As Christ loved the Church

| Ben Tlougan | September 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
Husbands love your wives

iStock/jacoblund

“As Christ loved the Church.”

As a husband, I need constant reminders of this phrase from Scripture.

Wanting to be a good spouse, I decided I needed to have a better understanding of God’s design for husbands, so I started studying what the Bible had to say about it. That inevitably led me to Ephesians 5:21-32, where St. Paul gives a brief but important description of what the marriage relationship should look like. You know the one: It includes “wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord,” and “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her.”

I could write a long article based on this passage, discussing the use of “submission” and the truth of the roles of husbands and wives, but I simply want to focus on verse 25, which tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. This is a simple statement on how to love your bride. Whether you are a priest, religious brother or married man, the call is the same, even though how it is lived will vary.

What does St. Paul mean by “gave himself for her?” We tend to think of it as Jesus’ death on the cross, and we think to ourselves, “Yeah, I’d die for my bride.”

But that’s only a part of what St. Paul is getting at. To explain this, we need to look to other verses St. Paul wrote, Philippians 2:5-8: “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”

In this passage, St. Paul gives us the abbreviated version of the Gospels. What we find is that the giving we think of — Jesus’ death on the cross — is not the first sacrifice and is, though very important, only a portion of what he gave for us, his Church. His first sacrifice was stepping down from heaven; it was setting aside his own desires and putting ours first.

Jesus didn’t have to come to earth. It wasn’t for his sake that he was born in a manger and lived a life as the God-man; it was for ours.

It was his love for us that caused him to not grasp onto his equality with God, to empty himself, taking the form of a slave, and coming in human likeness and appearance. In one translation it even says, “He made himself nothing.”

This, in a nutshell, is what St. Paul was getting at when he told us to love our wives as Christ did the Church. He is telling us to make ourselves nothing, to put our wives’ needs before our own comfort, to daily die to self and take the form of a slave.

Each of us men has this call, whether to our wife or the Church. We all have a bride we are to put before ourselves. It is this process of putting our bride first that sanctifies us and prepares us for eternity with God.

The reason I need reminding of it is because it doesn’t come naturally. Therefore, I need to be reminded to step outside of myself and recognize when I’m not putting my bride first.

As brothers in Christ, we have a responsibility to hold one another accountable to loving our brides as we are called. We must be honest with ourselves as we humbly ask, “How am I loving my wife today?”

Tlougan is an Army veteran, a Catholic convert and a Catholic speaker living in the Twin Cities. Connect with him at fb.me/godlaughed.

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Category: Catholic Watchmen, Featured