Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Colossians 3:18-19

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

As a college student I loathed Paul. I thought he was the biggest chauvinist in history, and clearly passages about women submitting to men were only cultural and had nothing to do with modern society. I still believe that all Scripture should be studied within its cultural context – for example I almost always pray with my head uncovered, and I do speak in church. But I have come to realize that biblical submission is not the evil thing I once thought it was.

For one thing, if you want to scratch out the sections on wives submitting to their husbands it is only fair that we scratch out verses pertaining to the males. So my husband would no longer be commanded to love me and could be harsh with me. He wouldn’t be commanded to love me as Christ loves the church, a much stronger command in my opinion than my submission to him.

Also we take the word submission and for various reasons wrongly use it as a synonym for obedience – as a servant is obedient to a master. No Christian relationship should be like that. Christ never demanded groveling subservience from his followers. In fact, he made himself submissive, taking upon himself the form of a servant, even unto death. Husbands and wives equally “own” each other in a way, but husbands are not to be harsh taskmasters over their wives.

My outlook on submission as a good thing has changed for several reasons. For one, I now love the Bible deeply and am willing to come to it with as open a mind as possible – seeking truth rather than verses to back up previously held beliefs. For another I am married to a great man. Of course we have our squabbles, but as a rule we respect each other. He listens to what I have to say and values me as a person. But the few times that we have not seen eye to eye, I have submitted and let him have his way. And since I have this attitude, he knows that if I put my foot down about something and refuse to back down about it then it must be something serious. In those situations I always get my way!

I don’t have the answer of what women with jerk authoritarian husbands should do about this passage. I have a friend who says that she would probably be submissive to her husband if he would give her a choice in the matter rather than being so demanding. Some say that even in an abusive relationship women should be submissive. I say grab your kids and dog and get out of that house until he gets some counseling! Your allegiance is always first to God, then to family. If you are in a situation where the will of your husband contradicts the will of God, in my opinion you have to follow the will of God.

As a rule, women crave love and men crave respect. I think that is one reason wives are so often admonished to respect their husbands and husbands are admonished to love their wives. It works! And all Christians are called to submit to one another, counting each other’s needs above our own. Likewise we are called to love one another as Christ loved us. There really is no question biblically that this is how we are to relate to one another, whether spouses or brothers and sisters in Christ.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
 1 John 4:7-8