Words cut deep. Rejection is heartbreaking. Friends come and go…sometimes on good terms, many times the termination is excruciatingly painful. A family becomes estranged. Tragedy crushes the soul. Brokenness is inevitable in this shattered world. I am sure, just like me, you’ve had a lot of experience with painful relationships and events. This life is challenging and troublesome enough if we are facing it on our own. However, having a Godly spouse who loves as Christ loves the Church sure makes a difference. When a husband washes his wife in the word of God is one of the most rewarding aspects of marriage. But what does it mean for a husband to sanctify his wife and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word? How does a husband wash his wife in the Word?
My husband understands this verse quite well. He washes me in the Word often. But there was a time when he didn’t understand this truth. I was reading one of my journal entries from our first year of marriage. I was struggling through the disclosure, flashbacks, and repercussions of childhood sexual abuse. This is what I wrote:
“I should have known Marcus wouldn’t care. I always think he will. I always think he’ll hold me and tell me good things. But he just walks away and doesn’t care.”
In all fairness to him, he was young and who really knows how to cope with the destruction of sexual abuse? I mean, dealing with trauma like that was not what he had signed up for on our wedding day. Or was it? He did vow to love me in sickness and in health…and this was a sickness. I guess, he just wasn’t prepared for this darkness. It was completely unexpected. And he was not a disciple of Christ. He was an unbeliever.
It Comes Down To Faith
I suppose that is the first question when trying to understand this passage. Is your husband a believer? This matters. If he isn’t, then he won’t understand what washing by the word means since he isn’t in the word himself. In these cases, Jesus takes over that part.
In all cases, only Jesus redeems and takes away our sin. But that’s not what we are talking about here when it comes to husband’s washing us. Keep reading and you’ll understand a bit more.
*If your husband is not a believer, keep praying for him. God is faithful.
If your hubby is a believer, then it is his duty to wash you in the word. He is called to do so. If he isn’t, pray, and then discuss the topic with him. Ask him what he thinks it means. Maybe he just doesn’t know;)
It’s All Greek To Me
To begin understanding this passage, let’s see what some of these words mean in Greek.
The Word – rhēma. This is the spoken word. So, God’s word spoken out loud.
Sanctify – hagiazō. To separate from profane things and dedicate to God. To purify by expiation: free from the guilt of sin. And to purify internally by renewing of the soul.
Cleanse – katharizō. To make clean in a moral sense. It also means physical cleanliness, but let’s not get carried away…unless you want to use it as an ‘excuse’ to have some fun;) This means to purify from wickedness. To be free from the defilement of sin and from faults. To be free from the guilt of sin.
Wash – loutron. The act of bathing. A husband could draw his wife a wonderful, relaxing bath, but I don’t think that is what is meant by this word in this verse. However, when we have a bath, we are immersed in water. To immerse is to be completely surrounded. To be right IN it. The only other place in scripture this word is used is in Titus 3:5.
Water – hydōr. This is simply water. Life-sustaining water. PS – we get really into this in my Bible Study on John.
Maybe you’d like to make a chart with these words and meanings to help you understand even better…and to remember. And then pull them together with a detailed summary. (Actually, I made a download for you – see below – your welcome!)
When we have a better understanding of the actual words that have been used, we then have something to work with to help us understand what it looks like for a husband to wash his wife in the word.
Point To Jesus
I think we can agree that a husband does not take the place of Jesus. However, he does have a responsibility to help his wife to not sin. How does he do this? Gently and lovingly point to Jesus. Prayer covering is also essential.
This also means that he ought not to cause her to sin. Hmmm…something to think about. Of course, this does not mean that we have no accountability. We will answer for our own sin. No doubt about. never use this to justify or excuse behavior. Never. Don’t do that to your hubby.
Some of the most romantic times in my life have been when I’ve been hurt and feeling the grief and sadness of a loss. My husband will encourage me by speaking truth over me. Sometimes it will be a verse. Other times it will be his wisdom and thoughts rooted in God’s word. And yet other times are simply very funny things he has said that makes me laugh. He was washing me in the word by doing this.
The Right Question
Perhaps some thought-provoking questions might also be helpful here – and if a man is really courageous, he might even ask his wife these questions!
Are you (the husband) kind to your wife regardless of how you feel?
Do you support her in her dreams and passions?
Are you polite to her? Speaking highly of her every chance you get?
Do you put her first, even if that means you will do without or not ‘have your way’?
Is she joy-filled?
Is she comfortable around you? Do you see her – really see her?
Do you help her succeed and ‘pick her up’ when she fails?
Are you patient with her?
Is she confident in your love for her?
Remember the journal entries I mentioned earlier? I don’t feel that way toward my husband anymore. I am confident in his care and love for me. He now holds me when my heart is broken. He reminds me of the things God has promised me. And he tells me it will all be ok. I know I am sheltered and protected in his strength. He displays the character of Christ to me.
And, friends, that, in a nutshell, is what it means for a husband to wash his wife and to sanctify her – he displays the character of Christ to her. Always.
The washing in the word establishes the mysterious union between husband and wife (verse 32). A husband and wife become one as the husband washes his wife in the word and she follows him through Godly submission. It is indeed a mystery.
It is indeed a mystery.
Feel free to share your additional thoughts in the comments. And always pray for your marriage.
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