Husbands, love your wives — even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it. Ephesians 5:25
This language is especially addressed to Christians; the Holy Spirit speaks on the wife’s behalf. The husband and his wife are one. The union is most intimate and important, and it is for life. It should therefore be formed with much prayer, prudence, and reflection. And being formed, each party should strive to make it a means of blessing to the other, by closely attending to the precepts of Holy Scripture. No godly man should, under any pretense, marry an unsaved woman; for it is impossible to obey the precepts of the gospel, under such circumstances.
The husband is to love his wife, not merely for her beauty, her amiable temper, or her attention to him; but he is to love her for Christ’s sake, as a part of His mystical body, as dear to His heart, and appointed to reign with Him in glory.
The husband will never love his wife as he should, unless he views her in Christ, considers her as one with Christ, and remembers that Jesus takes unkindness shown to her — as shown to himself. The wife must be loved not only for her own sake, not merely as a woman; but for the sake of Christ, who redeemed her by His blood, who loves her with an infinite love, and who is jealous of any slight shown or unkindness manifested to her.
Every husband who professes to be a Christian, should view his wife as in Christ; and remember that Jesus says — speaking of His saints, “He who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” Acting thus, he would be better able to bear with her infirmities and imperfections; and would be led to plead for her more earnestly with her God. Viewing her as Christ’s, and also as his own flesh, he would always have a garment at hand to cast over her faults, and his love would cover the multitude of sins. A perfect wife is not to be expected.
The husband should be the representative of Christ to his wife, loving her as Christ loves His church. Oh, what tenderness, what gentleness, what kindness, what sympathy, what condescension should be shown! If Jesus is to be the husband’s pattern, if the husband endeavors to imitate Him — then how happy will the wife be made — how comfortable will the house become — how honorable will the marriage state appear!
Jesus so loved the church as to give Himself for her, even when she was most unlovely; and He so loves her as to give her all He has, even His glory. He never takes His eye off of her. He bears with her, pleads with His Father for her, sympathizes with her in every affliction, and will not allow anything to alienate His affections from her. There is not a sigh which escapes her — but it touches His neart; nor is a pain which is felt by her — but it enters His bosom.
Husbands, see your pattern. Look at the meekness, gentleness, forbearance, and tender love of Jesus, and see how you ought to act toward your dear wife. Look at your wife, and look at His Church, and ask: Is it possible for your wife to be as fickle, as false, as provoking, as ungrateful — as His church? See what He bears with, forgives, and forgets in His people — and then ask: What have you to bear with and forgive? Look at what Jesus is to His bride, and what you are to yours, and then answer.
Do you imitate His example? Oh, what happy homes would the houses of Christians be, if every husband loved his wife — as Jesus loves His church; if every husband cared for his wife — as Jesus cares for His church; if every husband consulted the honor and happiness of his wife — as Jesus consults the honor and happiness of His Church.
My brother, the Holy Spirit says, you ought to love your wife as your own body, as your own self; yes, as Christ loved the church, who gave Himself for it. Your love should be tender, constant, uniform, and as manifest as the love of Jesus is. Let there be no bitterness, or contempt, or treating the wife as an inferior; but give honor unto her as the weaker vessel. Love her in Jesus; love her as Jesus bids you; love her and be happy!
James Smith, 1802—1862