Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. ~ Colossians 3:18-25
Ah. The family order. Some resent this passage and others see the freedom that lies within it. I’ve been on both sides.
In fact, I have been a child, am a wife, and currently am also a bondservant (modern day worker).
This world has order in it. Why do we presume any authority is bad or for our harm?
In fact, though I enjoy being spontaneous, it is order that gives me comfort and freedom. How so? If you make plans, then you are prepared – prepared enough to deviate. Those plans could be around an event, financial, or chore-related. Planning and spontaneity are not mutually exclusive just like love and submission are not.
Submit is a hard word for many women these days to stomach, yet utter and apply. Women often picture some outlandish “Stepford Wife” scenario or think of cultish behavior. (My standard disclaimer about physical abuse goes here. Run away. Call the police. Go to a women’s shelter.)
I was married at 20. Did I mention I was a feminist? Yes, some of that extreme thinking has had to be moderated a bit. I’ve written frequently about marriage from my perspective.
Though I am a strong woman, a leader in many areas, I have learned to submit to my husband and guess what? He supports me 100%. Dare I say he encourages me to become even more of a leader? I am proud that he spurs me on to love and good deeds. I have him read every one of these posts before I publish.
I’d also like to point out the word “own.” It says to submit to your “own husband.” By pure logic, you can surmise that women aren’t generically to submit to men, just their “own husband.”
Husbands / Fathers
“Love and do not be bitter.” Wow. That’s a heart issue and is a much greater challenge than submission. What a telling thing it is that husbands have to be commanded to love their wives. This love is action-based, not feeling based. Look at the actions described in 1 Cor 13 below:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Fathers are also told not to provoke their children. Have you seen provocative behavior? Harsh or unfair treatment? Unrealistic expectations? Withholding of affection or words of love and encouragement? I can see all of that as discouraging behavior.
Children are commanded to obey their parents. Notice the plural. Not just their dad or their mom. How often have you seen a child go to one parent who denies their request only to go to the other parent and get a yes? This is divisive behavior that interferes with the oneness of the parents. That isn’t honoring your parents.
That’s not even to discuss attitude and the way children speak of their parents. Respect of parents is diminishing in our culture and much of children’s television programming focuses around the theme that the parents are stupid and the children are smart. Sneaky.
Unless your parent is forcing you do do something illegal or abusive, you are to obey them. It really is that simple. They have a lifetime of experience that precedes you and, hopefully, goes into their decision making process.
The Proverbs are full of instruction totally applicable (or best applied) during youth. I’d encourage any young person to begin to read this book of wisdom.
Another thing to consider is that you are a child of your parent forever. It’s not a position that expires.
There is some debate over this but bondservants were a bit different than slaves. They worked off a debt, usually voluntarily. If they loved their master, they could become life-time servants. (Can you even imagine doing that now? People rarely even stay at jobs longer than five years.)
Since I do not know any technical “bondservants,” it’s easier to apply this to employees. Don’t be men-pleasers. This helps with your workplace attitude greatly. Though I work for my boss, ultimately, I am accountable to God for both my attitude and the quality of my work.
“Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.” 1 Peter 2:18
This verse has the clincher: “but also to the harsh.” Wow. If you think about the story of Joseph, you can see that he is our example. He was treated unfairly by all around (even his own family), sold into slavery, yet given the gift to counsel others (by dream interpretation) and great wisdom. He was promoted to second in charge in all of Egypt.
Whatever You Do
Now, we covered this in the post for verse 3:17. But the point to be reinforced is that no matter what your situation, you will be under authority. And, if by some miracle, it’s not under human authority (you wish), it’s under God.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Romans 13:1
Questions for Further Thought:
- What is your impression of this passage?
- Have you done a word study on submission or wives?
- Further Study: I encourage you to look up the following verses from which the text is based.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.