Oh Here is a question I recieved from someone as a follow-up to my last blog.


I have a deep love for the lady who I’ve been dating and I’m getting set to pop the question to her.

I love apologetics. You know that. I love teaching it as well. However, apologetics is not God. It is not the gospel. No one’s ministry is God. I have told my Princess repeatedly that God will always be #1. She must be second place. I must put her before that without putting her before God. How can I teach and defend the gospel if I am not living it? Part of living it means giving my wife the proper place in my world.

So while I’m on that, let me ask you how you make a division. How do you keep up a life of study properly with a life of marriage? I know if I give all of my attention to study, well she’s deprived and that’s not right. On the other hand, if all I do is give her attention, well we don’t eat. I have to do both. I’d like your insight.


Let me start by saying that Kristie and I love each other deeply and we are totally committed to each other. However, we have not had a “good” marriage by any stretch. I am not sure I should be saying this. Not because Kristie would not approve, but because it exposes something that causes me a great deal of shame to reveal. I wish that I could say that I had even a typically decent marriage, but I don’t think this is the case.

Kristie and I are worlds apart. Not only in personality, but spiritually as well. Well, let me qualify this some. I am not saying that one of us is super spiritual while the other is a dud, but that we are different. Kristie has never resented my ministry and has, at times, served as an encouragement. But she is not that interested in what I do. Theology is not her thing. The same is true for me with regard to her priorities. Sometimes it feels as if we are like magnets turned the wrong way. Our relationship is, for lack of a better word, clumsy. We have good chemistry in a very real way (which I am so thankful for), but, from a human standpoint, we are not a “match made in heaven.”

There is a lot more that can be said.

I don’t, at this point in my life, have a nice red bow that is coming in the form of a “but…” I am just giving you some of the background so you can understand my answer. If Kristie and I were to allow our relationship to go in a direction that “seems” natural, I think we would drift completely apart, she in her world, and I in mine. I could very easily say to myself that my work and ministry are far more productive than the treadmill of problems that come by way of my marriage. My ministry could easily get separated from my marriage and become the de facto priority of my day (and it sometimes does when I am in one of “those” moods).

However, I would say from experience that if your marriage is not going well, nothing is going well. Your ministry, insights, and everything else will suffer when your wife is not your priority. And if it does not, then that may be an even bigger problem: apathy. Apathy toward your marital relationship. Solution: Redirect all passion to ministry. What a terrible place to be. Understandable, but terrible.

“But, but, I am doing so much good in ministry. I suck at marriage.” I know how it feels, but don’t separate the two. Your marriage is and should always be your first and foremost ministry. Even if it is not as “successful” as your other pursuits, don’t compare them. Before God, you are called to love her and give yourself up for her as Christ did the church, even if you are worlds apart. Christ and the church were worlds apart, too.

(Sheesh…what self-therapy here.)

“But what if my wife keeps me from ministry? What if she only serves as massive speed bumps to my ‘calling’?”

I try to keep this in mind: God does not really need me. As much as I like to think I am significant (i.e., if I don’t get this blog done, this class taught, this person’s theology corrected, who will?), my family must come first. It is so easy to forget this or to become bitter towards your wife. There is a reason why we are told to treat them tenderly.

Your passions should not be divided, but they often will be. When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family. When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family. When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family. That is something, I believe, you will not regret on your death bed. God has numerous ways to get done that which we felt like we were supposed to. If you are married, your primary area of service is your wife.

“But who comes first, God or my wife?”

Not a good way to put it. Not good at all. It is like saying, what comes first, God’s commandments or God himself. Most certainly, there are times when you will have to follow God rather than your wife, but this is not saying that God will ever call on you to neglect your responsibility to love her in order to serve him. While it is true that you put God first, I don’t know how to separate that from putting your wife first. In other words, you put your wife first precisely because you put God first.

For those of you who have a passion for ministry, do not separate this from your passion for your family. Don’t become bitter, apathetic, or dismissive towards the wife that God has given to you. She is your first ministry. If you do well with her, you have done better than one who writes, speaks, blogs, and preaches for God to the neglect of his wife.

As hard as it is for me to say, if your ministry is not providing for your family, find something that will.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    65 replies to "“God Comes Before My Wife” . . . And Other Stupid Statements"

    • Ron Wolf

      Good post Michael, Hits home with me. One of the hardest things for me to do is create that balance. Seems to be true that in everything we do, the product of our efforts are hinged on the balance of where we put our efforts. Not just ministry but in everything we do.

    • J


      – GOD
      – FAMILY
      – CHURCH


    • Bill

      This is something that I am struggling with at this very moment. I am part of a bible study in which a few members (one in particular) is of the belief that the church “those who attend the study” are the only true family and that the only thing that comes before “the brotherly body of believers” is God. Hence, my wife would be less important than our bible study. Over the past few weeks (crazy weeks in which one of our members went off on a few tangents about churches and proper suffering) I have felt pulled away from my wife, and it has affected our lives. I wasn’t listening to her, she felt like I was drifting away; always focused on the study rather than our marriage. I made the decision to stop attending the study and spend more time with my wife. While I feel at peace with this decision; I cannot find verses in the bible that help confirm my thinking that my first ministry is my wife, rather than the ministry my fellow bible study brothers have said. I’m a fairly new believer and I’m a bit lost. I feel in my heart that my wife is more important; but I can’t make them see without solid scripture.

    • Andrew Rogers

      “My marriage can survive the failure of my ministry but the reverse is simply not true.”

      I think John Wesley’s marriage failed fairly quickly yet his ministry seemed to continue…

    • Piping Engineering

      Just wanted you to know I have added you to my bookmarks. I’ve seen your other blog topics too and I can say you’ve got great ideas. Keep it up!

    • Law

      I actually want a wife that Loves God more than me. For it is only by looking at the world by borrowing “Christ’s Eyes” do we see beyond the physical.
      Read Proverbs. The wife and mother. She wasn’t misinterpreting her husband not hiding round the corner with roses and chocolate as “apathy”. No! She respected it since he was doing the best for his family by doing God’s work, hence meeting one of God’s requirements Love me and Love others.
      That Love for God and respect for her husband’s efforts ensured she was an EQUALLY respected member of society and EQUALLY loved by God and her husband, and her children, and most who met her.
      Through focusing on God, we get guided to our rightful places in ANY situation we are in.
      God CAN make ANY match he Chooses 🙂
      A Match made in heaven is simply one where both parties are feet on earth, head in heaven.
      My humble 2 Naira 🙂

    • Ray Bellows

      This is wrong on all accounts. My grandparents were both athiests and were happily married for 46 years before the death of my grandfather.
      My parents both tried to “put god first” and divorced after 16 years of marriage. This happened again to my father who remarried an equally religious woman. They both “put god first” and were divorced after 5 years.
      My mother on the other hand, lost her faith after her divorce, re-married a man who was an athiest, and they have been happily married for 21 years now.


    • DBriggs

      This is a great post… My husband and I had not connected intimately for several days… On the night we had Bible study I approached him and asked if he would stay home because I needed to be close to him… Instead of him praying or loving me in a sacrificial way he said. GOD IS FIRST… While I get that statement I found it a bit hypocritical and very painful. Serving one another sometimes means that I dont need to go to bible study and I can best serve God by loving my wife or husband..He actually brought me back home and took my car keys.. I was very angry and tried to hold back my tongue. After he left he asked me over and over to come to the study… I refused to go… I suppose I should have honored him but The holy spirit actually said to not go… This may seem strange. God gave me a verse in Matthew 12.. If a child or OX falls into a pit on the Sabbath dont you go and pull him out? God showed me that how my husband was acting was out of a religious mindset and that I needed to calmly tell him but also pray for God to show him this… I reacted towards my husband somewhat at first but then God gave me a supernatural peace. I read the whole context of the verse and learned something very awesome myself… God desires our ministry to others first… Not burnt offerings and sacrifices from service… So I could have ministered to my husband by letting go of the issue and going to Bible study and trusted God for my husbands deliverance instead of reacting… But God needed to set me aside … Putting your spouse first is no less spiritual than going to church.. Im not saying that I should habitually forsake assembling but I am saying that on occasion I need to listen to the needs of my spouse.. serving them is serving GOD…. Thank You Jesus.. so we were both wrong… and God as always shows us his higher way….

    • Nick Peters

      I happen to love apologetics greatly, but I have also said that if you can answer every question and you fail as a husband, then I count you as a failure as an apologist.

    • Sheila

      God’s will definitely comes first, but if you are married, it’s God’s will for you to respect the covenant of marriage and honor it it in every way, drawing strength and leadership to make it work through Him.

    • Katerina Safarikova

      If YOU did not marry the girl that believes in God and understands that she is in the second place (meaning loved very much, but still in the second place, naturally), then yes, your ministry is not that important. And it never can be. I don’t think God needs your ministry, when you are married to a non believer and you are putting her first (before your ministry). And you have to know that too.
      Then, reading this article, I’m not that surprised that you never heard a voice of God, that you are a doubter, that you never met a modern day prophet etc. I think you belong in the cathegory of those who ruin USA believers, by their *personal* believes that do not match the Scriptures. And that you should stop your ministry altogether. (That man was just drunk.)
      This is not me being mean, just telling the truth as I feel it in my heart.
      Sorry, if you feel hurt. God bless you.

    • Sam

      Well, having grown up as a Pastor’s kid in a close family, it was still clear that church attendance, in fact everything church, which was equated to serving God, was more important than me being allowed to think, act, and be a kid. I always had to ‘be a witness and testimony’ (ie. . .be on stage). This attitude and the blueprint that was embossed within my brain has left me with a lot of issues.

      One of which is that God should always be first over everything – No, no, and hell no! My wife and family will be first over a religious belief system. Over ‘religious social activity’ masked as serving God. It will not be the way it was as I grew up. If God is so insecure and selfish that He insists on ‘being first’ over my wife and family, if God is somehow such a jealous God who ‘needs’ to be worshiped, ‘needs’ people to serve and glorify Him, then I’ll change Gods. That’s not my God. He can go pound sand.

      I like the passage that says husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. That makes sense to me.

    • alykka

      I read a few of the comments, some good and bad. Bottom line, your love for God is first, in doing so, you will keep all his commandments. Love your wife as God love the church and laid his life down for it. So many views on how we should live our life, when it is written so clearly in the bible. Married for almost 26 years, high school sweet hearts, my husband was saved first, I was stubborn, took me a little longer. First 5- 8 years of our marriage was rough. Before we married, my husband told me that he was going to church every time the door was open whether I was going or not, that God was first and I was not. I almost didn’t marry him. Then as time went on, God show him that you have to have a balance in your life, that if you can’t manage your family, how do you expect to manage a church or whatever calling God gives you. God is with you always, you take him where ever you go. You make reading the word and praying a family time with God at home and if you need time with God alone, you wake up before the family, and take that time. That is how you balance your life and put God first always. Remember going to church is not God, it just said not to forsake it. God gave you that spouse, he does not like divorce, so why would he put a wedge between you and your love one. He would not, His yoke is light, He will give you the balance you need in your life.

    • NS

      How does this correlate if the roles are reversed? Wife being the spiritual one and husband well, not at all.

      A little background for my question… My husband is agnostic (just found this out 3 years in to our marriage). His fighting style is to win discussions, so in his view I am always wrong if it’s not the way he thinks. The problem is he feels like I am putting God before him because I go to church and because I chose to tithe. How does this line up with scripture? Is a wife supposed to honor and respect her husband when he doesn’t in return love her like Christ loves the church. What if that doesn’t even make sense to him? I feel like we are not on the same page, no wait, same book, no it is more like the same library.

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