Well, here we are—almost halfway through the journey. You made it back for another day. I’m going to tread carefully over these next few days. These verses could be controversial, and I’m going to do my best to unpack them in a way that helps both men and women. My goal, like Peter’s, is to help you live with HOPE. In this passage, we turn to HOPE at home.
Before I jump into Peter’s words, I want to first off say a couple of things to the women. One of the happiest days of my life was our gender reveal party for our third child. I remember opening the box and seeing pink balloons come out. I still get tears in my eyes when I remember our family jumping up and down at the news we were having a daughter. I am also grateful to be a dad of two sons whom I love dearly.
However, I have a special place in my heart for my daughter. There is no one on the planet I relate to like Karis. I am more protective and tender with her than anyone else (aside from Stacie, of course). I’m not sure if Peter had a daughter, but I kind of imagine he might have. Let’s just suppose for a moment that he did. When he wrote these words, his daughter would have been approaching marriage age. I can imagine Peter having his daughters of the faith in mind as he writes these words.
Let’s remember a few things we know for sure about Peter. He’s writing as a pastor. Like I mentioned earlier, we know he is a husband. On top of this, he has been profoundly impacted by the way Jesus interacted with women. At some point in the next week or two, go read the gospel accounts to see how Jesus broke some of the social norms of his day in order to show respect, honor, dignity, and concern for women.
Unfortunately, women were treated like slaves in Roman society. They were considered to be a man’s property—either their father’s or their husband’s. Just like we discussed with slavery, Peter does not condone this approach; rather, he is pastoring followers of Jesus through their situation. If you read ahead, you will notice Peter gives six times the amount of attention to women as men. My interpretation of this one is super practical. Husbands are typically harder to deal with than wives, and the women in Roman society really needed help.
Spiritually speaking, women tend to be more responsive to God and more willing to change. Because of this, many women find themselves trying to lead their families spiritually without support and strength from their husbands. This is a problem. Peter is trying to help.
In the midst of this, Peter helps us see that God has created families to operate with order. The marriage relationship consists of two people equal before God but designed by God with different roles and responsibilities. We need to look no further than the Trinity to realize that mutual submission is a part of the natural flow of how relationships work. Yet, even within the Trinity, God the Father is the ultimate authority. Jesus lovingly submitted to His Father all the way to a cross.
Not once does the Father abuse His authority. Not once does Jesus rebel against the Father’s leadership. We see this also happening as the Spirit submits to Jesus. It’s a beautiful relationship that has existed for all eternity.
It’s in the timeless picture of God’s design and the timely nature of women’s struggles in the first century that Peter gives words of encouragement for wives. Peter’s instruction is not for women to submit or follow “men.” This is important. He is not being a chauvinist. Peter is talking to wives and how they are to relate to their husbands.
Let me illustrate. One of my big surprises in 20 years of ministry has centered around how much easier it is to reach women than it is to reach men. I do think men want purpose—they want their lives to count. I just think sometimes men’s heads, including mine, are a little harder. In many instances, a wife will decide to follow Jesus and then be in a situation where her husband is just obstinate to the faith.
What does she do? Does she run? Does she preach at him? Does she give him books about being a better man? Does she tell him about the men she’s meeting at church who are more godly? How should a woman respond?
This situation has happened a million times over in the history of the church. A woman becomes a follower of Jesus, but she is in a marriage where the husband will not submit his life to Jesus. Peter’s words transcend generations and cultures. The best way to win a man over is through a pure and reverent life!
The more you preach at a man, usually the more that man is going to hide in his shell. The more you model how much Jesus has changed your life with your deeds, the more likely he is going to be drawn to ask questions and seek answers. It may take a really long period of time, and it may never happen the way you hoped it would.
Stacie and I have dear friends who have gone through boxes of tissues with tears for their marriage. Asking God to change a hard-hearted husband is a common struggle in the church.
You are not alone. Your heavenly Father sees you. He knows your struggle. His heart breaks as your heart breaks. He sees and He cares about every tear you shed. Your Father wants to strengthen you today as you seek to live the Good News without any words. Whatever pain you are bearing today because of marital disappointment, I pray that you would sense God’s Fatherly love toward you. Your Father is pleased with you. He is your reward.
May you live a life that is so different that your husband cannot help but notice the change. Perhaps there are some old ways of life that you need to let go of. May your respect, honor, and submission to his leadership soften his heart. May you be willing today to make difficult decisions to live a more God-honoring life.
Perhaps certain friends are pulling you down, and you need to cut ties. Will you make the choice today to let your life be marked by the grace of God and an unrelenting commitment to follow Him no matter the cost?