A powerful biblical metaphor for God and His people is that of husband and wife. Christ is the Bridegroom and His church is the bride. The return of Christ means that “the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. . . . Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Rev. 19:7–9).
Christ’s love for the church is the model for a husband’s love for his wife (v. 25; see Col. 3:19). What a challenge! Husbands have been given by God the leadership role in the family not because they deserve it or are better human beings, but to provide them with an opportunity to demonstrate the kind of sacrificial love which they have experienced from Christ.
Paul knew that the command for wives to submit might tempt husbands to pride. So he swiftly spelled out the husband’s reciprocal duty: “Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.” How does Christ love? Sacrificially and purposefully; the husband should love his wife in a way that’s unselfishly committed to her wellbeing and to seeing God’s purposes realized in her life (v. 27).
A second, more down-to-earth comparison helps clarify this (vv. 28–31; see Gen. 2:24). A husband should love his wife as he loves his own body. This demonstrates the commitment to wellbeing, in that a man will take care of his body regardless of how he “feels” about it.
For both husband and wife, the model for marriage is the relationship between Christ and His church. This is a “profound mystery,” which marriage is intended to be an earthly reflection of (vv. 32–33). A godly marriage, then, is impossible without being filled with the Spirit!
Moody Theological Seminary professor John Trent has written practical books for spouses to improve their marriages: 30 Ways A Husband Can Bless His Wife and 30 Ways A Wife Can Bless Her Husband. He also leads the ministry and website StrongFamilies.com. Pray that Christian marriages will reflect the love between Christ and the church!