The Splendor of Submission (Colossians 3:18)

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” —Colossians 3:18–19 (ESV)

These verses have always been startling, but for different reasons. In Paul’s time, the jolting word would not have been “submit,” but “wives.” Some think that Paul is capitulating to the culture; a fall leaf easily blown about by the wind of his age. No, Paul is a salmon tenaciously swimming upstream to deposit something precious. True, contemporary Hellenistic household codes also focused on authority and order in the home, but they only addressed men. They thought men alone worthy of address. This was Aristotle’s position. Funny how Aristotle is held in esteem as wise while Paul is ridiculed as a fool. Paul addresses women, and calls for them, with the authority of the Christ who rose to the heights, to submit to their husbands.

“Well, what progress,” the feminist sarcastically retorts, “so nice to be addressed as a human being.”

Roll eyes. Carry on.

Whereas children and slaves (yep, I’m not even going to play at taming that down to ‘bondservants’), are called to obey, women are told to submit, as though to emphasize the voluntary nature of the act.

Ladies, submission to your husband is a strength that comes out of you, not a weakness that is beat into you. A submissive spirit is a distinctly feminine glory to be worn like a wedding gown or a queen’s robe. Submission is your pomp and glory, not your shame. Submission is like a wedding ring; it is a sign of marriage and a beautiful one. Not having submission is as shameful as not having a ring*. The absence of either should cause others to wonder, “What kind of man does she have?”

The submission Christ calls for is not to men in general, but to one’s husband. He has authority, others do not. Submission puts women in a place of protection. Submission is not a prison to break out of, but a castle to rule in.

“Feminism is mixed up,” Chesterton says, “with the muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands (emphasis mine).” Feminism tells women they are free when slaves, and in bondage when they are queens.

Submission is not ugly and weak. It is glorious and powerful. Solomon captured the splendor of feminine glory when he wrote, “Who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners? (Song of Solomon 6:10)”

Submission is the garment of Chris’s bride. Do not treat the royal robes of Christ’s bride as rags. Do not put them on as shame.


*I only want to cause offense, um, conviction in the right way, so by way of disclaimer, this was only meant as an illustration non-ringbearers.

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