Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church. This mystery is profound. (Ephesians 5:22, 25, 32 / ESV)

We solve the mystery of marriage by imitating the relationship between Christ and the church.

The relationship mystery Paul described stumped one of the wisest Biblical authors! The “way of a man with a maiden” was too amazing for him to understand (Proverbs 30:18-19). Thankfully, God didn’t leave us clueless to stumble along as best we can. However, the mystery He uncovers far exceeds our stereotypical concept of marital “love and submission.”

Husbands are to love their wives the same way Christ loved His bride, the church, and gave Himself for her. He didn’t expect to be waited on. Nor did He pursue His own self-indulgent interests. Even as the Head of the church, He humbly serves her, helps her when she couldn’t help herself, and meets her at her individual point of need (Matthew 20:28). Loving His bride so much, He sacrificed His life so they could enjoy an abundant , eternal life together (John 10:10).

Relational Clues

A husband’s primary responsibility is to meet his wife’s needs. He does so lovingly, respectfully, affectionately, and purposefully. He dedicates his all—time, energy, attention, motivation—to her.

A second relational clue applies to wives. Ask yourself, What did Christ ask of His bride? He told His followers to love Him with “all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Mark 12:30). The word love used here refers to a willful choice. Love is finding personal joy in the person being loved. It is the unselfish passion of the heart involving deep compassion and intimate connection. This love is demonstrated daily through passionate acts performed by committed and intimately connected hearts.

Subsequently, we can apply Paul’s spiritual comparison to marriage. A wife’s primary responsibility is to be equally, wholly, and lovingly interactive with her husband. This includes spiritually (spirit), emotionally (soul), intellectually (mind), and physically (body). Reciprocally, this is her passionate response to her husband’s wholehearted love for her.

Spouses solve the mystery of marriage by fulfilling their corresponding roles. Neither person should have to compete with any of his or her spouse’s personal interests or pursuits. Being “one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31), both husband and wife love each other with all their hearts, souls, minds, and bodies.

Discussion Questions
  1. Is the church’s submission to Christ obligatory servitude or joyous intimacy and mutual fellowship?
  2. In what ways can spouses relationally model Christ’s all-encompassing love with each other?
  3. How can spouses love each other spiritually? Emotionally? Intellectually? Physically?
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