Should Wives Love Their Husbands Also?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Ephesians 5:25

Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Verse 28 adds that husbands should “love their wives as their own bodies.” Verse 33 reiterates that “each husband must love his wife as he loves himself.” This passage leaves no doubt about the primary responsibility of husbands to their wives: love.

Nothing in this passage on marriage says that wives are to love their husbands, however. Wives are told to submit to their husbands and to respect them (Eph. 5:22, 24, 33). But there’s nothing here calling wives to love. Should they? If so, on what basis?

Before I respond directly to this question, I’d like to make an observation about biblical interpretation. It is fairly obvious but worth stating anyway. Just because Scripture doesn’t say something in a particular passage, that doesn’t mean it isn’t so. Yes, this passage on marriage does not explicitly say that wives should love their husbands. But we mustn’t conclude from this that the text implies wives are not to love their husbands. It never says, after all, “Wives, don’t love your husbands.” So, when we interpret Scripture, we should always be careful about what we read into the text that isn’t there, such as a command for wives not to love their husbands.

We have ample reason to believe that, in fact, wives should love their husbands. Not only is this what you might call “Christian common sense,” but it is also an implication of many biblical passages that call all of us to love others. Several of these passages appear in Ephesians, as a matter of fact. In Eph. 4:2, we’re told to bear with one another “in love.” A few verses later, we're to be “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). But clearest of all is Ephesians 5:1-2: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” All of God’s children, no matter their gender or marital status, are to love as Christ loved. Yes, Ephesians 5:25 applies this general imperative to husbands in a specific way. But though the passage on marriage doesn’t add a similar imperative for wives, there can be no doubt that wives should follow God’s example as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love in their relationship with their husband, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.

Ephesians 5 implies that one way for wives to love their husbands is by submitting to them, both by following their leadership and by serving them in a Christ-like way. I might add that one way for husbands to love their wives is by following their leadership and serving them, in line with the imperative for all believers to “submit to one another” (Eph. 5:21).

We don’t know for sure why, given the call to all believers to love others in the way of Christ, Paul made sure husbands knew this was meant to guide their behavior with their wives. It may be that this emphasis on love by husbands for wives, flowing from the heart of the Gospel, was so new and countercultural that it required extra attention. Nevertheless, it is also surely true that wives are to love their husbands in the way of Christ because that’s how all of us are to treat others, including those to whom we are married.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: If you are a wife, are you loving your husband? How can you communicate your love to him so that he can really feel it and know it? No matter your marital status, are you seeking to love people in the way of Christ? Whom might you love in this way today? How?

PRAYER: Gracious God, speaking as a husband, I thank you for the repetitive reminder to love my wife. Sometimes I don’t need this extra help. But often, I can get so wrapped up in myself, my needs, my work, my agenda, that I can temporarily forget about my wife. Thus, I’m grateful for your clear exhortation to husbands, including me. I expect there are other husbands reading this prayer who agree.

No matter our marital status or gender, we are all called to love in the way of Christ. Help us, Lord, to do this. Remind us by your Spirit of just how much you love us. May your love inspire us, teach us, mold us, constrain us. Even today, Lord, may I love others in the way of Christ. Amen.


Create Good

It takes work to create good. It takes time and energy and resources and, well, work. Somewhere along the way, you might feel discouraged or worn out or frustrated by the whole thing, so we've asked a few people in The High Calling network to talk to us about creating and cultivating good things. We hope the series, Create Good, inspires you to keep looking up, pressing on, and doing good. We pray you find the inspiration to "not grow weary in doing good." God sees your work. God knows your desire to do good, to create good, to celebrate and cultivate good in the world. God is for you. And so are we.

Featured image by jdukeslee. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.