Husbands, love your wives

Excerpt from the message – John MacArthur:

(See entire message here

People in marriages attack each other because of their own sinfulness, their own fallenness and because there’s conflict as we read in Genesis between the man and the woman as they vie for power in the union. So immediately upon the Fall, marriage is under assault from the outside by Satan and from the inside by the conflict that rises in the hearts of the two people that make up that union.


MacArthur states that in order for a marriage to work, it has: To be „monitored by and empowered by the Holy Spirit”. 

“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her so that He might sanctify her having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that she would be holy and blameless. “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife, loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it just as Christ also does the church because we are members of His body.” A very lengthy and very detailed set of instructions for the husband.

The husband’s command is very clear. It’s a single command. Husbands, love your wives. Love your wives. That is the command. There is no command to take authority over your wife. That’s not the command. That is not the command. Is the husband the head? Absolutely he’s the head. We saw that, didn’t we, in 1 Corinthians 11, the husband is the head of the wife, Christ is the head of the man, God is the head of Christ. But the command is not to take authority. It doesn’t say a word about that. It doesn’t say take authority. It doesn’t say rule over your wife. It doesn’t say order her around. It doesn’t say command her. It doesn’t say subjugate her, subject her. It doesn’t say dominate her. It says love your wives…love your wives. And the word for love is from the verb agapao which is the most intense, most divine, most magnanimous, most sacrificial, most humble kind of love. It’s the love of the will. There are other words for love in the Greek language. There’s the word eros(? from which you get erotic, that’s a sexual kind of love. There’s the word phileo, the verb phileo which is the word that is in the word Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, it means that, that kind of a normal, human affection. There is even a word for family love and that word is used when the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy and says that people in the society, the worldly society have lost their natural affection. That is their family love. So there are words for family love, and erotic love, and brotherly love. But this is the word for the love of the will. This is the word that is the most magnanimous, the most far-reaching, and the most intentional. This is…this is a word for love that is not defined by the solicitation of the one loved. This is the love of the will. This is loving because it is right to love, loving because you will to love. It doesn’t mean the person is not attractive, but this word is defined as a word that expresses one’s intentionality.

This is how we are to love because we determine to love, because we will to love. This is, of course, defined for us as the kind of love the Lord has for His church. He does not love us because we are lovable. He did not save us because we were lovable. He didn’t save you and not somebody else down the street from you because you were more lovable than the person down the street. You might have picked your life partner because that person was more lovable in your judgment than the other people you knew. That is not how God chose you. He predetermined by His own will to set His love on you and to then spend His love relentlessly on you forever and ever and ever. And it is that kind of love that a husband is to set upon the woman that he takes as his wife.

It is the manner of our love. Let’s start with that word “manner,” we’ll break it down into several parts. This love, the manner of this love, “as Christ loved the church” and you can go all the way back and say, Romans 5:8, “He loved us when we were enemies, when we were alienated, when we were unlovable and unlovely and unloving and before we loved Him. We only love Him because He first loved us. That’s what we’re talking about. You set your love by your will because it’s right and it’s noble, and it’s the way Christ set His love on us. That’s the manner of it.


The Willful Submission of a Christian Wife

Excerpts from – see entire message here

John MacArthur:

In other words, if you reverence Christ, if you are in awe of Christ, if you desire to honor and please Him, then be a submissive person…a submissive person. As general characteristic, we are to be submissive. Spirit-filled people are submissive. That is to say, they are not dominating, they are not proud, they are not self-willed. They do not live by their own agenda which is, of course, the way people in our culture and our society today live. We have sown the seeds of a self-esteem psychology and we have reaped a harvest of pride, overwhelming pride, personal pride, self-glorification, self-will, domination of the environment by one’s own person and plans. But Spirit-filled people are submissive by the work of the Holy Spirit.

The word here for “subject,” or “submit” is hupotasso, it’s a Greek verb, hupotasso, it’s compounded. It means…tasso means to arrange, to place in order, and hupo is under. It’s a military term, it means to place yourself under, to rank yourself under. That’s what it means in the military sense. It is to rank yourself under those in authority over you, under those who have responsibility for you, to be under someone. As a general principle as Christians, we are to live lives of submission. This is so clearly the general principle of Christian living that it is referred to many times in particular in the New Testament. But perhaps as clear a section as there is Philippians 2. In Philippians 2 we read in verse 1, we’ll just pick it up at verse 1, “If there’s any encouragement in Christ, any consolation of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, any affection and compassion—talking about mutually among believers—make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, loving everybody the same, thinking the same things, united in Spirit, intent on one purpose.”

How in the world can you do that? How can you get along so completely with others? “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interest, but also for the interest of others.” That is the soul of submission. It is humility. It is being unselfish, having no conceit but with humility of mind, considering others as more important than yourselves. Not looking out for your own interests, but the interests of others. That is a spiritual grace that is produced by the Holy Spirit. If there is any fellowship of the Spirit, any real fellowship of the Spirit, this then will appear. And—by the way—the greatest illustration of this is Christ Himself. You are to have this attitude of humble submission in yourselves, verse 5, which was also in Christ Jesus who although He existed in the form of God didn’t regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, held onto, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave and being made in the likeness of man, found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.”

This is what it means to be submissive, to be humble, to look not on your own things but the things of others. That broad command is also repeated in 1 Corinthians 16:16, “You also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors.”

Family Series – Husbands love your wife more than…

Instead of seminary, you can insert any number of other words such as career,car,money,friends etc. Very convicting to both husbands and wives because we can all be guilty of loving other things more than our spouses at times. Here is some very useful marriage commentary (not just for seminarians and their wives) from The Aquila Report :

Nothing will throw off your graduation date from Seminary like a divorce.

Does a husband’s subjective call to ministry relativize his objective, biblical command to love his wife?  Regardless of how I might have answered this question in a theological paper, the true  answer of my heart was exposed by my actions. Some said my marriage issues were normal for a seminarian, even appropriate for my “season of life.”

My sinful heart exploited this poor counsel to justify my negligence as a husband.  If you’re better at spotting immature husbands than I am, then you would quickly see that though I would have argued that no  ministry opportunity — including the opportunity to attend seminary — undermines Ephesians 5:25, my true answer could be seen in how I talked to my wife.

You could see it in how I touched her,  when I did. If you were to come to my home, you might have sensed that my study, neatly adorned with shelves of books, was my pride and joy. But I happily left the upkeep of the rest of the house to my wife.

You may have noticed my drive to write creative sermons and talk theology with classmates, but a deflated effort creatively to engage my wife in conversation. My eyes lit up over my syllabi, but I had little response over my wife’s new haircut or her plans for the day or a new recipe she was eager to try.

To my shame, I could spot the subtle ways heretical worldviews creep into the church, but I paid little attention to the subtle ways resentment crept into my wife’s heart. I jumped to unpack the mysteries behind Christ’s tears as He hung alone on the cross, but I left alone the mystery of my wife’s tears as she, once again, went to bed alone because her husband “needed” to study. After all, I was in seminary, and shouldn’t she support God’s calling on my life? She should be stronger, trust God’s plan more, and be more understanding of the demands of my calling, right?


At the end of the day, I gave heart service to my time at seminary, but only lip service to Ephesians 5, and it cost me my marriage.

Studious or self-deceived
Husbands, I have found that discerning whether or not we adequately love our wives is rarely something we can do on our own. If I were to ask you, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you think your wife feels loved by you?” many of us would likely rate ourselves higher than our wives would. Sure, no Christian man would have the audacity to rate himself a 10. We all know we are sinners. But, our hearts are incredibly self-biased, and finding where we truly land on the scale almost always requires a second set of eyes.

Somewhere along the way, we seminary students become really awesome at calling out sin apart from true heart change. After all of our trivial confessions, we may remain oblivious to how we are deeply wounding our wives because we end up loving her on our own terms. We can even wind up blaming her for a difficult marriage when the difficulty is really because we husbands don’t know how to dig deep enough to see our sin.

Gospel-focused affection
I humbly want to serve as that second set of eyes. As I think about my own marriage breakdown, I want to offer a few things I wish I would have more seriously considered during my time as a seminarian:

  • 1.  Tell your wife you love her regularly.
  • 2.  Deeply dwell on the Gospel. Your affection for your wife can only go as deep as your affection for the person and work of Christ. Because marriage is a picture of how Christ has loved His church, if your heart has grown cold toward the cross, you can be sure it has grown cold toward your marriage. Thus, do everything possible to keep your heart soft toward Jesus.
  • 3.  Read books about the cross. Listen to music about the cross. Try to constantly maintain a posture of wonder about being reconciled to God through Christ; this is the foundation for true love for any marriage. Remember that marriage is Gospel ministry. If you do not hold your marriage in high esteem (Heb 13:4), you do not truly hold Gospel ministry in high esteem. The size of your library is a poor indicator of how seriously you take the Gospel.

4.  Your marriage is where the audit needs to happen. I think this is what Paul is getting at when he asks, “For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church” (1 Tim 3:5)?

5.  Tell your wife you love her regularly.

I have also found that your class notes may not be the best devotional material for your wife. Fight to ensure that you and your wife’s affections for Christ flow from sources other than seminary. Never sacrifice intimacy for study. For some couples this means going to sleep at the same time, for others it means eating breakfast together every morning. Either way, budget time for intimacy. Manage your time better throughout the day, or take a lighter load of classes. Furthermore, show interest in her schedule.

Tell her you love her regularly. Fight peripheral laziness. One thing that will surely make it an uphill battle for your wife to respect you is if she sees you work hard at seminary but act like a slob everywhere else. Be tender during theological discussion with your wife. If she’s not as robust a student as you, she’ll likely not find the same things interesting.  In conversation, she’ll likely not go as deep as you, and she may even contradict what you have just learned in class. Yet, gently affirm her knowledge of Christ. You are the pastor of your home; shepherd your wife, making the most of your theological education. Do everything you can to ensure that she feels safe expressing her heart regarding your study habits, ministry or projected graduation date.

Always be grateful for a wife who knows Christ. Fervently pray for her heart, even when times are good. Pray that God would keep Satan from using your sins as a seminarian to turn her away from Christ and His church.

Tell her you love her regularly.

Always remember that God doesn’t need you, your gifts or your ministry. If He did, why did He create you so late in history? Cultivate your marriage behind closed doors because “your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt 6:4).

Oh, and tell her you love her regularly.

God, wife, seminary
It is ironic that I have seen seminary be the place where many have been disqualified from ministry. It is clear in Scripture that the Holy Spirit specifically appoints certain men as leaders by gifting them and putting it in their hearts to serve joyfully in the context of a local church (Acts 20:28; cf. 1 Tim 3:1ff ). It’s a noble desire. It can be an all-consuming desire. But, with this desire comes the responsibility  to humbly prioritize one’s life in such a way that prevents a subtle disregard for God’s written word. God has not commanded husbands to love seminary. He has commanded that we love our wives and strive to protect our marriages, even from something as noble as our ministry call.

Take it from me. My projected graduation date was December 2010. I was one semester away from earning my MDiv. when I decided I needed to take my marriage seriously. It was too late at that point.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.

Love your wives more!!

This article is from the February 2011 issue of Towers: The Magazine of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

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