“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV
I love my wife. I knew pretty fast that I would regret it if I let her walk out of my life. I knew on probably two dates, thought about proposing in the second week but waited to ask her to marry me within three months. We are over 30 years into marriage, and I am still trying to figure out how to best love her. She keeps changing, so I have to keep up.
What I mean by that is that since we met, we have progressed through various stages of life – from dating to living together to married; no kids to one, two, and then three and then having one go home early; no autism to autism, young to older and maybe on to just old; all among others. Of course, we are no different than any other couple in that we have made mistakes in all areas, but fortunately, we have gotten past the obstacles.
When we met, nothing significant had happened to either of us yet. My wife did not fall in love with an insurance agent or with someone who moonlights in real estate. I was in better shape physically and did not yet know my limitations. When you date, you present the best picture possible. She would have passed if I had shown up as an overweight, out-of-shape older man.
We know couples who struggle. We have friends who would fight over whether or not they fight. We hear about arguments and can feel the tension among friends at times. I can honestly say I only remember one full-on yelling argument in 30-plus years. I am sure she has been mad at me other times, but we can usually let peace win. I do not think of myself as a great husband. I think of myself as authentic. That usually helps even when she thinks I have lost my mind.
We have counseled several couples over the years; the primary thing I see husbands struggle with is the above scripture verse. What does it mean “… and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or blemish…”?
First, the above verse is written to husbands; wives are addressed a few verses earlier. I think one mistake husbands make confusing themselves with the writer of this verse. We believe it is our job to let our wives know what the Bible says about them. I think that is a mistake. My job is to understand what God is telling me. Her faith walk will include what God wants her to know, but that has to come from Him, not me.
Then the words “present her to himself” show up. I have come to understand that as simply meaning that it is how I look at her. As remarkable as Mary is, she will still have many insecurities without my help. If I look at her as radiant, I may be the only person on earth doing so because she will not look at herself that way. My job is to make sure at least half of the view she has of herself resembles how God Himself looks at her.
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