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Husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves

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:

  1. First and foremost because this is what God commands and we will be held accountable for doing so.
  2. 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.”

Discuss: 

  • 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:

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10 thoughts on “Husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves

  1. This is an interesting topic, especially when considering marriages I’m familiar with (including my own!). I’m seeking God through His word with or without my husband, but his spiritual leadership is beneficial and welcomed when offered. I’m thankful that wives don’t have to wait on their husbands to grow closer to God themselves.

    I know more couples with wives who are the more spiritually mature/active than vice versa. It’s not how God would have it, I know. But in the absence of a husbands spiritual leadership, many wives step up and disciple their children while trying to gracefully and respectfully pull their husbands along.

    When both spouses are following God’s directions, they grow closer to each other and God. That’s His perfect design. I see this post as encouragement for men to step up and walk in God’s commands.

    1. Hi Beka,
      Right, wives don’t have to wait on their husbands to grow in their relationships with the Lord. There are plenty of women who have to apply 1 Peter 3:1-2 because they’re married to unbelievers:

      1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.

      You said, “I know more couples with wives who are the more spiritually mature/active than vice versa. It’s not how God would have it, I know. But in the absence of a husbands spiritual leadership, many wives step up and disciple their children while trying to gracefully and respectfully pull their husbands along.”

      I’ve seen the same too. Sometimes it seems like there are more spiritually-minded women than men. Maybe God allows us to be this way so when a man is finally ready to lead spiritually he’ll have a wife ready to join him.

      Yes, that is the way the post is meant—as an encouragement to men.

  2. That’s such a good observation! I do believe we each have a responsibility to continue to treat others how we want to be treated no matter how they are treating us but at the same time, I believe what you are saying is so true. If a husband cultivates a spiritual relationship, it will grow and get stronger for both the husband and the wife. What a blessing that would be!

    1. Hi Krist,
      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Yes, there’s definitely a balance, but as you mentioned that husband’s spiritual “cultivation” in the marriage can truly bless the relationship.

  3. Wow! I had not ruminated on the topic in the past, but can see it having played out in so many marriages.
    Thankfully, we can change. However, a husband finally becoming the spiritual head of the home isn’t going to gain the spiritual wife overnight. And, a spiritual wife can (through her example and prayer) can help a husband find his way.

    1. Hi Laura,
      Yes, I agree, even the best spiritual leadership won’t change a woman overnight.

      You said, “a spiritual wife can (through her example and prayer) can help a husband find his way.” This seems to be exactly what Scripture recommends in 1 Peter 3:1-2:

      1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.

  4. I’m aware of a man who used to talk horribly about his wife. She was a very godly woman, spiritually mature, had all the qualities of Galatians 5:22-23. This man thought it was funny to make fun of her in public, which of course was not funny. Although, I understand what you are saying, “you reap what you sow,” sometimes there is a lot to be said about what men are seeing mentored in their family of origin. He would have done well to read this article, not because he needed to move his wife toward Christ, but because he himself needed to figure out what love looked like. Thanks for this thought provoking post.

    1. Hi Bonny,
      I’ve heard a number of men (and women) talk poorly about their spouse. It is very unfortunate. At least in the husband’s case it can sometimes be a reflection of poor spiritual leadership and failing to sanctify his wife.

      I’m sorry to hear about a man talking about his wife as you described; I’m glad you feel like this post would’ve benefited him.

      You said, “sometimes there is a lot to be said about what men are seeing mentored in their family of origin.” I completely agree with that; we often treat our spouse the way we saw our parents treat each other, and we often expect to be treated the way we saw our parents treat each other. I discussed this topic somewhat in my last post on generational curses. If you’re interested in checking it out I’d be glad to hear your thoughts.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      1. Ooops, that link gave me an error code. 🙁

        1. Bonny,
          Sorry about that! Thanks for letting me know.

          Try it now!

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