Remove All Permission
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:1-2
In this context be subject is hypotássō – A Greek military term meaning “to arrange troop divisions in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.
Peter continues his emphasis and exhortation on submission from chapter two where we are told to submit to authority and “honor” the king even if the King is Nero. If that wasn’t unfair enough slaves were given a similar instruction to submit to their masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. That might seem confusing in a world that teaches us to fight for our rights and subdue evil. However, the purpose of submission is not to champion evil but to defeat it. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Vs. 15 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. Vs. 18
As we previously learned in the book of Ephesians, the first and most profound meaning of marriage between a man and a woman is God’s mysterious representation of Jesus’ relationship with His bride, the church. Eph 5:32 It follows that a healthy marriage is rooted in the same principles required for a relationship with Jesus. The first and most foundational practice is found in Mat 16:24-25.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his lifewill lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Deny is aparnéomai – to utterly, disown, abstain, to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone, to forget one‘s self, and lose sight of one‘s self and one‘s own interests.
“Deny self” is a no-brainer if The Song of Songs is your template and script for marriage. In my case, I was and still am mesmerized by The Most Wonderful – Most Incredible Woman on the planet apart from whom I have zero desire to live.
“Deny self” sounds scary if we remain self-centered. This is especially true within the context of everything contemporary culture teaches. The world tells us to “find yourself!”, “follow your dreams!”, “fight for your rights!” Jesus says,
“Lose them all!”
It is in losing that we gain
When a man and woman are joined together in Holy Matrimony it is representative of Christ’s marriage to His bride the church. The wife submits to her husband and the husband gives himself up for his bride. The husband stands in direct submission to God. The wife submits to and through her husband. Eph 5:22-33 This is not a position of inferiority for the wife. Rather it is one of tremendous honor and a model for the divine alignment established by God. Gen 2:18-25 1 Cor 11:1-3
How wonderful and valuable is the bride for whom the groom would so gladly give his life?
So far we have been speaking of healthy marriages. But 1 Peter 3 begins with submission in an unhealthy one.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word…
While people often generalize, minimize, rationalize, and justify their behavior, abuse in some form results when one party refuses to submit according to the word of God. Mind you, abuse is a continuum. It ranges from neglect to homicide. Once again Peter exhorts us to apply submission as a spiritual weapon.
that they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
When one spouse fails to submit to God, it produces resentment and unforgiveness in the other. Wherever there is unforgiveness a Positive Feedback Loop is formed. Things get progressively worse until one or both parties go their own way or they kill each other. The conflict we see played out in marriages is the same conflict we see in God’s family.
I’m right! We are right!
Anyone who disagrees is wrong and by extension, evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Mat 6:14-15
You are not forgiven unless you forgive!
Peter’s illustration of submission as a spiritual weapon that began in 1 Peter 2:13-25 continues in Chapter 3. The only difference is that most of us have never been slaves or faced persecution like believers did under Nero. But marriage is relevant to almost everyone. Peter’s exhortation for women to submit is the antithesis of everything Westerners have been taught for at least fifty years. The idea of submission especially by those labeled as oppressed by society at large is a stumbling block for unbelievers.
But Jesus is calling us higher by asking us to go lower still.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
May they prosper who love you. Psalms 122:6
Recently Cathy and I were discussing the exhortation to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. “Why Jerusalem?” We asked.
“Why not all of Israel?”
Jerusalem is from Jeru –possession and Salem – peace. Hence Jerulselum means possession of peace. Salem is thought to be Jerusalem in Psalm 76:2. Melchizedek was the King of Salem. Heb 7 Long story short, Jerusalem was on the map and governed by Melchizedek more than two thousand years before Jesus was born. Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah known as the Temple Mount and the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque today. Control of this sacred site has changed hands between Jews, Romans, Muslims, and Christians since 831 BC when King Solomon built his Temple. As we discussed in Why Israel? God’s ultimate desire is that none would perish. 1 Pet 3:9. What that means in practice includes the reconciliation of Abraham’s family through the descendants of Issac and Ishmael. Isaiah 19.
At this moment the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael continue to fight. Jerusalem and especially Mount Moriah represent the question of who is the child of the promise versus the child of the flesh. Paul puts this argument to rest in Romans 3. Of course, Christians are the only ones who validate the words of Paul.
The question is not if we should fight back but how we should fight?
Hence we are called to submit to suffering with Jesus. Rom 8:17. Suffering requires endurance. 2 Tim 2:12 But that suffering must be for doing good. 1 Peter 2:20 We are called to reign with Jesus by suffering for righteousness sake. 1 Pet 3:18-22
When I look at so much of the church today I see an extension of our society at large. They want blessings for the sake of their own comfort. 2 Tim 3:1-7 This is further evidenced by the fear and resentment that are sparked by statements like this. At the end of the day, I see an ingenious strategy of the devil at work. It is the same root of the conflict theory of Karl Marx where the oppressed are exhorted to fight their oppressors. Those who identify as oppressed must fight. Given that marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of society, it makes sense that the enemy would attack it first. Husbands invariably lose any time wives fight them. I know what some are thinking. “What if he beats her up?” The husband only loses more if he refuses to give himself up and wins a fight with his wife. Hence Peter and Paul address submission as our method for victory. So many things would fall into place if we would grasp the eternal significance of our marriages and our roles as husbands and wives. Eph 5:22-33, Eph 3:10
How do we begin?
The first step is to be brutally honest with ourselves. Examine the myriad ways that we argue and fight, rationalize, and justify rebellion in our hearts. Then remove all permission that we have given ourselves to do so. That’s a hard call for those of us who have been raised in a nation birthed out of rebellion framed as righteousness.
Chew on that.
May we all embrace. Psalm 119:23-24