Ephesians 5 has taken a lot of heat because of this verse 22: “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord.” If we read Sunday’s passage carefully, Paul is loading a heavier burden onto the husband’s shoulders than onto the wife’s. In his challenging and inspiring exhortations for husbands to sacrificially love their wives, he is advocating a form of wife-carrying to otherwise self-focused men in Ephesus.
There are plenty of ways we can encourage fathers to live their calling and to love their families well: the example of the fatherhood of God, biblical models of fatherhood — both good and bad — that we can learn from, and passages on parenting like the one that comes later in Ephesians.
But given the abysmal state of American marriages and family systems today, we want to encourage men that one of the best ways to be a loving father is to be a loving husband first.
That bears repeating: One of the best ways to be a loving father is to be a loving husband first.
This passage brings up challenging ideas of what love means, and offers us a guide for spiritual reflection on how well we are doing at wife-carrying. But while most men can read a repair manual or explain a zone defense, they can’t read and explain their wives as well as they should be able to.
All people have one or two natural ways that they give or communicate love as well as ways that they receive love. Often the way we give and receive is the same, but it isn’t always the case that the way a husband and wife give and receive love is the same. Hence love is like a language which is received only if it is understood.
There are five common love languages about spending quality time together, sharing words of encouragement, giving gifts, physical touch and acts of service.
To love well, husbands must be committed students of their wives, learning how they naturally receive love then learning how to better love them in that way.
Benjamin Franklin noted with sarcastic observation, “One good Husband is worth two good Wives; for the scarcer things are the more they’re valued.”