Wedlock or Deadlock, 4 October 2015

Wedlock or Deadlock?
Series: What In The World Is Going On? A Study of 1 Peter
1 Peter 3:1-7

Series Overview:
God’s grace is present in the midst of suffering.

Big Idea: Spouses, love one another and submit to Jesus.


This morning we continue our series on 1 Peter, “What In The World Is Going On?” This short letter to the early, suffering church is a powerful message not only to an ancient people but is increasing relevant to modern Christians as we face persecution. We may never face the horrors of ISIS victims, but nevertheless we can—and perhaps should—feel in the minority as followers of Jesus in a world consumed with money, sex and power. The theme of this book may well be called hope and grace in the midst of suffering. We’ve looked at hope, holiness, harmony, and last week living a cruciform life in the way of the cross, knowing our suffering is temporary and known by God.

Throughout the book, Peter has been talking about a very offensive word in our culture:

Why do we struggle to submit?

We want to do things our way. We live in a hyper-individualistic society. We can get seemingly anything customized and on-demand. Don’t like the selection of meat at your grocery store? Go down the street. You’ve got options! Don’t like your spouse? Trade them in for a newer model. Sick of your church? Hop over to another one.

We want autonomy and control. We want to be independent and free. We want choices and often rebel when told what to do. Of course this is nothing new. It began with Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and His one prohibition in the Garden of Eden.

Last Sunday we talked about submission to authority. This includes government and commerce, the president and your boss, in the original context the emperor and the slave’s master. It also involves church authority, submitting to godly leaders. Regardless of the outcome, we are to do the right thing knowing we will eventually be rewarded—and oppressors will eventually be punished. Perhaps most important was the example of Jesus who was unjustly treated, died sacrificially despite being innocent of all accusations, and sought to please the Father above pleasing people or even Himself.

Today’s passage brings the subject of submission from the streets to the home. Peter addresses married people, but the message is applicable to all. If you are unmarried, don’t check out! Listen up. Perhaps someday you will have a spouse. The principles are relevant to all regardless of marital status…and they usually look nothing like Hollywood’s messages to us!

Remember context is critical. We can never read the Bible in the same way the original recipients read it. Our world is so different. Peter was writing to an early church where a large number of women had husbands who were not yet Christians. It was likely a very patriarchal, restrictive society that debilitated the development of their gifts.

1 Peter 3…

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (3:1-2)

Likewise. In the same way. This refers to the previous verses on submitting to authority.

We may suffer for doing good. If we suffer for doing evil, that’s to be expected. Jesus suffered for doing good. A perfect man was crucified unjustly. He glorified the Father through it all, though. He submitted to the Father’s will. In the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested, Jesus prayed

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

If you don’t like the idea of submission, you’re in the wrong place. Both husbands and wives are to first submit to Jesus…who submitted to the Father. This is about order, not value or importance. God has a place for everything and has ordained levels of authority.

This does not mean we become doormats and let people manipulate and abuse us. We don’t have time to say much about this extreme, but I highly recommend the book
Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

They write

We have never seen a “submission problem” that did not have a controlling husband at its root. When the wife begins to set clear boundaries, the lack of Christlikeness in a controlling husband becomes evident because the wife is no longer enabling his immature behavior. She is confronting the truth and setting biblical limits on hurtful behavior. Often, when the wife sets boundaries, the husband begins to grow up.

In other words, “focusing on submission is almost surely an indicator that one’s priorities are messed up.” (Scot McKnight)

One evangelical scholar said, “I believe in a wife submitting to her husband, but I don’t believe the husband ever has the right to demand it. In fact, I know that when I am worthy of submission, my wife submits; and when I am unworthy of it, she does not.”

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (3:1-2)

Peter is not saying wives are to be slaves or treated like children. Perhaps a better word than submit is respond. It is voluntary. Engage. Partner with your partner!

Notice Peter’s reason: a witness to the unbeliever. Actions speak louder than words. The Bible warns against being “unequally yoked.” Marriages between a follower of Jesus and a person who is not following Jesus almost always results in grief to both. They have different world views. They have different goals.

However, there are couples that—for a variety of reasons—are not spiritually compatible. In this instance Peter says to believing wife with unbelieving husbands let your behavior be so full of love and grace and purity that the husband sees real faith to be attractive.

At the risk of reversing roles, my great grandfather was a bouncer in a bar in Hungary, accepted Christ through a co-worker (if I’m not mistaken), and freaked out his wife! She was skeptical of his faith and wanted nothing to do with Jesus—until she realized it was not a short-term phase he would grow out of but, instead, an authentic relationship with Jesus that was transforming him into a man filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Do you look like Jesus to your spouse? To your family? To your boss? To your friends?

For decades there has been great emphasis on “sharing one’s faith” with words, telling people the gospel—the good news. That’s extremely important, but first we need to earn the right to be heard or we’ll never be heard. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. They don’t care about Jesus until they meet Him through you! What kind of sermon are you preaching with your life, every day?

Peter continues…

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. (3:3)

This word “adornment” is
kosmos in Greek, as in the cosmic universe or…cosmetics! It is the opposite of chaos.

It has been said that beauty is on the inside. I think both external and internal beauty are attractive, but Peter’s saying it’s the inner self that matters most.

Ladies, have you ever worn a wig? For that matter, men used to wear wigs. In the first century, hair was hugely important…and just huge! Wigs were very ornate.

Women, inward beauty is most important, but don’t neglect yourself. You’re not of this world but that doesn’t mean you are to look like you came from out of this world!

Rather, 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 adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. (3:4-6)

We know Sarah was beautiful. Several kings wanted her.

We know Rachel was beautiful. Jacob worked fourteen years for Laban for her hand in marriage. (I’ve been secretly hoping that my future son-in-law would work 14 years for me before marrying Rachel!).

Suffice it to say Peter is saying to women, “Love your husbands.” He’s not saying be a robot or a slave, but love your husbands. Look out for their best interests. Seek to serve them. Seek to bless them. Seek to honor them.

Now we turn to the men, though he only provides us with one sentence to husbands.

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. (3:7)

Husbands, honor your wife. Be a gentleman. Open doors. Buy flowers. Talk with her…in person…with the phone put away!

The phrase “be considerate” literally means “living with one’s wife knowledgeably.” Husbands, do you know your wives?

We are to love and know our wives

physically. This is not just sexually, but presence, protection, and time
intellectually. Know her needs, feelings, hopes, fears, and moods
emotionally. Be honest, humble, reconcile when you’ve sinned, and respect her
spiritually. Pray for her. Pray with her.

Keep dating her. If I hear another married man say to me, “When we were dating…”

Some women have been offended by Peter calling wives the weaker partner. He’s not insulting them, but rather emphasizing how men need to care for their wives, treating them as partners, as different but equals. Most wives are physically weaker than their husbands and men are to use their strength to serve—never control or harm—their wives. Simply put, men love your wives. Look out for their best interests. Seek to serve them. Seek to bless them. Seek to honor them.

Notice those final seven words: “so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” Don’t miss that. God cares about how we love Him and how we love others. The most important relationship beyond our relationship with God is to be our marriage. The scriptures are loaded with directives regarding men and women, husbands and wives. We are created different and complementary. We were designed to be a team, to balance the strengths and weaknesses of one another. A husband, wife and child are a reflection of the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each with a role and purpose.

So What?

Wives, love your husbands.

Husbands, love your wives.

Unmarrieds, love those around you, that they may see Jesus living in and through you.

If you’re still trying to understand your spouse, Gary Smalley says,

I would venture to say that most marital difficulties center around one fact—men and women are TOTALLY different. The differences (emotional, mental, and physical) are so extreme that without a concentrated effort to understand them, it is nearly impossible to have a happy marriage. A famous psychiatrist once said, “After thirty years of studying women, I ask myself, ‘What is it that they really want?’”

Paul said it this way:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Although He was never married, Jesus demonstrated love. He demonstrated submission. He demonstrated how a husband is to treat his bride, laying down His very life.

As we celebrate communion and remember Jesus’ sacrifice, let it be an example of how we are to love and treat one another.


One More Thing…

The divorce rate in the USA is…50%, right? Wrong! That figure is an urban legend based upon projections decades ago that were completely false. Nobody knows exactly, but 71% of women are still married to their first spouse (2009 Census), and many no longer married are widowed, not divorced.

Researcher Shaunti Feldhahn (
The Good News About Marriage) discovered four things that are helpful in building a strong marriage:

•  Don’t live together before marriage. It increases your rate of divorce because the relationship is built on convenience rather than commitment.
•  Go to church together. It may drop the divorce rate by about 25-50%.
•  Pray together.
•  Be intentionally affectionate. Research shows that physical connection builds a sense of happiness in a marriage, so hold hands, hug, and kiss each other good-bye!

Perhaps you’ve heard the divorce rate is the same for Christians and non-Christians. That is also false. In fact, some research suggests couples who pray together have a divorce rate around 1% (http://www.smalley.cc/do-you-know-the-divorce-rate-of-couples-who-pray-together/).


Some ideas from

Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren

Thru The Bible audio messages by J. Vernon McGee

1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.