I know many godly women who have made it a priority to submit to their husbands as part of their faithful service as Christians. There are many passages in Scripture that support this concept, and yet Colossians 3:18 stands out for its clarification: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” [Emphasis mine].
What does this mean? Well, it most definitely applies to the structure of the family as ordained by God. In other words, it is proper (fitting) that wives respect the role God ordained for them from the beginning: as a helper in a supportive, subordinate capacity. Yet, “fitting” also has reference to the idea that wives should submit to their husbands in accordance with God’s law-word, rather than submitting to the whims of their spouse. This means that a woman needs to know God’s law and apply it in her life.
Problems often arise when a husband and wife have differing views as to what is in accordance with God’s law-word. Anticipating the eventual occurrence of disagreements along these lines, couples need to prepare for how they will resolve problems if/when they arise. Too often, the conclusion is reached that whatever the husband decides must always take precedence. I believe this perspective needs qualification so that God’s Word is truly honored.
1 Peter 3:7 reads,
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
When a couple has differing viewpoints as to how a particular doctrine or principle of Scripture needs to be applied, this verse is crucial to coming to a point of agreement. Here the husband is instructed not to “run over” his wife’s opinion and dominate her because he is in a position to do so. The fact that she is the “weaker” vessel does not mean her perspective should be summarily ignored or overruled. The consequences of doing so actually will have profound consequences on the efficacious nature of the husband’s prayers.
Couples should make it a priority to come to a point of harmony on issues such as Sabbath-keeping, tithing, and those relating to their children, etc. While orthodoxy should trump harmony, harmony remains an important aspect of married and family life. Even if a resolution takes longer to be achieved, the process of ensuring mutual respect for the other’s view will make subsequent differences of opinion more easily resolved.
I cannot think of any circumstance where believers would relish having their prayers hindered. Praise God that He has provided clear instruction as to how to have our prayers heard.