Husbands, love your wives. This is a commandment as express and forceful as any other in the sacred volume. It is meant to be obeyed. Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And John says, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
For ages women have been denigrated and down-graded. We have entire religious movements who capitalize on keeping the women “in their place.” By an erroneous interpretation of certain scriptures, they have relegated the women solely to the realm of the kitchen. Their wants and needs scarcely have been addressed. They have been denied the freedom of speech in the home and in the church. Countless numbers of them have gone to hell due to this unnatural and unscriptural oppression.
Men have sermonized and exhorted. They have lambasted and libeled the women from the pulpit. They have viewed the extremes of feminism in the world, and, fearful lest their own wives should begin to think for themselves and act as if they had a soul of their very own which required the freedom and freshness of the Holy Spirit, they have stripped them of nearly every scriptural and spiritual right. Many men use their place in the home as an occasion to the flesh. They make the wives and the children subservient to their selfish, carnal wishes.
Men, you have something to answer for in this. We have heard enough of all of this sermonizing on the submission of the wife. We turn the question of submission around on you. Have you submitted yourself to obey the commandments which God has given specifically to you–to you, the husband? Do you love your wife?
Your job is not just to ensure the submission of the wife. God has not made you her judge or high priest. He has only allotted to you a very meager role as her domestic head. A very limited sphere of rule indeed. And, yet, some men act as though they were God Himself, issuing commandments and demanding the total subservience of the women. They usurp the authority of the Holy Ghost over their wives. No, husband, this is not your duty.
Husbands, love your wives. That is your duty. A husband who truly loves his wife will understand that she is a human being with feelings and emotions. She needs more than food to eat and a roof over her head. He will understand that she needs, yea, demands his time, attention and affection. He will feel tender toward her needs and will do all within his power to see that her domestic requirements are attended to. He will not come home and perch on his recliner like a king, demanding that she wait on him, hand and foot. We know this, because Christ is not such an husband to the church, and it is this comparison that the husband needs to live up to.
The loving husband will understand that “helpmeet” does not just mean that his wife should bake him pies, iron his clothes, and sweep the floor. He loves his wife as Christ loves the church. He will recognize that his wife has a soul for which she, alone, is accountable to God. This means he will do his utmost to encourage her spiritually and will not stand in her way if God calls her (instead of him) to do a specific work. He will refuse to be a hindrance toward her spiritual progress and will do everything within his power to encourage her on to heaven.
A godly husband will have read his Bible enough to know that the office of husband is not listed as a gift of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, he is not his wife’s pastor. He will carefully guard himself from infringing on the wife’s spiritual privileges. He will regard her as a helpmeet to himself, both domestically and spiritually, and will accept this help in both spheres. His wife will be more to him than a household servant or baby-machine. He will take pains for her welfare and will, as the scriptures state, truly nourish and cherish her.
Some will argue that the Bible commands the women to submit to their husbands in every thing (Eph. 5:24). They use this to restrict even the holiest and noblest spiritual aspirations of the women. Such an interpretation needs qualifying. The scriptures also teach us to submit ourselves to every ordinance of man (1 Pet. 2:13). If we are to interpret this the same way some men interpret Ephesians 5:24, then believers in many countries where it is a crime to be a Christian would have to give up prayer, evangelism, and Bible reading. But such a view is irrational. When the scriptures command obedience to a temporal authority, be it man or government, it is predicated on the assumption that obedience to God is first and foremost. Wherever the will of man crosses the will of God, God takes precedence.
Obviously, the Lord expects the women to obey His Word and Spirit over and above their husbands. He commands them to obey and reverence their husbands, but if the husband is out of order and comes between the woman’s obedience to God, she is to obey God, rather than man (Acts 5:29). The example of Sapphira should prove sufficient to illustrate this point. God lays claim to every individual when He says, “All souls are mine”(Ezk. 18:4). The woman obeys God in obeying her husband as long as the husband’s will does not run contrary to the revealed will of God.
And so, we ask you husbands, are you in submission to God? Do you love your wife? No man who truly loves his wife will behave toward her in a haughty, commandeering manner. You will know you love your wife when you feel tender affection toward her. You will know you truly love her when you view her, not as a threat to your rule and domination, but as a fellow-helper of your soul. You can say that you love your wife when you would gladly lay down your life (your thoughts, your wishes) for her and give yourself to see her prosper in body and soul. “Love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church…So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.” Happy such a marriage! How godly such a home! Few are the men who see this.
It is time for a holy and godly people to stand on the Bible and demand as much of the men as has been demanded of the women. Husbands, love your wives. Are you in obedience to this?