Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
1 Peter 3:1
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,
We know that women hear these verses from their husbands, pastors and church leaders all the time and we know that they are tired of hearing these words. We also know that many women do submit to their husbands and try their best at being good Christian wives.
But there are some attitudes that need to be addressed under this topic and one example is, ‘I will not submit until my husband does his duty first’. Many women do not want to obey the Bible unless their husbands obey the Bible first but as we read these scriptures, we find no such teaching supporting this thinking.
In fact as we go through scripture we do not find, what I call ‘escape clauses’. These escape clauses are not found in the commands of Jesus or the disciples who wrote the books of the Bible.
We do not read—‘pray for those who do evil except if they do…’ or ‘love they neighbor as they self except if he or she is a…’ then there is ‘if you love me keep my commandments unless those commandments interfere with what you want to do.’
We just do not find that type of wording in any of the biblical instructions and submit to your husband is included in that list.
We need to understand the source of that command. Many people will and have charged that the bible was written solely by men for a patriarchal purpose. Then they charge that the commands to submit were done in order to oppress and make women inferior, or second class.
The people that make these accusations do so simply because they do not like what they read and they want to do something different from follow those instructions. But their problem is they have not produced one single divinely inspired document with the historical track record the Bible enjoys with replacement words indicating God’s true teaching for the church today.
They simply try to alter the Bible through translation arguments but those efforts are merely done via subjective selfish desires and not honest exegetical or translational work. Again, those arguments do not have a rich textual history and if you look at all the ancient manuscripts that we have that address those passages of scriptures, they all say the same thing.
If God did not want those words written in his bible then why would he wait 2,000 years to have them changed? We are not going to accept conspiracy theory arguments because there is no evidence for any conspiracy at any time throughout history supporting those theories. All are made by unsubstantiated or unsupported declarations.
Every indication we have concerning the bible is that the source for those passages of scriptures (and the whole Bible) is divine. While men may have penned God’s word, that effort was inspired by God as God uses humans to do his will. He did not magically bring his word into existence and no human touched it except for altering it to fit their beliefs or lack of them, no. God had human men pen what he wanted his followers to know and do. The source is still divine, but the method was human
What needs to be remembered in this issue is that God owns the church and he gets to set the rules for it. He gets to say how he wants his church to function. He did not give authority to men or women to change his word as he did over the things in this world, he did not want his word to become subjective and lost in the selfish desires of human.
Even though he knew that when he used men such ideas would be brought against his instructions. What has been given humans is the ability to freely choose. They can choose to humbly accept God’s instructions and prosper or they can arrogantly reject them and think that they know better than God on how to run his church
Now do these facts allow for husbands to treat their wives in any way they see fit? No. Men’s actions in their leadership and authority over the church and the family are strictly governed by other passages of scripture as we have seen in the men love your wives… section. Men are not allowed to abuse, mistreat or force you to sin.
But we do need to point out one passage of scripture that goes along with those words in 1 Peter and they are
1Pe 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
1Pe 2:19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.
And you may want to argue that Peter is talking only to those who are slaves or employed by others. but look closely at the words of Peter at the start of the next chapter
1Pe 3:1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,
The instructions found in chapter 2 apply to wives as well. There is no escape clause found here. If your husband is abusive, that behavior does not give you permission to ignore God’s teaching and get revenge. It does not give you permission to ignore what he has said for you to do. It does not give you permission to divorce for any other reason than adultery.
Too many well-meaning people have used abusive behavior as reasons to ruin a family and the man only gets worse when he sees these interlopers wrecking his marriage since they have no right to interfere and destroy a marriage.
Those outsiders rarely follow biblical instruction but lean to their own understanding and do not trust. Does Peter’s instruction open women up to abuse? Not really. It opens wives up to being persecuted for their beliefs. Women are not exempt from persecution nor does persecution only come from those who are of other religions or secular leanings.
It comes from your own household as well and the Bible instructs everyone on how to respond properly to persecution. I remember a story from my youth about a young woman who grew up in a non-Christian home. One day she became a Christian and lived the Christian life. Then one day her father said, you either give up your faith or you get out.
The day came when she had to leave or give up her faith and not wanting to do that she packed her suitcase and made her way to the front door. As she was about to open the door she spied the piano in the living room. She loved to play that piano so one last time she sat down and started to play. What she played I do not recall but as she was doing so, her father stepped out from behind the curtain and said to her, ‘ If your faith means that much to you, I want to be a Christian too.’
Women, you just do not know what will happen when you continue to obey God and his instructions. Not every situation will turn out so well but one thing is clear, women, you need to keep your faith and you need to obey God. Throwing away your faith is not going to make things better; throwing away your husband is not going to make things better especially when you deny Jesus to keep something you cannot have.
Now some people will bring up the question, where was God when she married the guy? Well God was there and he probably sent warnings to not marry the person through family and friend. But you know some women, their excuse for ignoring those warnings is found in 4 little words— ‘but I love him’- which are supported by ‘he will change for me…’ or something similar.
Women would spare themselves a lot of problems if they learned how to discern, not only concerning the warnings they receive, but also their emotions concerning their decision to marry some man who may not be the one they should marry. They may be blinded by their love and let their emotions trump God’s instructions to them.
Proper discernment will lead you away from abuse. If you don’t use proper discernment and you marry a bad apple, for lack of a better term, you are under the rules of submission given in the Bible and you need to learn how to handle the abuse God’s way and not the world’s way.
We are told in the Bible to do all things for the glory of God and that instruction does not have escape clauses either. Men, women, your marriage is to be done for the glory of God and it cannot be that way if you ignore God’s rules for marriage and the Christian life.
Women, you are not submitting to please some ancient cultural, patriarchal desire. You are submitting so that you can do your part of the marriage to the glory of God. When women say the word ‘obey’ in the wedding vows, they are not agreeing to be slaves, inferior or second class but sending a message to their husbands that they are willing to obey God’s instructions and make their marriage pleasing to God.
Men, their use of the word obey is not permission for you to ignore biblical teachings governing how husbands are to act or nullifying other verses on how the Christian life is to be lived. It means you are getting a willing helpmate, someone you can rely upon, who will support you, love you and care for you and you should respond accordingly and be encouraged to follow biblical teaching over-seeing your behavior.
Marriage is not just to have sex and raise a family. It is also a testimony unto the world about God and his ways. Submitting to your husband in all situations except those that demand that you sin is glorifying God and obedience to is word even if you are persecuted for those actions and beliefs.
Obedience is very important to God as he speaks about it often throughout the Bible and two examples of that importance are:
If you love me keep my commandments
Why do ye call me lord, lord but do not do the things I say.
Being submissive is obeying God over man.