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Tall orders for husbands: Chrysostom spells out what loving your wife is all about

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You will never have done anything equal to what Christ has done.

When St. Paul says husbands should love their wives, he adds an explainer: “as Christ loved the Church.”

In relation to the first part of the verse — “wives, be submissive to your husbands” — it might seem like husbands have the easier part of the deal.

But St. John Chrysostom’s exhortation to husbands could make you think again:

… And even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and even to endure and undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse. Even though you undergo all this, you will never have done anything equal to what Christ has done. You are sacrificing yourself for someone to whom you are already joined, but He offered Himself up for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him. In the same way, then, as He honored her by putting at His feet one who turned her back on Him, who hated rejected, and disdained Him, as He accomplished this not with threats, or violence, or terror, or anything else like that, but through His untiring love; so also you should behave toward your wife.

… So the Church was not pure. She had blemishes, she was ugly and cheap. Whatever kind of wife you marry, you will never take a bride like Christ did when He married the Church; you will never marry anyone estranged from you as the Church was from Christ. Despite all this, He did not abhor or hate her for her extraordinary corruption …

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