“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18)
Submission, especially in the case of wives, is an often-misunderstood concept. It can easily be excused away, or else used as an excuse for intimidation. Like many other doctrines in the Bible that are both practical as well as profound, it can become a bone of contention, not only in a marriage, but in a church. Perhaps we can gain a bit of insight from this concise but totally adequate verse.
“Wives, submit yourselves…” Notice the verse does not say, “Husbands, bring your wives into subjection.” Many husbands, to their frustration, have learned that can be counter-productive! There are wives, on the other hand, who have learned it can be categorically dangerous. In any case, it always leads to bitterness and frustration. There are ways for a Christian husband to create an atmosphere conducive to submission, but I leave that for godly pastors, elders, fathers, and mentors to address. My purpose is to point out that Biblical submission (in any situation) should be because of love—not love for the obvious recipient (i.e., a husband), but for the actual recipient (i.e. God). Submission may be a beautiful way for a wife to show love for her husband, but it is an even greater way of showing love for her God.
“…unto your own husbands…” True submission is a private affair between a husband and a wife. In the same way that excessive public show (good word) of affection can be a sign of private neglect, the seemingly quiet, “here-at-your-beck-and-call” wife can actually be the puppet master, in disguise. Submission isn’t a demeanor; it’s a daily choice. It’s choosing grace over grandstanding, and finding victory without vindication. It’s being courageous enough to disagree—privately, kindly, and acknowledging the final decision without grudging, whether or not it was your own. In the final analysis, it is only necessary for God and her husband to be aware of the godly wife’s submission.
“…as it is fit in the Lord.” Lastly, the verse says it is only fit that a wife should be submissive to her husband. It’s the proper thing to do, the modus operandi for the godly wife who is confident enough to leave the outcome to God. It’s the difference between a marriage and an “arrangement.” It’s shared input without a final deadlock.
Surely, one of the worst accusations to be brought against a woman would be that she is an unfit mother. And it would seem to me at least as demeaning to carry the unfortunate distinction of being an unfit wife.
“A prudent wife commands her husband by obeying him.” — John Trapp