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God is with you - Part 20

1 Peter 3v1-7

Wives and Husbands, Part 3

28st July 2017

This is our final look at Peter's teaching on wives and husbands, which people of our generation find very difficult to accept but which is, of course, the word of God:

1 Peter 3v1-7
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

In verse 4 Peter says that a gentle and quiet spirit... is of great worth in God's sight. Of course, this is not just true for Christian wives but for all of us, male and female, young and old, leaders and followers. Every one of us needs a gentle and quiet spirit, and God loves it.

1 Peter 3v5a
For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.

Are you aware that the most beautiful women are beautiful on the inside, not merely on the outside?

1 Peter 3v5b-6
They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Oh my goodness. I can't see this catching on in our generation. It would be so counter-cultural that we'd feel absurd even attempting it. It would stick on our throats. But I don't think Peter requires us to use the word; I think Peter requires us to respect our husbands.

The word translated "master" here is kyrie. It's used of Jesus, but it's also just an ordinary word that means "sir", a standard greeting. There's a whole breadth of meaning of the word. And I suppose that on that spectrum you can choose the way you think about using it towards your husband. But Peter is writing about respect, not about the word. He's certainly not suggesting we should think of ourselves like a doormat or behave like one.

A Christian wife should, so far as she can, respect her husband, because men love respect. A man who doesn't feel respected cannot be a happy man. If you love your husband, you'll show him respect because he needs it. That's what men are like.

Peter then says:

1 Peter 3v7
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner [in Greek, the weaker vessel] and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Women love to be treated with consideration, tenderness, gentleness and thoughtfulness, and your wife can't be happy if you don't.

Peter has insight into the nature of humanity. Men and women are different.

May I ask you a question about modern society?

Fashionable opinion seeks to tell us that, apart from the obvious physical differences, men and women are identical. At the same time, it will tell you that some people are men trapped in women's bodies or the other way round, and need gender reassignment surgery. Both cannot be true. If men and women are identical apart from their bodies, then gender reassignment makes no sense whatever, does it?

Let's say what we all know once more: men and women are of equal value, they're of equal dignity, they're equally saved, they're equally loved by God, they can be equally filled with the Holy Spirit, they're equally important, but they're different. They have different needs. Men need respect, not just from their wives but from whichever group they're in, at work or in a leisure group, they need to be respected. Women need tenderness, gentleness and thoughtfulness, again, not just at home but everywhere.

To treat a woman cruelly is an awful thing to do, and to treat a man without respect is an awful thing to do, because we need these things.

A woman is not asked to respect her husband because he's somehow superior. On average, he isn't. He doesn't necessarily know the Bible as well as you. He's not necessarily a Christian. He's not necessarily as moral as you, or as thoughtful as you. He might not make as much money as you, but he needs respect or he'll crumble.

Your wife might not be as moral as you, or as knowledgeable as you or as thoughtful as you, or anything else, but she needs you to be thoughtful toward her, because she'll crumble if you're not.

These things are true, no matter how unfashinable it is to say so.

Peter is really saying: If you love your partner, give them what they need. Women need consideration, men need respect. Actually, we all need all of it, but there is a difference in emphasis, because we're different.

And finally, Peter's instruction to husbands end with these words:

1 Peter 3v7b
treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

The most important thing you have, husband or wife, or single person, is your relationship with Jesus. And our prayers can be so cluttered with marital problems that we haven't got the time or energy to pray for anything else.

We can cry out to God, night after night, because our husband is so unkind, or our wife is so irritating, or our husband is so thoughtless, or our wife sneers at everything we try to do, or whatever it is, that we don't pray for the lost, we don't pray for the glory of God, we don't pray for our nation, we just pray, "Oh God, my marriage hurts too much". And God would save us from that.

You can't fix your husband or wife, and he or she can't fix you, but you can do your bit, with wisdom, and without compromising your own dignity or your own discipleship towards Jesus. So far as you can, you can try to give your partner what he or she needs. And perhaps your marriage will improve, and perhaps your partner will get saved.

And I think that's what Peter is saying.