Ephesians 5:25,33 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . let each one of you love his wife as himself . . .
The nature of addiction is to pursue some behavior above those whom I say are important to me. I once took a vow to love and cherish my wife, but in my addiction, I chose the drug above all. When life fell apart, she needed to know why. Why would you choose this destructive thing above me? You do not love me, you love the drug. I insisted that was not true, but my behavior betrayed the reality that she knew. I can take all the vows I want. If my behavior does not follow, my words are worthless.
I would love to say that this problem evaporated in my recovery, but if I am honest, I must admit that it is simply not my nature to put another’s needs above my own. Paul, in today’s passage, insisted that this is what marriage is supposed to be. When I took a vow to love my wife, I was not just committing to an emotional state.
Paul said that marriage means I am to value my wife’s needs as my own. I must love her as Christ loved the church. This means that my needs and desires are not to be my primary pursuit. I often love my wife for how she meets my needs, but Paul insisted that my responsibility is to meet hers. This again, is not natural. It is always my nature to pursue me.
As Christ loved the church, is a no small command. Jesus spent his life meeting our needs, giving of himself to death. He did not spend the energies of his life pursuing his habits and hobbies. He gave of what he had to show his love for us.
I have a difficult time sacrificing my needs and desires. I may not be addicted to a pill anymore, but I am still addicted to me. With my time, money, relationships and appetites, it is my nature to look to my own needs first. What do I want? What can I get out of this?
Though I am not good at it, it is a good exercise for me to ask how I would feel if my wife acted as I act. How would I feel if my wife sacrificed our relationship for a drug? How would I feel if she spent all her time and energies pursuing herself? How would I feel if she was as selfish as I am?
If I truly want to love my wife, I must choose to act in a manner consistent with that love. I am not just to say that I love her, I must do it.