Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19, ESVThose who do not agree with the Bible's command for wives to submit to their husbands might have in mind an overbearing, intimidating, angry husband using the Bible as a means to be a jerk to his wife. This is absolutely not what God has in mind. Scripture is clear and to the point: Husbands, "do not be harsh with them." God's word leaves no room in Christian homes for abusive - or even nice-yet-loveless - husbands.
The negative instruction is "do not be harsh with them." But the positive command is "love your wives." In other places the Bible describes this as living "with your wives in an understanding way" (1 Peter 3:7), and even defines what kind of love is to be shown to them: a self-sacrificing love based on Christ's love for the church, which led him to the cross (Ephesians 5:25).
By connecting the marriage roles to the gospel it becomes clear that the stakes are higher than personal marital happiness. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, vividly lived out for the universe to behold, as husbands and wives obey the commands of God in Scripture. Marriage is about glorifying God and displaying the gospel.
We should also be happy to hear that Scipture's commands are not to loom over the head of the believer, driving us to despair when we fall short. God's grace trains us from the inside out to walk in obedience to God's commands (Titus 2:11-12). Husbands and wives cannot obey God in their own power; this is why God graciously sent a Savior to us, Jesus Christ, who perfectly obeyed God on our behalf and died for our sins on the cross. Rising from the grave, he ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit upon his believing, repentant people. Through faith in Jesus Christ, and by the power of his indwelling Spirit, followers of Christ progressively see their lives lining up with the ideals of God's word. Good news! Husbands who believe on Jesus CAN obey his word; we WILL love our wives and not be harsh with them, as the Lord molds us into the image of Jesus!
Husband, have you been harsh with your wife? Insensitive? Rude? Just plain mean?
Repent. Confess this sin to the Lord, realizing that it is indeed a great sin! Through our harshness we have distorted the picture of Christ and the church in our marriage; we have with our lives preached a false gospel to the watching world. In our bitterness, anger and laziness; through our words, actions and body language we have preached that Christ acts toward his bride, the church, in the demeaning way we've acted toward our wives!
But as we repent of this sin and look to the cross, we understand that Christ died for our harsh treatment of our wives. He bore in himself the penalty of our marital sin. His blood is sufficient and "it is finished!" Praise him for taking this sin from us, and rising to give us power by the Spirit to love our bride the way he has loved his.
It is possible to lead without being harsh.
Christ himself proves this!
May the Lord have mercy on us, husbands, and train us by his grace to be Christ-like to our wives, for the glory of God.