1 Peterby David Burge
I cannot ice-skate well, so awe fills me whenever I watch ice-skating pairs move so effortlessly and beautifully across the ice during the Winter Olympics. Usually, the man is tall, strong, and often in dark clothing that draws little attention. His partner, the woman, is typically smaller, lighter, and dressed in bright, flowing clothing. They are distinct from each other, yet their differences make their routine all the more beautiful.
Marriage between a man and a woman is intended to similarly benefit from difference and harmony. Many who come to Christ from different cultures want to know: What does a Christian marriage look like?
On the basis of God's good design (see Genesis 1:27), He intended husbands to lovingly lead, and wives to be respectful of their husband's leading as they live in union.
It is important for husbands to notice in 1 Peter 3:1 that Peter does not tell husbands to force submission upon their wives. Rather, he appeals with gentleness to wives to voluntarily ″submit yourselves to your own husbands″. This submission is not to every man or husband, but to ″your own″ husband (v. 1)-the one who is to be sacrificially and lovingly committed to your welfare. This is part of living with ″purity and reverence″ before God (v. 2, or literally ″fear of God″, as we saw in 1 Peter 2:18).
Tragically, many husbands mistreat the precious woman who entrusts herself to his care. Peter will address husbands in 3:7.
Today's verses are aimed at a different though sometimes related problem of a wife resisting her husband's role to lead, making his leadership more difficult. Many husbands are ridiculed, dishonoured, and despised by their wives, sometimes in front of their children or even publicly.
Men, who by nature deeply value respect and will die for honour, find such home environments extremely difficult. They often retaliate by escaping home responsibilities or failing to love the wife they promised to love. This is not an excuse for men, but it is one reason Scripture urges wives to submit themselves to their husbands. A male ice-skater can't effectively lead a partner who is resistant to his leading.
Another reason is also given which ties in with the ″watching world″ theme of 1 Peter. Some unbelieving husbands in Peter's day were so struck by their Christian wife's meekness, purity, and reverence for God that they, without words, were drawn to the One who transformed their wife.
I know of a town where many husbands were alcoholics. They wasted money, were lazy, and were not good husbands or fathers, and their wives found little in them to respect. But when an older Christian woman urged the wives to try to treat their husbands with respect rather than their usual scorn, a number of the men followed the script of 1 Peter 3:1-2. Some husbands started coming to church and to faith in Christ. Gradually, they became loving and responsible leaders of their families. They were intrigued and eventually won over by the meekness and grace of their wives.
Submission to your own husband, purity, and reverence for God-what do these features look like for you if you are a wife?
For others, whether single or married, how does this model for wives inspire you to support wives and to imitate their trust in Jesus?