No, I get it. It feels like an impossibility.
Love our wives like Christ loved the Church? With that kind of sacrificial love? Seriously?
If you’ve ever sat down and really thought about it, it sounds incredibly lofty. If you’ve ever had this come to mind in the middle of a heated argument with your wife, it feels plain crazy.
But my simple reminder is that when the ancient writer (Paul of Tarsus) penned these words by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he meant it. He wasn’t trying to be artistic or simply utilize some kind of ancient literary device, no, he was being sincere — Jesus is our standard.
This means our standard is not Al Bundy, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, or some other fictional character our culture celebrates as to how a man can comically behave in a marriage.
Our standard is not our earthly fathers, whom we feel we may have already surpassed.
Our standard is not even our guy friends, church small group guys, our pastor, and not even the famous Christian guys who write about marriage.
Yes, marriage is supposed to be held in tension with mission. Marriage doesn’t exist for marriage itself but for the glory of God. We can’t miss the bigger picture.
Yes, there’s a real danger in idolizing our wives or even the concept of marriage itself. We can reduce marriage simply to the happiness of our wives completely removed from her discipleship to Jesus.
I see the dangers of overemphasis and/or reductionism. But I also see the dangers of plain and subtle disobedience.
Jesus left His heavenly throne to pursue His Bride, and this means you can leave your couch to pursue your wife, and not just physically but emotionally.
Jesus bled and died under the crushing weight of the Church’s sins, and that invites you to come, die, and forgive her’s even if it crushes your ego.
Jesus patiently sanctifies (transforms) the Church, and so you can be patient with the immature corners of your wife’s character as she valiantly puts up with yours.
Yes, Jesus is our standard.
And here’s the beautiful twist and perhaps His design all along — as we strive and fail, we will come to the beautiful conclusion that we as husbands desperately need Jesus ourselves. We need His grace, His power at work in us every single day.
Holding Jesus as our standard brings us to Jesus Himself, who holds us and our marriages together.
And in so doing, Jesus ultimately changes us and our wives and gets all the credit for it.
This is why we cannot lower the standard to someone or something else because in doing so, we may miss out on more of Jesus for our lives.
Jesus is our standard. Thank God.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” — Ephesians 5:25–27