No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child. – Jeffery R. Holland
This is a beautiful sentiment., one oft-heard over the last several weeks. The idea is part of the modern head-canon of Christian thought, that no relationship is more Christ-like in love than that of mother to child.
It is also wrong.
I want to be clear about exactly which part of Elder Holland’s declaration I am challenging. I am not saying that a mother’s love is not Christ-like; I am not saying that a mother’s love is not selfless; I am certainly not saying that a mother is not devoted to her children. Rather, I am challenging the thought that it is, or should be, the most approximate to Christ’s love.
Let us turn to the word of God in the New Testament. Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” This is one of only two scriptural mandates for a particular class or group to love even as Jesus did (the other is John 13:34-5, the charge of love to the disciples). Husbands are instructed more specifically on this duty, with analogy to Christ: That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones (Ephesians 5:26-30).
Sanctify, cleanse, wash with the word, present glorious and spotless, holy, without blemish, as their own bodies, nourish, cherish. These are the words which Paul used to describe Christ’s love for the Church, His followers; and the words which are to describe a husband’s love for his wife.
Husbands, we must love our wives, even as Christ also loves the church. We must give ourselves for them.
This is not a complaint that women are doing too well, this is a plea for men to do better.