Having called upon the wives to submit to their husbands, in vv.22-24, one would expect Paul to use the language of leadership in the next verse. “Let husband lead their wives.” But he doesn’t. Instead, he uses the language of love. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.” This is a remarkable statement, and somewhat unexpected.
Furthermore, Paul expands greatly on the kind of love that at husband is suppose to have for his wife. It is a love like Christ has for the Church. What kind of love is that? Well, it is a love that gives up oneself for the other. It is a love that enables the wife to become everything that God has made her to be. Men, our wives are on a journey, being formed by God to be holy, glorious, and wonderful followers of Jesus. We are to give ourselves up for them to enable that to happen. Our wives submit to us, and we receive their submission and empower them to grow strong in the Lord. And all this happens as a wonderful picture of what God is doing in the Church – v.32. Christian marriage has the wonderful purpose of teaching the world all about Jesus and the Church.
Verse 33 needs one comment. Why does it say that men should love their wives and women are to respect their husbands? Because men and women need different things. Women long mostly to be loved. And nothing is more important to a man than to be respected. It does little good to love a man if you don’t honor him as competent and strong. And it does little good to think highly of a woman, if you don’t communicate and extend a deep, tender love to her. There is a lot of relational strife that could be avoided if we could just get square on these two matters.