God’s Word for You
Colossians 3:18-19 O Wives, keep subjecting yourselves to your husbands
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, August 17, 2019
18 O Wives, keep subjecting yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 O Husbands, keep loving your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Rules are peculiar things. People often despise the anarchy of a situation that doesn’t have any rules, but as soon as rules are given, we constantly rebel against them and look for ways around them. Usually, we feel that rules are good for other people, but we personally don’t need them. To follow the rules, we secretly believe, would be a sign of weakness.
What chaos there would be on the road if there were no rules at all! What havoc there would be in the grocery store if there were no lines, no prices, no place to park, no shelves, etc., etc. Such a way of living is called a punishment in the Scriptures: “God will stretch out over Edom the measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of desolation” (Isaiah 34:11).
There is no true freedom for mankind on earth apart from rules, especially God’s rules. Those who behave outside the rules are a terror and burden to the people around them. They are despised. When we have order, we move, act, and speak without fear and with confidence that we are free to be where we are and trust that the way we live is right. “The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy” (Psalm 119:138).
The term hypotasso (ὑποτάσσω) “subject yourself, submit” means to place yourself under the authority of someone else. This is naturally the case in the military, and it’s also what is done in business, in government, in the church, in a family with children, and God has commanded that this should also be the case with wives to their husbands. This was God’s will before the fall into sin, and it continues to be his will ever since the fall. This is also the role of women in the church (1 Corinthians 14:34). This goes back to the order of creation, “for Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13; see verses 11-14). The wife was made out of man’s body (Genesis 2:21-24) to be his helper and companion (Genesis 2:20). She should honor her husband by submitting to his loving authority as her head in their family (1 Corinthians 11:10-12).
In a home, a couple that constantly vies for authority will never be happy. “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 21:9). The will of God is that a husband has the authority, but that it should only be used with love, first and always. A wife who seizes the authority in her marriage might please herself, but by pleasing herself, she disgraces herself, her husband, and God. This was not the vow she took when she married her husband, and he will have to bear the cross of struggling with his own vow to love her while fearing for her soul, since she has taken it upon herself to sin against God and to live unrepentant in that sin.
God’s will for marriage is that the husband and wife will live chastely in thought, word, and deed, not desiring anyone but their own spouse, and loving and cherishing one another as a precious gift of God: a friend and partner in marriage for life. “For marital chastity, it is above all things essential that husband and wife live together in love and harmony, cherishing each other whole-heartedly and with perfect fidelity” (Large Catechism, par. 219). Their roles are to last their whole marriage; their whole life. This is evident in our text from the present imperative verbs, “Keep subjecting yourselves… keep loving.” O Wives, do not make it impossible for your husband to love you, or to have authority over you. Do not crave his authority; rather crave your husband himself as your husband; as your only man. O Husbands, do not make your wife’s submission a burden to her, but something she rejoices in, as a good soldier gladly follows his worthy commander. Crave your wife as your wife; your only woman; love her as you love the strength of your own arms, the quickness of your own legs. Be passionate for her as your darling wife as you are passionate for all of the things that please you, for she is part of you every bit as much as your arms and legs and passions are part of you. She is the best of your bones; the finest portion of your flesh. This is what Adam meant by the world’s first poem (Genesis 2:23), and this should be the rule of your life. If it seems peculiar to the world, let them learn from your excellent and God-pleasing marriage.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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