28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.
Reflection On This Scripture
Paul exhorts the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church and in verse 28, as their own bodies. This is not some kind of low standard type of love that demeans or degrades the wife, nor is it a love that seeks selfishness since 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 teaches against this. Paul’s exhortation to a husband to love his wife as his own body is profound and applies to the second great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). In this sense, the husband is to love his closest, precious neighbor – his wife. And because love is not simply an emotion as much as it is an action – Jesus even urged his disciples in Matthew 7:12 to treat others as they themselves like to be treated – a husband is to love and treat his wife as himself. This is not something that is done apart from Christ’s model. In fact, Christ is the model for a husband to love his wife as his own body. We have already been told by Paul that the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church. Christ himself loves His bride (the church) as His own body. And given that the church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23), we can see that Christ is the model to follow for a man to love his wife as his own body. A man who loves his wife loves himself, because they are one body. To mistreat your wife is to mistreat yourself. To neglect your wife is to neglect yourself.
Of course there are people who mutilate and hurt their bodies with drugs and other things, but the common attitude that most people have toward their bodies is the opposite. They want to make sure that they take care of their body. Now we all sin in ways like not eating well, and not exercising as much as we should but overall, we love our bodies and want what’s best for them. Paul then strengthens his argument by saying no one hates his body, but rather nourishes and cherishes it. These are caring terms like a mother with her children. And because a man and his wife are one flesh, this nourishing and cherishing is spiritual as well.
Paul says we nourish and cherish our body like Christ does the church. Let’s look at Christ’s example. He is the head and savior (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23), He died for the church (Eph. 5:25), He sanctified her (Eph. 5:26), and provides nourishment and care (Eph. 4:11-16). Christ nourishes and cherishes us because we are His body. Husbands have been given a daunting task in these verses and can be overwhelmed to accomplish what Paul has told them to do. That is why they are to look at Christ’s example and learn from Him. The beauty is that Christ knows husbands are far from perfect but empowers them to obey Him. Husbands, remember that your calling to headship is a divine calling; therefore, divine grace is required to empower. God will not call you to something He has not empowered you for.
Husbands, how do you want to be loved? How do you want to be treated? Do you want to be forgiven when you sin against your spouse? Then forgive your wife when she sins against you. Do you want her to overlook your flaws? Then do not remind her of hers. Do you want her to respect you? Then show her respect. Honor her and let her know that she’s your priority and that she’s your first ministry. Understand that your wife’s well-being and peace will be your well-being and peace. Do unto her as you would want her to do unto you.
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