Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. (Colossians 3:12-19)
The Marriage Of Eden
The relationship of the husband and wife is forged in the design of God when He formed Adam and Eve. Everything created by the Lord was very good. He intended for the home to be a place of love, peace and harmony. Before the sting of sin, Adam and Eve lived in a world without shame walking with God in the cool of the day. After the fall of man, the home began to be filled with the influence of selfishness, pride, evil lusts and bitterness. In the New Testament Paul addresses the challenges faced in the home leaving a pattern of happiness for the husband and wife.
God designed the home to be a place of perfect harmony. This can only be done when the man knows his place in the home and the woman accepts her role in the home. The man is to love his wife and not be bitter against her. For the woman, she is to submit to the man as appropriate for someone who serves the Lord. Each of the admonitions addresses a peculiar role of the man and woman. There is a greater tendency for the man to be bitter against his wife if he forces headship upon her. She is more likely to resist the leadership of her husband if she does not have a heart to obey the Lord. The will of the Father is for the man to learn to love his wife as he should and for the woman to accept submission to the man because that is the command of the Lord. How can this be done with the design of happiness intended by the scripture? The answer is found in the verses preceding the instructions for the man and woman.
One of the characteristics of a Christian is how different their lives are from the world. A child of God is one that is chosen of God or someone who is called the elect of God. This makes their lives distinct from the people of the world. They live holy lives as beloved of the Father. The husband that pleases the Father is a man who recognizes his role in the family as one governed by his relationship with God. When the wife views her place in the marriage as one established by the Lord, she will see how as the elect of God she glorifies Him by her submission first to Him; then to her husband. She is a holy person and beloved of the Lord. The role of the husband and wife is measured by their election, holiness and relationship of being the beloved of God. Because of this they are filled with tender mercies toward one another. This means they have a heart of compassion in their love for one another. No man can be bitter against his wife if he shows her the love of tender mercy. Submission is not a cruel master but one the woman is willing to enjoy as she shows her compassion and love to her husband. They are kind to one another – something that is sadly missing in many marriages. Humility is how the man sees his relationship of headship in the home and the woman is thankful to God with a heart of humility as she obeys His will. Meekness brings strength to the marriage as longsuffering will provide stability and longevity to the trials faced in the holy union. Bearing up with one another helps the man and woman understand their roles in the home.
One of the most important parts of the husband learning to love his wife and not be bitter against her is to learn the power of forgiveness. The woman will be graced with greater love when she infuses the spirit of forgiveness in her submission to the man. This is a key element to a happy marriage. It is based on the same love that Christ forgives. If we are to forgive others why should we not forgive our spouse? Paul makes a special point about this matter of forgiveness. Forgiving one another is not a choice. We must do it. Christ forgives us and we have no choice in our marriage. This can be done when we – above all things – put on love. Making love the center of marriage will bring about the bond or glue of perfection. Marriages will be more peaceful when we allow the will of God to rule our hearts. There will be more to be thankful about.
How does one have a happy marriage? Before Paul admonishes the wife to submit to her husband and the man to love his wife, he sets forth the foundation for a happy home. The reason homes are filled with anger, distrusts, fighting and rebellion is because the heart of the home is not built upon the word of Christ. His truth is to reign in the center of the home. The word of Christ is to dwell richly in all wisdom in the leadership of the man and the submission of the woman. There must be teaching and admonishing from the word of God. The husband does all he does in the name of the Lord Jesus. Every wife will find greater joy when she submits to the will of the Lord doing all they do in the name of the Lord Jesus. The home will be filled with thanksgiving when this pattern is followed. Seeking the things that are above will transform the home into a paradise of Eden. It will be like the home of Adam and Eve before sin ruled. Therefore as the elect of God, wives submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord and husbands love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.