There was once a Christian counselor who met with a man who was having difficulty in his marriage. With sensitivity to the man’s concerns, the counselor told him that the answer was to love his wife just as commanded in Ephesians 5:25. The troubled husband replied that he just could not do that since he felt no affection toward his wife. Seeing the problem the man faced, the counselor then said the solution was for the man to move next door to the house his wife was living in. This perplexed the husband until the counselor said that if he was having difficulty loving his wife, he might have an easier time loving his neighbor (Matt. 19:19). At this the man grew incensed, exclaiming that the counselor just did not understand how much he had grown to hate his wife. The counselor replied that the situation was finally clear to him and that all the man needed to do was to love his enemy (5:43–48).
What is revealing about this encounter is how our culture’s conception of love differs from the biblical view. The husband accepted the cultural conviction that love equals feeling affection and is something that happens to us outside of our control. Scripture, however, teaches that love is primarily an action, something we do more than something we feel. God’s Word does not tell husbands to love their wives only when they feel like it; they have a duty to love their wives sacrifically (Eph. 5:25–28). This is how God loves us, for “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
In turn, women are to submit to their own husbands (Eph. 5:22), but the husband’s mandate to love his wife as Jesus loves His people (v. 25) means that his authority is not one of tyranny but of loving service. Christ has never used the church merelyfor His own pleasure, nor has He ever insulted her dignity. Jesus has never neglected His bride, the church, and He has never failed to bend His ear to hear His bride speak to Him. Husbands must imitate this kind of love.
Feelings come and go, but the loyal love husbands must have for their wives is to last forever. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6, KJV).