1 Peter – Chapter Three II

by Ed Urzi

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct” (1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV).

As we seek to interpret and apply this portion of Scripture, it may be helpful to view this passage in terms of responsibility. For instance, 1 Peter 3:1-2 highlights one such area of responsibility in advising wives to defer to their husbands within the marital relationship. Nevertheless, we should view this counsel in parallel with another passage from the Biblical book of Ephesians…

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21 NIV).

This directive to “submit to one another” implies there may be times when it is proper for a man to submit to a woman within the marriage relationship. For example, let’s consider a hypothetical husband and wife couple. Like most couples, each partner in our hypothetical relationship possesses various strengths and weaknesses.

A wise couple will recognize those strengths and weaknesses and willingly submit to one another in those areas where one partner demonstrates greater skill. In this way, both partners show “reverence for Christ” (the One who has blessed them with their individual gifts, skills, talents, and abilities), as well as respect for one other.

To illustrate this approach in the lives of our hypothetical couple, let’s say that a wife is highly gifted in the area of financial management. However, her husband is only marginally skilled in that area. In this instance, a wise husband will recognize his wife’s financial savvy and defer to her judgment in matters of budget, savings, retirement planning, etc.

While each partner may assume a leadership role in his or area of expertise, those differences do not make them unequal. Nevertheless, some may ask “who ultimately wins?” in an area of marital disagreement. While this may seem to be an appropriate question, it starts with a questionable premise. Since a husband and wife have become “one flesh” (Mark 10:6-9), if one partner “loses,” then both lose.

If there are strong disagreements in a marriage relationship, there are a few steps that couples can take to help find the right answer. Those steps include praying together (Matthew 18:20, James 1:5), as well as seeking guidance from trusted and mature men and women of God (Proverbs 1:5). While a husband must ultimately take responsibility to lead in an area of disagreement, he should do so in recognition of the counsel given to us in Ephesians 5:33:

“… each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (NIV).