A Husband’s Practical Love
At our last FOSJ meeting we learned that the body expresses the deepest reality of the person and that a man’s body, being different than that of a woman’s, expresses something vital—fundamental—regarding his essence. Man is an initiator and is called to go forth from himself—to establish the pace of self giving love. If men do not establish the pace of self-giving love, if men do not sacrifice themselves for the sake of upholding the dignity of women, women often will resort to manipulating men to obtain a disordered version of the true affection that they desire to receive from men. This dynamic began in the garden. Adam allowed the serpent to have his way with Eve. Eve wanted Adam to defend her, to cherish her, to uphold her dignity. To obtain some type of affection from Adam, Eve tempted him. This dynamic is most prevalent in our age. Men denying their essence— women seducing men to obtain affirmation. But this seduction is precisely what traps a man in boyhood.
To father in the image of the Father we must be husbands in the image of Christ the bridegroom. To become husbands in Christ’s image we must become real men who heed these two commands: “husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and delivered Himself up for her,” and “A husband is head of his wife, just as Christ is head of the Church, being Himself savior of the body.” From this we learn that a true husband must become a leader by becoming a “lover” and a “savior.”
Notice that the Sacred Scriptures indicate that the wife operates as the body of the head, who is the husband, and that the husband should exceedingly love his body, honoring and glorifying it. As the author of Ephesians states: “he who loves his own wife, loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh; on the contrary he nourishes it and cherishes it, as Christ also does the Church.” (Eph 5:29) So how do we as lovers and saviors of our bodies, that is our wives, express our headship? Notice that the Sacred text states that a husband loves his wife by honoring her and glorifying her.
Remember that if we are to become great fathers we must be great lovers and great lovers love like Christ, Who honors His bride and glorifies her. One of His last prayers to His Father, while on this earth, indicates this truth: “The glory that Thou hast given Me, I have given them; that they may be one, as we also are one: I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, and that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and that Thou hast loved them even as Thou hast love me.” (Jn 17:22-23) God gives men the glory of being husbands in the image of Christ and expects us to give this glory to our wives by giving ourselves to them without reserve—“delivering ourselves up for them.” By sharing this glory with his wife, the wife will most likely share herself in return with the husband and thus the two become one—unified—even as Christ is one with his Father and His Church.
Men, we are called to true manhood by establishing the pace of self-giving love, by honoring and glorifying our wives and all women, and by doing so we will be re-establishing the true order of creation. This is how it works: 1)To father in the image of the Father we must husband in the image of Christ 2) To husband like Christ we must lead by loving and saving our wives 3) A husband loves and saves his wife by passing on the glory he receives from God to his wife – without lording this glory over her, but rather by serving her 4) By receiving this glory from her husband she most likely will reciprocate this gift and share herself with him 5) Together they glorify God and participate in the renewal of the family which is the renewal of society.
There are three practical ways that we can glorify women, especially our wives: 1) Listen to her – not hear her, not talk at her—but rather, really, actively listen to her. Ask her questions with the purpose of discovering her heart, her needs, her hopes. 2) Look at her. Look her deep in the eyes. Be present to her. Compliment her on her beauty – her personality. Gaze upon her—spend time with her. It can simply be sitting on the couch with her, or taking her out on a date—but look at her intently, with the purpose of allowing her to feel the gaze of Christ’s love, through you. 3) Touch her. Don’t grab her. Don’t objectify her. Touch her with purity. Honor her with your touch. This could be a simple kiss on the neck, a secure hug or holding her hand. When she realizes that you are listening, looking and loving her for her own sake, she will begin to give herself to you more freely. And then the two of you will become a sign to your children of Christ’s love and they will become secure, confident and full of character. Just in case any of you think that I am making this stuff up, these three ways of practical love are found in Scriptures:
These three ways are found in 1 John 1: “I write of what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, and what we have looked upon and our hands have handled.” Listening / Looking / Touching.
St. Joseph refused to “expose Mary to shame,” which is a testimony that he refused to unveil or expose Mary’s glory to the shame and lusts of men. Rather he protected her, lauded her and loved her purely. Joseph became an icon of God the Father and Jesus Christ by glorifying Mary. Indeed, Christ shares His glory with Mary, the “Queen who stands at the right hand of the King arrayed in Gold.” (See Psalm 45) And we husbands, like Joseph, as Christ, should also love our queens in a like manner.