By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer
Be honest, at some point before you got married, you probably had this grand idea of what marriage was going to be like. All the excitement! The anticipation! The dream of finding that “special someone” and spending the rest of your life wrapped in his arms. True, you had heard from many people who are older and wiser than you, that marriage isnt easy. It requires a lot of work. And yet, while they told you that marriage would show you just how much of a sinner you really are, although you somewhat believed it, there was still a part of you that said: “yeah I know that…but we will work through all of that almost effortlessly and then live happily ever after!”After you tied the proverbial knot, after the initial excitement wore off, you found yourself living with a man who was just as much of a sinner as you are! Perhaps when the truth set in that everything those older, wiser married folks said about marriage was indeed true, the painful reality that marriage was going to be a whole lot harder than you could have imagined left you feeling jaded and disillusioned.
While this is the reality for most married couples at one time or another, there are many women out there who would attest that they are not merely married to a fellow sinner saved by grace, but rather to a man who is continually disobedient to God’s Word. Someone who is not very interested in applying the Biblical principles of scripture to either his life, or his marriage.
What then? What does Scripture say that you are to do in such a case? Perhaps you are wondering what I, (a young man who has never been married) could possibly have to say about such a topic! True, I do not have any first hand experience with being in a marriage, much less being married to someone like who I just described. However, I have seen in scripture some incredible passages which deal with just that! 1Peter 3:1-6 says:
“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”
So, What kind of husband is this passage talking about? A believing husband? Or and unbelieving one? Actually, it could be either! Verse 1 identifies him as one that is disobedient to the Word! Unbelieving husbands are by their very nature disobedient to the Word, but it is certainly possible for believing husbands to be as well. While we don’t have tome to deal with every aspect of this passage, lets take a look at just a few principles found here.
This is always a tough one. Ever since the fall, we have been desperately trying to abolish God’s divinely created authority structure within the home. Submission to a husband’s headship can be an incredible thing when He is submitted to Christ. But what if he’s not? it’s certainly not easy at that point. But this passage still mandates it. But why? because when he sees that attitude in you, it may convict him, thus helping him turn back to the Word!
The Word “Chaste” here in verse 2 is typically thought of in the context of sexual purity. While it certainly does have that meaning, its implications are much farther reaching than that. In this context, it has the idea of above reproach, or giving no reason to accuse.
Belittling a man, or usurping his authority gets nowhere. If a man feels as if his significant other does not respect him, he will be more likely to withdraw or run farther from you and God, rather than come back into obedience of the Word.
Verse 3 shows two types of beauty: Outer beauty and inner beauty. Sadly this verse has been misinterpreted by some to mean that women are to disregard outer beauty altogether. However, the idea here is that while a woman should pay attention to her outer beauty, she should focus even more so on her inner beauty because that is far more important than outer beauty. Peter defines inner beauty here as a meek and quiet spirit.
A Meek and Quiet Spirit
When a wife see’s her husband being disobedient to God’s Word, the natural tendency is to nag him back into obedience. However, nagging often has the opposite than the desired effect. In fact, it might even drive him to climbing up onto the roof and setting up camp there! (Prov 21:19). Instead, the attitude which is most likely to help him come back to the Word is that of a meek and quiet spirit.
Example 1: Sarah
In verse 6 Peter cites Sarah as an example for women to follow in this situation. Wait a minute! you mean Abraham was disobedient to the Word? Take a look at Genesis 12 and Genesis 20…Both times Abraham Lied (To Pharaoh in ch 12 and Abimelech in ch 20) telling them that Sarah was his wife, thus giving them the impression to take Sarah into their respective hirams! What did Sarah do in the midst of this absolute treachery by her husband? She submitted…trusting that God would protect her…and He did! God sent plaques to Pharaoh, and visited Abimelech in a dream and therefore they sent both Sarah and Abraham out of their lands…with more possessions than before!
Example 2: Christ
You may say wait a minute! Where does this passage mention Christ? Take a look at the beginning of 1 Peter 3:1, Peter says: “In the same way, you wives, be subject to your husbands…” Why does Peter begin this passage in that way? It’s because he is linking it to what he just said in chapter 2. At the end of the previous chapter Peter tells us to follow the example of Christ who when he was reviled, he did not revile in return, but rather trusted his soul to the Father. Wow! Even when a husband is disobedient to God’s Word, she should continue to follow these principles in this passage, while trusting that God will protect every step of the way.
At this point you might be wondering “Chris, why are you focusing so much on wives? doesn’t verse 7 talk about husbands?” Yes! and next month I will deal with what scripture says about them.
In the mean time, please feel free to leave a comment sharing how you might have been able to apply these principles in your on marriage over the years. I’m sure there are some young women reading who would love to hear advice from someone who has been there!