Scripture: 1 Peter 3:1-6
1Likewise, 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, 2when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4but 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. 5For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
Peter continues to apply the Gospel to the social “code” of significant relationships.
To the wife: Persist in respectful and pure conduct toward your husband — even if he is not yet a believer who obeys the word of God in the Gospel.
Develop the inner beauty of character as of greater value than outward beauty add-ons.
Sarah and Abraham. Abraham was not a perfect husband! And their marriage survived several storms: Abraham telling people that Sarah was his sister, because he was afraid her beauty would compromise his life (twice!). Sarah dealing with infertility by giving Abraham her maidservant. Waiting on the promise of God to be fulfilled.
Move forward doing good and not fearing anything that is frightening.
The Gospel-empowered woman wife finds her security and confidence in Christ. She is able to choose publicly and privately to respect her husband in light of Jesus’ high value for her and for marriage. The Scripture here is countering several relationally poisonous approaches to life: managing relationships because of or through fear, seeking ultimate security in the stuff of earth by spending more time on beauty produces rather than character processes, the temptation to tear down our spouse rather than building them up, and seeking to control and use people for own place in life rather than truly loving them.
Peter is challenging the culturally accepted family system of the first century here by suggesting that one person (in this case the wife) changing her approach to sexuality and marriage in light of the Gospel can create the environment in which the whole family system and the husband can change.
By living under the immense weight of Jesus’ grace the wife’s strength and confidence in Christ shouts out to her husband and the world that she is of incredible worth. What boundaries are redrawn when a women stands up for herself in the face of a scary man and suggests “I am not afraid?” The possibility of violence makes us nervous.
Peter is calling on the Church as a community to reinforce the worth of women and men as individuals loved by God. A man who is husband to a woman who is maturing in Christ will also find himself challenged to grow up. We must not ignore the tension highlighted by the Gospel in the marriage dance of love and respect, leadership and honour, security and trust, faithfulness and forgiveness. The church must call people out of the shadows and into the truth. We are not all good at being a husband and being a wife all them time! At times, my spouse needs grace to tolerate and love me. (Maybe a lot of the time!)
Heavenly Father, help us create the space in which women and men are so secure in their relationship with you through Jesus Christ who died for them and lives to love them, that they will love each other rather than use each other. AMEN.