Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 18, 2008
Husbands must put wives’ needs first
St. Paul - husbands are to emulate Christ’s love
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
In the beginning of history, God created marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman. Husbands and wives were to complement each other as one flesh (equals).
God established marriage in the Garden of Eden. We are told:
“The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man.
“When he brought her to the man, the man said: ‘This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (Genesis 2:18, 21-24).
A permanent union
Yes, marriage was intended to be a permanent earthly union between a man and a woman.
Marriage is a holy covenant so inviolable that man is warned, by Christ himself, not to tear it apart. From the beginning, it was intended to be a permanent earthly bond. In the complementary state of “one flesh”, a man and woman build up each other. Marriage is supposed to be a union of the sexes, not a battle between them.
In Ephesians 5.21-33, St. Paul expanded on the concept of husbands and wives building up each other.
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the Church, he himself the saviour of the body.
As the Church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the Church in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Some people stumble on the words, “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church.” But Ephesians Chapter 5 also says “subordinate to one another out of reverence to Christ.”
St. Paul was urging Christians to submit to each other. Husbands and wives are called to mutual submission. Some do this better than others, but that is the model to which Christian couples are to aspire.
What kind of relationship was that? Biblical scholar Earl D. Radmacher, commented about this: “Paul does not emphasize the husband’s authority; instead, he calls on husbands to love self-sacrificially. Husbands are to emulate Christ’s love, the kind of love that is willing to lay down one’s life for another person and serve that person even if it means suffering.”
The Ephesians Chapter five begins by exhorting Christians to be “imitators of God” in generous forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32) and abiding in a Christ-like love.
How did Christ love us?
Self-sacrificially. Ephesians 5:2 tells us to “live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God”. He came to serve, not to be served, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
As Jesus did
Jesus assumed the role of servant, even stooping to wash the feet of his disciples (the earliest Church). When He finished, he said to the disciples:
“Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:12-15)
The New American Catholic Study Bible footnote to this passage (John 13:5) says, “The act of washing another’s feet was one that could not be required of the lowliest Jewish slave.” Jesus really illustrated leadership by servanthood!
I believe that is the kind of leadership Catholic husbands must show: Loving service to their wives, always putting their wives needs before there own. That is the biblical standard.
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