Jump Start # 2507
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.”
Love and marriage—not always easy topics to teach, to understand, and more so, to live. That “two becoming one,” often is a battle of which one. Here, late in the first century, Peter is writing about mixed marriages—one is a disciple and one is not. Specifically in this context, the wife is a Christian and the husband is not. We see that today. It’s a Sunday morning, and there is a young mother with backpacks, sippy cups, and an armful of kids, but no husband to help her. She’s not a single mom, yet, on Sunday’s she actually feels like she is. Where’s the husband? He’s in bed. He’s out fishing with the boys. He’s with his family. He’s doing a thousand things other than worshipping his God. He’d rather do nothing, and many do, than come to worship. He doesn’t understand, nor does he want to understand.
And, for this young mother it’s hard. She is trying to instill the virtues of Christ into the hearts of her children. She wants them to grow up knowing the Lord. It’s a hard and lonely journey for her. Her husband often begs her to skip worship services. He plans trips that would take her away from worship. He wants her to be with him and he doesn’t seem to care if that would kill what faith she has.
So, every Sunday, this young mother loads the car by herself and heads down to the church building. She knows the day is coming when the kids will want to stay home like daddy does. That’s a battle for another day and she dreads it. At home, there are other battles, all the time. She is the one to remind the family to pray before they eat. She is the one who corrects the children on their behavior and teaches them forgiveness and sharing. She loves her husband and he is good to her and makes good money, but she never saw all this when she got married. She’d love to have some couples over but her husband doesn’t want to be around “those church people.” She’d like to come to more things going on at the church, but she knows for now that she can’t. She remembers as a child that her parents kept visiting preachers in their home. She knows better than bringing that up. She feels pulled both ways and tries her best to keep a good face through it all.
Our verse today, identifies an approach to try to convert a mate who is not a Christian. The passage begins with, “In the same way,” which takes one back through the suffering of Jesus, as the last chapter ended. Jesus suffered, but He kept quiet. But even before that, Peter takes us back to the relationship servants had with their masters. Some were not kind. They were not reasonable. They were not gentle. Even then, these Christian servants were to be submissive. Don’t be mouthy. Don’t be rebellious. Don’t be threatening. Don’t be ugly. One can’t be submissive and be that way.
It is in “this way” that Peter says, “In the same way, you wives…” Your husbands may not be kind. They may not be understanding. They may not be good. YET, God expects us to do what is right. We do what is right, regardless of how others are. We do not determine our behavior based upon what others do. We act, not react. We choose.
So, these Christian women were to be submissive to their non-Christian husbands. They were to be chaste, respectful, gentle and kind as the following verses reveal. They were not to get into knock-down, drag out fights. They were not to be shouting. They were not to be demanding. They were not to be threatening, including saying, “I’ll divorce you,” or “I’ll take the kids and leave.” One can’t be submissive while carrying such a twisted attitude and spirit. Our verse says that these husbands may not listen to the word, but they are seeing character and behavior. They are noticing things. Consistency. Righteousness. Faithfulness. Hope. Love. A gentle heart. A serving heart. A good heart. A thankful heart.
Some thoughts for us:
First, we need to teach our young people about dating and marrying people of faith. One tends to marry who they date. So if the date people who have no interests in the Lord, then they will marry people who have no interests in the Lord. Kissing a frog does not turn one into a prince. That’s the stuff of fairy tales. If you hang with frogs, you’ll get a frog. Far too often our young people are only looking at the exterior of a person. What’s on the inside. What dreams do they have? How do they treat others? How selfish are they? What do they think about the Lord? It’s not enough to marry a Christian, we must marry someone who will help you get to Heaven. Marry someone who will take the Lord seriously. Marry someone who understands commitment.
Second, from our passage, the behavior of the wives is something that takes time. It’s not going to happen in a week. Year in and year out. Your attitude. Your choice of words. You commitment to the Lord. All of these things matter. Compromising here and there. Bending the rules here and there. Not having spiritual habits at home are things that will be noticed.
Third, Peter is hopeful. He believes that these husbands can be won to the Lord. He doesn’t see this as a losing cause. He doesn’t see that there is no hope. It helps to pray and pray daily for the conversion of your spouse. It helps to introduce them to quality spiritual people that you know. Sometimes there is a false barrier in the minds of some. They think that they have to be perfect. Or, they think that they will have to give up all fun in their life. Or, they think that they will be judged for everything that they do. Being around high quality spiritual people that are real and joyous and easy to talk to may help them build some bonds and remove some of these false things in their minds.
Fourth, don’t give up. Never give up. As long as there is life in their bodies, keep praying, trying and doing things. To give up is to give your husband over to the devil. You can’t do that. Fight tooth and nail for his soul. Don’t get discouraged and especially don’t get upset. Talk to others who have been in your shoes. And, keep praying.
Finally, understand that if the Lord can make the sun stand still, part seas, send locusts, shut the mouths of lions, rescue his people from prison, he can do mighty things in your life. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. Having a conversation about the Lord is a great starting place. Let your husband ask questions. You may not know the answers, but others can help you find them. Let him see why this is so important to you and why it’s not church, but it’s the Lord that has changed your life. Some have had a bad experience in the past. Some have assumed that all churches are the same. They are not. Try reading a few passages together.
It is interesting that Peter doesn’t place the conversion of these husbands upon the church, the sermons, or, the preacher, but upon the behavior of the wives. How we treat one another can do more than a month of sermons.