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Colossians 3:18

The Role of the Wife

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.


With the advent of the women's liberation movement, this passage and others like it have become the source of much contention within the church. In our sin filled world, everyone wants to be someone else's equal or superior regardless of what the word of God might dictate. However, this command for the wife to submit herself to the husband is not as harsh as it sounds.

God desires that there be order in all things. We need only to look at the creation itself to recognize His passion for organization. From the tiniest atoms to entire galaxies there is order in their structure and the way they function. The family is also one of God's creations and it should be run in an organized fashion like the rest of creation.

"Wives, submit yourselves..." While this is an imperative, it is also a voluntary action. The apostle never tells the husbands to take dictatorial dominion over their wives. Instead, he tells the wives to voluntarily submit to the authority or leadership of their husbands. In any organization, there must be a leader, and not everyone can hold that position simultaneously. Otherwise, there would be chaos and not order. God, for His own reasons, has placed the husband in that leadership position.

Not only is this submission to be voluntary, but the Greek text uses the Middle voice, which indicates that the action is done in the interest of the wives. The wives benefit from voluntarily submitting to their husbands, because God has equipped the male of the species to be the leader and provider of his family. This does not make the wives less important. It simply means that they are better equipped for other things and that they benefit from the order, which God has ordained.

"...unto your own husbands,.." If we read quickly, we will miss the subtle emphasis in these words. Your own husband, is the one you have chosen to love, to live with, to care for and to obey. He is yours! Wives are not asked to submit themselves to all men, only to their own husbands who love them and care for them. This is to be a relationship built on love and not on some rigid hierarchical structure. All of society benefits from strong and well organized family relationships.

Finally, the wives are to submit themselves to their own husbands in a way that is "fit in the Lord." Ephesians 5:22 says it a little differently, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." Previously, in verse 17 we have seen that we are to do all things in the name of Jesus (Also see v.23) or as unto the Lord. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to ask the wives to submit to their husbands as though they were submitting to the Lord. After all, that is what He desires of them.

This does not give the husband unlimited powers or authority to in any way abuse or mistreat his wife. We will see in the next verse how God has held him accountable for his wife's well being.

Before The Throne:

Husbands pray for your wives, fervently! Wives, pray that God would help you to be the loving helper that your husband needs. Pray for your family every day. Thank Him for your spouse and for His word that teaches us how to maintain order in our families and in society as a whole. If you are still single, pray for the spouse that God has planned to give you.

For Further Study:

(v.18)
** submit. Gen 3:16; Esth 1:20; 1Cor 11:3; 1Cor 14:34; Eph 5:22-24, 33; 1Tim 2:12; Titus 2:4-5; 1Pet 3:1-6; ** as. Acts 5:29; Eph 5:3; Eph 6:1;

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