Colossians & Philemonby Mike Raiter
There is much confusion in today’s society about marriage. In the world today, many are promoting same-sex marriages. Others see marriage as outdated, even oppressive. And that does not even mention the general public acceptance of divorce and cohabitation before marriage. We are moving very quickly away from the biblical understanding of marriage.
Since the beginning of chapter three, Paul has been describing the kind of life that is worthy of the Lord. Now he shifts his attention to the home, because this is the true testing ground for living out the values of the new age.
Paul begins with God’s command to husbands and wives. Wives must submit to their husbands (v. 18). These words seem galling to many, but in our relationships, the Bible consistently calls us to submit to others: to God, the governing authorities, pastors, masters or employers, elders, and, indeed, to one another (Ephesians 5:21). In each case we submit to those whose responsibility it is to care for us. Therefore, the wife is to submit to her husband because he is someone who is utterly concerned for her welfare and will deny his own desires to satisfy hers. The wife will joyfully submit to a husband who is living the kind of life Paul has just described: clothing himself with humility, compassion, kindness, and love.
Tragically, too many husbands have abused their role. Paul reminds them to love their wives and not become harsh or bitter towards them (v. 19). There is no place for bullying in any of our relationships, especially marriage.
The two commands go hand in hand. The husband needs to so love his wife that she will delight in submitting to him; and the wife needs to so joyfully serve her husband that he in turn will find delight in loving her.
This is the proper order God has ordained for godly marriages. And it works, because it is also the pathway to a happy marriage. In a world with so much pain and brokenness in marriage, a marriage that lives out God’s command is a powerful testimony to what God has ordained as best for humanity.
Why do we often react against the word “submit”? What is the biblical idea of submission and why does it see submission as important for healthy relationships?
If you are married, how can you better express these godly values of submission and love in your relationship?