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Fearless Submission and Considerate Honor, II - 1 Peter 3:1-7

Throughout 1 Peter 2:17-3:17, Peter’s concern is that Christians live “mindful-of-God” “”respectful/reverent” “considerate/understanding” lives; that is, treat others according to the way God sees the world, not the way the world sees. “Honor everyone” means “live out of a conviction that in Christ there is no jew/gentile, ruler/subject, slave/free, man/woman.”

The world makes so much out of these distinctions, but by honoring everyone and submitting to every human institution, the Christian life is far superior to the social ethic propped up by those distinctions. They are two attempts to produce good social order, but one succeeds much better than the other, since Peter’s instructions come from the God who created human beings and put them in society together. Since people are who God says that they are, honoring them means treating them as God says to treat them.

And so when husbands are called to live with their wives in an understanding way, this doesn’t primarily mean understanding her preferences, desires, habits, etc. It means seeing her as God sees her. If you don’t know who or what a wife is, you cannot show the proper honor, which is the way God calls husbands to demonstrate that they understand. If a husband understands his wife, he will cover her with honor.

In particular, Peter calls husbands to understand two things about their wives, one a crucial difference between men and women, the other an essential similarity. Husbands, you are different in terms of strength, and the same as far as inheriting the life of the new creation that Jesus has brought about. If you understand what a wife is, you will show her honor as the weaker vessel, rather than using your superior strength to dominate her. You will treat her as a co-heir of the grace of life, rather than a second-class citizen of the kingdom of heaven. If you as a Christian husband use your superior physical strength or social advantages to do anything other than honor your wife, or if the way you treat your wife does not make it clear that she stands as your equal before God, then you are without understanding, and God does not hear your prayers.

The reason why God stops listening to husbands who don’t live in an understanding way with their wives is that the heart of what a husband must understand in order to properly relate to his wife is the gospel. The way Christian husbands relate to their wives is meant be a reflection of the way Jesus relates to His bride: the strong die for the weak. The rich became poor so that the poor might become rich. The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve. What Jesus calls you as a husband to do is apply the gospel to your wives. If you don’t, then your claim to understand the gospel is a lie.

What we see through the example of Jesus Christ is that within the life of the three persons of the Godhead, there is complete equality, and yet in their interactions, especially God’s plan to redeem the world by sending Jesus to die a sacrificial death and rise again in incomparable glory, we see Jesus the Son submitting to the Father’s will. We see Jesus using His strength and power not to dominate us but to serve us by dying in our place, and making us co-heirs together with Him in the power of His resurrection. This is the model for us as individuals, and it is the example that we should follow as we relate to one another in human community, and in the marriage relationship, this is what husbands are called to lead the way in doing.

Husbands, this is why God gave you strength. This is why God called you to be the head of your home: so that you could be the first to honor, first to serve, first to die. And so you should make every effort to understand your wife personally. Know her preferences, her hopes and fears, her joys and sorrows. But that understanding must rest on a deeper understanding of what marriage is, what men and women are, and what God is doing in the world through marriage. And that understanding must rest on understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ, who showed us that the strong lay down their lives in service and honor. So husbands, understand the gospel, and love your wife as Christ loved the Church.

Posted on Wednesday, September 07, 2016 by CJ Bowen