There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.–1 John 4:18
Love is not built on fear. True love is built on trust and loyalty. As the Apostle John indicated in the above scripture, perfect love, that is love that is complete and matured, casts out all our fears. When we are fully enveloped by the love of Jesus Christ, HIs love for us casts out all our fears and doubts. Fear brings torment, it brings doubt, it brings uncertainty, which hinders our faith.
In the same manner, our submission to the authority of a husband should not invoke fear. Reverence, yes. The Greek word for reverence in Ephesians 5 is fobeo, which means to fear, but it also means awestruck. We are awestruck by our husband by his position and his provision and protection of us. We look up to and admire him. But it should never be a fear that invokes torment, that causes us to doubt and have uncertainty about his genuine love for us. A husband whose only desire is to make his wife “dread” him, as I’ve heard some say, is not truly loving his wife. He creates torment in her heart. The Greek word in 1 John is “kalases” meaning correction, chastisement, punishment. It is ONLY used in the NT to denote tormenting/punishment of demons or those upon whom the wrath of God will fall. Given the loving principles of Ephesians 5, I cannot think this was the Apostle Paul’s purpose. The only time we should fear punishment is if we are not walking according to the Spirit. A virtuous wife should not have to live in fear and dread of her husband, but should be awestruck by him. Further, if a woman has perfected confidence in her husband’s love for her, fear is gone. She will trust him completely.
Agape love is not built on fear. Marriage shouldn’t be about being afraid of one’s spouse. Jesus invested everything He had in His bride. He desires her sanctification; he doesn’t make her suffer. He suffered for her. He took everything upon Himself for our sakes. And all He asks for is our obedience. A spiritual leader who gives himself for his bride is a gift to the wife. An obedient, holy wife is the greatest gift a man could ever give himself. A glorious marriage.