When A Man Loves A Woman

Written by Alex Montgomery (Husband to Diane Montgomery)

The Bible says that husbands are supposed to be considerate with their wives and love them like Christ loved the church (Eph. 5 & 1 Pet. 3). Unfortunately for me, this goes completely against my personality. I’m a pretty selfish person by nature, and if you asked people that knew me growing up, I doubt anyone would describe me as considerate. I’m competitive, aggressive, and used to make jokes at other people’s expense. Then God changed me and gave me a heart to follow Him. I’ve seen God’s call to husbands in Scripture and learned how God wants me to live this out in my marriage. So why would a husband want to put so much effort into his marriage? And how can an inconsiderate man like me ever be a loving and understanding husband?

What’s at Stake?

One of the main things I’m encouraging men to do is to put some effort into loving their wives in a way that makes her feel loved and looks out for her benefit. This will be difficult, and for most of us men, it won’t come naturally. It’s much easier to be selfish and just worry about our own needs. So why bother with all this hard work?

The passage in Ephesians 5 about husbands loving their wives follows under a section about being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Christians show they’re filled with God’s Holy Spirit by singing praises and being thankful to God, sharing that joy with others, and submitting to one another. Wives live out this Spirit-filled life specifically by submitting to their husbands. Husbands find their special role in the Spirit-filled walk through loving their wives. Whether or not the husband is naturally inclined to treat his wife this way, this is a work of the Holy Spirit that is fitting for all Christian husbands.

Another effect of a marriage modeled after Ephesians 5 is that it presents the Gospel to the world. Our marriage should be a picture to the world of what Christ has done. Men ought to love because they have been loved first by Christ. We ought to lead our homes and make them holy because that’s what Christ has done for us. Our faithfulness to our wives ought to mirror God’s faithfulness to us in salvation. Our love and our marriage should show the world just how good God is and how much He has transformed us.

How can we do this?

There are several things men can do to begin loving their wives like Christ loved the church. A great place to start is to read the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. This can help change our view of love from a warm fuzzy feeling into a lifestyle of service and seeking the good of others. If we’re going to love like Christ, it is also imperative to know how Christ loved. Read the gospels and find out who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Then you’ll understand what a high calling this is.

Know your wife. Learn about what she likes and enjoys. Find out things that make her happy, from activities you can do together to ways you can serve her and take care of her. Figure out how she feels love, then make some real effort to do those kind of things for her. This takes time, effort and thought, but it’s worth it. Your wife is made in the image of God and is His gift to you (Prov.18:22;19:14). Show her that you know how special she is.

An important part of loving your wife is listening to her. This serves two purposes. It shows that you care about her as a person enough to put aside your own thoughts and consider hers. Listening lets her know that she is valuable to you. In addition, listening allows you to know your wife better. You can find out how to love her and meet her needs based on what she tells you.

Become the spiritual leader of your home. You’re going to have to follow and know God on your own. Although this might seem too hard for some men whose wives have more biblical knowledge, it’s not impossible. Leading your family in godliness doesn’t mean that you have to know all the answers. You don’t have to memorize the whole Bible to share a proverb you read about hard work. You don’t have to have an airtight argument about the millennium (or even know what that means) to discuss a sermon on heaven. Take some initiative and lead.

Work hard for your family. Men ought to provide for and take care of their families. (1 Tim. 5:8) Don’t make your wife work overtime to pay the bills; sacrifice yourself and put in the extra work so that she doesn’t have to. If things need to get done around the house, volunteer to do it yourself instead of waiting for your wife to get it done. Be a servant leader and give yourself up for the good of your family.

For those single people out there: If you’re a man, become a considerate person. Learn what love is and begin loving people. It’s going to be pretty hard to love your wife if you’ve been practicing being selfish your whole life. If you’re a lady, look for a man that will treat you with the love and respect in Ephesians 5. This kind of man will know the gospel, show love and service to others, and understand and treat women as fellow heirs of God. If that’s what you’re looking for in a man, he might just be the kind of guy you would want to follow.

God calls on men to love their wives and give themselves up for their families. We need to learn to think about people other than ourselves, putting their needs above our own and serving them. Jesus’ life and death are our model for marriage, and our witness to the world depends on the way we love our wives.

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12 thoughts on “When A Man Loves A Woman

    • Marcia,

      You’re right, I have been very blessed with a husband like Alex! Thank you so much for taking the time to read the article!

      Blessings,

  1. Much of what is said here can be put in the context of being kind and considerate towards one another and following the Golden Rule. If both husbands and wives would apply much of this post to their relationship with each other, then, of course, the marriage will be healthy and stable.

    But there is no way to have a system of Patriarchy–even when it’s presented in a benevolent way–without simultaneoulsy maintaining a condescending view of women. For instance, males do not have spiritual strengths that have been withheld from women. The Bible says that Christ gave Himself up for the church to make her holy. It does not tell the husband that he has the capacity to make his wife holy. He doesn’t. Males and females are instructed to look to God for their spiritual growth and development. The very next chapter in Ephesians tells all those who trust in Christ to be strong in the Lord and to put on the full armor of God. It does not tell wives to look to their husbands for that strengh or that armor.

    Wives as fully functioning adults with equal capacity for spiritual growth are to cultivate their relationship with God. Husbands and wives are to encourage each other in their spiritual growth as are all brothers and sisters in Christ. It is demeaning, though, to put husbands in somewhat of a parental role with their wives when it comes to their spritual development. Fully functioning adult women shouldn’t need to be “led” to church. As two adults, they should just get themselves up on Sunday morning and get themselves ready to go. Likewise, fully functioning female adults shouldn’t need to be “led” to Bible reading and prayer. God is not disappointed if it is the wife initiates prayer sometimes or if the wife shares scriptures that are meaningful to a situation.

    Husbands and wives should definitely find ways to encourage each other to be strong in their faith. But wives do not have a unique need for spiritual leadership from a male human, and husbands do not have unique spiritual strengths that women lack.

  2. Alex, your tone and your words are very kind.

    In 1 Timothy 5:8, Paul uses a gender-neutral pronoun.

    It’s great to work hard for your family, & to provide for and take care of them. I don’t see how it’s possible to legitimately use this verse as a requirement exclusively for men, though.

    • Hi Pam,

      Thank you for reading Alex’s article. The pronoun used in 1 Timothy 5:8 is τίς which is singular nominative and can be either feminine or masculine but never neuter. The neuter version of this singular nominative personal pronoun is τί, not τίς and τί is not found in 1 Tim. 5:8. That said, in this verse the pronoun must be either a “she” or “he” but not both. This is the literal translation of 1 Tim. 5:8

      and if any one for his own — and especially for those of the household — doth not provide, the faith he hath denied, and than an unbeliever he is worse.”

      Every single translation (NIV, ESV, NASB, KJV, Amplified Bible, CEV, HCSB,) has translated that pronoun as masculine and none have ever translated it has the other option, female, because this would have been contrary to Paul’s teaching. τίς is also rarely translated in the feminine form in any other verses as well. So either all the translators are biased towards men and have gotten it wrong and Paul intended for the women to be the providers for their households, or this does refer to men providing for their families.

      The only other word referring to a person is ἀπίστου (unbeliever) which is a genitive singular masculine. τίς and ἀπίστου are both referring to the same person. One is either masculine or feminine, the other is either masculine or neuter. Therefore, they both must be masculine if the are referring to the same thing.

      I know these Greek cases can be a little difficult to understand, but I hope this clears up any confusion.

      • Well, in “gender neutral” what I was getting at is that it is not more masculine than it is feminine (I don’t mean to say “neuter”, but rather “neutral” as in masculine and feminine). I understand that it has been translated as “he”, in the sense of generic masculine.

        I don’t see how one can legitimately develop a philosophy that this pertains to men only.

        Of course, this is all a matter of differences in interpretation, & we disagree. I’ve wanted to engage in debating this “male headship” / gender role topic because I’ve observed how debilitating, hurtful & potentially tragic it can be (despite the oftentimes kind & sweet presentation). If it were truth, that would be a different story. But that is not my conclusion, through education and deep consideration.

        I highly doubt that even lengthy argument will sway how each of us views things on this impassioned subject. In the end, it’s just not worth the bad feelings that result. At least for me at this point in time.

  3. IMHO, 1 Tim. 5:8 is not about bringing home the bacon. It is not even about your wives and children. It is about your aging parents and grandparents, and specifically about caring for widowed mothers.
    Just the fact that people assume “household” in this verse means wife and children, despite the obvious context, is to me a hallmark of the sorry state our culture is in. It’s a given that you let your children live in your home, make sure they’re fed, cared for when they’re ill, and not needy or lonely. Your frail elderly parent? Not so easy.

    I looked up the Greek of “provide” for one’s household. From Biblos: From pro and noieo; to consider in advance, i.e. Look out for beforehand (actively, by way of maintenance for others; middle voice by way of circumspection for oneself) — provide (for).
    Providing for elderly parents is everybody’s duty. Note the verse which concludes this section: 16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.
    So ladies, this means us too.

  4. “Every single translation (NIV, ESV, NASB, KJV, Amplified Bible, CEV, HCSB,) has translated that pronoun as masculine and none have ever translated it has the other option, female, because this would have been contrary to Paul’s teaching. τίς is also rarely translated in the feminine form in any other verses as well. So either all the translators are biased towards men and have gotten it wrong and Paul intended for the women to be the providers for their households, or this does refer to men providing for their families.”

    We might as well admit that biblical texts are articulated in grammatically masculine language. It is this way because it was embedded in a patriarchal culture, religion and society. It has been canonized, interpreted and proclaimed by a longggggggg line of men. The portrayal of women as participaters but not leaders has a long history as well. The book of Acts tells us that women as well as men listen to the Christian message and become disciples. However, the public speeches in Acts uses the address “men, brothers”. ? Were women disciples in the sense that the men were, or not? 1 Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all MEN to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” This one passage made men question whether women could acutally be saved or not. The translation process (or mistranslation process of some passsages) has been used in such a way to make women silent and invisible. Even when the greek used inclusive words the translators chose not to interpret them as such. It would be niave to say that this has not affected the conscienceness of Christians that read the Bible. They notice the absence/silence/invisibility etc. of women leaders and apply it accordingly to thier understanding of Christianity and gender. Fundamentalists have exhanged overtness for a subltle covertness when teaching about gender. Softening the message for acceptability sake while still maintaining dominance over women. As I said in another comment………brilliant.

  5. Diane,

    In fact, Erasmus, one of the greatest Greek scholars of all time, translated this verse with “she.” Here is Calvin’s comment on this,

    “And if any person do not provide for his own Erasmus has translated it, “If any woman do not provide for her own,” making it apply exclusively to females. But I prefer to view it as a general statement; for it is customary with Paul, even when he is treating of some particular subject, to deduce arguments from general principles, and, on the other hand, to draw from particular statements a universal doctrine. And certainly it will have greater weight, if it apply both to men and to women.”

    It is quite erroneous to think that women did not carry a heavy load to provide for their familes. The woman of Proverbs 31 cared for the home AND produced trade goods, and contributed economically to her family. There are many single women in the NT, and they provided for the disciples and others. Joanna, Lydia, Chloe, Phoebe – all of these women appear to be the heads of their households, or in a position to provide for others out of their own finances. Many great theologians throughout history have been dependent on women patrons.

    In any case, the only masculine grammatical ending is apistou. It is only a grammatical ending and has no bearing on this verse referring to males only. This is not a heaship verse. It likely refers to women of my age, with young adult chldren, parents and siblings, but no husband, and feeling financial responsible to provide. Life happens!

    Likely, there is no “men only provide for their families” verse in the Bible. I can’t remember one

  6. “Jesus’ life and death are our model for marriage”
    LOL… you want to model your partnership on a jewish carpenter who made people so mad they killed him in a horrible manner. Pass on that.

    Women are perfectly capable of supporting a family both monetarily and spiritually. This bronze age mentality of poor weak women needing to be supported and sheltered is bogus and offensive. We have roles other than “wife” and “mother” and characteristics other than childbearing abilities and submission. It’s clear the bible is never going to be updated to reflect that truth. And those who insist on treating women as if it’s true are only kidding themselves and doing the women in their lives a disservice.

    Every branch of the Judeo/Christian/Islamist religion treats women like chattel. Your smug assurances that it’s for the best, and in god’s name, don’t make right any of the wrongs.

    Single men, are you reading this? Yes, there are some biologically-unavoidable times when you need to step up and take care of your wife/family. Namely, childbirth and nursing years. Your partner will have her hands full during that time, and could use all the help you can muster. Other than that? Nope. She’s a fully functioning adult, treat her as such or you’ll end up with an unbalanced marriage. Partnership needs equality. Not leader-man follower-woman.

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