Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther lays out Scripture passages that point out the duties Christians are to follow in their daily lives. This list has different categories for the stations or vocations that you might find yourselves in. There are two Bible verses in the section which pertains to husbands. The first one is 1 Peter 3:7, where husbands are told to be considerate of their wives and to treat them with respect so that their prayers might not be hindered. This is important because if a husband is sinning against his wife, then his prayers will be frustrated; one caught in sin is less likely to talk to God.
In the second verse (above), Paul tells husbands to love their wives. The English says, “Do not be harsh,” but this does not get to the point Paul is trying to make. The Greek word means “make bitter.” Scripture is telling husbands that the way they treat their wives will cause wives to react in certain ways. If the husband is rough or rude, then the wife will become sharp and cruel in response. This will lead to sin and to a damaging of the relationship that God established. Husbands must guard their words and pay attention to what they say. When they fall into sin, they must repent and ask Christ and their wives for forgiveness.
A marriage will only work well if it is undertaken with love, repentance, and the forgiveness that Christ has earned on the Cross. At the same time, these words are important for all people. The way we treat others affects them, and it can cause them to react. As children of God, you are called by God to love your neighbor, to show him the love and forgiveness that God has given to you. As you do this, you are bearing witness to the love of Christ that is in you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Oh God, our dwelling place in all generations, look with favor upon the homes of our land. Embrace husbands and wives, parents and children, in the arms of your love, and grant that each, in reverence for Christ, fulfill their duties You have given. Bless our homes that they may ever be a shelter for the defenseless, a fortress for the tempted, a resting place for the weary, and a foretaste of our eternal home with You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
–Rev. William K. Stottlemyer is the pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hancock, MD.