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?
I find this passage to have much beauty. I love that Peter focuses on how each partner is to love each other, in equality, while having their own roles. I believe that this is a genuine reflection of our relationship to Christ and His relationship to God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Society tells women that their worth is in their outward appearance – and girls are told they are beautiful as encouragement. I love that Peter tells how a gentle, quiet, pure, reverent, and submitting woman is beautiful and of great worth in God’s sight. Not just that, but this passage stomps all over chauvinistic men – even though he is the stronger partner, he is to be considerate and respectful of his wife, remembering that he and she are both heirs in Christ. If he does, there is this implied warning that these men’s prayers would be hindered. This is how serious this offense is towards God! He cherishes His daughters.
I look forward to reflecting Christ in my (future) marriage and the sanctification process that will occur through that. I believe that these things can begin even in the pre-marriage side, when God is the one who puts two people together.
Dear Christina, you have such a pure, young hope. I would issue just one warning: it is not biblical to submit to any man who is not your husband (Eph 5:22; Mat 6:33). Prior to marriage (and after) resolve to express your opinion boldly, considering devotion to God first, then the common good. God has given you a unique identity and planned for you to be well-matched in marriage. If you try to go along with ideas or actions that you disagree with, in order to “keep the peace,” be congenial, or just because you want to be with that man, please be warned that it can be a form of idolatry, and it can lead to a mis-matched and failed marriage. We girls all love attention and fun. But you must pray for discernment, because a romantic man is not necessarily a godly man. I urge you to look up CBE~ Christians for Biblical Equality, and study these principles before you get married, while you still have time. Also read Carolyn Custis James, female author and awesome woman of God. Blessings to you!
I love how the NASB puts it, “Your adornment must not be MERELY external…” (emphasis mine). The thinking is clear: Outward adornment is not the main thing, in fact it’s not very important at all. The kind of adornment that has real weight and high value is internal. Why does internal adornment, or “inner beauty” trump outer beauty in value by a clear long shot, and not any “close call”? Well, for one it’s imperishable, it’s not “fleeting,” and also because this is the way the “holy women of old” (like Sarah, Abraham’s wife) adorned themselves. Most of all, however, Internal adornment exceeds outer adornment in worth because it’s “precious in the sight of God.” Christians value inner beauty more than outer because God does!
I don’t have to argue that this truth is counter-cultural. It so clearly is, perhaps more than other times thanks to media’s influential power and other factors. Ugliness is equated with evil, and beauty with goodness. The opposite is true- evil is ugly and goodness is beautiful, but people not so pretty are not necessarily living wicked lives and people outrageously gorgeous are not necessarily virtuous. I just finished reading “Frankenstein” for another class and it’s interesting that Frankenstein (who is not the monster by the way, but the creator of it!) assumes from the start that his creation is of complete wicked intent based on how it looks. He doesn’t think for a moment that his creation could have good thoughts and that Heaven saw he had a duty to show compassion toward his creation. He expects nothing but evil from his creation because he looks so dreadful.
I find it intriguing that verse six of this passages says that women are “Sarah’s children” if “we do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” I’d like to look into this more. It hits close to home.
Proximity with God should create more harmony in all of the relationships that we are a part of. From friends, co-workers, bosses, children, other family and spouses. In fact, in someways our proximity to God can be judged through the harmony of relationship we have with others. The peace we receive from God affects our entire nature and thus influences our interactions with others.
A major result is that we should begin to look to others more than ourselves and value them more than ourselves as well. Thus, when this is applied to men and women in marriage relationships, they each serve the other and honor each other–love each other–well. Husband and wife both are heirs of Christ’s gracious gift in the same way. Ultimately, there is no difference except for roles in the Church and the nuclear family. We are all saved by grace!
The wife is called to submit to her husband such that he might see her purity and reverence. I think the second half of that sentence helps qualify what is looks like to submit biblically to one’s husband. The husband is to respect the wife also and be considerate of her as the “weaker” vessel. I have heard many different interpretations of what “weaker” might mean here, but the most convincing is that the Greek caries the connotation of some precious fragile vase which demands gentle and honorable treatment. It is interesting that Peter adds that men should do this so that their prayers are not hindered. There are natural and spiritual consequences which occur if the husband is not treating the wife with the honor, gentleness and respect she deserves.
The theme of these passages seems to be that we need to act honorably and respect those whom we are in relationship with (whether legal or home) regardless of whether they deserve it or not. Some advice I’ve heard which has made a difference in my attitude and obedience in this regard was that I should focus on what I am required to do, not what the other person is to do.