Husbands, Love Your Wives
What took Paul three verses to say to wives, he now takes nine verses to say to husbands. This is because the husband has the greater responsibility as the God-ordained leader of the family and household. As it is hers to nurture and nourish, it is his to provide and protect—not that these are mutually exclusive, after all, women provide and protect and men nurture and nourish, each according to the particular way of their sexual differentiation as male and female—but his being a man requires of him the role of leadership, a role not based upon utility or practicality but upon his being the man in the marital relationship.
As we saw yesterday, the marital relationship between husband and wife is to image the marriage between Christ and his Church. And as the proper response of the Church is to submit to her Lord, so the proper response of a wife is to submit to her husband. Likewise as Christ loved the Church and gave his life for her, then the first responsibility and duty of a husband is to love his wife. And as Christ’s love for his Bride washes and sanctifies her, so the Christlike love of a husband so washes and sanctifies his wife. This is, indeed, saying something extraordinary and we wonder how this can be. And so Paul himself calls this marital bond between husband and wife a great mystery for the reason being that it refers to Christ and his Church. So we must assume that in some spiritual way, as believers in Christ Jesus and partakers of the Holy Spirit and such heavenly gifts which flow there from, that a husband’s love itself is sanctified by the Holy Spirit that it may sanctify his wife—and God provides this sanctification in virtue of the fact that such marriage truly images and partakes of that marital bond between Christ and his Church.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Please note: not one spirit, not one soul, but one flesh. The marital union is such that the intimacy expressed (which is reserved for marriage alone) is a one flesh union, such that the union of soul and spirit happens through the uniting of his body with hers —the fruit being (when all is well and nothing intervenes) a baby. Unnatural liaisons can image neither Christ and his Church as they are sinful and thus impossible of sanctification, nor become “one flesh” as they are naturally fruitless, producing nothing but sensual gratification which is enjoyed by two bodies which shall ever remain separate. It is shameful that I must even speak of this. Let us focus instead on the sanctifying mystery of marriage.