Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own 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, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 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. 5 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, 6 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.
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
Harmony In The Home
The commands in the passage are toward a certain end: harmony. The house should be a home where peace reigns. This is not the mere absence of war, but a place where everyone pulls together to understand and support the family. Wives who became Christians might be tempted to see themselves as free to dominate their husbands and exercise control because of their elevated status in Christ. Most households were organised around a patriarchal system. Jewish homes were more subjugating than Greek ones, but both had put women in a lowly role. Women who found they had a voice might become ugly and try and revolt against years of subservience. However, Peter recommends that women build beauty from the inside. There is a calm power in grace under pressure. A women need not be a doormat, but she can express her opinion boldly, whilst thinking of the good of her husband and household. This attitude shows the shallowness of a woman who is vapid and adorns herself with trinkets. Shakespeare reinforces the point by writing:
Virtue is beauty, but the beautious evil
Are empty trunks o’erflorished by the devil
Men do not use their physical power to dominate their wives. They create harmony in the household by considering their wives. An attentive man will generally be a successful man in marriage. A man must cultivate the ability to listen to the cares and concerns of his wife. He must factor her opinion into his decisions. In Christ, the man must see the woman in his life as his equal. In working side by side with her, the prayers that he has for his family will be answered.
God, make our home more harmonious by reminding my wife and myself of our responsibilities. I do not always find time to listen and when she worries she sometimes tries to take control. Fear can attack the harmony of our home. Let us find our confidence in you.
- What are wives to do?
- What are husbands to do?
- How does this harmony relate to Peter’s directions on slavery (see “in the same way”)?
- How can you learn to be a better spouse?
- How does proximity with God create more harmony in your marriage?