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Colossians 3:18-19 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.
Perhaps Paul’s intent is not to speak to the women of his day but rather the men. In a time when women had few rights and were often regarded as property—not people—Paul’s message to husbands to love their wives would sound radically countercultural, a sharp rebuke: No longer will you treat women as chattel but as people of value—worthy and deserving of love and respect.
Paul’s instruction has been used and abused by far too many to justify patriarchy, but perhaps we might consider hearing Paul’s words not as a blunt tool to denigrate women but as a lever to lift them up, a clumsy but critical first step toward equality.
MOVING FORWARD: Read over another passage of scripture you find troubling. Might God have a new way to help you hear it?