Monday, February 20, 2017

Submit. Or Else?



Graphic screen capture from FB, linked to

Over decades I have seen this subject arise when speaking of spousal abuse in a “Christian” home. The fears are validated by the reality we see in our own communities and requires Christ’s followers to turn to His word for answers.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)

One verse, repeated in:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18)

And families have actually died over misunderstand this single message: Submit – or else.

In functioning Christian churches and families, there is not this single message, standing alone, but it is included in a passage that affects the entire family and beliefs of Christ’s church. In it’s message is inclusion of all Christians, the local church, the husband and the wife. All are called to do specific actions  in life:

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (Ephesians 5:8-33)

Verbal and/or physical abuse of a spouse fails to achieve what defined here. When any spouse – husband or wife – uses these verses to demand less than Christian actions for their spouse, it is sinfulness. We are not required to remain in a sinfully damaging relationship that will affect future generations. No husband – and especially no congregation – is biblical in any way, shape or form by requiring a spouse to remain in such a broken relationship.

When we are faced with such situations, when we learn of them, it is not be turned into gossip nor an item for church vote. Neither are we to shame or censure without knowing the particulars. When we do – when actions are evident, our response should be biblical – exhort, support and aid in God’s plan of salvation for individuals. Not in character assassination or retribution. At worst, the family does break apart. At best, there is repentance and restoration. Does the Bible require less? Then cite your source.