Building Stronger Marriages - 1 Peter 3:1-7

Building Stronger Marriages

I have a best friend. The one person that I know I can trust and fully confide in. God placed this person in my life almost 18 years ago. This person is my wife.

I am no expert on marriage and will never claim to be because I fall short in my marriage all the time. But, Peter gives us a glimpse of what a marriage should be and how are conduct should be toward each other.

1 Peter 3:1-7 (ESV)
1 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, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 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. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

“Likewise”...Peter concluded the previous chapter by encouraging us to submit to authority and endure unjust treatment as Christ did because it is according to God’s plan. With Christ’s fresh example of submissiveness, we see Peter move on and address the conduct within marriage.

Just as Paul did in Ephesians, Peter addresses the wives first. Wives are to be ‘subject’ or ‘submissive’ to their ‘own’ husbands. This is what God commands of wives. It’s not a quid pro quo relationship. Christ set the example of submission, and Peter is telling us that wives have the same responsibility, because it is submission through LOVE. But, I like that Peter uses the phrase ‘own husband’. My wife submits to me as her husband in love but is not called to submit to all men. Furthermore, her actions of a submissive lifestyle, which is ongoing and daily actions, provide a demonstration to others outside our family as an example of Christ. The adage of ‘actions speak louder than words’ can be seen here. Christ calls wives to be an example and live as an example through ‘pure conduct’. Loving their husbands and submitting to them. This is true and much needed in today’s world of inversed identities and roles. During this epistle, there were wives who were becoming Christians while their husbands were not. Peter tells them that they have a better chance of converting their husbands to Christ through their actions, lifestyle, and how they conduct themselves…more than words. He is encouraging the wives to be an example of Christ to their husbands so that the husband may see Christ through them.

One thing I love about my wife is that she never wears makeup. She teases me because I usually have a strange look on my face when she does put on makeup. Not to say that makeup doesn’t enhance her appearance, but this is not the beauty that Peter is speaking about. But, Peter speaks to the wives about their appearance. He is not telling the wives to not be proud of how God created them and take care of themselves, but Peter is telling the women that what God desires of them is the inner beauty of the heart. Peter is emphasizing that outward looks are fleeting, but it is the women’s ‘hidden person’ of the heart that is the most important reflection of her beauty. Only God knows where that person is in their walk with Him. Peter goes on to say that what women are supposed to adorn themselves with is the imperishable, immortal, and incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. The word gentle here is meekness. The quiet or tranquil heart of a woman is to be meek. Meekness is the opposite of self-interest. It’s trusting in God and His complete control over all situations. So, when women work on their inner hearts and submit with meekness to God’s will, He views this as precious, or something of incredible cost and surpassing value.  This is the beauty that God wants for men because it is so much more valuable for strong marriages and relationships than just good looks.

Peter tells us that all women are children of Sarah, and she was an example of how a wife is submissive to their husband. There is no new standard here. God’s desire for the humility and meekness of a woman’s heart has been around for ages. Sarah both submitted and obeyed Abraham through difficult times. Then, there is no need to fear if God has full control of the heart.

Both Peter and Paul devoted more time talking about wives than husbands. It could be a cultural thing at the time, but what we see is the word “likewise” again. This means, ‘in the same way’ or ‘similarly’. Yes, wives are supposed to submit to their husbands, but as husbands, we also need that quiet spirit and humility to submit to Christ. It is through our actions as husbands that others may see Christ.

One thing that I feel helps my marriage is communication. My wife and I both have different ‘love languages’, but we can communicate with each other and talk…or even just listen. Peter is telling us to live with our wives in an understanding way. The word understanding here is the word knowledge. Understanding one’s spouse can be very difficult. Again, I am no expert and still don’t completely understand my wife at times. But, as husbands, we need to understand how God made women. We need to understand that our wives are not lesser than us. They are not lesser in God’s eyes. We aren’t to look down upon them. Peter states that they are ‘weaker vessels’, but he is not saying that they are weaker spiritually. He is pointing out to the males in that culture that women are uniquely created to be feminine which in turn results in their physical bodies being “weaker” in different ways. Husbands are to be the strength of the household and build up and strengthen the wife through Christ. As husbands, we need to understand and appreciate the weakness of our wives, but only having the knowledge doesn’t build strong relationships. Building and strengthening take action. We must HONOR our wives for who they are and love them. We are heirs of the grace of God, together through Jesus.

Paul tells the husbands in Ephesians 5:23-25,23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

The responsibility for husbands keeps piling up. But, the most important aspect is LOVE. We need to demonstrate and pour out our love to our wives because this is the example that Christ set for us. Christ was in full submission to God’s plan and grace, so He gave his life for his bride…the church…for us.  

I like how Paul keeps it simple. As men, we need simple tasks…trash full, take out…simple things…Husbands, love your wife. But, the word ‘love’ has so much deeper responsibility and implied tasks within it. Be the husband that your wife deserves, the husband that Christ called you to be.

Finally, to the wives, prepare your hearts with humility and meekness in Christ and submit to your husbands the way God is calling you to do. It is through your actions and lifestyle that demonstrate the beauty of your heart. Be the example that your daughters need in order to be the future wife of a husband that God desires for them.

Likewise, husbands, I encourage you to strive to better understand your wife and strengthen her weakness by honoring and loving her the way that Christ loves the church. Communicate your love with her, and grow together as the heirs of eternal life through the grace of God, as equals in the eyes God. Husbands are the head of the household, and Christ calls us to act as such. We need to set an example for our sons of what being a loving husband who honors their wife truly means in today’s world. We are not perfect and we will fail, but God is there to lift us up when we humble ourselves, pray, and build our spiritual strength through the Word of God...The bar has been set...

I will leave with a quote from Chuck Smith to encourage both husbands and wives to commit to embracing their roles within their marriage,
“The more the wife submits to her husband, the easier he finds it to show his love. The more he shows his love, the easier she finds it to submit to him.”

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