Aren’t We So Much Smarter Than God

Col 3:18-19

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. NKJV

In the book, “An Ounce of Prevention” by Richmond & Bode we find the following.

0n the fifth and sixth days of Creation, God made 4,400,000 different kinds of animals. The vast majority he made male and female.

When the female black widow spider is in heat, the male approaches her web with great care. He is terribly aroused, but proceeds carefully. Instinctively, he knows he is in great danger. She is four times larger than he is. Besides that, she is blind. One false step and he would be mistaken for just another unsuspecting insect that might stumble into her web. So he takes the essential time to court her. He does so by gently plucking her web in just the right time signature. Relaxing in her web, she responds to this one-note love song. He then dashes a few steps onto the web while she is in her swoon. Then he plucks again. Even his few steps awaken within her deadly beauty a latent predatory urge to kill. Again she swoons, and again he dashes forward, repeating the process until he is by her side. He gently reaches out and strokes her abdomen, now bulging with eggs. She waits to be fertilized. When he senses her willingness to mate, they join together. This one mating encounter will provide enough sperm to create at least one silky white egg sack, producing up to 125 young.

When the process is finished, the male spider is exhausted and she is aroused. Attempting to crawl from the web, he often stumbles. In a blink of an eye she is on him, sinking her deadly mandibles into his frail white body. He becomes food for her and her developing young. In nature, nothing is wasted. The event of his death isn't personal—it's just that the female is compelled by instinct to enjoy touch for the bearing of young. She is not looking for an abiding relationship because spiders are not concerned with intimacy. Even when the young are born, she merely lets them crawl away, caring not if they live or die.

Elephants are matriarchal like the black widow, but they do not kill their mates. For a two-week period each year, the herds of female elephants and their young permit the approach of the adult males. The males are compelled by odors in the wind to join the females for mating. Any other time of year, the males would be savagely driven away from the female herds. But for two blissful weeks the males are welcomed. When the male elephant is still young yet mature enough to survive, he is driven from the herd to find other males. The young females, on the other hand, remain with their mothers for several years.

Sea lions live in a harem system. The very large males find their way to beaches and rocky areas and establish a territory in what is called a rookery. The stronger and more aggressive the male, the larger the territory he is able to claim. By the time the females arrive, the territories are established and the males set about claiming females for their harems. The females are already pregnant and soon begin to give birth to fragile and helpless pups. As they did the year before, the males again impregnate their harem even as they are caring for their new-born pups. The males are never free from the task of maintaining their territories, and can be seen all day long hurling themselves from one end of their territories to the other, defending their boundaries. They are not at all careful. In the process of defending their territories, females are injured and pups are crushed to death. The males stand proud and arrogant, ruling their little kingdoms at all too high a price to their families.

Rattlesnakes meet by chance and breed with little formality. A brief time later, the female gives birth to live young. Then, each of the young crawl in a different direction, as did their parents before them.

Canadian geese mate for life, as do all geese and swans. They are so bonded to each other that, if one is injured, the other will not go on without it. It stays beside its injured mate to provide comfort and defense. If the mate dies, it is not uncommon to see the other mourn so deeply that it loses the will to live and die of starvation.

Gray wolves also mate for life. They live in small family units most of the year with a male, a female, and an uncle or aunt. Most of their daily diet is field mice; they only form packs to hunt larger animals such as elk, moose, and caribou while the rodents are hibernating for the winter. Male and female wolves both care equally for the young. Wolves are devoted, sacrificial parents and devoted, sacrificial mates. They are bonded and faithful. (Isn't it odd that promiscuous human males are referred to as wolves?)

The male pied hornbill, a large Asian bird, finds a hole in a tree into which he drives the female. After breeding, he seals her in the nest with mud, filling all but a peephole. She lays eggs and incubates them. Everything she eats or drinks is pushed through that little opening by the male, until the day that the young are ready to leave the nest. On that day, the male chips away the mud and frees his family. He is the epitome of the controlling mate.

God designed a relationship for each male and female he created. Each behavior is specific and unique to its species. The roles are clear-cut. When we view humanity, however, the roles of the male and female become confused. Men and women do not exhibit the consistent behavior displayed by other animals. Some men and women remind us of the behavior seen in black widow spiders. They leave devastated, emasculated mates in their wake. Then they abandon their young. Some human males, like sea lions, are far more concerned with career and possessions than with family. Abused wives, and children with wounded spirits, are their legacy. Like rattlers, some humans mate and crawl away, and no one cares for their young. Then again, we see deeply devoted and bonded couples, serving each other and their children as do geese and wolves. And finally we see mates who like Asian hornbills exhibit unreasonable and unyielding control, smothering each other with demands and declarations.

As we look at human behavior, we must come to one of two conclusions: As a species, either we have not been assigned a way to relate as male and female, or there is a prescribed way of relating but we've chosen to ignore it. It is not logical that God would have assigned 4,400,000 animals a way to relate, male and female, and overlooked mankind. It is clear that the latter conclusion is the valid one: We have been assigned a method and we are not following it.

Here the ethical part of the letter becomes more and more practical. Paul turns to the working out of Christianity in the everyday relationships of life and living. Barclay

In our modern society we have long ago abandoned the guidelines given by God in His word. We have replaced them with the modern feminist movements philosophy. And look at our nation, aren’t we so much better. Now I know all the arguments that are put out by our educational institutions. And the American church has bought into most of them. But in order to do that they have abandoned God and His word. Let us take a sincere look at what the Bible says about the relationship between a husband and a wife.

In the book of Colossians Paul gives only an abbreviated form of what he does in Ephesians. As we read earlier, Paul goes into more detail but says the same thing in Ephesians. We will use the Colossians text for reference and bet get more detail in Ephesians.

I.         Wives

            A.        In this passage he is not talking about women’s place in the world.

                        1.         There is a Biblical view on this, but this is not it.

                        2.         This primarily deals with her relationship within her family.

                        3.         This verse does not say anything of women working outside the home or even owning and operating her own business.

                        4.         This does not say that women are less then men in any way.

                        5.         Women are not inferior to men and wives are not inferior to their husbands.

                        6.         It is a shame that some of these passages have been taken to teach what the Bible is plainly against.

                        7.         But before some women get their hackles up, I need to say that men are not inferior to men either, which is what the feminist movement really teaches and practices.

            B.        He is not speaking of women’s place in relation to men other than her husband.

                        1.         This verse does not say that my wife is to be submissive to any other man any more than it teaches that I should love other women.

                        2.         This is speaking of a relationship that is to exist in a family.

            C.        He is referring to a wife.

                        1.         Marriage is always the Christian standard.

                                    a.         The woman at the well was confronted by Jesus with the fact that she was now living with a man who was not her husband.

                                    b.         As hooking up becomes more and more the standard in our nation, we can hope to see an increased deterioration of our society.

                                    c.         As Christians we should be more broken hearted by all that than mad.

                                    d.         Long ago the church abandoned the Bible as the standard and now we have nothing better offer our world than they already have.

                        2.         Marriage is honored throughout the Bible.

                        3.         But there are examples of bad marriages and dysfunctional families in the Bible.

II.        Submit

            A.        Some background

                        1.         The Christian ethic is an ethic of reciprocal obligation. It is never an ethic on which all the duties are on one side. As Paul saw it, husbands have as great an obligation as wives; parents have just as binding a duty as children; masters have their responsibilities as much as slaves. Barclay

                        2.         This was an entirely new thing. Let us take the cases one by one and look at them in the light of this new principle. Barclay

                        3.         Under Jewish law a woman was a thing, the possession of her husband, just as much as his house or his flocks or his material goods. She had no legal rights whatever. For instance, under Jewish law, a husband could divorce his wife for any cause, while a wife had no rights whatever in the initiation of divorce; and the only grounds on which a divorce might be awarded her were if her husband developed leprosy, became an apostate or ravished a virgin. In Greek society a respectable woman lived a life of entire seclusion. She never appeared on the streets alone, not even to go marketing. She lived in the women's apartments and did not join her menfolk even for meals. From her there was demanded complete servitude and chastity; but her husband could go out as much as he chose and could enter into as many relationships outside marriage as he liked without incurring any stigma. Under both Jewish and Greek laws and custom all the privileges belonged to the husband and all the duties to the wife. Barclay

            B.        Some usages of this word

                        1.         Luke 2:51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. NKJV

                        2.         Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. NKJV

                        3.         Without everyone being subject to the proper authorities our society would unravel very quickly.

                        4.         Is there a connection with children today having such a low view of authority?

                        5.         Submitting to another person is an often misunderstood concept. It does not mean becoming a doormat. Christ—at whose name “every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Philippians 2:10 nkjv)—submitted his will to the Father; we honor Christ by following his example. When we submit to God, we become more willing to obey his command to submit to others—that is, to subordinate our rights to theirs. LAB Commentary

                        6.         Submission is not a dirty word. Jesus Christ as Redeemer models both servant leadership for the man and selfless submission for the woman (Eph. 5:23–27; Phil. 2:5–8).

                        7.         Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. NKJV

                        8.         This is the same word that begins the section in Eph 5

                                    a.         Eph 5:21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. NKJV

                                    b.         This involves a mutual subjection to each other.

                                    c.         We must not base it on either a feminist or chauvinist view. Christian marriage involves mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21), subordinating our personal desires for the good of the loved one, and submitting ourselves to Christ as Lord. Submission is rarely a problem in homes where both partners have a strong relationship with Christ and where each is concerned for the happiness of the other. LAB Commentary

            C.        Some meanings

                        1.         NT:5293 to submit to one's control; to yield to one's admonition or advice: absolutely, (from Thayer's Greek Lexicon)

                        2.         To submit (Gk. hupotasso, lit. “to line up under”) suggests a voluntary relinquishment of one’s rights to another. Paul always used this term to describe the role assignment of a wife to her husband (1 Cor. 14:34; Eph. 5:21, 22; Titus 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1). The concept suggests mutual submission and intimacy, thereby promoting a union ordained by God with love as the binding agent. Love characterizes the servant leadership of the husband, and love awakens the submissive cooperation of the wife. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can a woman truly relinquish her desires and line up under her husband’s leadership. Thomas Nelson, I. (1997, c1995). Woman's Study Bible . (Col 3:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

                        3.         The word submit is a military term meaning to “arrange oneself under another” and indicates a voluntary submission, not an unthinking obedience. Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson study Bible : New King James Version. Includes index. (Col 3:18). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

                        4.         Wives, submit. This is an old military figure (Gr hypotasso) meaning to line up under (Eph 5:22) or to subject yourselves in a specialized way. There is no hint of inferiority, but a matter of authority and responsibility in the home. Wives are to be in habitual subjection with implicit trust. This is voluntary, not forced on her by a demanding despot. The wife is a helpmeet (a help suitable to the husband), not a slave. The family is held together by authority and obedience. The wife’s submission is prompted by the husband’s love. As it is fit in the Lord. As it should be, becoming, and proper. All of life is to be lived in fellowship with Christ. God is emphasizing responsibilities, not rights (Eph 5:22–24). KJV Bible Commentary. 1997, c1994 (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

III.       to your own husbands,

            A.        On Eph 5:22 MacArthur says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands. Having established the foundational principle of submission (v. 21), Paul applied it first to the wife. The command is unqualified, applying to every Christian wife, no matter what her own abilities, education, knowledge of Scripture, spiritual maturity, or any other qualifications might be in relation to those of her husband. The submission is not the husband’s to command but for the wife to willingly and lovingly offer. Your own husbands” limits her submission to the one man God has placed over her, and also gives a balancing emphasis that he is hers as a personal intimate possession (Song 2:16; 6:3; 7:10). She submits to the man she possesses as her own. as to the Lord. Because the obedient, spiritual wife’s supreme submission is to the Lord, her attitude is that she lovingly submits as an act of obedience to the Lord who has given this command as His will for her, regardless of her husband’s personal worthiness or spiritual condition. Cf. vv. 5–9.” MacArthur, J. (1997, c1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (Electronic ed.) (Eph 5:22). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.

            B.        The fundamental effect of this Christian teaching is that marriage becomes a partnership. It becomes something which is entered into not merely for the convenience of the husband, but in order that both husband and wife may find a new joy and a new completeness in each other. Any marriage in which everything is done for the convenience of one of the partners and where the other exists simply to gratify the needs and desires of the first, is not a Christian marriage. Barclay

IV.      As is fitting in the Lord

            A.        Wifely submission cannot be forced; it must come from her own free will. As it is fit in the Lord means that the wife’s submission to her husband is proper in her relationship with Christ: submission rendered her husband is submission rendered to Christ. King James Version Study Bible. 1997, c1988 (electronic ed.) (Col 3:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

            B.        The really new thing about the Christian ethic of personal relationships is that all relationships are in the Lord. The whole of the Christian life is lived in Christ. In any home the tone of personal relationships must be dictated by the awareness that Jesus Christ is an unseen but ever-present guest. Barclay

I have tried to be faithful to what the Bible teaches today. It may not agree with our denomination teaches. It may not agree with the way that you see it. It certainly does not agree with the almost all areas of our society. But then we are not called to be like the world, but we are called on to transform our minds by God’s Word.

Man’s basic problem is rebellion against the will (command) of God. Our relationships are ruined by our own selfish desires and our own petty attitudes. Get hold of God’s Word and then follow it as God’s Holy Spirit leads. That will make a big difference.


An Excellent discussion from Evangelical Commentary on the Bible

Relations within Christian households (3:18–4:1).

At this point Paul introduces three important relationships that exist in Christian households: (1) husbands and wives, (2) parents and children, and (3) slaves and masters. Whether this sequential listing of household relations was original with Paul or adopted from Hellenistic or Hellenistic-Jewish codes is not agreed upon by scholars but is comparatively inconsequential. In any case Paul arranges his discussion so as to list in each instance the subordinate figure first (wife, child, slave, 3:18, 20, 22) with admonitions to submit to or obey their counterparts (husband, parent, master). The identical pattern appears in Ephesians with identical terminology (see Eph. 5:22; 6:1, 5). In both letters Paul immediately follows each statement of submission with a reminder of the responsibility of the second member of each pair.

In each case, he mentions the subordinate member of the relationship and then addresses the responsibility of his or her counterpart. Significantly, Paul never reverses these. Paul never says “husbands be submissive to your wives, parents obey your children, or masters obey your slaves.” This kind of “reciprocity” was never intended in Ephesians 5:21, nor is it implied in Colossians. The point being made is that authority exists and should be respected. Significantly, when discussing the parent-child relationship, the father is used, not the mother, to specify the issue of authority (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21). In Paul’s society it could not have been otherwise. The question of authoritative relationships was clear, and had to be recognized even by Christian brothers and sisters.

Society’s standards were altered, not abrogated, by the church. “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect... Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers” (1 Tim. 6:1–2). This was true even if the master was harsh (1 Pet. 2:18). Even in the church masters are never told to be submissive to their slaves. This aspect of the relationship is not reciprocal, nor is it for husbands and wives or parents and children. Relationships did not change just because of conversion. If one was converted while a slave he did not become free just because his master was a Christian (1 Cor. 7:21–22; 1 Tim. 6:2; 1 Pet. 2:18). In Corinth Paul advised that if one was converted while married, he or she did not become free of that bond (1 Cor. 7:27) and should not seek a divorce. If single, one should not try to marry (1 Cor. 7:27). This was due to a special set of circumstances there which are not revealed in the letter (1 Cor. 7:26, 29–31).

To what extent Paul’s teaching is to be considered transcultural and eternal is debatable. His view of Christian slave owners (Philem. 14–16) is commonly regarded as an accommodation to the cultural situation of the time, but his teaching on the obedience of children to parents knows of no such limitation. What about the relationship of husband and wife? The question of whether husbands are to be submissive to wives as well as wives to husbands has to be answered, just as the issue of slaves and masters, from the twin perspective of the writings of Paul in context and the effect of cultural changes on the issue in different contexts. What Paul taught on the duty of Christian slaves to their masters is clear—obedience. What he might have said about it today is not at all clear. And what he said about the relation of wives to their husbands in that cultural context is also clear—they are to be in submission. What this might mean in a different cultural context is another matter.

Furthermore, there is no significant difference in the words submit and obey (Col. 3:18, 20, 22). The parallel meaning of the words and their intended implication for the first-century church are clear in 1 Peter 3:5, where it is stated that “holy women of the past who... were submissive (hypotasso) to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed (hypakouo) Abraham and called him her master (kurios).” (See also 1 Pet. 3:1 where “submit” is joined with a different word for obedience, apeitheo.) The word submit (hypotasso) clearly means obey in Romans 8:7, as it does in Luke 2:51 where Jesus returned to Nazareth with his parents and was “obedient to them” (rsv, niv). Paul uses parallel terms in Titus 3:1 in admonishing people “to be subject (hypotasso) to rulers and authorities, to be obedient (peitharcheo).” The generic charge to be submissive is immediately followed by the specific admonition to obedience. The object of obedience is not stated. It is a disposition of Christians, not different in kind from that of submissiveness. Another indication of the similarity of meaning in the words submission and obedience is seen in their use with “fear” or “respect” (phobos). In Ephesians 5 Paul admonishes wives to submit (v. 22) to their husbands and to respect (phobeomai, v. 33) them. Slaves are also told to “submit yourselves to your masters with all respect” (1 Pet. 2:18). Also, Colossians 3:22 instructs slaves to “obey (hypakouo) your earthly masters... with reverence (phobeomai) for the Lord.”

Equally important is the reciprocal need for husbands, parents (especially fathers), and slave owners to be loving, right, and fair in their dealings with their counterparts (3:19, 21; 4:1). This would be especially needful in cases where the one head of the household was all of these—husband, father, and master of the household slaves. The more extensive discussion of master-slave relationships in Colossians may reflect a greater problem in that area than existed with the other two relationships discussed. This could have been prompted in part by the case of the slave Onesimus, whom Paul sent back to Colossae with Tychicus to resume his place as slave in the house of Philemon (4:7–9; see Philem.). Peter also dealt with the subject in his letter to churches in this same area of Asia Minor (1 Pet. 1:1; 2:18ff.). Both Ephesians and 1 Timothy (which was written to Ephesus apparently; 1 Tim. 1:3) contain instruction on treatment of slaves (Eph. 6:5–9; 1 Tim. 6:1–2). Ephesus was at the western end of the Lycus Valley; Colossae was at the eastern end. However, much more space is given proportionately to the husband-wife relationship than to the others in Ephesians 5:22–33, where the husband-wife relationship is treated more as an ecclesiological concern than a sociological one.

When reading Paul’s letters one should keep clearly in mind that the churches to whom he writes were not functioning in the same way that churches do today. They did not own property. There were no church buildings, only occasional rentals of public buildings. Most churches met in the homes of the members. Paul speaks of the church in Rome in this way: “Greet also the church that meets at their house” (Rom. 16:5); “Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord” (v. 11); “Greet Philologus, Julia,... and all the saints with them” (v. 15). Evidently early Christians ate a common meal together (a “love feast”; Jude 12) in their homes at which time sociological concerns surfaced which were un-Christian, such as gluttony and drunkenness (1 Cor. 11:20–22), making it impossible to distinguish the Lord’s Supper from their other meal (vv. 20–21). This kind of problem would have been compounded by the amalgamation of Jews, with their kosher meals (Acts 11:3), Gentiles, with their hesitancy to eat meat offered to idols (1 Cor. 8:1–13), slaves, who felt disrespectful to their masters (1 Tim. 6:2), women, wives included, who felt their freedom in Christ had made them one with their husbands so that they did not need to wear a veil (1 Cor. 11:5; Gal. 3:28), and children, who may have been dishonoring their parents (Eph. 6:1–3). With such disparate groups trying to meet in each other’s homes, very serious problems were bound to occur. The Christian message that in Christ every human being is of equal importance and shares in all of God’s gifts (1 Cor. 12:13), which was so central to Paul’s preaching, caused immediate misunderstandings which had to be worked out. These kinds of problems prompted most of Paul’s writings (see 1 Cor. 7:1). We need not look for any particular Hellenistic or Jewish background of house rules for an explanation of why these social relationships are dealt with by Paul in these very heterogeneous churches. The problems he dealt with were those that would emerge first and foremost in each new congregation. Some sort of systematic thought and presentation was needed to deal with these recurring issues, and we see this in the several lists in the New Testament dealing with submission to appropriate sociological order (Rom. 13:1–7; Eph. 5:21–6:9; Col. 3:18–4:1; 1 Tim. 2:8–15; 6:1–10; Titus 2:1–10; 3:1ff.; 1 Pet. 2:13–3:9).

Paul’s teaching in these verses in Colossians seems to be that submission to appropriate authority is no problem where that authority figure is Christ-like. No one who gazes at the cross has any problem in submitting to the lordship of Jesus Christ. And no slave of Paul’s day would have trouble acknowledging his master’s authority when that master treated him fairly and justly, knowing that he, too, has a Master in heaven (Col. 4:1). No wife should have a problem accepting her husband as head of the house when that husband loves her as Christ loved the church, giving himself up for her (Col. 3:19; Eph. 5:25).

Elwell, W. A. (1996, c1989). Evangelical Commentary on the Bible. (electronic ed.) (Col 3:18). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.