1 Peter Chapter 3 Verses 1-7
It is not only unpopular but right out disgusting to the world that Christian wives are exhorted to submit to their husbands. But we know that the husband wife relationship is not the man unilaterally making choices for the wife, beating her, and demanding his every need be met. It is a relationship of mutual honor, in which the wife honors her husband by making trusting his choices and the husband honors the wife by meeting her needs, knowing and understanding her, and caring for her as precious and beautiful.
Verses 1-2 tell us,
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
In the world wives are afraid to submit to their husbands. Perhaps it is because they don’t trust their husbands to really love them enough not to hurt them. Maybe it is because they do not want to give up power or control to anyone. Regardless of the reason it is only through our Lord that we can emulate Him with the godly marriage He subscribes. When the world sees it lived out in a Christian marriage they notice.
They notice when we as believers submit, or give our authority to another person. It is a courageous strong thing to do. It takes great strength, only the strength of the Holy Spirit makes it possible. We imitate our relationship with Christ in our relationship with others. We give Christ authority over our lives. We give our spouses authority over our lives. But in our union with Jesus, He gives our authority back to us and even shares His authority over the earth with us. In our Christian marriages we reflect our Godly union and our spouse also gives us back our authority and shares power with us. That is something the world doesn’t understand. But they do see something special about the woman who submits in a godly manner. They do note that submission in a world that treats life like a game in which winning is all that matters is unique. That deference, respect and willingness to trust another so deeply is a testimony to the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus, and the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Your faith in Christ, your relationship with the Father, and your manifestation of the Holy Spirit make you beautiful. People perceive there is something extraordinary about you when you emulate the Lord. Verses 3-4 read,
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.”
God sees you as beautiful when you exhibit the traits of Jesus we call the Fruit of the Spirit. The world sees that difference too when your embellishments are inward rather than outward. Love, kindness, gentleness, and humility are much more attractive than heavy make-up, short skirts, tight tops, and high heels. The woman with a heart after her God is precious and rare herself, she doesn’t need jewels to entice others toward her. True beauty doesn’t fade with wrinkles and stooped backs, it grows with maturity in Christ.
Sarah was one of the most beautiful women in history. Her legendary beauty is the basis for Abram’s deception of Pharaoh and God sending plagues upon Pharaoh’s house in order to rescue her. But the source for her beauty was not how she dressed herself, it was not in the jewels she put on, but her faith in God and submission to her husband. Verses 5-6 say,
“For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
Sarah is the “mother of nations” She set out on the same long trek Abraham did. She believed the Lord with him. She spoke her mind, she guided her husband, but she acquiesced to him because she trusted him and she knew he loved her. Sarah didn’t have to guess whether her husband loved her. He showed her, even to the point of sending his son Ishmael away because his presence hurt her.
Wives do not just blindly submit to husbands. They are able to do so because the husband so blatantly loves them first. Verse 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.”
My pastor once described it like this. Imagine your dinner plates. Compare your everyday dishes to your fine China. Where to you keep the Corningware? It’s tough, it is in the cupboard, it gets washed the same as the rest of the dishes, the kids use it, and you use it nearly every day. But what about the fine China, the Waterford or the Royal Albert? That is kept in a special cabinet, on display but out of reach of little hands. It is used for special occasions. It is handled carefully so as not to break it or even chip it. Its worth is proven by the honor it is shown. Treating the Waterford as if it were Corningware would be reprehensible.
In the world, husbands do not treat their wives with such honor, compassion, and love. It is a running joke that men can’t ever understand women, but here Peter exhorts husbands to be understanding of their wives. If the husband loves her, won’t he know her enough to get where she is coming from? Jesus loves us enough to understand us.
A godly marriage is based on the union of Christ and the church. The world looks at submission to anyone especially one’s spouse as appalling. But the faith it takes to live in such an unworldly manner makes us beautiful and therefore appealing. Do not be like the world. Remember we are exiles, we are strangers in a strange land. Let them see the splendor of Christ in us.