OF THE HUSBAND AND WIFE IN MARRIAGE
A series of five messages given by: Dr. Grant C. Richison,
at Immaneul Baptist Church, Iron Mountain Michigan
THE WIFE ‘S ROLE IN MARRIAGE
We are reading the first six verses of 1 Peter, Chapter 3,
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands· that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the’ word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham
Calling him lord: whose daughters you are, as long as you do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” KJV
First Peter 3:1-7 deals with husband-wife roles. Verses 1-6 concern the wife’s role and verse 7 with the husband’s.
“Likewise you wives be in subjection to your own husbands.” Now there are two kinds of people who are not going to respond to these messages through the next few weeks. One is the older set – those who have already established their patterns and their principles for marriage. They are not going to respond to these messages because they are in a rut. And also, in association with that – those who have given up, “There is no hope; there is no way out. Forget it! I’m through! I have had it! I have tried every route but forget it! Don’t tell me again!”
Then the second group who are not going to listen very well are those who are naive. For example, teenagers, those who do not really know what is ahead. They think that marriage is a panacea, especially girls. “Oh, if I could only get married then everything would be alright.” But, just because you get married it is not going to resolve your personal problem. Marriage is no gimmick for a lack or a problem in your life! It is deeper than that. It is far more profound than that. And then these girls say: “I don’t know that if anyone will ever ask me out; no one is looking my way.” So, the first trolley car that comes along, they hop on. And they ride it maybe for a couple of blocks, for a couple of years. Then they say, “Oh, I got on the wrong trolley there. I did not even make a proper examination to find out what kind of trolley car this was.” They would have been much happier remaining single.
But that is not how to resolve the problem. We do not solve a vacuum in our lives by grasping after the first man that comes along. The best approach in relating to a male is to find what appeals to him. It is not primarily physical beauty (although most men would argue with me on that). The greatest thing to a man is inner beauty. Now that is the whole point of these six verses dealing with the wife’s role in marriage.
Femininity is a woman who is a beautiful inside, a lovely person. Not one who is filled with implacability, bitterness, resentment, hostility, anger, and all the other things that go with a horrible person. We do not call the latter type a lady. Maybe we can call her a woman. I will grant that, we will call her a woman. She has the physical make-up of a woman, but she does not have the mental make-up of a biblical woman.
The first six verses deal with the wife’s role in marriage. Verse 7 relates to the husband’s role in marriage. Did you notice that? Six verses for the woman and one for the man. Are there any implications in that? Well let me say men before you delight on that too much, that one verse has just as much content as all the other six verses put together. So, let us not get too high before the balloon bursts. Because the higher you get, the further you will fall. Now ladies, we will get to men eventually. Now it is true we are going to be rough on you for a few weeks, but we will get to men later and those “who laugh last; laugh best” so, do not worry, we will get to the husband role later. In fact, they have the greater responsibility. And they have the greater responsibility.
But in the meantime, please open your mind to the wife’s role. Listen to your role first because if you want your husband to relate to you properly, it is necessary to understand your role and share your life with your husband in the best possible way. You will want him to communicate on the deepest possible level with you. The first six verses are vital for you to understand your role in marriage. They are important for you to spend the rest of your marital life in happiness rather than.in drudgery and slavery and agony. And I dare say that there are a number of people right here in this auditorium, not counting the innumerable out in the community listening on the radio, who are in total misery when it comes to marital conflict. But the Bible has specific answers to problems in marriage. Psychology and sociology have some answers, but basically it is “operation bootstraps.” You know, “lift yourself up; have a fling;” “find a new environment.” But the Bible gives specifics in terms of answering your marital problems.
Now for the last few weeks, we have been studying a principle, and the principle was enumerated in verses 11 and 12 of Chapter 2: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” Now, in this passage we are dealing with principles of relationships: the person’s relationship to government, his relationship to his employer, the wife’s relationship to her husband and the husband in relation to his wife, We are talking about psychology in essence here. We are dealing with the deepest inroads into relationships.
There is one key word that reiterates itself in every case except for the husband. It is the word found in verse 13 of chapter 2–“submit.” That word means to arrange under. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man.” That phrase “ordinance of man” was the national entity. A believer has the responsibility to arrange his life under his government. Then we came later in verse 18 to “servants be subject.” It is the very same word used for “submit” for the wife’s role. Then again, “be subject to your own masters.” It. is the employee’s responsibility to arrange his life under that of the employer. Authority is the basis of capitalism, the basis for business. Authority is necessary for any function in life. It is necessary to have to have authority in government. We have to have authority in business. We have to have authority in family life,
If a woman deems she must be liberated from her husband, then she destroys the principle of authority. These women fight the principle that there must be some kind of role arrangement in family life. This is not to demean women; the issue is simply role. As we must have role in government, it is necessary to have role in marriage. Any human structure or organization must have authority for it to function smoothly. It is necessary to have a person who makes the final decision, a person who takes initiative and a person who responds.
Now notice verse 1, “Likewise,” like what? Like business and like government wives are to “be in subjection.” Now we have to understand what the woman is. You men have noticed that she is much more sensitive to life than the man. She is much more aware, for example, of biblical things, as a whole, and to the truths of Christianity. They are delicately balanced as an apothecary scale. She is very fine; a man has to realize this.
In the past when we studied Colossians we developed the principle of what is the woman’s greatest need psychologically? She needs security in her husband’s love.
Let us look at the balance for just a moment. The marital life is a cycle. One of the greatest assumptions of all time is that a man assumes that the woman has the very same needs as he has. The woman as assumes that the man has the very same needs as she has. That is the colossal mistake in marriages because each one operates within their own premises and they do not understanding their mate’s fundamental need in marriage. Neither husband or wife understand what is going on. They clearly understand their own individual needs. The husband understands his own needs thoroughly, but he does not understand his wife’s. The Bible presents the roles in marriage so that a woman looks at the man’s essential need, and the man looks at the woman’s essential need. The woman has a basic need and that need is security in her husband’s love. Why does she need this kind of security? Because basically a woman is a responder.
I would like you to turn with me to Genesis 3. Genesis 2 was the creation or the establishment of creatoral principles of husband-wife relationships. Then in Genesis 3:16 (this is occurred immediately after the fall) God said unto the woman, “unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow, and your conception.” Now ladies, why did you have such a rough time in childbirth? Because the woman was the first to sin. In sorrow you shall bring forth children. That was the first principle. The second principle is based on “your’ desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Now the word “desire” here is very significant In the Hebrew. It means that a woman is so sensitized to the man that her whole life is oriented to him.
Now what does this mean? It carries the idea that when a woman irons, she irons for her husband. When she shops for hamburger or T-bone steaks, she chooses hamburger because her husband likes hamburger. Now when her husband goes to the store and he sees hamburger or steak, he chooses what he is personally interested in. When a woman chooses a style, she may not like the style, but she chooses it because her husband prefers it. If she changes diapers, her underlying motivation, although it is true she has a great dedication to that baby and love for that baby, but she does it for her husband as well. It is the very set, the very core, the very pivot upon which she operates. Men need to come to grips with this point because she will not talk about it. She will not say, “Do you realize why I cooked this meal today; I cooked this meal for you. I cleaned the house for you.” She may not be cognizant of this motivation herself. If her husband does not appreciate what she is doing for him, she will begin to feel resentment. She does not quite know why and neither does her husband; he does not grasp why she is bitter about his neglect.
Husbands are different in that they operate in separate categories. A woman has one category. Because the husband functions in separate categories, when he goes to work, he pleases his boss. When he plays on a team, he plays for the team. When he goes home, his wife is another category, but not the orientation of his life. But the husband should be sensitive to the fact that God has put into the wife one gear; she is geared to her husband. You need to realize this, husbands. You need to her orientation to her husband.
Now let us look at the word “submission” a little further. “Likewise, you wives be in subjection ….” I do not like to go into grammar too much but sometimes it is important. The present tense in the Greek does not deal with time or mean “now.” When we talk about tenses in the Greek, the idea is not time but kind of action. So, the kind of action here is continual action. It is a life tendency for the wife to orient to her husband. The word “subjection” comes from two Greek words hupo (under) and tasso (to arrange); the idea is to arrange under. The wife is to arrange her life under her husband. She is to gear her life for her husband. It is a function issue in their relationship. We saw that in Genesis 3.
The idea of subjection has nothing to do with personality, capacity or intelligence. This is strictly a role or function in marriage. A wife may have greater intelligence or capacity than her husband. A citizen may have greater capacity than a President or Prime Minister. Role has nothing to do with capacity. A wife’s femininity may be much more than her husband’s masculinity. Her personality may be greater than her husband’s. She may have greater leadership. Her I.Q. may be 50 points above her husband. That is not the issue here; the issue is role. Order in marriage is crucial for a proper functioning marriage. A society without order is a chaotic assembly of people. Anarchy and total dissolution will reign without authority. Some Latin American countries have no stability or continuity because of constant coups against their leadership. As a result, they experience revolution upon revolution. This is what happens to marriage on a microscopic scale.
The wife, by arranging her life to her husband’s essential need (yet to be defined), will bring her order and stability in her relationship to her husband. Above all, she will find that her husband will love her unconditionally. In turn, she will help him to excel and achieve.
Some men misunderstand this injunction for the wife. He understands it to means that he is the boss; some may even deem they can approach a dictatorship role. He might say, “Okay, I have given you 15 things to do today. Make sure you check them off and finish them by 5:00 o’clock.” These men view themselves as superior to their wives. This attitude assaults the person of the wife.
Why has God designed the wife to arrange her role under her husband? How has God designed his basic need in marriage? He designed him to achieve. This does not mean that the wife has no need to achieve but that is not her central need. His central need is to achieve but not necessarily to succeed. To succeed implies that he must accomplish some great feat in life such as becoming the President of Ford Motor Company. Achievement is to reach whatever goals he may have in life. That may be to do a good job at his work. God has constituted the wife to meet the central need of her husband. However, this role needs to be developed. This is why the word “submit” or arrange under is in the present tense. The wife needs to develop a habit of doing this. It needs to become a mindset for her.
The Greek for the word “submit” carries the idea that the wife must do it of her own accord (middle voice). The idea is that the subject participates in the result of the action. The woman must take the initiative in this matter; the husband cannot force her to do it. That would violate her femininity and volition. Instead of nagging him, she encourages him, supports him in his goals. Her husband becomes so benefited by her orientation that he opens himself to her; he is not so guarded as he was before. He begins to open to her needs. She, in turn will benefit by her own attitude and action. A cycle begins to develop whereby both the husband and the wife become oriented to each other. However, if one or the other breaks out of this cycle then it will be difficult to reenter the positive dynamic. This is a very difficult pattern to establish in marriage, but if a couple does it then a beautiful marriage can ensue. The difficulty is to establish a precedent in meeting each other’s fundamental need; it will take work to make it happen.
Peter now proceeds to help the wife understand the underlying principles behind her role. The fundamental principle is not an action but an attitude. She is to develop “inner beauty,” a mental attitude that is relaxed toward her husband. She lays down her hostilities. Her husband then sees a beautiful person, someone who is relaxed and not always agitated about something. He sees an encouraging, positive and supportive person.
But the issue is how does a wife develop inner beauty? We will see this in the next message. But before we go into that study, a wife cannot obtain biblical inner beauty if they have never received Christ as their personal Savior. This inner beauty comes from God. The function of arranging your life under comes from God. In fact, Ephesians 5 significantly develops this whole principle. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.” Three verses later in verse 22 we have this statement: “Wives arrange your life under your own husbands.” How does a Christian wife arrange her life under her husband? She does it by the filling of the Spirit. And that is the whole point. You cannot be filled with the Spirit until first you have the Spirit, until first you have been born again.
Would you like to receive Christ as your personal Savior? I do not care how far down the road in marital conflict you are, you can begin again. I am not saying there is a one-fell-swoop answer that is going to solve your marital problems, but I am saying right now that you can begin to resolve your conflicts by first receiving Christ as your Savior and then begin to apply the Word of God to your life. Why don’t you do that? That is quite a proposition! Why go through life in total misery? Why not begin now? Why not start now? There is no time like the present.
In order to change your marriage pattern, you must forget the past, you have to cut off the past way of doing things. That is exactly what happens when you receive Christ. God cuts off the past. Anything that you have done, any problem that you are involved in, God cuts it off. He will take away your sins, past, present and future. Bow your head right now and we will ask you to receive Christ as we pray:
“Dear God, I confess I have been a failure to my mate and to you. I believe Christ’s death on the cross takes away all my failures and sins. I am trusting that for eternal life. Amen.”