Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes.
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. (1 Peter 3: 1-6)
Peter, what are you asking? Once again he turned the standard of the world on its head!
It is well known that more women than men are inclined to respond to the gospel. How many spiritual ‘widows’ are there in churches all over the world? That means that homes are divided right down the middle over the fundamental issue of ‘who do you worship?’ People either worship the Creator God or they are self-made and worship their creator. This is the Great Divide between heaven and hell – not the hell of fire and brimstone but the hell of disunity which comes from divided loyalties.
How are wives meant to handle the situation, especially in the first century when women became unequally yoked with their husbands through faith in Jesus? This was not an unequal yoke by choice but by circumstances.
Paul warned believers about deliberately becoming involved in an unequal yoke with unbelievers:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Cor. 6: 14)
It’s one thing to make a foolish choice before marriage and then live to regret the consequences. It’s another to find the household split through one member’s decision to follow Jesus. What is a wife to do in such circumstances?
Peter’s counsel is both wise and productive. Many a wife in such a situation thinks that preaching to her husband is the way to go. Unfortunately, it seldom works that way. It usually has the opposite effect on an unbelieving husband. Remember that the one who does not believe in Jesus is God’s enemy (Romans 5: 10). The more the wife bangs him with the Bible, the more resistant he becomes and the worse the conflict in the home.
Preaching won’t do it and dressing like a princess won’t do it either. Peter certainly did not advise Christian wives to dress like frumps! Perhaps she might even want to do that to get even with him or to turn him off physically when he doesn’t treat her with love. Dressing up may arouse the husband’s sensual desires but it will not touch his heart. The wife may adorn herself outwardly to please her husband but it will bring him no nearer to believing in Jesus.
What kind of behaviour will break through his defences and touch his heart? The same kind of behaviour Peter counselled slaves to exhibit towards harsh and cruel slave-owners. Submit to him, whatever his demands until he recognises in you a supernatural grace that only God through His Spirit can produce. Preaching, dressing up or even resisting him will not do what a humble and gentle attitude will.
Jesus’s attitude and behaviour in the face of injustice brought life out of death. Imagine what a wife’s willing submission to her husband would do. If he were cruel or unreasonable, it would expose his wickedness against her purity of heart.
Peter’s counsel to believing wives is simple. Be like Sarah who willingly and quietly submitted to Abraham as head of the household. Be quiet and live it! Is that easy? No! Is it right? Yes! Why? Because God says it’s the way that works. It’s wisdom – doing what works.
The ways of the world and the ways of God’s kingdom are completely opposite to each other. The worldly way is to force other people to do what you want whether they like it or not. Use whatever it takes to make them do things your way. It may work by controlling your husband’s behaviour, but it only makes his heart harder and more resistant to the truth especially if you use the Bible as a weapon against him!
The kingdom’s way is to submit without a word, even if the demands are unjust. Absorb the wrong until the conscience of the wrongdoer is so activated that he is awakened to the truth through the example of his wife. You never know. He might just be won over by your being like Jesus. An example is better than a thousand words.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.