Brad and I are still reading the book Marriage Matters*. I’m in chapter 5, at a pace of about a chapter a week. I told you reading non-fiction is like a marathon for me! Anywho, so far, the book has had a lot of theological truths about God that make easy translations to marriage.
I say “easy” – what I mean is – “easy” to understand. Putting them into practice? I’ll let you decide how that usually goes. 😉
Smith, the author, pointed me to an insight I never noticed before.
In 1 Peter 3, Peter writes
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, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (1 Peter 3:1-2, NIV)
I have read these verses (the commands to wives continues through verse 6) many times before, but I never bothered to ask what Peter was talking about when he said, “in the same way”.
Well – this is an important question! If I’m supposed to submit myself to my husband, I want to know in what way that is! I surely don’t want to follow what submission means to the world or myself or even my church.
What does submission mean to God?
Peter is talking about submission in various relationships: to authorities, to masters, and then wives to husbands. Directly before he writes about submission, he calls us to live out our identity as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” and this has the purpose of praising God and pointing non-believers to Him (1 Peter 2:9-12).
Conclusion 1: Submission to God’s appointed leaders (including our husbands) is an act of praise that reflects Him to the lost.
OK, that one really does wow me. But hang on for the next one!
When speaking to slaves, Peter tells them to submit themselves to their masters even “to those who are harsh” (v. 18). Why? He says suffering under leadership identifies us with the suffering of Jesus – the very suffering that saves us.
But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 3:20-21, NIV, emphasis mine)
This idea precedes the sentence “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands…”
Conclusion 2: Submission is sometimes a trial of suffering, but we are still called to it, and this calling is an example to non-believers.
In other words, yes – submission may be difficult to the point of suffering! But because we are designed to compliment each other as head and helper, if we do submit to our husbands (and in this way, we are submitting to God as well), then our example can lead people to faith (2:12)!!!
What if your husband is not a believer? It is no accident that Peter says
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, when they see the purity and reverance of your lives. (1 Peter 3:1-2, NIV)
Yes, learning to respect your husband in this way can lead to his very salvation!
Some of you may be thinking – well of course submitting is an act of suffering! But in the original design, it was not meant to be this way. Our husband’s headship and our helpership were designed as a perfect match – to work in harmony with each other to reproduce more people who love God. Our sin and the sin of our partners is what twists it into something that may bring a period of suffering.
When we are both submitting to God’s design, submission to our husbands is not an act of suffering at all! It’s a beautiful picture of how Christ loves His church.
In next week’s Wedded Wednesday, I hope to address some of the consequences that occur when we don’t submit. I’m praying for wisdom and insight beyond my years! And to actually apply these truths in my own marriage! I think my husband would appreciate that. 😉
This idea of suffering in submission is new to me! How about you? When did you first make this connection? How did that change your thoughts on submission?