Wives Submitting to Husbands

Video Talk

1 Peter 3:1-6 ESV

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, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 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. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

If we look at the wording of this first sentence it is clear that when it says “without a word” that it is in concert with being in subjection to our husbands. Thus, “the word” has to do with being not in subjection to our husbands. So, what I mean by that is that I don’t believe this is teaching that wives cannot speak to their husbands on any matters of the Christian faith and practice, or on any matters of morality verses immorality and sinfulness. For we are to share the gospel, and we are to exhort and encourage our fellow Christians to walk in holiness and not in sin.

As long as we are being in subjection to our husbands, and we are not trying to usurp authority over them or to try to rule over them in making them to be subject to us, and as long as they are willing to listen to us speak, or it is absolutely critical that we speak, out of love and concern for them, as led by the Spirit of God, then we can speak the truth in love to them for their good.

For Jesus used women to speak the truth of the gospel message to men in at least two situations, such as the women at the tomb who he sent to tell his disciples that he had risen from the dead, and the woman at the well who he essentially sent to the men of her town to tell them about Jesus so that they then came to Jesus and listened to him and believed in him. So, Jesus didn’t devalue women, and he did not silence women, but the Scriptures do teach that women are not to have authority over men. And I agree with that.

So, what is the other half of this instruction? It is that we, as women, are to win our husbands over to the Lord by our conduct, when they see our respectful and pure conduct. For, if we are trying to win them to Christ via words only, or by being domineering and unsubmissive, while our conduct is not respectful and pure, then we are not going to win them to Christ, for we are setting the wrong example before them.

And “respect” doesn’t necessarily mean that we say nothing, and it definitely does not mean we lie to them to make them feel good about themselves. It means we have regard for them, we care about them, we value them, we appreciate them, we pay attention to their needs, and we acknowledge them and the good that they do, and we do not take them for granted. And having regard for them involves being and showing concern for them, and that we are interested in what is going on in their lives, and that they are important to us. But this should never involve false praise or false words of any kind.

Now, with regard to how we dress and what we put on, as women, some of this is cultural, but most of it is not. The braiding of hair and the wearing of gold jewelry does not hold the same significance in my culture today as it did for them then in their culture. But, the message is loud and clear that, as godly women, we are to dress modestly, and not in a gaudy way or in a way which draws attention to the sexual parts of our bodies. And we should not be showing any of those parts which are to be kept hidden, too.

Instead, our outward adorning should be that of what is in the heart, which should be the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. And this word “gentle” is meekness, but it is not weakness, “but rather refers to the exercising of God’s strength under His control” (source: biblehub.com interlinear). So, it is a blend of strength and reserve. And “quiet” doesn’t mean “silent.” It means peace and stillness and steadiness “due to a divinely-inspired inner calmness” (same source).

Now, with regard to Sarah, if I remember correctly, I believe there were a couple of times that she did what was sinful in obedience to her husband, and I believe he may have sinned in compliance with her request, at least once. So this is not teaching us that it is okay for us to sin against God in order to be in submission to our spouses. No! God’s laws trump over all else. So, being in submission to our husbands is not to involve submitting to sinning against our Lord. So we don’t have to obey sin. We obey God.

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My Jesus, I Love Thee

Hymn lyrics by William R. Featherstone, 1864
Music by Adoniram J. Gordon, 1876

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

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