Submission and Love in Marriage
Husbands are told to love their wives, what does the word “agapao” mean?
How should Ephesians 5 look when being played out in a marriage?
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife in order that she respects her husband.
love your wife
Here are some more uses in the Bible, from Thayer’s lexicon:
You can, and maybe should, spend some time studying the above context behind this word for love. But at least understand, “agapao” is the word for God’s unconditional love for us, and the word for Christ’s love for us. This is the kind of love that God shows us. Moreover, husbands are called to a self-sacrificial love towards their wives, as they are to love them just as Christ loved the church.
John 15:12-13 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Eph 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife so that she respects her husband.
That being said, rather than saying more on what love is, I want to talk about what love is not.
What Love Is Not
1 Cor 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love is patient,
The word here for “patient” is also translated as “suffereth long” and the Strong’s says it means
“1) to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart
a) to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles
b) to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others 1) to be mild and slow in avenging 2) to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.”
The emphasis here is on waiting, through troubles, hence the term “suffereth long”.
The word impatient means:
“Having or showing a tendency to be quickly irritated or provoked (an impatient motorist blaring his horn, she was impatient with any restriction); Intolerant of (a man impatient of bureaucracy); Restlessly eager (they are impatient for change, he was impatient to be on his way)” - Google Dictionary
And so, if a husband is impatient with his wife, he is not loving her.
love is kind
The word here for “kind” means “1) to show one’s self mild, to be kind, use kindness”
According to Google Dictionary, being “kind”, “mild”, and use “kindness”, mean:
kind: “Having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature; affectionate”
mild: “Gentle and not easily provoked”
kindness: “The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”
If a husband is unkind or inconsiderate to his wife, he is not loving her.
love is not jealous
The word here for “jealous” is also translated as “envieth not”, and is the verb form of the noun which means the same, “jealousy” or “envy”.
The Bible makes clear that being jealous or envying is not acceptable for Christians.
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19-21
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. James 3:13-16
Above, Gal 5 compares jealousy right alongside idolatry and sorcery, and for a good and valid reason.
That jealousy is demonic is confirmed in Num 5:14, “the spirit of jealousy come upon him“.
As Christians, what are we to do when a demon attacks us? We are to reject it, have nothing to do with it, and rebuke it in the name and authority of Jesus Christ.
If a husband is envious of his wife, or jealous about his wife, he is not loving her.
love does not brag
The word here for “brag” means: “1) to boast one’s self 2) a self display, employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one’s self excessively”
If a husband brags about himself to his wife, he is not loving her.
love is not arrogant
The word here for “arrogant” means “a) to puff up, make proud b) to be puffed up, to bear one’s self loftily, be proud”
If a husband is being proud, prideful, or arrogant with his wife, he is not loving her.
love does not act unbecomingly
The word here for “act unbecomingly” means just that. Many modern translations render the word as “rude” or “behave rudely”.
If a husband is rude to or behaves rudely to his wife, he is not loving her.
The only other context “unbecomingly” is used is 1 Cor 7:36, where a father might think he acts unbecomingly towards his virgin daughter if he does not let her get married. The Thayer’s defines the word as “ie contextually, to prepare disgrace for her”.
The idea here is one of the welfare of the daughter, that the actions of the father keeping his daughter from marrying could lead her into a bad situation in her life overall. This might be because she could fall into temptation, but more likely relates to her having a full life, having a marriage, having children, a home of her own, etc. This was normal in the culture of the time for a virgin woman to marry around a certain age, and the idea here is that preventing her from marrying is abnormal. Paul advised people to not marry, because of a crisis present then, and to devote themselves better to the Lord. But it is quite possible a father could feel he is depriving his daughter of what is a normal life, if he were to refuse to let her marry. A father could feel she might end up single, and barren, and thus have a cultural stigma, if he waits too long to let her marry, waiting until the crisis is over that is the basis for Paul’s advice to not marry in the first place. If she waits too long to marry, she might have a harder time doing so, and might never. A father could be concerned it is a window of opportunity that might pass by unused, and later be regretted.
And so to act “unbecomingly” is to act without regard towards the overall welfare of a person’s life and happiness longterm. In context, the word is full of implication of a fatherly unconditional love. And so, if a husband acts unbecomingly towards his wife, he is not loving her.
love does not seek its own
The word here for “seek its own” means “to seek i.e. require, demand a) to crave, demand something from someone”. This phrase is also translated as “self-seeking” or “seeking its own way” or “demand its own way”. The emphasis is on self-centeredness, and being self-satisfying. So if a husband is seeking or demanding his own way, with his wife, he is not being loving to her.
This concept deserves further exposition, as it is important. While a wife is told to submit to her husband, at the same time the husband is told to love his wife. To love his wife a husband has to not seek or demand his own way. Which means he should be seeking not his way, but another’s way, his wife’s way.
On the one hand, the wife is told to submit to her husband, which means she should try to do what he wants, let him have his way. On the other hand, the husband is told to love his wife, which means he is to not seek or demand what he wants, not to seek or demand his own way, but to seek her way. Therefore, he is to be seeking his wife’s way, which means he should try to do what she wants, let her have her way. This truth about love is echoed in 1 Cor 10:24, “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”
So when it comes to decision making in a marriage, in loving the wife, the husband is told to seek what the wife wants, and not demand what he wants. And the wife is told, in submitting to her husband, to try to do what he wants. What does this mean?
The wife is supposed to do what the husband wants to do, but the husband is supposed to do what the wife wants to do. As such, there is meant to be equality in decision making in a Christian marriage, which means there should be compromise. Another way to put this, is “If he’s loving her as much as she’s submitting to him, then they should meet somewhere in the middle.” And of course, both should be seeking what it is that God wants of each of them.
love is not provoked
The word here for “provoked” means “to irritate, provoke, arouse to anger”. Love therefore is not provoked to get irritated, or angry. The Greek here does not read “easily provoked” as the KJV reads, but simply states “love is not provoked”. It may seem a high bar to reach for, but love does not get provoked to anger or irritation. Truly, the Bible teaches that anger is unacceptable for Christians. It is something to be overcome, and learn how to receive God’s grace to not get angry.
Gal 5 (above) lists anger as a work of the flesh, comparable to idolatry and sorcery.
Col 3:8 states, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
Eph 4 states, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath, neither give place to the devil… Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice”.
The tense here for “be ye angry” would be better translated as “be ye angered” as by some external force trying to act upon you. When temptation comes to be angered, we are told to not sin, and we are told to put anger away from ourselves, and quickly, the same day, or we give place to the devil.
If a husband is angry or irritated with his wife, then he is not loving her. Even more so, if he even lets himself start to get angry towards his wife, then he is not loving her, as love is not provoked.
love does not take into account a wrong suffered
The phrase “does not take into account a wrong suffered” is also translated as “thinketh no evil” in the KJV. The word in Greek for “thinketh” is “logizomai”. The word logizomai means, “1) to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over, 2) to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate, 3) by reckoning up all the reasons, to gather or infer”.
This leaves us with several possible meanings, including not taking into account wrongs suffered. One meaning is to deliberate no evil, or think of evil things to do. Another meaning is to infer no evil, to not assume or infer evil. So there are several contexts here within a marriage.
If a husband takes into account wrongs suffered from his wife, then he is not loving her. This can include if he counts up all her faults, then he is not loving her. If he thinks of evil towards her, to do evil to her, then he is not loving her. If a husband infers evil about her, then he is not loving her.
love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth
The phrase “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth” has a broad range of meanings, and I would like to just touch on a few. “Rejoice” here is also rendered “glad”. If a husband is glad (for whatever reason) if his wife does something wrong, is glad about her faults, rejoices over her faults or failures (perhaps in bitterness using them against her, pointing them out to her), then he is not loving her. And if a husband is glad when he does something wrong or evil to his wife, then he is not loving her.
And very important: the opposite of being glad in the truth is being glad in lies. A husband should be glad in the truth, not lies, and so should be honest and tell the truth to his wife. Truly God loves us perfectly, for He is Love, and God never lies to us, or deceives us, but always speaks the truth, for He is Truth.
If a husband deceives his wife, he is not loving her.
If a husband lies to his wife, he is not loving her.
love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
To bear means to cover or protect, and to endure means to remain.
And so a husband who is loving his wife will protect his wife, believe his wife, have hope for his wife, and remain with his wife.
And a husband who will not protect her, not believe her, has no hope for her, or won’t remain with her, is not loving his wife.
More On What Love is Not
Moving on to our next set of verses on what love is not,
Leviticus 19:18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
Luke 10:27 He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “
Galatians 5:14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
James 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
Matt 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Here the Bible makes 2 points on what love is. In Leviticus, the Bible contrasts loving your neighbor as yourself, with seeking revenge or bearing a grudge against your neighbor. Which means seeking revenge or bearing a grudge against someone is the opposite of loving them.
So, if a husband is seeking revenge (or to “avenge” himself) against his wife, he is not loving her. And if a husband is bearing a grudge against his wife, he is not loving her.
The second point made is that “loving your neighbor as yourself” is defined as “doing unto them what you would have them do unto you”.
If a husband is doing anything to his wife that he wouldn’t want done to himself, then he is not loving her. To put another way, if a husband is doing something to his wife that he wouldn’t want her to do to him, then he is not loving her.
Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
Here the Bible shows another opposite of a husband loving his wife, which is bitterness against her. This verse deals specifically with husbands and wives.
If a husband is bitter towards his wife, then he is not loving her.
1 Peter 3:7
There is no contradiction in the Bible. Any other positive commands to husbands must not conflict with the positive command for husbands to love their wives. As such this verse is also applicable:
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. 1 Peter 3:7
dwell with [them]
Looking at the Greek, and the context in which the words in this passage are used, it becomes clear that this is a powerful verse. The word “dwell with” here is “synoikeo” which is only used here in the Bible. It is a compound of 2 words, “syn” and “oikeo”. If Peter had wanted to mean “live with” in a way that referred to just 2 people living together, he more likely would have used a term like “oikeo meta” which means “dwell with”, and is the very phrase used in 1 Cor 7:12-13 for a husband or wife dwelling with each other in some residence. But Peter uses an unusual composite word, that is used only here in the Bible.
“Syn” is used as a prefix to describe people equally doing something together. For instance, “syn-odia” is “a company of travelers”, “synthapto” is “to bury together with” and “synistemi” is to “stand with”. These compositions all imply participants that are each equally part of some activity. The Greek prefix “syn” has the same meaning as the Latin prefix “co”. In English, we use terms like co-chair, co-pilot, co-author, or co-worker. In the verb form, we might say co-authoring, co-chairing, co-piloting, or co-working. In 1 Pet 3:7, “dwell with” would be more correctly translated “co-dwelling”.
according to knowledge
The word knowledge here is “gnosis” and in the New Testament, it’s meaning in use is one of the knowledge of truth of God, Jesus Christ, salvation, and understanding of the Christian faith or religion. This is not just a general word for “knowledge”, as in “I have knowledge about cars”. If it were it would make sense that a more broad Greek word for knowledge would be used, “epignosis”, which is used more this way. But “gnosis” is used speaking of the deeper understanding of what is true and good in the Christian faith. The Strong’s reads:
1) knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding
a) the general knowledge of Christian religion
b) the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced
c) esp. of things lawful and unlawful for Christians
d) moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living
As such, husbands are instructed “co-dwelling with deep knowledge of the Christian religion and moral wisdom from such…”
The word here for “give” is only used here in the New Testament. Again, it is a unique composite word, “apo-nemo”. The word “apo” used as a prefix indicates “separation, liberation, cessation, departure… finishing and completion… refers to the pattern from which a copy is taken… or to him from whom the action proceeds”. (Thayer’s) The word “nomos” (-nemo) means “law” and is translated as such in every instance in the KJV (197x). It can refer to the Mosaic Law, or any rule or law. But in the context of the word “gnosis” above, referring to an understanding of the Christian faith and religion, the “law” referenced to here must be one of the Christian faith.
In the Thayer’s under “nomos” it says, ” 3. Of the Christian religion… the law demanding faith, Rom 3:27… the moral instruction given by Christ, esp. the precept concerning love, Gal 6:2…” What does Gal 6:12 say? “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
Gal 5:12 better defines this for us: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” And note that in this letter something is pre-established in Gal 3 which says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Yet the only specifically “new commandment” Jesus gave is in harmony with this one, and is found in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
The Thayer’s defines the word “apo-nemos” based on extra-biblical usage in the works of Josephus and others, as meaning “(nemo to dispense a portion, to distribute), to assign, portion out”.
With a unique word that literally means “from-law”, which means “to assign, portion out” (Strong’s) the translation of “give” is not accurate. The word would better read “apportioning” or “apportion”. What is being apportioned?
The word here for “honor” is “time” and the Strong’s defines it as,
“1) a valuing by which the price is fixed a) of the price itself b) of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold 2) honour which belongs or is shown to one a) of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds b) deference, reverence”
This is not the same word that Jesus uses for “honor thy father and they mother” (Matt 19:19) which is “timeo”, as it is also not the same word for “honor widows” (1 Tim 5:3). Nor is it the same word as “honor all men” or “honor the king” as is used in 1 Pet 2:17, which is earlier in this same book. “Timeo” denotes a meaning of “to estimate, fix the value a) for the value of something belonging to one’s self”. With “timeo” the value is estimated for something belonging to one’s self.
This is not the case with “time”. Rather, this word “time” is used again and again in a way that means a fixed value to God, a value fixed by God, as something which is valuable or worth something great, or honor to a rank or position (of value). Peter uses this word earlier in the same letter in,
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” 1 Pet 1:7
“Unto you therefore which believe [he is] precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner” 1 Pet 2:7
And also in 2 Pet 1:17, “For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
This word “time” therefore refers to a value or price that God will set or has set on something.
It is the same word used twice in 1 Cor (6,7) repeated in “Ye are bought with a price“.
This price is not left to be determined by men, but has been determined by God.
Therefore, in 1 Pet 3:7 the word “honor” means an honor which reflects value, and the value of a price that has been fixed by God, not by men. It implies a set value God has put on someone, not the value a man puts on something that is his. So far, the verse reads, “Likewise, ye husbands, co-dwell with deep knowledge of the Christian religion and moral wisdom from such, apportioning honor from value set by God…”
unto the wife
The word here for “unto the wife” is “gynaikeios”. Again, this word is only used here in the Bible.
It means, “of or belonging to a woman, feminine, female”. This word is an adjective, not a verb.
Again, the translation “unto the wife” is not accurate, as this word is referring to something which belongs to the woman or to the female. Nor does the word imply this belongs to the “wife” in particular, but rather implies this belongs to the “woman, feminine, female”.
The verse so far should read, “Likewise, ye husbands, co-dwelling with deep knowledge of the Christian religion and moral wisdom from such, apportioning the honor (from her value or price as set by God) belonging to the woman/female…”
as unto the weaker vessel
The next phrase here is “as unto the weaker vessel”. The word here for “as” is “hos” which means “as, like, even as, etc”. There are no words contained in the Greek here to be translated “unto the”. The word for “weaker” is “asthenes” and it means weaker as it is spelled here for comparative use. The word here for “vessel” is “skeous”. This word is used one time with the same spelling in Luke 8:16 which reads, “Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light.”
The same word “skeous” is used in 2 Cor 4:6,
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
and in 2 Tim 2:20-21
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work.” (Note: the word honour here is “time” in Greek, as above, both times.)
This meaning, this illustration, has the weight of how the Epistles use the word vessel when referring to Christians. Christians are vessels of God, as the Holy Spirit lives in us, and through God’s power we are enabled to do good works.
The same meaning is also inherent in 1 Thes 4:3-6
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to aquire his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.”
In this verse on how men should go about acquiring a wife, she is called a “vessel”. This can have 2 references and meanings. The first is that as a Christian, she is a vessel of the Holy Spirit, and God’s power. The second, as brought out in another article, is the usage of the word vessel in referring to a body, as in marriage the husband is the head, the wife is the rest of the body, and they are one flesh. So here the reference is how the husband is to go about getting “his own body” to be the head of; without fornication, in sanctification and honor.
Back to 1 Pet 3:7, the same 2 meanings are inherent. The wife is a vessel of the Holy Spirit, empowered by God. At the same time she is the “weaker vessel”, which begs the question, weaker than what? A woman’s physical body generally is weaker than that of a man’s. And the repeated analogy in the Bible is that the wife is like the body, and the husband like the head of that body, in being one flesh. He is the head, and she is all of the other body parts, metaphorically. Nevertheless, in physical practicality, she is the weaker body. So this part should read “as a (weaker) vessel”.
(Note: This does not mean that the Bible teaches that women are physically weak, but rather in addressing husbands God seeks to remind them that generally she is physically weaker than him. The term is only used comparatively, and only when God is addressing husbands. Obviously some women are stronger than some men, even stronger than their husbands. But this also is said especially in the context of a husband of a married woman, in which there is the issue of pregnancies. Even the most strong body-building athletic wife is likely to experience some physical disabling from pregnancy and also during labor, which a husband doesn’t have to go through. So at least on average for a time she is bodily weaker than her husband, and God wants him to be understanding of this. Even doctors today recommend women not lift as much weight while in late pregnancy, not stand for long periods, must not overheat, must stay well hydrated, etc. or risk damaging herself or the baby.)
as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
The word for “heirs together” is “sygkleronomos” (also from the prefix syn-) and would better be translated as co-heirs. The emphasis is on an equality of sharing. This word is also used of the Gentiles, in Eph 3:6
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel”. The word here for “life” is “zoe”, which in context almost always refers to eternal life. The word for “that” is “eis” and would better read “so that” or “towards that”.
When this is all put together, the meaning should read as thus:
“Likewise, you husbands, co-dwell with deep knowledge (of the Christian religion and moral wisdom from such), apportioning the honor (from her value or price as set by God) belonging to the woman/female, as a (bodily weaker) vessel of the Holy Spirit and God’s power, and as being co-heirs of the grace of eternal life; so that your prayers will not be hindered”
Wow. Who knew that Peter was such a feminist? Knowing about the culture he came from, this was a radical teaching and perspective. But for anyone who does know what the culture was like back then for women, that Peter was a feminist should be no surprise. Jesus was also a radical, going against cultural norms in the way He treated women. So it should be no surprise that if Jesus was a feminist, that His disciples were also. See here http://www.religioustolerance.org/cfe_bibl.htm Back to talking about what love is and is not, this verse is part of how husbands are told to love their wives. If a husband co-dwells with his wife with this understanding, then he is loving his wife.
If a husband does not apportion to woman the honor that belongs to her of being an equal co-heir of eternal life, then he is not loving his wife.
If a husband does not honor woman as having a value set by God which is the same as his value, as they equally are vessels housing the Holy Spirit, who Christ died for, then he is not loving his wife.
If a husband does not co-dwell with woman with understanding of the equality male and female have in Christ, then he is not loving his wife.
If a husband does not co-dwell with understanding that he and woman are both equal vessels of God, though she is the weaker one, then he is not loving his wife. And inherent in all this is that a husband needs to treat a wife as he would want her to treat him; to love her as his neighbor, as he loves himself.
love your wives, even as Christ also
loved the church, and gave himself for it
As with submission, the instruction for a husband to love his wife should never involve the husband breaking God’s Commandments, violating his conscience, or doing something he believes is morally wrong. He is also individually accountable to God. On to gifts and callings…. While a husband should not neglect his spiritual gifts or be prevented from his calling any more than a wife should, there is a difference, that makes his situation unlike that with wives and submission. That difference is between the black and white, and the many shades of grey, and is the difference between Love and Submission.
A husband is told by God to have a self-sacrificial level of love for his wife. If a husband has to sacrifice himself, sacrifice his life, his work, his works for God, whatever he has, in order to love his wife, then he does well. He is instructed to love his wife with a type and level of love that is self-sacrificial. In fact, without self-sacrifice, a husband cannot fulfill his orders:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it“.
If a husband never sacrifices anything of himself in order to love his wife, then he is not loving her like he has been instructed by God to do. I have never heard of a wife having the power to prevent a husband from serving God in his gifts and calling, to force him to completely abandon his calling and completely neglect his spiritual gifts.
I know of no Christian woman who would want such a thing as a husband to completely stop all of his works for God. I also know no Christian woman who has the power to do this, to force him to stop. But if a wife was able to do so, she would be fighting against God, and be working evil. This is the black.
In so much as a husband has the power to not let his wife stop him or prevent him from pursuing his gifts and calling, even if she tried, and she truly has no power to stop or prevent him, this is his freedom to choose, and this is the white. But in between are many shades of gray.
When we use our gifts and pursue our calling, what we do is good works for God.
If a woman has to submit herself to a husband who prevents her from good works, then he is not being loving, nor should she submit to him rather than God, for he is contrary to God’s will. If her manager wants her to do contrary to what the president has told her to do, then she must do what the president wants.
But if a man obeys God to love his wife self-sacrificially, and this prevents him from good works, because of self-sacrificial love, then there is no conflict. He is not obeying his wife rather than obeying God, but rather either way he chooses, whether to do good works, or to show self-sacrificial love to his wife, he is still obeying God. In any given situation, he is choosing between a positive instruction to good works, and a positive instruction to love his wife self-sacrificially, and both of these instructions come to him from the same authority which is God.
This is the difference between men and women, between Submission and Love in action. And the Bible speaks on this problem of pleasing the Lord versus pleasing your wife:
1 Cor 7:32-34 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided.
A husband’s interests may feel divided, between pleasing the Lord and pleasing his wife, and God acknowledges this; God knows this. But in self-sacrificially loving his wife, a husband is also is pleasing the Lord. Really, there is no conflict here.
But if it feels like there is a conflict, then husbands should know that God recognizes this division even in His Word, and surely understands. If a husband whose interests are divided were to spend even up to half, or even up to 49%, of the time choosing to please his wife when faced with this conflict, do you think God would not understand? As God acknowledges this conflict in His Word, I do think God understands.
Over the course of a year, or a month, how many times does a husband choose to sacrifice “something he is doing for God” in order to show love to his wife? Is this picture balanced? Is it 60/40? 95/5? As God has told a man both to love his wife self-sacrificially, and to do good works, then the picture should be balanced. If a husband feels there is conflict, and this picture is not balanced, then there is a problem.
And to say again, when husbands self-sacrificially love their wives this is pleasing to God. This is a good work a husband does for God as much as any other good work, so in truth there really is no conflict here between the two. Either way is obeying God. And in these decisions made by husbands are the many shades of gray: the husband has freedom to choose among a good work of one kind or a good work of another kind.
Still, if a husband never sacrifices anything of himself in order to love his wife, then he is not loving her like he has been instructed by God to do.