to be submissive to a husband if in fact he’s “striving”. Because you can see his walk and see God changing his heart. When he’s verbally and emotionally abusive, drinking, smoking on the weekends but wants to be a Christian when its time to rule over the wife, then that’s not striving. That’s control and manipulatio.

  14. notsureaboutthat Says:

    hmm, thank you for making such a bold statement… however, this post was so close yet so far because of one point – “you were never meant to be your wife’s master. You were meant to be her spiritual leader.”

    Its not clear as to what you mean exactly by that. If you mean her faith may be effected if you’re an un Christ like husband then that is caring of you to be concerned about that but its also underestimating the woman. My grandmother was visited by angels, had amazing prophetic things happen to her and was the spiritual matriarch of our entire family. My grandfather was a bit of a jerk, but read the bible and served in the church and loved the Holy Spirit. But she did not need him to LEAD HER spiritually.

    And he did not fail there because it’s not his job to lead her spiritually the same way its not hers to lead him spiritually. Its up to all of us to have our own faith and be lead spiritually by Christ. It was up to him to love her. Thats all.

    I think the western translation “head” is too often tied in with “leader” and it does NOT mean that.

    This is a potentially very dangerous teaching and you should be careful giving it. I have seen a capable, intelligent, spiritually sound Christian woman of 20 years be told she has to follow her husbands “spiritual leading” when he was one for 3 months. Of course that didn’t work. Its illogical.

    If I have misinterpreted your meaning here then please explain but I am just saying what a lot of people think “spiritual leader” means. And its dangerous and wrong. I wont even go into the other examples I have seen and continue to see daily by well meaning men who love their family but think they are the “leader” and what they say or decide or think goes. Wrong wrong wrong. Disaster disaster disaster. Even if its subtle, like a woman having to become an “arm twister” or manipulative to have the right thing happen in her family instead of being able to speak it out loud in a straight forward sentence as an adult because the “leader” husband wont listen because she’s a she.

    Otherwise this article is encouraging and insightful and needs to be said so thank you again.

  15. notsureaboutthat Says:

    by the way Truthseeker777 if your wife really does have affairs while you are being loving then I am so sorry for her doing that. I know of men who are selfless and reasonable yet their wives are selfish and never satisfied. The behavior of these women anger me and have even made me cry in sympathy for the good man. I hope that by now something better has become of this situation and healing has happened. If not and nothing is helping, you don’t have to stay around and be cheated on.

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