The Ephesians 5 Man: Not Your Average Man

 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without any spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.  “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

—Ephesians 5:24-32 (ESV)

I remember reading an article in a magazine.  It was about a news anchor who lived in a major city on the East Coast and worked for a large television station.  He was a man of ambition and most likely of some ego since it takes self-confidence to reach as high in the ranks of journalism as he had.  Then he got his dream offer:  head to New York to work in a very high profile position within the parent network.  Naturally, he was ecstatic.  I imagine his family would have been—had he told his wife and teen daughters the news before making the decision.  As it turned out, he accepted the offer without their input.  Though it worked out in the end, the consequences nearly tore their family apart for a few years.

His story got me to thinking about what the Ephesians 5 man looks like.  The verses above paint a clear picture of this.  Paul provides two analogies.  First, the Ephesians 5 man should love his wife as Christ loved the church.  Second, he should love his wife as much as his own body.  In today’s world, those concepts can seem abstract.  So what does the Ephesians 5 man really entail?

He loves the Lord.  Throughout the Bible, especially the New Testament, its authors describe the man as the head of the household.  He is the leader.  A good leader seeks wisdom from those who are wiser than he.  If he is a believer, he seeks God with his heart and loves him.  He is God’s child just as much as the Ephesians 5 woman is His daughter.  A child wants to obey and please his Father, and that applies to the Ephesians 5 man as well.  He loves his heavenly Father and strives to be obedient to Him.  God may give him guidance in many ways, and one of those ways is through his wife.

He listens to his wife.  God made men to be natural leaders, and one of the roles of a leader is to make decisions.  God also knew that a man, since he is human and finite, usually sees problems from only one angle and will make a decision based upon his viewpoint.  However, several inputs can go into making a decision.  That’s one of the reasons why God put a husband and wife together.  She looks at problems from a unique perspective, sometimes from a very different one.  The Ephesians 5 man will take the time to listen to what his wife says, even if it comes out amidst a jumble of other thoughts and concerns.  He takes her thoughts and her feelings into consideration, and as a result, he makes wise decisions.  Why?

He loves her and cherishes her.  One of the verses from the beginning of this post talks about how a man should love his wife as he does his own body.  This does not mean in a narcissistic way.  Instead, a man cares for his body because he knows that the Holy Spirit lives within him.  Likewise, the Ephesians 5 man recognizes that the Holy Spirit dwells within his wife.  She is a child of God like he is, and she’s been blessed just as much as he with different gifts and interests.  The Ephesians 5 man encourages her to develop her gifts and talents.  He protects her and offers her wisdom in an effort to lift her up.  He doesn’t talk down to her or belittle her or her gifts.  Finally, he recognizes that she is now the most important woman in his life, even above his own mother.

He is not a mama’s boy.  From the very beginning, the Bible is very clear about what happens when a man and a woman marry.  In the passage above, Paul quotes Genesis 2:24, which discusses how a man leaves his father and mother and becomes one with his wife.  My husband and I joke that it’s “leave and cleave time” when a couple marries.  In other words, when a man and woman say their vows, they unite as a couple and become one.  Something mysterious happens, something so mysterious in this physical and spiritual union that it is inexplicable.  The Ephesians 5 man understands that when he says “I do” to his wife, he is pledging loyalty to his wife and relegating other familial relationships to a secondary status.  His wife becomes his best friend, his confidant, his helpmate, and more.  Though he still loves his mother, he recognizes that his mother should not meddle with this bond.  He knows that some things, including the way his life is prioritized, must be reordered.

He sacrifices his own interests.  One of the concepts given in the verses above relates to how the husband should love his wife as Jesus loved the church.  This means that the husband should love his wife to the point of sacrificing his life for her.  Yes, to the point of death.  While for many men, this may be hyperbole, it rings with a certain truth.  The two unite and become one.  Sometimes, that may involve giving up certain things he may hold dear before marriage.  There’s a country song written about a young man whose wife looks at him one night and asks him what he would be doing if he weren’t married.  He lists out all of these interests he has, including fishing, playing in a rock band, and shooting pool with his buddies.  The point of the song was that he’d rather be with his wife than do all of those activities.  Sometimes after marriage, a man’s activities may fight for priority.  The Ephesians 5 man recognizes this, but he also understands that the relationship with his wife remains top priority.  He’s willing to put the well-being of his wife and marriage over his own interests.

You may be a man who reads this and stops at the first item because you see how you’ve failed.  Or, you may be a wife who says, “Yes, that’s all good stuff to hear, but it’s impossible.  My husband doesn’t listen to me.  He makes decisions without my input and prefers his games of golf on the weekends rather than spending time with the kids and me.  He even listens to his mother more than he does me.”  I agree.  It’s impossible because he’s human.  He stumbles and falls, maybe even more often than when he gets it right.  However, like with the wife, grace pops into the ugly world of sin and failure.  Grace enables the husband to come to his wife and say, “Honey, I’m sorry.  I messed up—again.  Please forgive me.”  The believing wife then recognizes her obligation.  Forgiveness.

Maybe you don’t know Christ as your Lord and Savior and neither does your spouse.  Maybe you’re the wife who thinks that your husband is a total lout, and you dream of the day you can step away from him.  Or you’re the husband who thinks that this marriage isn’t worth saving because all she does is grumble at you and complain.  If you are, then I urge you to do two things.  First, seek Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Second, seek counseling from somewhere.  Many times, communication breakdowns may seem insurmountable, and relearning how to talk to each other, not as parents of children or as roommates but as the lovers you were when you married, will go miles in restoring your marriage.

When couples learn to live by Ephesians 5, then something amazing happens.  These couples become truly united.

Next Post:  The Ephesians 5 Couple:  The United Couple

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