Husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves based on Ephesians 5:26–27:
That [Christ] might sanctify and cleanse [the church] with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
This is discussing what Christ does with His, Bride, the Church. Since the context is marriage, it’s also explaining what husbands should do with their wives. Christ “sanctifies and cleanses” His bride, so husbands should sanctify and cleanse their brides. This makes a husband at least partially responsible for his wife’s sanctification.
Just as Christ gets the church He prepares for Himself, so husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves
There is a tremendous truth contained in these words. Christ does what He does in verse 26—sanctifying and cleansing the church—so that He can obtain for Himself the glorious church, or bride, described in verse 27 that “has no spot or wrinkle but is holy and without blemish.” The simplest way to say it is: Christ gets the church He prepares for Himself.
Since this is a picture for husbands and wives, what else is the apostle Paul implying by this truth? Husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves. Wives respond well to love, holiness, and obedience to God’s Word. When husbands treat their wives:
- Forgivingly, lovingly, and tenderly, they will generally receive more forgiving, loving, and tender wives
- Unforgivingly, unlovingly, and harshly, they generally find themselves with wives who are less forgiving, loving, and tender
If a husband:
- Takes his wife to church
- Reads the Word with her
- Prays with her
- Helps her grow spiritually
He will receive a more spiritually mature wife. What kind of qualities will be produced as a result? Galatians 5:22–23 record: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
Conversely, if a husband does not lead his wife spiritually he will receive a wife who is less spiritual. What is the opposite of spiritual? Fleshly. Galatians 5:19–22 list the “works of the flesh” and here are just a few: hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, envy, even adultery.
How many husbands see these works in their wives because they are poor spiritual leaders? How many wives might be more spiritually mature if their husbands were better spiritual leaders? Tragically, I have listened to some husbands talk terribly about their wives when in fact they have simply received the wives they prepared for themselves.
Husbands reap what they sow in marriage
Galatians 6:7 says: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” The context of this verse is giving to the church, but the principle also applies to a husband’s relationship with his wife. Husbands generally reap what they sow in marriage. If husbands will invest in their wives by sowing seeds of love and interest, if they will plant spiritual seeds of sanctification, they will reap what they have sown. Let’s summarize by keeping two truths in mind:
There are two great reasons husbands should be strong spiritual leaders:
- First and foremost because this is what God commands and we will be held accountable for doing so.
- Second, so husbands might have loving, spiritual wives.
The good news is that God’s commands to husbands benefits them as much as it benefits their wives. A husband who loves his wife as God commands will bring great blessing to himself. This is why in the very next verse, Paul says:
“He who loves his wife loves himself.”
- Wife: What are some ways you want your husband to sanctify and cleanse you?
- Husband: What are some ways you sanctify and cleanse your wife?
A few other things:
- Here’s all the info you need for the upcoming Christian Heritage Marriage Retreat
- Be sure to check out this other video: “Can a wife love her husband without respecting him?”
- Much of this post is from my book, Marriage God’s Way. Let me know if you’d like a signed copy!
- Here’s the Facebook Live video with all the comments and discussion…