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You cannot love your husband, unless .... Last updated October 2013

For a historic article on related issues click here. As is normally the case, after I wrote the article below I checked my findings against that of a respected teacher. I found the video to the right, which, albeit fairly long, makes excellent viewing and learning on this topic as it is by far more detailed and complete. Nevertheless, I am glad to say I have not had to review anything from my own article. Regarding the video, please note the apology in the beginning to which I personally wish to add my name to.

WARNING: Some people with chauvinist or feminist attitudes & prejudices may find the contents of this article offensive.

What kind of love? || Where is the problem? || The basis of a wife's love || What self-control? What faith? What holiness? What love? || Where the rubber meets the road || The proof of a woman’s supposed love || The test || William J. Webb's Slaves, Woman and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (Read Footnote 5)

Love between a husband and wife is probably one of the most beutiful things to watch. And it is one of the most difficult things to achieve as well, judging from the number of failed marriages of which there are so many. Amongst Christians divorce and seperation is a common thing. In fact, it is now equal to divorce rates in the secular world[1].

The love that a wife has for her husband is one part of the way to have a successful marriage. It is the reason for this article; to show some of what it takes to love a husband. I mean, to really love him.

What kind of love?

Everybody agrees that love is the summary of God’s law. But thinking that love is to have a smiley face, to avoid getting into an argument or to pat another person on the back for being 'good' is not love at all. Having the God-kind of love and being nice isn't always the same thing.

The Apostle Peter teaches that, contrary to common belief, there is a process to attaining the God kind of love. It is this type of love that is the fulfilment of the law of love. And it is God who writes it on our hearts[2]. For the most of us to love with the God-kind of love will not merely be a matter of 'flicking of a switch'. For most of us it will take time and devotion to develop the kind of love which fulfils all of the Law. Peter’s process contains surprising elements. Importantly, it starts with faith (Greek: pistis), which speaks of adherence, obedience, trust and reliance in God and His ways. So, at the very least, before there can be any headway made towards the God-kind of love that a wife has for a husband, there must be a sense of obedience and trust in God about His way through His word. This is an important point because it will determine the extent to which the wife will rely on the Word of God (the Bible) to lead her when (not if) her husband misses the mark in loving her.

So, in terms of having the God-kind of love in marriage Peter lists the way:

CS Lewis did a good job in explaining the different kinds of love. There is brotherly love (Greek: philia - friendship), romantic love (Greek: eros - romance), family love (Greek: storge - affection) and the God-kind of love (Greek: agape - unconditional). Doing good to your husband or wife does not mean you have arrived at agape love. That might just be storge love or philia love in action.

Consider that it may very well be true that, from an eternal perspective, your marriage or mine was so arranged by God to develop, test and prove your or my sufficiency in each of the stages listed by Peter. Thus, God may very well use your marriage to progress you through the 'stages' noted by Peter. As a married man I can testify that all of the above 'stages' come into play at some time or other. Opting out of our need to develop say self-control or perseverance or brotherly kindness may thus delay the development of the God-kind of love in our hearts and thus our fulfilling of the law of love. In that sense, marriage is a wonderful blessing and opportunity at the same time. It is both an opportunity to grow in godly love as well as a test for the genuineness of it. (Top)

So, where is the problem?

Apart from simply not believing the Bible to be true, some theologians have started to argue away some or all of what is written in it. Popular ways of doing this are:

As such I reflect with dishonour on a book written by William J. Webb (a professor of theology) called "Slaves, Woman and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis". I have my own conclusions on the book[5] but you may read another summary here. In his book Webb suggests that God really intended for man to adopt a ‘progressive mindset’, thus freeing ourselves from God's ‘old and out-dated’ religious principles. William J. Webb suggests that God really wanted man to set the pace for reforming His ways. It simply leaves one speachless that thousands of pastoral carers, married people and clergymen have been influenced by these writings. New Testament texts such as 1 Corinthians 11, as a result, are now simply sent to the trash can with the understanding that "it is outdated".

So, how is this issue relevant to a wife loving her husband? It is relevant insofar as Genesis 3:16, 1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:33, 1 Timothy 2:8-15, Hebrews 13:17 are all true, updated and relevant biblical passages to help and lead Christians and Christian couples in particular with conducting themselves in a God-ordained way. Therefore, since the Bible is 'good or updated enough' to stake our salvation on, it is good and updated enough to guide us in marriage as well. (Top)

The basis of a wife’s love

During my days in the military I learnt that saluting an officer does not mean that honour is primarily given to the man or woman being saluted, but to the authority which had been afforded to the officer by the ultimate authority - the military through the nation's President or Prime Minister or Supreme Leader. Thus, every time I saluted an officer I really submitted to the authority or the headship of the President or Prime Minister over me. And, every time I did not salute an officer (this did not actually happen) I rejected that authority placed over me. In the army, as is the case in the Kingdom of God, rejecting authority is a serious matter and it is dealt with in a serious way as well. So, the performance of the officer - whether he/she is good or right or even godly at what they are supposed to so - is never the basis for respecting and honouring their authority. If it is found that they have abused their authority the military have made provisions to deal with it. It is not something that the subjects of the officer in question should attempt to sort out. Presuming such mandate is dealt with in an even more severe manner for it upsets the entire structure of command on which the security of the country rests.

This is the case when we look at the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God, much like the world we live in, authority is given on account of God's will, not on account of anything else.  

If then God says that man shall rule over his wife (Gen 3:16, 1 Cor 11:3) and if it is so that Christians in general will honor those authorities that rule over them (Heb 13:17), why is it that women find it hard to submit to their husbands? I want to suggest five main reasons:

If you subscribe to any or all of the above views I will beg you to reconsider. For, those who believe that the Bible is relevant, true and updated, and that it is God's will for them, they will have the kind of “faith” in His word (adherence, trust, reliance) which Peter speaks about in 2 Peter 1:5-11; they will trust in God’s instruction; that the way He prescribes in the Bible is the way towards attaining the God-kind of love, which in turn is the way towards the absolute fulfilling of all of the law.

Thus, honouring your husband - as the Bible says - is the way towards fulfilling God’s law irrespective of whether or not he deserves to be honoured. In his clear directive regarding this matter the Holy Spirit through Paul makes a starting statement: she (the wife) will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control (v.15). Salvation in this regard, for the wife, is dependent on faith, love and holiness with self-control. (Top)

What self-control? What faith? What holiness? What love?

The completion of the title of this article really is …. "unless you respect him".

Indeed, You cannot love your husband unconditionally unless you learn to respect him unconditionally as the God-given authority placed over the wife. Respect for him is not contingent on your judgement of his performance but on a decision of your will. If your will is not submitted to the order and authority of God then it will be impossible for you to honour and respect your husband. Because husbands - because of their inherent failures – do not deserve (in human terms) their wives' honour and respect. Still, the word of God says, that is never the issue at play. The wives' obedience to the word of God, not the husbands' performance, is the gateway to honoring and respecting their husbands. Therefore, do not claim that you love your husband if you do not respect him, having been placed there by God as the household authority. And, if you respect him, your words and your actions - particularly in respect of how you raise your children (if there are any), affection and sexual intercourse as well as your desire for goods - will show it. Rest assured wives, because God has given your husband this level of authority He will expect virtue becoming to it. It is not up to you to police him or to keep on 'campaigning' for your desires to be fulfilled, or to order him about. That in Kingdom terms, as far as I understand the biblical text, is called insubordination - a disrespect of God's authority.

You cannot love your husband unconditionally until you respect him as the authority placed there by God.

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Eph 5:33). This is directly in line with what God said to Eve about Adam: Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you (Gen 3:16)

Not accepting your husband’s authority is not accepting God’s rule in callous rebellion. It is nothing else than that. Yet, in having learnt to disrepect their husbands (a general statement), I suspect that wives really are the victoms of something greater at play; they have been deceived by clever arguments (see footnote [5]). Like the serpent did in the garden, I believe well-meaning Christian wives (and husbands) are being deceived (in an increasing way) by that same serpent whose ultimate objective was to to usurp God's authority. As he did in the garden, he does so today; deceiving women. Instead of showing up as a snake, Satan is deceiving people through philosophy and extra-biblical arguments (refer 2 Cor 10:3-6). His argument is that God's word does not really count for much (Gen 3:4). As was the case for Eve and Adam, Mrs. and Mr. So-and-So, obey Satan at your own peril. (Top)

Where the rubber meets the road

Note that neither the unconditional love that a husband should have for his wife nor the submission, honour and respect that the wife should have for a husband can be forced or pleaded for.

I will suggest – and I have no independent data to back this up – that where husbands misunderstand what honour and respect really means (and does not mean) they end up over-reaching or abusing their authority.

Further, I will suggest that where wives act in an insubordinate way towards their husbands by words, actions (such as withholding affection and sexual intercourse (1 Cor 7:5)[6], they effectively frustrate their husbands and incite them to become more forceful in stamping down their authority. Where God said to the wife “man will rule over you” (Gen 3:16), husbands will naturally want to do exactly that. I believe that many women set up the aggression of their husbands by their own rebellious behaviour. Then, when they (the husbands) act in an unkind and unloving way, they (the wives) find solace with others concerning their husbands' obvious flaws. Remember, God knows the difference between real abuse and incited abuse. And remember that the god of this age (2 Cor 4:3-5) is really the one sitting behind our humanistic approach to running civil society. As was the case for Eve, Mrs. and Mr. So-and-So, obey Satan at your own peril.

God’s instruction to Christian wives to unconditionally respect the authority placed over them is much the same as His instruction to Christian husbands to unconditionally love the domain or people placed under them. Allow me to quickly add, love in a marriage is not when the husband does as the wife directs because she thinks (legitimately or illegitimately?) she knows better; love for a wife is not when a husband does what a wife wants him to do. Love for a wife is also not when the wife does not get an opportunity to give her input into a situation or when she is employed as a personal servant or slave. That is not the outworking of godly authority.

But, this matter raises an important question: who should go first - should the husband first show his love before the wife needs to show her respect? Or, should it be the other way round? In theory they are both instructed to act independently from the other's performance. But it practice, there can be no healthy authority before there is health submission and respect. In practice, the wife needs to voluntarily submit and give respect in a godly way before the husband is released from his (God-ordained tendency tendency (Gen 3:16)) to enforce his authority. This is not a popular message with marriage counsellors. But, regrettably, they are wrong. Because Scripture says so. No-matter how many times William J. Webb and Co are quoted, they remain inconsistent with Scripture. As such, they are not helpful from a Christian point of view.

In marriage between a truly Christian husband and a truly Christian wife, adherence to the Bible's way of regulating marriages is the only option. Where there is no voluntary submission there will likely be either an abdication of husbandry responsibilities or there will be forced submission, which, in today's society, no doubt will raise eyebrows, leave the wife feel victomised and possibly even solicit Christian counsellors to recommend divorce or seperation. None of these will have been God's way. Not will it have been His perfect will.

In the end, a husband’s love for his wife is a display of servanthood to God. So too is a wife’s honour and respect for her husband - it is servanthood to God:

For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:5-7) (Top)

The proof of a woman’s supposed love

If a wife really loves God and if a wife really loves her husband, as many confessing Christians wives say they do, then the question about respecting their husbands and being submissive to them will not be an issue at all for they will do without reservation, as God says through Peter:

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear (1 Peter 3:1-2).

Wives, honour God by honouring your husband first. Then, by your serving attitude towards God, you may turn him (your husband) for good. Trust that the Word of God is true. Trust God. Have faith in Him. This may be the very thing He has singled you out for; to turn your husband through your obedience to God's word.

The test

As a test of a wife’s genuine submission to her husband, as the Holy Spirit directs, I will include this question to answer in your own heart:

Apart from doing as Scripture says, without trying to find a way around it, should a wife have read the entire article above and not said to herself, 'yea, but men should also ...' or ‘I hope he also writes about the need for husbands to love their wives unconditionally', she may know that she is likely not in rebellion to God’s Word. Because, as the verses above indicate, obedience to God’s Word concerning a wife's obligations to her husband is never ever dependent on husbands living up their end of God’s instruction. It is dependent purely on wives acceptance of God’s way in obedience to Him as He is the ultimate authority in whom they profess to believe.

Let us be clear, a husband not loving his wife is totally unacceptable. The Bible is not negotiable on this issue either and I believe that God will deal with unloving husbands as and when He sees fit.

So, if a wife loves her husband and fulfills all of her duties (including 1 Cor 7:4-6) as a wife with a willing, godly attitude without any regard of him having fulfilled his obligations as well, she may know that she is able to give grace in a way that is good in the eyes of God. She may also know that she is also able to forgive in a way that is good in the eyes of God. She may know that she is able to have patience that is good in the eyes of God. And, she may know that she is able to give honour in a way that is good in the eyes of God. For a wife who cannot give honour and respect to her husband cannot love him either.

16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you. (Gen 3:16)

20 When the king’s decree which he will make is proclaimed throughout all his empire (for it is great), all wives will honor their husbands, both great and small.” 21 And the reply pleased the king and the princes, and the king did according to the word of Memucan. (Esther 1:20-21)

33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph 5:33)


[1] Source: Born again Christians who are not evangelical were indistinguishable from the national average on the matter of divorce: 33% have been married and divorced. The survey did not determine if the divorce occurred before or after the person had become born again. However, previous research by Barna has shown that less than two out of every ten people who accept Christ as their savior do so after their first marriage.In fact, when evangelicals and non-evangelical born again Christians are combined into an aggregate class of born again adults, their divorce figure is statistically identical to that of non-born again adults: 32% versus 33%, respectively. Thirty percent of atheists and agnostics had been married and subsequently divorced. However, the three-point difference from the national average was within the range of sampling error, suggesting that their likelihood of experiencing a dissolved marriage is the same as that of the population at-large. A representative from Barna also pointed out the atheists and agnostics have lower rates of marriage and a higher likelihood of cohabitation, a combination of behaviors that distort comparisons with other segments. [back]

[2 ]Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8). 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds[a] I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:10-12) [back]

[3] 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-11) [back]

[4] 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will[a] abide in Him. (1 John 2:27) [back]

[5] William J Webb explains that because it is true that mankind (Christians) got rid of slavery we have a license to get rid of other secular-world frowned-upon practices such as prohibiting the teaching of Scripture by women as well as prohibiting homosexuality. Therefore, it is argued that because it is preposterous to return to that kind of social order today (slavery), it proves that God really wanted mankind to also get rid of "all prejudices" such as 'those held against women preaching' (compare 1 Timothy 2:8-15) as well as 'prohibiting homosexuality' (compare 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Webb has a look at what people (Christians and non-Christians alike) do today and argues that God had planned it to be the way it is, thus giving credence to what he may have called 'God's progressive agenda' theory; meaning that the resistence to females teaching Scripture as well as resistence to homosexuals in the Church really wasn't God's will into eternity and therefore are next to be struck off the NOT TO DO-list. Webb uses the Old Testament Law of Moses as well as extra-Biblical sources as his baseline and then tries to plot reference points that show a graph of 'progressive change' from ancient history to the present day. Thus, he extrapolates his graph into the future to suggest that that which is unacceptible in God's eyes today likely or possibly will be acceptible tomorrow. In a way, Webb logically argues that, in time, everything that once was prohibited may in future be allowed because 'God's agenda is progressively more liberal': unrighteousness, theft, adultary, fornication, idolatry, covetousness, drunkenness, extortion and reviling will, in time, be acceptable to God. In short, William J. Webb suggests that the Bible's "unchanging God" really is not true; He is is in fact changing all the time (compare Malachi 3:6).

Thus, Webb suggests that Christians have never been disobedient as far as it pertains to abolishing God's provisions and ways as shown in Scripture. And, he uses abolishment of Slavery as the corner stone of his argument. If you were to put his argument in common language it sounds like this: God was all for "prejudice" in the beginning (ancient Jewish culture) but has changed His mind as time has passed' and now wants believers to adopt a tradition that is more in line with pagan and/or secular values. He uses the culturally unreconcileable laws of stoning homosexuals and the treatment of slaves in the Old Testament as well as extra-biblical material to say, 'surely God does not want us to return to those days!'

William J. Webb - a man whose books perhaps hundreds of thousands of Christians subscribe to today - explains that God's Word in it's current form cannot be trusted and is no updated guideline to Christian living. He argues that it needs to be 'filtered' to align with modern or post-modern secular/Christian culture. Thus, William J. Webb very much promotes a religious order according to philosophic Humanism? Note what Scripture says about that, for God knew in advance that those who would prove to not be vigilant would be fooled by 'clever humanistic arguments': Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8). Thus, the Bible says we have a choice between it - the Word of God - and clever human philosophies ('arguments based on human logic').

William J. Webb's book Slaves, Woman and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis is a death trap to those who are trusting God by virtue of trusting His Word. Though his work is extensive, Webb's error is both multiple and very simple at the same time. Some considerations are:

1) he has not understood that the Old Testament Law of Moses has never been applicable to non-Jews (thus, he has wrongly used it as the benchmark to suggest changes in accordance to post-modern culture).

2) Webb has unlawfully used license from NT passages to back up his particular point of view (for instance, he asserts that the mention of Priscilla's name before of her husband (Acquilla) really means that she acted as a teacher (thus, she - a NT woman - was a teacher of Scripture). Even if such deduction was lawful, Webb fails to mention, notwithstanding, that Aquialla and Priscilla are mentioned 5 times in the Bible: 3 times in the order husband and wife (thus, according to Webb's logic, prominence is given to the husband) and two times in the order wife and husband (thus, according to Webb;s logic, prominence is given to the wife)). So, even the unlawful license that he uses does not stack up.

3) he has disected whole passages from the Bible and linked them with others in an unlawful way (he has used 'cut & paste' where he should not lawfully have done so, simply to make his point: he plainly ignores Paul's reference to Adam and Eve in 1 Cor 11 to demonstrate God's unchanging order of authority, but cuts certain passages from it in order to link it with passages in other parts of the Bible so as to paint a different picture to what is plainly written), and

4) he has linked the abolution of Slavery (which the NT neither promotes nor discourages - thus, it's not a spiritual issue but a socio-economic issue instead)) with spiritual issues such as Homosexuality (1 Cor 6:9) and Female teachers of Scripture (1 Tim 2:12), which the New Testament expressly prohibits(for instance, he completely ignores Paul's warning that women should not teach Scripture because they are more easily deceived (a spiritual issue) and takes up modern evidence to suggest that women are just as intelligent or as little fooled by social deceit as men are (something the Bible never disputes). Thus, he compeltely ignores doctrinal deception - a spiritual issue - which is vastly different to social deception. In short, he misses the point completely).

William J. Webb is an intellectual. There is no doubt about that. What he is not, is intellectually honest. At the end of his book he has included a chapter called "What if I am wrong?" in which he states the consequence should his logic prove to be incorrect. This, probably, is the simplest way of seeing the error which the man has penned; he totally and utterly understates the consequences of his his teachings should he be wrong; Webb is not being intellectually honest. Some of the things he understates relate to the points listed below.

So, if William J. Webb is wrong about his teachings not to prohibit female teachers of Scripture and not to prohibit Homosexuality in the Church, then:

1) the Church of God is exposed to more and greater forms of false doctrine (thus, leading people into deception).

2) men and women alike will in greater measures circumvent the spiritual authority placed there by God (thus, leading people into rebellion).

3) the Church of God will invite into its midst that which is an abomination to God (thus, leading people into wickedness and apostasy).

So, not only do Webb's arguments actually not stack up, he is intellectually dishonest as well. In his book Slaves, Woman and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis, William J. Webb's error simply is enormous.

To demonstrate the vastness of his error, Webb never even raises any of the points noted above (the introduction of deception, rebellion and wickedness) but glosses over the issue with shocking spiritual blindness. The chapter "What if I am wrong" likely has proved comforting to many. But it is deception in and of itself. [back]

[6] This goes for men and women. Women seem to generally be more prone to withholding sex. Handy reading on this topic can be found in a Christian wife’s perspective: No more headaches: Enjoying Sex & Intimacy in Marriage by Juli Slattery (Amazon) [back]


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Please consult the Bible and test what is written here. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in this area. Keep that which is good and reject that which is not Scriptual. Should you come to a different understanding than I please let me know - perhaps I can learn from you.

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