The Christian View of Family Life
Colossians 3:18-21
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

The spirit which was abroad in the early Colossian Church was at once so ascetic and so pietistic that it undervalued home, depreciated family ties, despised human relationships. We have heard Paul boldly meet this spirit with the great doctrine that Christ is the Fulness of all things, Sustainer of all, Mediator of all, King of all, End of all. Here, and in preceding paragraphs, he is meeting detailed developments of that evil spirit by detailed precepts flowing out of that great doctrine of Christ the Fulness. In our text the apostle teaches what we may group around three points.

I. THE DUTIES OF FAMILY LIFE ARE RECIPROCAL, He addresses first one and then another of the group in a home. He does not speak of them or describe them to one another, but sharply, smartly, directly, he turns to each with the summons, "Ye." And thus he summons each to the task of his own duty, the fulfilment of his own obligation. As in some noble antiphon the singers take up their alternative parts, so in the music of home life the members of the family respond with their alternative duties. Between husband and wife, parent and child, the only truly Christian relationship is that of interdependence and of reciprocity.

II. THE PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE FAMILY LIFE ARE SIMPLE AND YET SUFFICIENT. The statement of the principles here does not seem intended to be exhaustive. Some parallel passages to the Ephesians are much more complete. But the principles here noted are specimens. They are moral samples of what must actuate family life. And they are simple enough. Nothing grand, romantic, or impossible. "Wives, submit." This cannot mean where conscience protests. It must rather indicate where taste or opinion differ. Defer rather than strive. "Husbands, love." This great king word" love" (which Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 13.) claims from the husband what Christ gives to the Church - his all. And one injunction of that love will be "Be not bitter," i.e. rough, rude. Many a courtier in society is uncouth as a bear at home. Then he is not a Christian husband after this model. "Children, obey." Cultivate the spirit in which the child Jesus went down to Nazareth, and was subject to his parents. Such a going down prepares for the true exaltation; such subjection qualifies for subsequent sovereignty. "Fathers, provoke not." Avoid the harshness, and even the thoughtless exactions from your children by which their spirits will become sullen, hopeless, moody. They will want spirits that parents have helped to make buoyant, not that parents have broken.

III. THE MOTIVE FOR FULFILLING THE DUTIES OF FAMILY LIFE IS DIVINE. Whilst secondary motives are thus given to fathers, etc., we find in the passage the highest motive is again and again pressed. "In the Lord," "Well pleasing to the Lord," "As unto the Lord," etc. Such a life as Paul described can only be achieved by the force of sufficient motive. And such motive he supplies. Here is argument enough for such a course of conduct, inspiration enough for such a spirit of family life. "In the Lord." There is a wonderful fulness of meaning in that phrase, as the Greek language employed it. But not a profounder fulness than the Christian experience interprets when it shows Jesus to be the Source of motive, the Standard of duty, the very Sphere of being to the Christ-loving man. - U.R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

WEB: Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

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