Our second pre-marital counselling session is today, and the pastor speaking with JD and me has asked us to study 1 Peter 3 in relation to what it says to wives and husbands. At present, I’m completely ignoring the part to husbands (let JD worry about that, right?) and trying to focus instead on what Peter said to wives. Here are some [jumbled, garbled, stream-of-consciousness type] thoughts.
1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
What is interesting to me is that Peter is not saying here that God created woman as a subordinate to man. In fact, the Greek word here is hypotassō which means to subject one’s self or to submit one’s control. If a woman was not the equal to a man to begin with, she would not have to subject herself. In the case of a dictator, we do not have to force ourselves to obey the laws of the land; rather, the ruling power most often creates a military government that enforces the his/her control. However, Peter’s words here were to the woman to subject herself, not to the man to subject her because of his “obvious” superiority.
What is the context, then, of the wife’s submission? It is to be a testimony of Jesus to a disobedient husband. Wives have the honor of living out the Beatitude lifestyle that Jesus called all men to live out in Matthew. The actions required of a submitting wife are very similar to the actions required of a Christian turning the other cheek, walking the second mile, and giving up more than what is demanded.
We have polarized these statements that Peter made, making it seem that he was placing upon women a far harder requirement than that of men; in reality, he was extending the Christlike behavior that Jesus required of the men He taught to women too. We are highly favored to partake in the teachings of the Lord and to live them out before a husband who is not applying them to his own life. Purity and reverence (which is really what “chaste conduct accompanied by fear is) will always win over shrewish conversation, manipulation, and demanding one’s own way.
I don’t know about every woman, but I do know that I am often guilty of trying to control/arrange things. Whether I call it “having an eye for details,” “being organized,” or “taking care of things,” the Lord has blessed me with strong administrative gifts that have aided me many times in ministry, running my home, and in my job. However, these same administrative gifts are my downfall when I try to use them to order my relationships. I have a tendency to be very quick and very black and white in my judgments of people and of situations; and sometimes it’s hard to tell what is discernment and what is condemnation. This passage from 1 Peter reminds me that when disagreements arise between JD and me, even if I feel strongly that I am right, I cannot seek both to control the situation and to have a happy marriage. However, if I will submit to the Lord and to my husband, I am forcing myself to trust that God is in control and He will work in both of us to bring us to His purpose.
More to come soon…