1 Peter 3:1-6

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that
if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words
by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles
and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God
used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands,
like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters
if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
I Peter 3:1-6
This passage relating to submission can be a scary topic for women and sometimes even uncomfortable for men, and one that is often taken out of context. It has been the source of much debate, both within and outside the church. Cultural ideas have clouded Peter’s original instructions and they have morphed the concept of submission into something that is limited to a wife that is always at home, has no voice in family decisions, is always quiet and peaceable, and perhaps even rejects the idea of pursuing a career. However, when we look at the passage in context, we see that Peter is talking about a completely different understanding of a wife’s submission.
 
Peter opens this passage by connecting it to the previous one in chapter 2, where he reminded us of Jesus’ self-intentioned willingness to give up control. By trusting his father, he demonstrates the actual definition of submission; to willingly place yourself under someone else’s leadership. Rather than an act of weakness, it is an act of meekness; strength under control.
 
For wives, submission is an act of faith, trusting God to work through her husband to accomplish what is best for their family. Husbands are instructed to live with wives as fellow heirs to God’s kingdom (vs 7), as both are of equal value. Because Peter is well aware that many wives do not live with believing husbands, he knows submission could be complicated, wearisome, and sometimes full of hardships. He reminds his readers that submission is the result of a tender heart, one that produces a gentle spirit. Unbelieving men are seldom convinced by arguments and power struggles.
 
Christian marriages are not exempt from ongoing conflicts. Two sinners, even though they are saved by grace, still sin, hurt each other, and live selfishly. Whether the challenges relate to the larger decisions of life such as profession, home, or finances, or the smaller ones of turning off the lights, making sure the laundry hits the laundry basket instead of the floor, and who takes out the trash, disagreements come.
 
How good it is to return to God’s word. The author of marriage declares it right for the husband to lead and the wife to willingly follow while both pursue God humbly. Consistently living selflessly and deferring to your spouse is only possible through a heart that has been redeemed.
 
This is grace to us. There is hope for one of life’s most important relationships.
 
Questions for reflection:
  1.  Have you thought of Jesus’ act of submission in terms of his strength?
  2.  To whom is God calling you to submit? (spouse, employer, other authorities)
  3.  Why do you think it is so difficult for us to come under another’s authority?
Linda Miller | Ministry Development

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