WIFE’S ROLE IN MARRIAGE III
1 Peter 3:1-6 (literal translation)
“Likewise, you wives, arrange your life under your own individual husbands, that if any will not be persuaded with the Word of God, they also may without a word won by the manner of life of the wives, while they be bold your pure manner of life, coupled ( or associated with) awe, whose dressing up, let it not be that outward dressing up of braiding of hair, or of wearing of bracelets, or ornaments, or of putting on of apparel, but let it be the interior disposition 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 old times the holy women of God 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.”
This section of First Peter deals with the wife’s responsibility in marriage. Verse 7 concerns the husband’s role, Verse 8 goes into more of a generic category—”everyone.”
Normally people assume that marriage is a 50–50 proposition. It is not. That is one of the greatest hoaxes that has ever come across the scene. Marriage is not 50-50 and usually those that operate under that philosophy function under the belief that “well I am doing my 50 and they are not doing their 50.” As a result, endless arguments, bitterness and entanglements ensue. This just centers your life around yourself rather than the other person. Marriage is not 50-50; it is 100-100. The wife has her role to play toward her husband and his is to play. Both must fulfill their role 100%.
From God’s viewpoint the wife has a specific role. She has a purpose that is outside of herself. Whether the husband responds, or whether he fulfills his role or not, God expects her to fulfill her role 100%. The same principle goes for the husband. He has a role under God and he is to fulfill that role 100%.
Neither mate is to fulfill their role 50% and wait till the other does their 50%. Under God no halfway measure will do. If each gives their all then no one breaks out of the cycle of meeting their loved one’s need. There is no debate or argument about who is doing their part. There is no tennis match: “he did not do this” and “she did not do that.” A biblical marriage should not be like that. The focus is to meet the marital need in the other.
In the first four verses we have studied the role of the wife which is to arrange herself under her husband. She does this to meet his need as the husband in marriage. She is to comply with his masculinity.
Verse 5 introduces an Old Testament illustration of the first 4 verses. The point of this illustration is that marriage is complete dedication to the marriage. This is why the decision to get marriage is so serious. Marriage is no half-effort affair. Teenage girls need to come to grips with this. It is not sufficient to give oneself half-heartedly to your husband. It is important to think about the man you will marry. Can you give yourself to him? You may disagree with me on this point, but it is difficult to properly assess the qualities of a man you want to marry until you reach your twenties. This person needs to meet yours needs in marriage. He needs to be a person with whom you can communicate, a person who will open himself to you. If this does not happen then you will end in one big vacuum. A wife needs companionship. Companionship implies that a husband allows his wife in his person and she in his. Girls, if you flippantly marry someone on a lurch, you place yourself in great danger.
It is important to marry a person who will know you and open himself to you. His pulchritude will not help with that. He may be the most handsome man on earth but if you are miserably married then your vacuum will be stark. It is better to marry a man with some wit, at least a half-wit; but please do not marry at nit-wit!
Many marriages are in a stalemate. They agree to live under the same roof; they made a true and have disarmed from open warfare but the marriage is dead. They may not argue anymore. They just go their own way, live a separate life but neither fulfills the other
At times is it is good to have arguments; I mean the right kind of arguments. There is a dispute then there is a dispute. There are two different kinds of disagreements. One is a disagreement of attitude whereby both are polarized in the argument. The other is frank, open give and take. The Bible says, “be angry and sin not.” There is a subjective anger and an objective anger. An objective anger does not allow emotion to dominate the difference.
Joe husband comes home from work. He has had a rough day and is in a poor mood. His wife meets him at the door and attempts to share her day, but he does not want to listen to her. But he does not want to listen to her. She takes this as a personal rejection. She is resentful, and he is resentful because she is resentful. This is the start of protracted hostility that may go on for days or weeks. Eventually the difference subsides until it begins all over again. Neither understood why the other is angry. Superficiality takes the day and weeks. Nothing substantive has been addressed. The true issue here is no true communication has taken place. Genuine communication comes from openness and openness comes from trust, trust that the other person is not going to violate open vulnerability. The only perspective that the wife had was that her husband came home in a bad mood. The only perception that he husband had was that his wife was unreasonably demanding. Neither understood the other.
True understanding of one another does not come overnight. It takes communication, openness and trust. All this is vulnerable communication, not suspicion. It is important to let each other in their life. When genuine communication takes place, slight and failure with each other will not be a big issue. She knows him, and he knows her. She has been allowed into needs, issues and problems. He trusts her with them. She sees beyond his growl. All this does not come overnight; it takes time. It comes by vulnerable revelations one-by-one. It is like pealing an onion leaf-by-leaf. There is no jumping immediately into the most vulnerable areas of a person’s life. True communication is to trust the mate with an important area of life. If the mate handles that information fairly and does not use it on the other person, then more or further and deeper revelation of self occurs. This is the cycle of openness-trust which opens the process further.
True communication is not superficial, nor does it deal with peripheral things. It is sharing of important aspects of life. It is to know what makes the other person tick. The idea is to discover what the other truly wants out of life. It is important not to generalize or to categorize the other person into a preconceived class. Each person is unique with their needs. It is important not to drag your father or mother into your marriage: “my dad did it this way and you do it that way; therefore, you are not adequate.”
If we understand verse 4, we will be able to grasp verse 5. Verse 4 is the sine qua non of everything in the first 6 verses. That is, the woman with inner beauty is at the heart of reaching her husband, of getting him to open to her—“let it be the deep-seated part of the wife…, a wife of inwrought grace and a settled soul.” A wife with those qualities are of high value to her husband. It is her disposition that appeals to him. All this is grace in action. It is God working in the heart of the wife. This woman is not irate nor does she constantly complain about things.
Verse 5 says, “For after this manner (that is, the woman who in the inner disposition of her life is meek and quiet) in old time the holy women (holy women is not some specific kind of woman who has a halo around her head} it simply means a believing woman in the Old Testament) also who trusted in God, (the word ‘trusted” here means placed their hope in God; that God was the object of their hope) who placed their hope in God adorned themselves being in subjection to their own husbands, even as Sara obeyed Abraham.” The word “obey” comes from two Greek words, hupo meaning under and akouo to hear from which we get the English word acoustics. The idea of the word means to hear under. This is a woman who is humble enough to truly hear her husband. She is someone who can truly listen to her husband rather than impose her conclusions on him. She listens to her husband’s true needs. She goes beyond superficial understanding of who he is. This kind of wife listens to more than his words; she hears more than just his statements. This is very important because men are generally reluctant to share their lives in any significant way. But this wife can “hear under,” beneath what he says on the surface.
Note the phrase “even as Sara obeyed Abraham.” Abraham had just been appointed to launch a new nation, the nation of Israel. Sara was Abraham’s wife. He brought Sara from the Mesopotamian valley to Palestine. She was a beautiful woman, but she had a problem. Early on her name was “Sarai,” (contentious, one who strives). She was a very beautiful woman physically but not very beautiful inside. But after God promised her a son, He called her Sarah (princess). How is it that the bitter, contentious wife of Abraham become such a beautiful woman on the inside? She responded to the grace of God on her life.
The phrase “whose daughters you became” are believing women who followed Sarah’s example of embracing the grace of God in their lives. These women are Sarah’s daughters who “do well” and “are not afraid with any amazement.” They may have non-believing husbands, but they do not retreat to fear. They are relaxed nor carry a sense of anxiety. This is the essence of a believing woman who is settled in her soul.
It is possible for women to be transformed from a contentious, bitter person to a beautiful woman of inner beauty.