Love your wife – A challenge from Chrysostom

Icon of John Chrysostom from Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (Istanbul), 11th century?

A couple of weeks ago, I led a follow-up study about ‘biblical manhood’, this time considering what the Bible has to say to husbands and fathers. We looked at Ephesians 5:22-33 in particular. I shared the passage quoted below from St John Chrysostom about Ephesians 5:25. I hope it challenges you, especially if you are a husband!

First, Ephesians 5:25:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

St John Chrysostom, Homilies on Ephesians, Homily 20:

You have seen the measure of obedience, hear also the measure of love. Would you have your wife obedient unto you, as the Church is to Christ? Take then yourself the same provident care for her, as Christ takes for the Church. Yea, even if it shall be needful for you to give your life for her, yea, and to be cut into pieces ten thousand times, yea, and to endure and undergo any suffering whatever — refuse it not. Though you should undergo all this, yet will you not, no, not even then, have done anything like Christ. For thou indeed art doing it for one to whom you are already knit; but He for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him. In the same way then as He laid at His feet her who turned her back on Him, who hated, and spurned, and disdained Him, not by menaces, nor by violence, nor by terror, nor by anything else of the kind, but by his unwearied affection; so also do thou behave yourself toward your wife. Yea, though thou see her looking down upon you, and disdaining, and scorning you, yet by your great thoughtfulness for her, by affection, by kindness, you will be able to lay her at your feet. For there is nothing more powerful to sway than these bonds, and especially for husband and wife. A servant, indeed, one will be able, perhaps, to bind down by fear; nay not even him, for he will soon start away and be gone. But the partner of one’s life, the mother of one’s children, the foundation of one’s every joy, one ought never to chain down by fear and menaces, but with love and good temper. For what sort of union is that, where the wife trembles at her husband? And what sort of pleasure will the husband himself enjoy, if he dwells with his wife as with a slave, and not as with a free-woman? Yea, though you should suffer anything on her account, do not upbraid her; for neither did Christ do this.

Translated by Gross Alexander. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First SeriesVol. 13. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1889.Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.