1 Peter 3:1-7
[From part 2]
Wives are to do good and trust themselves to God, not fearing any terror.
Why? Because Jesus Christ has lived and died and risen for your eternal safety.
Another, less certain, reason is that her husband ought to be obedient to the word.
‘Likewise (in the same way — i.e. as followers of Jesus Christ who suffered for us) men, keep on dwelling with your wives according to knowledge, as with the weaker vessel.’
Husbands are not to stray from home. They are to dwell with their wives according to knowledge.
Now Men, our wives submission is not an excuse for us to be rat-bags.
My parents were not Christians. My mum and dad divorced when I was five years old. Mum told me years later that there was a time before the divorce, while dad was in full employment, during which the Salvation Army provided food for herself and five young children.
My dad hadn’t got into husband mode. He still wanted to live like a single man going out with the boys. He failed to provide adequately for his family.
We who are husbands are to dwell with our wives. To support them as best we can.
We ought to know them better than we know any other human being. We shouldn’t have a best friend outside of our home. Every other human being must come second after our wives.
We are to live with them as with the ‘weaker’ vessel.
This does not mean ‘weaker’ in mind or character or morals as some unhappy people used to imagine. Why the ‘weaker’ vessel?
First ‘weaker’ refers to the physical fact that men tend to be stronger than their wives. We men are to understand this and to keep ourselves under control.
Men can be angry people sometimes. We are to control our tempers. We must not give way to out-bursts of rage. Some men are violent toward their wives. This must not happen with us. A man who trusts Jesus Christ must not do such a thing. Paul tells us that a husband is to treat their wives as Christ did the church.
Christ died to ensure the safety of his beloved.
Husband ought to have the same determination in supporting and protecting their wives.
Now, our God is not ignorant of the fact that some husbands are more obviously dysfunctional than other husbands.
The example of Abigail, the wife of Nabal, is to the point (1 Samuel 25).
David, before his became king, was an outlaw. He was chased all over the country-side by Saul who wanted David dead.
David in the meantime was doing what Saul ought to have been doing. Protecting Israelites from their enemies.
David had been protecting Nabal and his large household for months, but Nabal was a drunkard and a fool. He refused to give David any supplies in return for all his help. David was on his way to visit Nabal, and he wasn’t happy.
Abigail disobeyed her husband’s command, and took enough food and wine for David and his men and by that act prevented a disaster. Abigail, the bible tells us, was an intelligent woman.
She was commended for her actions.
Abigail protected her family but it involved an act of disobedience. An act of defiance to an unjust and foolishly abused authority.
There are times when wives are now placed in similar situations today by foolish husbands.
Submission is an act of intelligence and courage. But sometimes a wife needs to use those same qualities in resisting unjust and dangerous misuse of authority for the safety of herself and her children.
A second way in which the wife is a ‘weaker’ vessel is because of passages like 1 Peter 3. God has placed men in a position of power. Wives are told to submit to their own husbands.
Our saviour God placed our wives under our authority. We must keep this in mind. We are not to take advantage of our wives just because ‘I’m the Boss, God says so’.
Our wives’ safety, needs, and desires must be extremely important to us. We should listen carefully to what our wives say to us.
Husbands are not founts of all wisdom. Wives deal with things each day that we know little of, things about which we need to know if good decisions are going to be made.
We are to dwell with our wives according to knowledge.
We are to support, protect and love our wives, or die in the attempt (repeat that)
We also need to recognise that we are heirs together of the grace of life.
Christ Jesus has lived a life of submission, has died our death for us, and has risen again to give everlasting life to sinful people like us. We have this promise before us. We are to live as people who have hope, who have everything in Christ.
Wives are not to submit to their husbands because their husbands are so good, nor are husbands to love and support their wives because their wives are submissive.
It is not a tit for tat arrangement. Wives are to submit to their own husbands because Christ, who is their saviour and example, has called them to it.
Husbands are to love and protect their own wives because Christ who is their saviour and example has called them to it.
Peter says that husbands and wives are ‘heirs together of the grace of life’. Husbands and wives are brothers and sisters in Christ and so are under double obligation to care for and love one another.
This love is to be nurtured so that ‘our prayers might not be hindered’. Trouble in the house can mess with our spiritual life as nothing else can.
We have every reason to respond to the mercy of God in the ways he reveals in his word.
God help us.