Marriage in the Bible can be misunderstood, and it often leads to questions of who should be the boss in our relationships. While it talks about headship and submission, these topics have been abused throughout the years. In this sermon, Greg shows how to interpret these passages and see the bigger picture when it comes to our relationships.
Colossians 3:18-19 can understandably make some people nervous, especially women. Our society has been led by men for thousands of years, and it is verses like these that have been used to subjugate women into inferior roles within marriages and society. It simply comes across as wives obey your masters, and if you don’t, then you’re not a good wife. Greg and his wife tried this early in their marriage, and it only took a few years to figure out that they were not wired that way as husband and wife. Luckily, we shouldn’t take this passage simply, as the surrounding context of the passage gives us a lot of new information.
Our God is one who takes our sin upon himself in order to save us. In the beginning, we were created as equals, and both man and woman were to populate and rule over the earth as co-helpers. Man and woman were partners, both given the same tasks by God. But, after the Fall, God knew what sin would do to us, and knew that we would try to gain power over one another. So, God slowly began to work in relationships, allowing for things that weren’t his ideal, such as polygamy, divorce and men ruling over women. But this curse of sin is not the way our marriages should operate. They should operate with cross-like love and efficiency. The cross broke the curse. Jesus shows us the true way that humanity should be, and that involves submitting to one another in love. In the New Testament, this command to submit to one another is radical because it completely does away with the wordly ways of loving one another. Indeed, it shows that men and women should love each other as Christ loves and that involves no subjugation or limitation based on gender. Instead of trying to gain power over people, we need to use our power to lift others up.
Marriage is about sacrifice and submission to one another in marriage. But, because we still live in a world tainted by sin, we need to be aware of a few things. First, equal submission doesn’t mean we should be coerced into submission. Coerced submission means that one of the partners forces the other to submit. Whether by intimidation or fear, that kind of submission isn’t voluntary and therefore not Kingdom. It is not God’s will that we be doormats. Second, in Kingdom marriage, no one person wins. Rather, both should win. No one person in the marriage should be looking to win in their marriage, trying to get one up on the other. In the Kingdom, lording one over another is not a part of God’s will. Determining who’s the boss isn’t important.
Even though this passage simply states that women should submit to men, there is a greater picture being painted in the context of both this passage and Old Testament passages. Our marriages should reflect the Trinity in it’s submission to one another, displaying that love that is eternal. Instead of reflecting the curse, we should reflect the love of God in our relationships. When we do this, we begin to tell a different story and paint a bigger picture than first century family dynamics.
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