18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. (Colossians 3:18–19, NKJV)
Those are not popular words. Many say they are wrong words. They are right words, because they are God’s words. God arranged marriage to provide homes with stability and security, while upholding the worth and value of wives and husbands. Modern social norms have done great harm to marriage. Forsaking the God-endorsed moral foundation of marriage (one man, one woman, for life, Gen. 2:23-25; Matt. 19:4-6), such things as easy divorce, living together without marriage, same sex marriage, and other deviations devalue and dishonor marriage. When followed, the God-given roles and responsibilities of wives and husbands bring blessings of love, joy, and peace to marriage. Wives are taught to yield to “their own husbands in everything,” as “the church is subject to Christ” (Eph. 5:22-24). Husbands are taught to love their wives “as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). Marriages grow stronger when the husband (without bitterness) sacrifices for his wife like Christ did for His church. Marriages grow stronger when the wife willingly respects and follows her husband like the church follows Christ. Meeting our unique roles as husbands and wives solidify our union, “until death we do part.” God’s plan for marriage works. We have to work the plan.
“that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,” (Titus 2:4, NKJV)
Today is February 14 – Valentine’s Day – a day to fondly and affectionately acknowledge the person you love. Today’s verse calls attention to the work of older women to admonish (“to make of sound mind, to discipline or correct: -teach to be sober,” Strong’s Dictionary) young women to “love” their husbands. Interestingly, “love” in this verse is not agape (active goodwill), it is a variation of phileo (warm affection). So then, God’s word says young wives must discipline themselves to be affectionate toward their husbands. Without a doubt (and to their shame), some husbands make this a difficult task! A loving husband helps his wife develop the affectionate quality of love by living with her “with understanding” and giving her the honor she is due (1 Peter 3:7). Still, today’s verse reminds a wife of her responsibility. When it is easy (like on Valentine’s Day) and when it is difficult, the godly wife does not withhold warmhearted affection from her husband. A husband’s understanding and a wife’s affection help secure and strengthen marriage – every day of the year.
1 But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites—2 from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. (1 Kings 11:1–4, NKJV)
Wives have tremendous influence over their husbands. Even Solomon, the wisest among men, allowed his wives to turn his heart to go after false gods. God’s law to Israel had warned of this danger and commanded them not to intermarry with the idolatrous nations (Deuteronomy 7:1-4). The loyalty of one’s heart to God is put to the test when pleasing a spouse conflicts with pleasing God. Solomon failed the test. Pleasing his idolatrous wives was a greater priority than pleasing the Lord God. He angered the Lord and his kingdom would be divided (1 Kings 11:6-13). Such misplaced priorities exist today when one allows a spouse to influence him to violate the will of God. Our loyalty must be is to Christ before it is given to any person (Luke 14:26).
To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16, NKJV)
With these words He spoke to Eve, God not only increased her pain and sorrow in conception and childbirth, He also permanently confirmed the relation of the wife to her husband as one of desire, dependence, and deferential submissiveness. The word “desire” means “to run, to have a vehement longing for a thing” (Pulpit Commentary). Thus, God gave distinct, definable roles to women and men. The husband has the role of leader, and the wife has the role of willing follower (Ephesians 5:22-25; 1 Peter 3:1-6). The reversal of these roles led to sin: “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’…” (Genesis 3:17). The wife’s submissiveness to her husband’s leadership brings definable stability to the family, and to society. The husband is to lead his wife with love, and the wife is to defer to his leadership with devotion. Husbands must honor their wives, not oppress them (1 Peter 3:7). And, wives are to be submissive to their own husbands (1 Peter 3:1). God challenges wives to be sure your desire is for your husband, and not for another man, or for the man’s role in your marriage.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22–24)
There is no greater expression of love than Christ’s love for His church. His sacrificial death on the cross is the model for how husbands must love their wives (Eph. 5:25). At the same time, the church’s loving devotion and submission to the Savior is the wife’s model for yielding to the leadership of her husband. The church’s role is not to lead Christ, but to follow His leadership. There must be a leader in a marriage, and God has given that role to the husband. Wives are to yield to the leadership of their husbands just like the church does to Christ. Marriage thrive when husbands are servant-leaders (like Christ). Marriages flourish when wives are devoted helpers who respect their husbands and yield to their leadership (Eph. 5:33). God’s plan for a successful marriage works!
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
Husbands, the Lord is speaking to us! What He says here ought to grab our attention! It is so important to God that we husbands live with our wives in an understand and honorable way, that if we fail to do so, He will not receive our prayers. Our spiritual life is hindered – we sin – when we mistreat our wives by not learning to understand her. Respect your wife by giving your time and attention to improving your relationship with her. Listen to her and really communicate with her about your life together. She wants to share her life with you. That is what God wants for you both. After all, isn’t that what you wanted when you said, “I do”? It takes hard work, but she is worth it. And what’s more, your soul (and hers) is worth it.