God’s Keys to Marriage – Submission (1 Pet 3:1-6)


Ben Tellinghuisen - July 6, 2014

God's Keys to Marriage - Submission (1 Pet 3:1-6)

Transcript: In and around Father’s Day this last month, there were many articles appearing in different major news outlets trumpeting a great gender revolution that is happening around us, and they cited the Pew Forums research indicating that there had been a 100% in the number of ‘stay at home dads’ in America along with the corresponding rise in in the number of female primary bread winners. This of course is celebrated with the “We Can Do It,” you know, the World War II poster, “We Can Do It” sort of mentality, among feminist who rejoice in a breakdown of tradition gender roles. But the data actually indicates that there are still only a fraction of stay at home dads compared to stay at home moms, and of the stay at home dads 80% are staying at home because they can’t find work, are in school, or are disabled – not primarily to take care of the children. And so, the statistic is not as relevant as one might think in proving a gender revolution. And just goes to show that our culture is bound and determined to pronounce a moral and gender revolution even if it does not reflect actually how a majority of Americans live. But the fact of the matter is even if our culture still makes some rather tradition family decisions with many more women staying at home to take care of the kids then men, feminist ideology has won the battle for our minds. It’s even made significant inroads into the church. You see the influence of feminism in the different ways that people approach marriage. And so, I’m just going to add an introduction, talk through a couple of different approaches that a number of different couples may have for marriage. Well the first is a completely secular approach to marriage and it’s the feminist approach to marriage. And in this approach, there is no gender distinction whatsoever. There’s two totally autonomous individuals. In marriage, this often means there are separate bank accounts, there’s personal autonomy, personal space, you just do what feels right for me and you got to stuck up for yourself no matter what. That’s why so many secular psychologists say the main secret to a marriage that lasts is common intrests. Sure, kids and grandkids – that helps, but there is a push in shared activities and passions among the secular marriages in order to keep them faithful and keep them lasting. Things like kayaking, volunteering at the pet shelter, a number of different things – the list can go on and on. And shared activities can indeed be a sweet thing in marriage, can’t they? I’m sure you can attest to that. But it’s hardly a fail proof for a good marriage. Further, there can be great marriages between rather different individuals with few shared hobbies, if any. So important is individual happiness, satisfaction that some who hold this view of marriage are even reporting that affairs are actually good for their marriage. No joke. There’s an article in May 20th of 2014 posted on CNN, and the title of the article is “How Affairs Make My Marriage Stronger.” It’s really a sad article written by anonymous young mother who was too afraid to use her name – that’s telling something – who indicates that she and her husband both have multiple affairs every year. She expresses a deep fear that their marriage could end in divorce or that their cheating ways could eventually damage their two young boys or their health through sexually transmitted diseases, but she concludes this way: “Most of the time, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than at home on the floor playing with my son and my husband. But that’s most of the time. One every few weeks, there’s something magical about being out with a man who’s not my husband. Just call it the secret spark that keeps my marriage alive.” That’s a recipe for disaster if you know anything. This conflicted young woman alludes to throughout her entire article, she is not even sure if this is a good thing, and she’s trying to put a positive spin on it in order to do what feels best to her. This of course is the logical conclusion of the feminist worldview, it’s a feminist approach to marriage – each person needs to do what’s best for themselves, stick up for themselves as number one, and do what makes them most happy at any and every given time – what gives them the most satisfaction. Sometimes that means frequent affairs, others it’s a detached roommate like living situation. One thing for sure – this approach is not a recipe for marriage that lasts. Well, a second approach to marriage is a Christian egalitarian approach. It’s that men and women are equal in every way, like the feminists, and here you have basically a modern secular feminism influencing Biblical interpretation or a Biblical worldview. For virtually 2000 years of Biblical interpretation, the plain meaning of Scriptures have been believed and followed by the church, by men and women. Women and men are created differently, they have different roles, wives are specifically called to submit – that’s clear in our passage which we just read, it’s clear in many other passages in the New Testament and the Old Testament. But since the onset of secular feminism, many have sought to literally liberate these texts from their oppressive, chauvinistic, male dominated interpretations. The same thing is happening with the Bible’s clear teaching on homosexuality today in response to the rapid movement that we find in the culture around us. And so, some flat out call the apostles themselves, Peter, Paul, whoever writes about traditional male and female roles, as chauvinists, as completely wrong, as wrongheaded. They think they just missed the boat entirely. It’s hard to do that without denying the authority of Scripture, isn’t it? Well other’s, they do hermeneutical acrobatics to make the text say something it never intended to say. Like, “Submission is really implied going both ways in the context of marriage.” Well, if this were the case, that submission is always to go both ways, we’d have to do that with submission in every area, and I don’t think any of us are willing to say that parents should submit to their children, right? That’s not how that works. It’s also nonsense when you look at Ephesians 5:24 which says, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to everything to their husbands.” Number one, that’s crystal clear what that’s saying, right? So church submits to Christ, wives should submit to everything to their husbands. Well, if we were to take the opposite of that – that’s heretical – Jesus Christ should not submit to the church, right? That makes absolutely no sense, and that’s because the concept of submission always has to do with an authoritative head and someone else under that authoritative head who submits. [It] doesn’t mean the two entities are not equal, just means there’s an authoritative structure. We recognize that, we understand that. So this is really an untenable position – ignoring the plain meaning of Scripture, but it can have the appearance sometimes of being Biblical because a lot of the times Christian egalitarians will say, “Both men and women equally are made in the image of God.” This is indeed true. They believe that two become one flesh in marriage and that faithfulness in marriage should be the norm and that marriages should last a lifetime. But, there are no distinctions in the roles within marriage under this view. Both have a completely equal say, both submit to each other, at point of disagreement – whoever has the best argument, whoever is most persistent, and whoever has the harshest terms usually gets their way. And frankly, most of the time our women are better at those things than men. I see some chuckles because you know that. The problems compounded after the fall as wives have a desire to rule over their husbands and some do a good job of it. It can work out okay at times during the busyness of raising kids, but as the kids grow up and leave the home, marriages built upon the egalitarian approach struggle to find identity and purpose. Men go through the ‘mid-life crisis,’ right? Women struggle to find themselves as they try and restart their career, and marriages often drift apart as personal, individual identity and happiness becomes each partners little God – their idol. This approach to marriage has resulted in almost as high a divorce rate among professing Christians as non-Christians. Well, a third approach to marriage that is closer but it’s still not quite the Biblical approach is the ‘Love of Us’ approach. This is the saccharine sweet couple, always oogling and awgling at each other even 30, 40, 50 years into marriage. And in the name of Agape selfless love, they make their marriage ALL about the other person. That can be a good thing to some extent but instead of making decisions based on convictions, what is right, what is Biblical, what is honoring to God, the highest priority in this approach is pleasing my spouse. And so there’s a sense in which pleasing your spouse is like god, and we don’t want that to be the case either. It’s very common for this approach to diminish with time It might last the first two months for some couples, but as the honeymoon period ends often this approach ends as well and there are major problems with misplaced priorities and even idolatry as already mentioned in the ‘Love of Us’ approach. Well, there’s a fourth approach, and this is, I believe, the Biblical approach and it’s the Christian Complementarianism approach. And this approach teaches that men and women are different by design and are designed to complement one another. This is really God’s approach to marriage and recognizes such passages as Galatians 3:27-28. You can just turn there with me. It’s a passage that some people say doesn’t support this approach, but I believe it does. Galatians 3:27-28, Paul writes this: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus, and if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” So what’s the context of there’s no distinction between slave/free, men/women? It’s within the context of salvation, right? God loves men and women equally. Very clearly here, it says that, verse 27: “As many of you have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” You are all one in Christ. God doesn’t look down on the men and say, “I like the men better because they’re the authority and women less.” No, we are equally children of God. Do you love your sons more than your daughters? I would hope not, or your daughters more than your sons. And so, the point of this passage and the complementarianism approach agrees with this, that as far as salvation is concerned, that we are equally precious in God’s eyes. It also reflects the created order in Genesis, chapter 1 which indicates that all humans, male and female, are made equally in the image of God. They’re equally important in God’s eyes. And yet, in spite of our inherent equality, we are still different by design. We complement one another. God has made men and women different and just like in every relationship, there’s a need for Godly leadership and humble submission. That’s the way your workplaces are structured, that’s the way our nation is structured, we understand that there’s needed structure and balance in every sort of relationship. So this does not mean – [let me] put to bed some of the false ideas of what this could mean – this does not mean that women are to be uneducated, okay? This does not mean that women are to be shackled to the stove cooking and cleaning all day long. This does not mean that women are to never speak their mind or be some sort of door mats. In fact, if a woman were to continue to endure brutal abuse, there may be times when a woman must temporarily leave her husband to protect her and her kids. And this does not mean that men are to be abusive with their authority or use their strength or authority to belittle or diminish wives, but it does mean that God calls every, single one of our marriages to reflect created differences between men and women and women are specifically called to willingly submit to the authority of their husbands. And before you start throwing stones, this is not me, this is the Bible. I want to make this crystal clear. So we’re looking at 1 Peter, chapter 3, 1-6, and as we walk our way through this passage we’re going to see that God has specifically given these roles and commanded us to have these roles to bless us, to bless our marriages and to shape us more into who we are to be. And we’ll see 3 God intended results of submission within marriage. 3 God Intended Results of Submission in Marriage Now, to the unmarried, I want to take a moment and push pause because you may be tempted to check out right now. You think, “I’m not married. This is one of those sermons that just doesn’t apply to me. I’m going to start thinking about what I’m to have for lunch this afternoon, what I need to get done, and I’ll just start righting a list about that.” Well, let me encourage you that this sermon does apply to you, because many of you, if you’re not married, you may get married in the future. This is very important for you to understand these roles before you’re married. Once you get married, you’re playing catch-up if you do. And even if you’re never to marry, every, single one of us in this room has been affected by marriage, haven’t we? We have friends, we have families, we have parents, right? And so, we need to be able to think rightly in order to help others think rightly about authority and submission in marriage. Alright, well let’s get to work. The first God intended result of submission in marriage is that submission is your gospel witness. I) Submission is Your Gospel Witness (vv. 1-2) Submission is your gospel witness and this is found in verses 1 and 2 (1 Peter 3:1-2). Let’s take the very first phrase of verse 1. Peter begins, “Likewise wives, be subject to your own husbands.” Likewise wives, be subject to your own husbands. He starts off with the term ‘likewise’ here and it points back to the previous commands to submit. There’s been several commands throughout this passage, beginning in chapter 2, verse 13, to be subject or to submit to different authority structures. We’ve got citizens to the government. We’ve got servants to masters, and we understood that to mean those who are employees to our bosses. And then we have verse 13, the beginning of verse 13, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” And so Peter is continuing along this same line to say, “Likewise wives, you also have the responsibility to be subject to your own husbands.” Submission to authority is presented then as God’s design for many areas within life. It of course can be tainted by sin, as we discussed a number of weeks ago, but we must remember that authority and submission are found in sinless creation as what we live in now. You see Adam and Eve, there’s a headship and submission even there before the fall, and it was wonderful and sweet. In the new Creation, the eternal state in heaven, for all eternity there will be authority and submission. We see that in the descriptions found in Revelation and throughout the rest of the Bible. We see headship and submission even within angels. There are some angels who have authority over others and there’s no sin there. We see headship and submission within God Himself and there’s clearly no sin there and you would be committing heresy if you said Jesus was any less God than God the Father. And so, they’re clearly equal and yet, there is a consistent headship and submission role even within the Trinity. So, authority and submission relationships does not mean superiority and inferiority - just a recognition of God’s designed different roles. So it is God who gives us the authority. According to chapter 2, verse 13, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” Or, as the alternate translation of the ESV says, “Every institution ordained for people.” God has given us these institutions, marriage, workplace, government, for our good. We are called to submit to the authorities that God has put into our lives. The command ‘to submit’ here means to willing submit yourself. It is not something that you do out of a necessity, begrudgingly, out of an angry heart and a bitter spirit, this is something that you do willingly and you willingly submit yourself to authority and it implies obedience to that authority – honor, respect, service, willingly giving up self-rule – in order to follow God’s given rule. It’s similar to conversion, right? We need to give up living for ourselves to follow God. Well, this is what God has called you to do – to submit to the authorities in your life. As one commentator put it, “It is God who has established such patterns of authority for the orderly functioning of human life, and it both pleases and honor him when we subject ourselves to those authorities.” Another commentator says, “We can submit to authority, whether husband, employer, or government, if we understand that by doing so, we are submitting to the Lord. If we refuse to submit to authority, we’re refusing to submit to Christ. And that is a serious matter.” And so, wives are called with this very serious context to submit to you own husbands. You see that right in verse 1, “Be subject to your own husbands.” Notice it’s not to all men generally, right? It’s specifically to your husbands, if you are married. You’re to give up your will, which you always think is best, and defer to your husband. Now men, part of loving your wives, as we will discuss next week which is an entire week devoted to the male role in marriage, we can and should differ to their preferences, differ to their preferences often, especially with non-consequential things, right? “Where are you going to hang the towels, what soap to buy, what restaurant to eat out at,” all of these different things we should be willing to give up those preferences to our dear wives because we love them and want to serve them. But nonetheless, the ultimate responsibility and ultimate authority is given in the marriage to the husband. Wives, God calls you to specifically willingly follow and submit to your husband’s leadership. This is a frequent command in Scripture, but now Peter gets into some specific results of this submission within marriage. Let’s look at verse 1: “So that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives. Likewise wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word,” that’s talking about your husband. In other words, if some are not believers in the gospel, “they may be won without a word.” In other words, by the constant nagging of their wives to the sake of the gospel - “by the conduct of their wives.” Now you notice in the middle of verse 1 there, it says, “even if some do not obey the word,” indicates that this is something out of the norm. Unbelieving husband was probably not the norm even within the churches here. Many probably were believers, but regardless, these teachings are pertinent to both situations – to every situation we find ourselves in. Peter uses a play on words here, “the word,” when he says that husbands are not obedient to ‘the word,’ that’s talking about the gospel message found in the Scriptures and that wives are to win their husbands without a word – that’s talking about the incessant nagging which we already mentioned. The main point is that conduct in marriage is the most important part of your testimony to your spouse and to the watching world. It doesn’t matter if they are Christian or not, a good husband or a lousy one, wives have a singular responsibility to their husbands not to force their will but to submit patiently to their husbands. Now here’s the specific conduct we see in verse 2, when they see your respectful and pure conduct that’s the type of life you are to live – respectful and pure. You see, submission requires respect to be given, even when none is earned. There is honor that wives are to show their husbands, but it’s also a vivid display of chaste or purity in the marriage. Marriages should reflect this fidelity that the wife has. The wife should never have any evil intent toward their husband, no selfish motives, no vindictiveness for past wrongs. We tend to remember our wrongs, right? You’ve been wronged - you think, “This is a terrible thing. I’m going to get back at him, and then it’ll come up two, three, four years again in the future.” No, we need to not have that vindictive spirit. Further wives, you should not have a wandering heart that would rather be with another man than your husband. Maybe you would never commit infidelity, but the temptation is real to have a wandering heart – especially when you see the negative aspects of your husband. So not only are wives to submit by following their husbands preferences, but they are to live in a submissive way, honoring both God and their husbands. The end goal is the edification of a believing husband and the salvation of an unbelieving husband. Now women, you often want to change your husband, right? Does he have some besetting sins that are major blights in his character? I think if we’re honest, you’re living with a sinner and there are going to be things that are going to be wrong that your husband does. Sure, confront him, point out his sin in a loving and gracious way, but most importantly, live in such a way that you are faithfully submitting to him, honor him, follow him, stay committed to him in spite of his faults. Your conduct will speak exponentially louder than constant nagging. Now, I think Peter chose to speak directly to Christian women married to unbelieving spouses in this case because that is probably the most difficult situations a woman could ever be in especially in the ancient world where women were expected to follow everything their husbands dictated, even religion. The first century historian Plutarch wrote this: “A wife should no acquire her own friends, but should make her husband’s friends her own. The gods are the first and most significant friends. For this reason, it is proper for a wife to recognize only those gods whom her husband worships and to shut the door to superstitious cults and strange superstitions.” Well, Christianity most definitely would have been considered a strange superstition – not unlike today, right? And so, Christian wives who find themselves in this situation, married to an unbeliever, are forced to go against their husband’s wishes to some extent because they have to obey God, they have to go to church, they have to have regular fellowship with other believers because that’s what God requires of them. They have to have a relationship with the God of the Bible, not some fake God. And so, in everything else, as long as it doesn’t go against God’s commands, a wife is to let her conduct be consistently submissive and honoring to her husband. And so, we see that submission is crucial for a women’s testimony, both to an unbelieving husband and to the outside world who sees her faithful Christian life lived out consistently even in her most intimate of relationships. II) Submission is Your True Beauty (vv. 3-4) Well, the second God intended result of marriage is this: Submission is your true beauty. Submission is your true beauty. We see this in verses 3 and 4. Verse 3 says this: “Do not let your adjourning be external, the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry or the clothing you wear.” Now, in ancient Greco-Roman world, both men and women often significantly alter their natural appearance. Fads of course would come and go and different types of hair. Braids were all the rage – they would change every so often – and they were changing so frequently that the rich and wealthy in society actually had marble busts made of them with removable hair so that when the next hairstyle came in, ten years later or whatever, they would commission a new hairdo made to put back onto their head. And we often think, “Oh, well the ancient Roman world, they were just – you know – they didn’t wear makeup, they were just normal, plain, everyone.” That’s not the case at all. Hair dye was actually very popular in the ancient Roman world. People would dye their hair black at times. There were times in which blonde hair was the in thing. There were times in which even the most exotic colors, blues and purples, were used. I was surprised to find that out as I did the research this week. And the more wealthy the women, the more likely they were to have expensive jewelry and clothing that would accentuate different parts of their body, whether their necks, ears, eyes, hair, torso, anything. And as odd as it seems, some women it seems took their cues from the fashion trends of the cult prostitutes in various temples. You would think you wouldn’t want to be associated with that, but apparently that was a popular trendsetting force in the ancient world, indicating that fashion trends were anything but modest, right? The more I read of ancient Rome and the various cosmetics, hair styles, jewelry, and clothing, the more I thought of the recent movies, “The Hunger Games,” right - and the wildly dressed people who lived in the capital. Has anybody seen those movies, read those books, you understand what I’m talking about. It’s a dystopian book that turned into a movie series, and the most wealthy citizens living in the capital live by the mantra that the more bizarre, the more beautiful - the more eccentric, the more beautiful. So, it’s no surprise that Peter warned against the worlds understanding of beauty. If we’re honest, women tend to fall into the same trap today. Maybe not blue hair, I don’t see too many blue hair people out there, but we pursue the world’s definition of beauty rather than God’s definition of beauty. It can really happen at any age, it isn’t just a modesty issue with younger women, although that is a problem. I overheard a couple of women in the grocery store talking about a pair of very specific 200 dollar pair of pants that they bought – they wore two times and they gave away to the thrift store. The woman regretted it now and is now going to purchase the same pair of pants because it needs something to go with an expensive pair of brand name shoes that she also has. But it’s okay because she’s said she’s gone down two sizes since then and so it’s okay to buy a new pair of pants – she would have had to anyway. It’s amazing what you here when you’re standing in line at a grocery store. Now for some, pursuing the latest fashions is just an issue of poor stewardship. It’s probably not the wisest thing to spend 200 dollars on a pair of pants every year and to go with your 250 dollar pair of shoes that you buy every year. Inordinate amounts of money are spent on other things that are fashion related, aren’t they? Manicures, pedicures, hair appointments, hair coloring, hair products, cosmetics, they’re expensive. You got to go to Macy’s – do you realize how much those things cost? Jewelry, clothing, yes, some of you men fall into this category while you spend way too much on certain articles of clothing. For others, it’s an issue of modesty though. Women, please understand that part of being chaste and pure in conduct is not advertising what your body looks like in vivid detail. A good principle to go by is to avoid the grey areas, avoid the shirt, the skirt, and the dresses that are questionable. I don’t see much of a problem here in this church and I praise God for that, but you will have relationships with those who do have problems with that and so if you do, recognize that principle. My wife often tells me it can be hard to find modest clothes and that often she has to wear an extra undershirt or a sweater, or leggings in order to make an article of clothing appropriate or more modest. Now, this verse of course is not teaching that you literally cannot braid your hair or you literally cannot wear jewelry – if that were the case then women literally then could not wear clothes, okay? That’s not what this verse is talking about. So yes, women, you can and should groom yourselves, you can and should dress appropriately as women. Peter’s point is these outer signs of beauty should not be pursued as an idol. These outer signs of beauty should not be pursued in excess, because ultimately outer beauty is not a women’s true source of beauty. We see in verse four that God looks at the heart and if we’re honest, husbands look at the heart as well. That’s why so many marriages to supermodels, that’s why so many marriages within the entertainment industry fall apart so quickly – it’s based on simply the lust of a good looking person married to another good looking person – that fades. The world understands that. True beauty is from within. That’s what verse four says; look down at the text with me: “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which in God’s sight is very precious.” So what ‘your adorning’ here means again, as it did in verse three, what you put on as your true source of beauty. If you’re putting on as your true source of beauty your makeup, your clothes, your jewelry, your hairstyle, you’ve missed the point. Your true source of beauty should be the hidden person of the heart – the person within, the person that we are, the person that will last even as beauty fades even when we get older – it’s specifically talking about a gentle and quiet spirit. Your beauty is your submissive spirit. The two specific qualities that are highlighted is your gentle and your quiet spirit. ‘Gentleness’ here, or meekness, is not insistent on one’s own way or on your own rights, not pushy, not selfishly assertive, not demanding that you get what you want or else. ‘Quiet’ here is talking about, likewise not drawing attention to yourself. It’s not overtly opinionated about absolutely everything, in every context you feel like you need to voice your opinion and you need to make sure that you are right and everyone hears you. So coming from the context, we understand that quietness is a speech which honors your husband. So these two character traits are the exact opposite of pursuing attention and praise for your outer good looks. That’s why he draws the distinction here. Women, when they pursue the world’s understanding of beauty are focused on what they look like on the outside and God here tells us that you should be pursuing a gentle and quite spirit. If we’re honest, this sort of humility, this sort of others focused is hard, especially within the context of marriage when you look over at the underserved slob who pours chip crumbs into the couch cushions. It’s exactly, though, what God has called us to do – to submit to our husbands, even if they are not worth it. Respect, honor, obey, follow your boss at work, the government, even your husband. Remember your boss at work; you are to submit to them, even if they have it out for you, even if they continue to abuse you in all sorts of ways. Look at what verse 18 and 19 say, “Servants, be subject to your master with all respect, not only to the good and the gently, but also to the unjust.” The same principle here is now applied to a marriage. It’s assumed that an unbelieving spouse is an unjust spouse. He’s not a good husband, and yet what does Peter call them to do? Submit to them nonetheless. Honor them, respect them, obey, follow, give your preference to your husband even if they are unbelievers. These are hard teachings, but they are God’s teachings. Women who follow God’s will in this manner are adorned then with the beauty that will never ever fade. As in God’s sights – what does it say in the end of verse 4? – God’s sight, they are very precious - very precious. So let me ask you – are you seeking to live in such a way that your conduct is precious to God or so that you can get what you want? III) Submission is Your Key to Fighting Fear (vv. 5-6) Well, the third God intended result of submission in marriage is submission is your key to fighting fear. We see that in verse 5 and 6 as Sarah is put forward as a model. There’s a TV show that has been on for 11 years, it’s called America’s Next Top Model. Of course, the goal is to find a beautiful young [woman] who will pose for magazines, fashion shows, and the like, but you ever think of why they call those people models? Supposedly, they are to be a model for others to follow, to aspire to to some extent. When you ask yourself; “Well are they model citizens? Well, maybe. Are these model women? Well, most are actually quite younger girls more like it. Are they model of intellect? Well, I’m sure some are smart, I wouldn’t say all of them.” The world would say of course, “No, they’re models of beauty.” But they sure aren’t models of modesty, right? Many who would be hard pressed to identify themselves as models of purity, and yet how many Christian women sadly look to models as an example to follow to some degree to another? The Bible has some wonderful examples of God honoring inner beauty women. That’s exactly where Peter goes next. He says, “Don’t think about the world as your model. Don’t think about the models out there. Think about the women that have lived to honor God.” And so that’s what he says in verse 5. He says, “For this is how the holy women,” many different types of women – Ruth, Esther, there’s many women in the Bible, “who hoped in God and used to adorn themselves by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” More than just Sarah is an example, as we just mentioned, the holy women who sought to submit to their husbands, but Sarah is just one specific example that he wants to call our mind to. Now it’s a rather strange example in today’s society because what does Peter point out? – She calls him lord. So husbands, how many of your wives call you lord? Not too many and I don’t think they are about to start anytime soon. And that’s okay; it really is, trust me because this is taken from Genesis 18:12. It’s a rather obscure passage and it’s talking in that context where Genesis 18, Yahweh comes to visit Abraham and he promises the son will be born to them and Sarah overhears a son is going to be born to Abraham and Sarah and she laughs out loud and says offhandedly, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure and bear a child?” It’s not the pinnacle of Sarah’s faith in God, but nonetheless she has respect for her husband and in that culture in that time it was appropriate for her to call her husband lord as a sign of respect – a title of respect that demonstrated her submission to him. And so when Sarah, we have an imperfect model, but a model nonetheless, that women everywhere should follow. Showing honor to and submitting to an imperfect husband as every wife is called to do. Now notice the conclusion in verse 6, “And you are her children if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” Look, our culture says one of the most frightening things is to submit to your spouse. There’s intense pressure for women to conform to the feminist ideology, isn’t there? “You need to stick up for yourself; you need to make sure that you get what you want. You need to make sure that you have a career because that is how you’re going to find your greatest identity and self-worth.” That is what the culture says, that is not what the Bible says. “Stick up for yourself, live for yourself, stay married as long as it is good for you and as long as it makes you feel good, and most definitely do not stay in any relationship that you deem to be damaging to what you want to do.” Well, the world is right – submission, humility – it’s frightening because you don’t have control especially if your husband is an unbeliever, but that doesn’t change what God has called you to do. See, wives are to do what is right, or in this passage, “to do good,” to submit and do not let fears or anxieties dictate or provide license for further sinful actions within your marriage. How in the world though, can we do this? Look at the beginning of verse 5: “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves.” It’s all about your hope in God. If you hope in God and trust that God is not going to lead you astray, that God’s Word is how He’s called you to live, and that He wants what’s best for you and has planned what is best for you, then you’re going to follow what He wants you to do – even if it’s frightening. Look, there’s no way, humanly speaking, to will yourself to submit to your imperfect husband. Your ultimate motivation to submit is because you trust and hope in God, and you have hope that He is commanding you to do what is best for you. He always has and He always will. The church father, Augustine of Hippo, is one of the most influential theologians in history and he wrote an autobiography called Confessions and it is written as a prayer from God – really interesting book, I encourage you to read that. It’s an engaging read although it’s 1600 years old. Now, amidst the tales of God’s mighty work in his only life, he gives a moving tribute to his faithful mother, Monica, who was instrumental in bringing her unbelieving husband to faith in Jesus Christ. Augustine describes his mother’s role with his father in these words: “She served her husband as her master and did all she could to win him for You. Speaking to him of You of, by her conduct, by which You made her beautiful. Finally, when her husband was at the end of his earthly span, she gained him for You.” Augustine further describes intense emotional, and even physical abuse, that his father doled out on his wife, yet Monica’s faithful love, submission, and faithful honor eventually brought him to his knees before his Creator. What a wonderful picture of a woman who endured much in the hands of a terrible husband and eventually was God’s instrument in bringing her unbearable husband to a right relationship with his Creator. That is just one story of the power of submission in the life of an unequally yoked couple. There are countless others out there where a loving, submissive wife has been the catalyst to restoring marriages on the rocks, where a loving, submissive wife has been instrumental in maintaining a sweet, Christ reflecting marriage for 40, 60, 70 years. So, submission is God’s key to successful marriage. Next week we will address God’s instructions to men as we see man’s role in living a successful marriage. Let’s pray: God, we thank you for giving us your word. We know that this is indeed a very hard passage to work through. This is a passage that none of us want to do – that we fight against in our flesh in all that we are. I pray for the wives and the women in this congregation that you would give them boldness and the ability to follow you and not fear what might happen to them, but continue to trust in you that you have called them to do what you want them to do because you want what’s best for them, and even what’s best for their husband. And so, I pray that you would give the women of our church the strength to do that and strength to give that very counsel to those they have the opportunity to counsel. Lord, I thank you also for the reflection of submission that we see in the Trinity. What a privilege it is to see how perfect submission can be worked out and that we rejoice in the fact that we can know you and God the Father through your son and that the Holy Spirit awakens our hearts, quickens us to love and to serve you in a greater and greater way every day. We thank you for that relationship that we have with you and for the even headship and submission that is reflected there. We pray that you would help us to be those, especially now men too, who love our wives and do not treat their submission with an expectation or would be in anyway abusive. I pray that you would help us who loving guide and direct those you put into our charge. We thank you and pray all these things in your son’s holy and precious name. Amen.

Scripture References: 1 Peter 3:1-6

From Series: "1 Peter: Standing Firm in this Shaky Life"

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