Paul, who isn’t a married man, writes to the church at Ephesus:
“He who loves his wife loves himself.”
He goes on logically to say that a man doesn’t hate his own body, but cares for it, feeds it, shelters it. Paul, in a few sentences, gives the church a picture of what it means to be a husband. A husband is to “love [his] wife as [his] own body.” (Ephesians 5:28)
“After all, no one ever hated his own body.” (Ephesians 5:29)
Of course, that’s actually not true. In the world, some men abuse their own bodies every day. They drink to excess, they smoke, they ‘do’ drugs, they drive too fast, they take steroids in an effort to be strong, they sit on the couch all day watching television, they climb to impossible heights without oxygen, they dive into deep caves without proper equipment, they commit crimes that will imprison them for life.
Oddly enough, in today’s world, some women do these same things.
Perhaps, in our culture, Paul is speaking to both men and women. Perhaps the picture here is of how to be a spouse. We are to love our spouses as we ought to love our own bodies. How can we know how to love the other if we do not love and care for ourselves? This is not to say we should put ourselves above the other person in the relationship; rather we must recognize that if we abuse ourselves, what makes us think we will be able to or inclined to treat the other any better?
God says to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
“Take pleasure in the wife of your youth,” writes the wise man to his son. “[She] should be for you alone and not for you to share with strangers.” (Proverbs 5:17) “Be lost in her love forever.” (Proverbs 5:19) Don’t “be infatuated with a forbidden woman or embrace the breast of a stranger.” (Proverbs 5:20) Do not defile the marriage bed, but keep yourself only to the wife of your youth.
Your prayers go unanswered, says the prophet Malachi. Why is this? Because you abandon the wife of your youth, “you act treacherously against her, though she is your marriage partner and your wife by covenant.” (Malachi 2:14) “So watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously against the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:15) For God makes you and your wife one flesh, seeking “a godly offspring.” (Malachi 2:15)
God speaks, “If [you] hate and divorce [your] wife, [you] cover [your] garment with injustice. Therefore, watch yourself carefully, and do not act treacherously.” (Malachi 2:16)
“For [your] ways are before the Lord’s eyes, and He considers all [your] paths.” (Proverbs 5:21) “Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth.” (Proverbs 5:18)
“For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You,” sings David. David knows God’s forgiving nature firsthand, having committed both adultery and murder. What if, after having asked for and accepted God’s forgiveness, David had continued to feel and express the guilt associated with those horrendous actions? What if, every night before sleep, David had reminded himself and God of these evil deeds, throwing them — so to speak — in God’s face?
When you ask for God’s forgiveness, accept it completely. Know that God forgives in totality. There’s no corner room where He stores your sins. “‘Come, let us discuss this’, says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.'” (Isaiah 1:18)
God says, “It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)
Therefore, forget your sins. Do not insult God’s grace.
Jesus says, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”
In our society as it exists today, adultery is rampant. So many of us — even Christians — are divorced for causes other than marital unfaithfulness, and remarried to another who may also be divorced for a reason other than adultery. Adulterers are ‘married’ to adulterers. And God’s Word calling for the marriage bed to remain undefiled continues to fall on deaf hearts. (Hebrews 13:4)
So few seem to comprehend the fact that “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31) In the same manner that we become new creations in Christ, a man becomes one with his wife. In the same manner that the new creation can not become old again, so a man may not separate himself from the one with whom he first joined himself. How can one flesh become two again? When a man tears himself from his first commitment and takes another, he “hates his own body.” (Ephesians 5:29)
As Paul says, “This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32) A wonderful analogy – yes. But, also a true statement — as Christ and His church are inseparable, so are the man and the woman for whom he first left his parents.
A man “is to love his wife as himself.” (Ephesians 5: 31) A man is to love his wife “just as Christ loves the church and gives Himself for her.” A man is “to love [his] wife as [his] own body. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5: 28) He is to “provide and care for” his wife as he cares for his “own flesh.” (Ephesians 5: 29)
“This mystery is profound,” writes Paul. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5: 32, 31)
When a man hates his wife, he hates himself. And “the Lord is a witness between [the man] and the wife of [his] youth.” God says, “‘You act treacherously against her, though she is your marriage partner and your wife by covenant.’
“Didn’t the one God make us with a remnant of His life-breath? And what does the One seek? A godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously against the wife of your youth.”
God says, ” ‘If [you] hate and divorce [your] wife, [you] cover [your] garment with injustice.’ ” (Malachi 2: 14 -16)
If you hate and divorce your wife, the wife of your youth; then you hate your own body, your own flesh. And this mystery is also profound. When two become one flesh, the tearing apart renders each less than the whole.
“You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning, because He no longer respects your offerings or receives them gladly from your hands.” (Malachi 2: 13)
A man is to care for his wife as he cares for his own body, his own self for he and his wife are one.
A woman with noble character is worth more than rubies, says the wise man. When you find her, make every effort to keep her.
Keep her because “she does [her husband] good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12)
Keep her because “she rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household… She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.” (Proverbs 31: 15, 18)
Keep her because she is generous, opening “her hand to the poor.” (Proverbs 31: 20)
Keep her because “she opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31: 26)
Keep her because “strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” (Proverbs 31: 25)
“And this second thing you do,” warns the Lord. “You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because He no longer regards the offerings or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does He not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?… So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2: 13 – 15)
Keep her because God has made you one with her. Keep her because a wife of noble character is worth more than jewels. “So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” (Malachi 2: 16)
Paul commands you to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2: 12 – 13)
God works in you because His Holy Spirit dwells within you as within a temple. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because your body is God’s dwelling place, how can you unite yourself with those who hate God? You can’t. For what you love, that person despises.
Paul says not to be yoked with unbelievers for it is an uneven bonding. “Don’t you know,” says Paul, “that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you are bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6: 19 – 20)
Seek someone within the body of Christ to join with you, knowing that God is your primary focus, that He strengthens your relationship and literally makes it holy.
Yoked with a believer, you know that both of you have God at work within “to desire and to work out His good purpose” for your lives. You both must continue to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” lest you fall away from one another, fall into lust for another, and dishonorably into unfaithfulness and adultery.
But thanks be to God, you are not one to fall away. You are the Lord’s and His power is at work within you. Rely upon Him; He takes you to the prize — a holy relationship with another Christian.