1 Peter 3:1-7 is always referred to as “one of those tough passages.”
But…why? Tough for whom? For what reason?
Admittedly, I’ve been in the position where understanding and obedience to this passage was difficult, if not irritating to me. So I sought to understand it, and as a result, God began to show me the reasons why through changing my heart.
Presumably, any woman who isn’t married finds this passage irrelevant as it begins “Wives,” and you say, “I’m not married, this doesn’t apply to me.” Well, yes, and no. But I’ll get to that later.
Or wives, you read this and you say, “Submit? Submit what? My money? Career? Body? Hopes and dreams? Goals and vision? Opinions?” To which I simply say, “Yes.”
One of the favorite things for the female brain to do (yes- it’s a thing) is to overcomplicate that which is easily understood, so pay attention here.
This passage is not isolated from the rest of Scripture. It is prescriptive. There are passages which are descriptuve, but not prescriptive.
For example, take the 19th chapter of Judges. At no point is any of that story a positive, God-honoring example for anyone to follow. In this story alone, commandments 6,7,8 and 10 were explicitly broken, and arguably 1,2,3 (and depending on how the days were interpreted, possibly 4,) and 5 as well. This passage is telling a gruesome and horrifying account of disgusting human behavior, because the Bible isn’t a fairy tale book- it encompases real life. And sometimes, real life is heinous and gross.
That’s not what 1 Peter 3 is doing. It’s providing prescriptive guidelines for conduct for us to follow. Taking that within the context of the whole book, specifically the immediately preceding verses, we see Peter give his intent through the example of Jesus Christ. In the same way as Jesus submitted his emotions, thoughts, will, autonomy, body to the will of the Father, so the wives are to submit the entirety of themselves to their own husbands. This should excite women much more today than it once would have. Today, women are afforded the freedom to choose for themselves their own husbands! If you don’t like they guy, you can say no! Arranged marriages aren’t widely practiced here in the US.
Praise God for that, my husband is a huge blessing to me which my parents would arguably not have chosen.
So a couple thoughts on that point.
1) If you are not yet married, and don’t intend to be, ok. This passage doesn’t apply literally to your circumstances. It does however offer valuable guidance on the object of your submission– Christ. And I am convinced that whether married or not, a gentle and quiet spirit is always highly valued by God. We the Church are the Bride of Christ. Let’s ready ourselves for the Bridegroom, from the inside out.
2) If you are not yet married, but will or hope to be, know that THIS is what you’re signing up for. You will daily–DAILY– be called to submit your right to be right and trust Christ is right in leading you through your husband. You will lovingly submit (think of it like turning in a term paper) your dreams, goals, ambitions, desires, and yes, even your sexuality to your husband, who is then accountable to God for filtering those things entrusted to his care through the godly wisdom and authority given to him through God’s created order. Talk about passing off responsibility- ladies, we have it easy.
3) if you are married, but struggle with submission to your husband, I challenge you to ask yourself why? Is he a godly man? Is there a root of pride in your own heart? Is the relationship marked by abuse of either partner? I can say that ungodly male leadership can explain feminine ideology to an extent, but it does not excuse it. Whether or not you married a godly man worth submitting to, you are still accountable before God to your submission to His created order and Christ’s authority in your life. So if you aren’t in a safe place- get to a safe place. And then fight for your marriage in prayer. As a child of divorced parents, I understand reconciliation may not be the end result. But pray for healing, pray for peace, and pray for your spouse’s salvation, and that God’s will be done in your lives individually and in your marriage.
The disintegration of the family unit, which mirrors the unity of the Holy Trinity, is one of Satan’s most powerful tools against humanity. He’s been subverting the truth and watching families crumble under the weight of sin since Genesis 3:6.
Eve caved to coveteousness and pride, she sinned, Adam failed to lead her in the truth, He sinned, they fell. Their son was murdered by his brother. No family had been intended to see that degree of brokenness, heartache, and pain. But it has followed us in our sinful nature since the beginning. And it is only in Jesus Christ that we can find true humility and submission; a telling of and handing over of our deepest thoughts, feelings, and actions, and entrusting them to His care. In following Him, we receive the courage and power of the Holy Spirit to walk out a godly Christian marriage characterized by sacrificial love and willing, joyful submission.