So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. -Ephesians 5:28
As you can see, “men love yourselves” is practically a commandment. We aren’t talking about the superficial, narcissistic selfie kind of love that we often see today, but the real deal, the authentic kind. The kind that often happens when you come to Christ, when you avail yourself of forgiveness and grace and come to perceive yourself as God does, as someone having such worth and value, He died for you. You now have royal blood in you. Lay your flaws down at the foot of the cross and love yourself.
The importance of, “men, love yourselves” cannot be underestimated, because it is from your own ability to love yourself that you are going to be able to love others. When it comes to marriage it is absolutely vital, because men who do not love themselves cannot give honor to their wives and their very prayers will be hindered. I know a guy who puts it much more crudely, “everything I touch seems to turn to crap.” To put it bluntly, he doesn’t love himself and so he tends to just treat his wife as more, “crap he has touched.” Trust me, nothing ever goes right for these two.
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7
If you do not love yourself, your very prayers will be hindered. Now obviously these passages refer to marriage and I am rather self-serving here, as in I have a desire to see happy marriages, and “men love yourselves” is the fastest way to get there. However, I think the idea applies to all men, single, divorced, widowed, men love yourselves. It has the power to change the whole world.
So in the real world there are a whole lot of women who fall for men who do not love themselves. There are many reasons for that, we are attracted to wounded birds, we think we can change him, we think we can save him, we think we are the one he’s been waiting for, or we’ve gone and confused dominance with just plain brokenness. Arrogance is not self love and bullies seldom love themselves. Also, if he’s in jail a lot or addicted to drugs, he is NOT a man who is practicing the art of men love yourselves.
If you want him to love you, he must learn to love himself first.
Women cannot make men love themselves. Oh, but we’ll often die trying, literally. When I was working with domestic violence victims I came to realize that there are no laws, no legislation we can pass that will ever protect women from the men who cannot or will not love themselves. And we cannot really teach women how to avoid men who cannot love themselves either, because women are simply too vulnerable there. There is biology at play, psychic bonds, broken women. “Teach women how not to be victims” is as ridiculous as trying to “teach men not be perpetrators.” Both approaches mis-identify the problem, and try to apply a solution that doesn’t exist, to some stereotypes we just made up.
If you truly wish to help women, the fastest way to do that is to teach men to love themselves. That is somewhat counter-intuitive, but it is scriptural. There is some research too, that suggests there is truth there. Churches will often invest the most money and resources into youth ministry, children’s ministry, women’s ministry, outreach to the poor, but if you want the biggest bang for your buck, you simply invest in the men. Men’s ministry.
When you study systems you discover that if you invest in men, the women soon follow, and then the children. And then the economy. And then the entire health of the whole community. It’s not a politically correct concept, but it’s true. If you try to reach the children perhaps they’ll bring along mom at some point, but it’s rare. It’s also rare that women ever lead men to church, not impossible, but far less common. People have watched this happen in some Native American communities, invest in the men….and than the women come to see what’s going on and soon the children, and they all begin to follow along. You want to devastate a community, you simply reverse it, remove men’s place in the equation, take away jobs, create a situation where it is difficult for men, love yourselves to flourish.
Women can have a very reflective nature, we will mirror what is going on around us. Reflect and multiply. It’s kind of sad, but the one thing we really cannot do is to teach men, love yourselves. That is a harsh truth and it tends to irritate a lot of people. Many women don’t like to admit we are powerless there and many men don’t like to admit loving themselves is entirely their responsibility, a responsibility that has far-reaching consequences.
One tiny little bit of scripture really will reveal the keys to the kingdom, the secrets behind human behavior, “He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” No loveth himself, no loveth anyone else either.