Context For Marriage Instructions ~ Colossians 3

Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Therefore, consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them (Colossians 3:1-19, NASB1995).

Colossians 3:1-19 includes two verses about marriage (vv. 18-19). There is tremendous controversy in the church, with much passionate disagreement about whether these two verses support a more traditional view of marriage (where the husband has a leadership role different from his wife) or whether the correct understanding is a more egalitarian view of marriage (where husband and wife have equal leadership roles).

But I don’t plan to get into the various debates about those issues in this post. I want to look at the bigger context of what Paul is saying in chapter 3:1-19.

In the first verses, he gives awe-inspiring comments that both male and female Christians are raised and hidden with Christ in God and will be revealed with Him in glory. Just those two verses are worth slowing down and meditating on.

If we read and put into practice Paul’s instructions for how to live towards our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (and if our spouse were a Christian, it would include them), think how pleasant our homes would be. They would be filled with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and so many other good things.

It would be great if we followed Paul’s instructions and got rid of things such as anger, malice, abusive speech, and many other negative traits.

Then imagine what it would be like when our spouses and we have decisions to make together, where we see things differently or have different desires – not wrong, just different – if when we were discussing those decisions, we were flowing with compassion, kindness, and gentleness without anger, malice, or abusive speech.

If we really realize who we are in Christ and believe that we will be revealed with Him in glory someday, and we are walking in things such as kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, then when one of us wants to go to the beach for vacation and one wants to go to the mountains for vacation, do you think treating each other with those positive traits might change how we interact with each other and affect the tone of our home?

Maybe the husband sincerely believes in a more traditional view of marriage where he has a special leadership role. Is he going to lay down the law, so to speak, and tell his wife that they are going to the mountains for vacation even though she wants to go to the beach if he is really flowing in the positive traits above and not in the negative ones?

If both spouses believe in an egalitarian marriage, are they going to have a knockdown, drag-out discussion about the beach or mountains until they both agree to have a staycation (because that is all they can agree upon) if they are both overflowing with the positive traits above and have steered clear from the negative ones?

I wonder how much more pleasant our homes and churches would be if we spent more time and energy focused on how to be kind, loving, and forgiving as Paul talks about, rather than debating so hard about who is in charge in those settings.

I hope you see how much this chapter shows us how to live an honorable life as Christian brothers and sisters. If we are doing that well, then how to live as husband and wife, I believe, will naturally fall into their proper place.

This entry was posted in Marriage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s