I was recently talking with a friend of mine about the husband and wife roles and relationship. In passing, he made the statement: “I wash my wife in the word.” I thought that was an interesting choice of words, until I was reading Ephesians 5 (a chapter that I have read many times) and saw it in its beautiful context. Ephesians 5 is probably the best selection of scripture on the role of wives and husbands in marriage. Most of you likely know that husbands are to love their wives as Christ does His church. Most of you are also likely aware, as the complementarian view so greatly articulates, that husbands are the heads of the home and wives are to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord ( Eph 5:22). It is interesting to see that Paul uses twice as many words telling husbands to love their wives as he does for a wife to submit to her husband. If we take the picture of Christ and the church we can see that a husband should be willing to sacrifice everything for her. He should make her well-being of utmost importance. He should treat her as he does his own body. This is what Christ did for the church, thus, this is what a man should do for his wife. But what of “Washing her by the water through the word” (Eph 5:26)? The reason you do this is to make her holy. This is what Christ did for the church, and this is what we need to do for her to help her along in her own personal sanctification. Can she grow alone (apart from her husband)? Yes! But, it is a privilege and responsibility of the husband to do this for his bride. So, just what does it look like to wash your wife in the word?
Washing Her By Reading Scripture With Her
We should be reading scripture together. This can simply be during a formal family worship setting, or in a more private time that you both have together. Many make the mistake and think that family worship ends when your children leave the home. However, as the spiritual leader of your home, men, you need to make sure that you are leading the way in reading scripture together. You can read through scripture together. You can pick a topic and study it together. The point is that you pour scripture into your wife. Scripture guides us. It convicts us. It shows us how to love. It shows us what to love. It shows us how to be more like Christ. We do not just want our children to act and look like Jesus, do we? That is not the sole purpose of reading scripture in the home. We should want our wives (and ourselves) to be as conformed to His image as possible, as well. One way of doing this is by reading and absorbing God’s word. Husbands . . . read!
Washing Her By Praying Scripture With Her
Have you ever prayed through scripture? It is something that I was taught to do by one of my professors, Donald Whitney. It is of great benefit. Basically, it is simply taking the scripture that you have read, applying to your life and praying it back to God. It is a beautiful and beneficial way to pray. We are commanded to pray (I Thessalonians 5:17, James 5:16). What better person is there to pray for and with than the person that you are supposed to love more than any other on earth? If you don’t already pray with your spouse, then this is the first place to start. Learn to pray with each other regularly. However, when you read scripture together, find time to pray through it once you have finished. You may be amazed at how often the Lord providentially reveals a need that is going on in your life as you read through and pray through scripture. She will be blessed, and the Lord will be honored. Husbands . . . pray!
Washing Her By Giving Scripture To Her
Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Each Monday morning my family gathers before I leave for the office to read, sing, and pray God’s word. After we read though a chapter of the Bible, I try to pick out a verse from that chapter we read that I think will encourage my wife for that week. I write it on an index card and put it on the refrigerator. I think it is important to always have the Lord’s word in front of us. This is also a way to let my wife know that I care for her by giving her something as precious as God‘s word. This is just one example of how I try to apply this principle for my wife. For you it may be sending your wife a daily text with a verse that reminds you of her. It may be highlighting something in her Bible for her to read. It does not matter how you do it, but simply that you do it. Husbands . . . give!
Gentlemen, have you given your wife a bath lately? I must admit, this is something that I have been greatly convicted of lately. I want to wash my wife with the water of the Word. I want to help make her holy, as Christ made the church holy. It is my duty, but it is also my privilege. I am grateful that my friend shared that little phrase with me that day. So guys, if you are not washing her, you might want to run some water and get a towel. Husbands . . . read. Husbands . . . pray. Husbands . . . give, and enjoy while doing it.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Adam B. Burrell