I have felt the need to star writing more about marriage on my blog for a while. As my readership expands I find the variety of readers continues to be more and more diverse and young couples married or soon to be married continue to be a large demographic of that. While I have known marriage is a good thing to write on I have always developed some hesitancy over it. I’m not an expert in marriage. I have only been married for a little over two years and I still have a lot to learn. Some of my views on the big topics of marriage aren’t always very well liked. That shouldn’t shut me out though. So with that I wish to proceed in trying to tackle a very delicate and sensitive topic in marriage.
We wrestle over the issue of the roles of a man and wife in a marriage. Preachers quote passages that state wives are meant to be consistently obedient to their husbands. They speak on how the husband is the head of the household. The husband is the main authority in the family unit. At a first glance I tend to agree with those views, but I also grasp the need to peel the layers of the onion often mistaken for an apple.
I am speaking directly to men in this post. My fellow men, much of the church is failing you on this topic. We have told you the role you must have, but have failed to spend equally time emphasizing what that role means and looks like for you on a daily basis in the home. We have have failed to put equal emphasis on the husbands responsibility to be gentle with his life. We have failed to put equal emphasis on a husbands responsibility to overwhelm her with his love.
We say those things are important, but when we look out so many preachers out there it is hard to iss why wives in the church are getting frustrate. Church sermons on marriage often end up feeling like a guilt trip. Many sermons we here tend to sway more on the responsibilities of the wife rather than the roles of the husband outside of just being the provider.. Not all preachers are this way, but there are enough to see where the frustration is coming from.
There is a popular passage that focuses on this tension filled issue. “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:18-19. There are a lot of opinions on interpretation with this passage. Ironically all the controversy of interpretation is placed on verse 18 while it seems we often end up ignoring the implications of verse 19. Verse 18 certainly is an interesting verse though. There are three main school of thought all focusing on the phrase “as is fitting in the Lord” There is one side who states that this phrase means there are no bounds to which the wife should submit. She should submit to her husband as though he is God himself. I have to be honest and say I do not have a clue where folks get this one form out of this verse. The second view is that this scripture is putting a limitation on the responsibility of wives submitting to their husbands. In other words, submit to your husbands so long as what they are having you submit to is fitting and pleasing to the Lord. The third view is that this is referring to the motivation of the wives submission. She submits to her husband because that is indeed fitting in the Lord. I am inclined to say it is a mixture of both two and three. Let me explain.
Of course it is fitting in the Lord. God wrote it in His word so when we obey God’s word we are pleasing him. The exact same thing could be said about the husband’s responsibilities. This leads me to believe there is a mixture to the second view intended in this passage as well. I can hesitantly say that there is a limitation to a wife’s submission. I say hesitantly because unfortunately just as there are husbands who have abused their authority there have been women who have abused this “loophole” and force their own interpretation of what God wants based on what is in their personal comfort zone.
Here is the thing. A wife is not meant to submit to a husband who makes her sin. She is not meant to submit to the husband who beats her night after night and let him do it because it is submission. She is not meant to equate submitting to husband as being treated like dirt by her husband. There is an element of submission there though. Scripture does intend for the husband to be the head. What does this mean for the husband though.
Husbands, I have some bad news. There is zero limitation on your responsibility.There is no loophole. Scripture tells us to love our wives. n Ephesians Paul tells us to love our wives as Christ loves His church. It means we are to be gentle and understanding with our wives. It means we use our authority in order to serve them. Did you catch that? A husbands authority in the family is to be used to serve his family. As the leader in the family he is to be the biggest servant in the family.
Husbands, this means we do not hold our authority over our wife’s head. We do not tel her to follow what we say because we have authority in the family. A husband who needs to speak of his authority is not using his authority very well. Husbands need to start being taught again that God does in fact speak to our wives as well. When God is leading us in a direction we need to be understanding when it is taking a little longer for our wives to catch that same vision.
Marriage is a lifetime of servanthood to each other. For the wife it is based out of submission and for the husband it is based out of sacrificial love. People have spent a lot of time studying why Scripture takes it form that angle. Some folks say it is because men more naturally focus on things from a respect level and must be reminded to love while the opposite is true for women. Perhaps that is true. What I can say for certain is that men need to bend over backwards to being a servant to their family. It means having patience and a gentle heart. It means we don’t flaunt our authority in the marriage. Take a stand men. Take a stand and love your wives as Scripture tells you to do. Your authority is nothing when compared to the authority of Christ over his whole church. His authority is telling you to love, be patient, be understanding, and be willing to let Him speak to your wife’s heart as well.