My principle with passages such as these is that we should seek firstly to understand the context in which they were written and then listen to what it has to say to you individually. Am I a married woman? I should submit to my husband, because it demonstrates that you are Christ-like. However, that must be taken with the understanding that the husband should love his wife and never treat her harshly. SO, this does not entitle husbands to abuse their wives physically, emotionally, mentally and use verse eighteen to get away with it. It also doesn't mean that churches should condone male behaviour which is unacceptable within what should be a loving Christian marriage. If the over-arching desire within the marriage is to grow in love for each other then that is a recipe, generally, for a successful marriage. We should understand too that this was radically favouring women in a society which often treated married women abominably. The practical effect of the marriage law and customs of those times was that the husband became an unquestioned dictator and the wife little more than a servant. This Christian teaching from Paul enabled husbands and wives to become partners, bringing joy and a new completeness to each other. It mightily blesses my heart when I've known two Christians who are single, marry and both blossom because of the good effects of being married and living in obedience to God's Word. Children should seek to please their parents, BUT fathers should not aggravate their children! Slaves should seek to be obedient to their masters, but masters must be just and fair to their slaves. All human relationship should be conducted in the light of living for and serving Christ. As James wrote, 'Don't speak evil against each other'.
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