Husbands and Wives: Two shall become one in God

Did you know that there is a book on how to make your marriage work?

 

The Bible is an instrumental source of knowledge on how to maintain relationships/marriage. It specifically tells of how husbands and wives should interact and relate to each other in marriage, thus providing a timeless foundation for healthy and harmonious partnerships.

As discussed in the previous article, based on God’s design, marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman. Their union signifies a physical, emotional, and spiritual union of two individuals to become one flesh. This union is founded on God’s love and aims to emulate the selfless love of Jesus to His Bride (the church.)

 

So what does the Bible prescribe as the fundamental aspects of a successful marriage?

Husbands

 

The husband is the leader of the family. In Ephesians 5:23 we are told, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” As a leader, they have the role of provision, guidance, and love. Their leadership encompasses leading the wife and family in both an earthly and spiritual manner. This leadership role, though, should not be misunderstood as a leeway for mistreating others, rather, just as Christ, a Husband’s leadership should be governed by love.

 

Husbands are called to love their wives as they love themselves (Ephesians 5: 33). This verse lays the foundation for the husband's love toward his wife. It speaks of a love that is considerate, caring, and selfless. The husband is encouraged to treat his wife with the same love and care that he shows himself, recognizing her worth and treating her with respect and dignity.


Paul though goes further to urge husbands to mirror the sacrificial and unconditional love demonstrated by Jesus Christ for His Church. “Husbands, Love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25). The love of Christ for His Church is considered the ultimate act of love and sacrifice, where He laid down His life for the sake of his followers. In 1 John 3: 16; “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

 

The comparison between a husband's love and Christ's love is not meant to be burdensome or unattainable. Instead, it serves as a source of inspiration and motivation for husbands to strive for a higher level of love in their marriages. By looking to Christ as the ultimate example of love, husbands can continually seek to improve their relationships and deepen their love for their wives. The Bible actually expounds on this love, in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, where it is described, 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.”

 

Other than loving their wives, husbands also have a unique role of ensuring the spiritual well-being of their wives (Ephesians 5:24). They are encouraged to actively contribute to the spiritual development and purity of their wives. Husbands should support their wives in their journey to faith, and help them build a stronger relationship with God.

Wives

Wives, on the other hand, are told to submit to their husbands. 

Ephesians 5: 22 “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” 

As husbands are compared to Christ, wives are compared to the church, whose role in marriage is to serve and submit to the husband. Submit, according to the dictionary means, “to accept or yield to a superior force.” As such, wives are expected to voluntarily and willingly accept their husbands as the leaders of the household.

 

It is important to note that submission is different from oppression or coercion. The superiority and inferiority of marriage should be based on Godly love, trust, and respect, rather than individualism and power. The woman has a supportive role in a marriage, with the husband as the steward of the ship. Paul expounds that submission is a necessary trait for women to influence the spirituality of their husbands. He states, Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Through the kindness, love, and gentleness of a woman, the man will grow their spirituality.


The supportive role of a wife is further expounded in Proverbs 31: 10-31, where Solomon gives the characteristics of a virtuous wife. As a man who had many wives, we definitely expect him to understand what makes a good wife. A virtuous wife is described as industrious, compassionate, and supportive of her husband. They have the role of managing and nurturing the family. They have wisdom, strength, and character. They portray inner beauty and a respectful demeanor.

Conclusion

As seen from the Bible, both husband and wife have a role in the successful raising of a Christian family. The specific roles prescribed to each should be done from a point of mutual love, respect, and trust. None of the partners should seek to meet their individual needs, rather they should continually build on each other to attain the best. The Bible shuns personal fulfillment, a concept greatly praised in the contemporary world. Rather each should be ready to serve the other wholeheartedly. Embracing these principles can lead to happier and more fulfilling marriages, enriching the lives of both spouses.