For the first 33 years of my life, I was single. Busting a move (or attempting to do so) anytime I heard Beyonce’s hit song. Now before you judge me, perhaps you’ve done the same? And maybe just don’t want to admit it.
Then on June 11 of this year, I became married. I went from single to married, a Leifeste to a Stevenson, a Miss to a Mrs. – all in a matter of moments on a beautiful Sunday morning at The White Sparrow. And while everything about my wedding day seemed perfect – the groom himself, the elegant white barn, the flowers, the wedding dress, the brunch food and drinks, the live music, the closest of family and friends – what was perfect about June 11, 2017 wasn’t anything planned or designed about the day. What was perfect about the day was the story of perfection on display – the story of the covenant of marriage, of the way Christ loves the church, and of how marriage depicts this redemptive story.
Now fast forward to four months later. Tanner and I find ourselves as newlyweds in Wichita, Kansas, living in a new city, settling into a new apartment, attending a new church, working out at a new gym, trying out new restaurants, finding new community, and making new friends. Tanner is working in a new job. I’m unemployed. And looking for a new job. Let’s just say everything is new.
And yet, everything is not new. What isn’t new is the character of our God – his presence with us, his power in us, and his promises to us. What isn’t new is the Word of God – his living and active Word that never fades or changes. What isn’t new is the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the story of the life, death, and redemption of King Jesus.
And yet, I find myself teaching on 1 Peter 3:1-12 in the midst of a huge season of new. Yes, it is here that Peter exhorts wives and husbands and then everyone else. And for the first time in studying and teaching this passage, I’m a wife. After all, Peter is talking to me!
Now let’s all just breathe. And acknowledge that there can be much confusion on both a Biblical understanding and practical application of submission. Peter doesn’t give us the x’s and o’s on what this looks like in the middle of a stressful work week, tension with family, or early morning routines with kiddos. But the apostle does give a strong exhortation in the first half of chapter 3. Let’s take a look at this verses with humility and hopefulness.
Following a discussion of submission among those in society and in the workplace at the end of chapter 2, Peter uses the first six verses of chapter 3 to exhort wives. Six verses for the wives. And yes, go ahead and notice one verse for the husbands. Why in the world would Peter spend only one verse exhorting the husbands? Well, it was due to the context. Peter was more concerned with Christian women who married pagan men. These wives were more susceptible to the cultural pressures of the day. In Roman society, it was women who were more likely to convert to their spouse’s practice of faith. As such, Peter writes to encourage women to stand firm in their faith as an example to their husbands with their “respectful and pure conduct” (1 Peter 3:2).
So what is Peter calling all of the wives to in verse 1 when he says “wives, be subject to your own husbands?” The apostle is continuing to build on this theme of submission. He started in chapter 2 with the civic realm (1 Peter 2:11-17) and workplace (1 Peter 2:18-21) and then illustrates this theme with the submission of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21-25).
The apostle then uses the rest of chapter 3 to address specific people in different roles regarding submission. Now let’s get practical. For those of us who are wives, whether you’ve been married 40 years or 4 months like me, what does submission look like?
Let’s pause and consider 4 simple yet practical pearls of submission:
(1) Posture of entrusting oneself to God (1 Peter 2:23-25). To have a focus on and for Jesus Christ. To submit to God and then out of that submission, to submit to our husband. And for more conversation on what it means to entrust oneself, check out my article here.
(2) Pattern of respectful behavior (1 Peter 3:1-2). To refrain from nagging, complaining, and all other disrespectful actions. And instead, to be kind, respectful, and sincere and thus display a “respectful and pure conduct” (verse 2)
(3) Pursuit of of godly character (1 Peter 3:3-5). To grow in godliness. To mature in the “imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (verse 4).
(4) Practice of doing what is right (1 Peter 3:6). To obey the Scriptures. To “do good” (verse 6) with consistency. To fear the Lord rather than “fearing anything that is frightening” (verse 6).
That’s a brief yet I hope helpful discussion on submission. And for all of us – whether a wife, husband, or desiring to one day be married – there’s both a call and comfort. The call to submit to the Lord and to others. The comfort that in submission, Jesus became our standard, our substitute, and our shepherd.
So, here I am, trying to teach on and live out submission – with a readiness to keep figuring out how to be a wife. One pearl of submission at a time. Growing daily little by little with much grace from both the Lord and my husband. Join me, friends. After all, he did put a ring on it.