In the book Thirteen Months I allude to the ultimate love between a man and a woman. When I have spoken to groups, I’ve described this ultimate love. In blogs and articles I have written about it, and professed that God designed it for us and expects us to achieve it in our marriages. But what exactly am I talking about?
Since marriage is designed as a reflection of Jesus’ relationship with His bride, the church, He has not only given us guidelines, He has set the example of how we are to live and love.
As men, we are told how to love our wives in Ephesians 5:25-27,
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 spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
We’ve read this before, but it bears repeating here since we are looking at it from a different perspective—from the viewpoint of Christ as the husband of the Church. This is important because this husband/wife relationship between Christ and the church is the standard by which to measure the most sacred holy of unions—marriage.
According to the verses in Ephesians chapter 5 that follow, we know we are to love our wives as our own bodies because we can relate to that. We are not going to knowingly harm our own “selves”; rather we will nourish our bodies and care for them.
By Christ’s example, we understand that a husband is to be loving, forgiving, selfless, full of kindness, and ready to give his life for his bride. Christ gave himself up for his bride to cleanse her by His death, that she (we) might be presented before God without spot or wrinkle or blemish. This is the epitome of love for one’s spouse—true, sacrificial love.
As the head of our wives, we have the responsibility of being righteous and holy—to have an ongoing, defining, growing relationship with God.
As I have mentioned in the past, I believe with all my heart that marriage is designed by God to be romantic, intimate and thrilling. It is also to be forgiving and understanding, and we see that clearly in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
In addition, the first part of verse 8 tells us that Love never ends … never ends! That’s foreign to our culture these days, but it’s in scripture for all time.
Based on Christ’s relationship with His bride, the Church, marriage is to be the most forgiving of all relationships. In fact, it incorporates and exemplifies the standard of forgiveness in Christ. That’s what I refer to as the ultimate love between a man and a woman. It can only come from a godly marriage—and it’s powerful!
Question: What do you see as the most significant barrier to this ultimate love between a man and a woman?