Sacrifice and servant-hood were hallmarks of Christ's ministry,
just as they are in a happy and successful marriage. Honest, open
communication in which partners are sensitive to each other's needs
and strive to identify, bond and utilize their individual gifts
are essential to maintaining harmony and achieving loving relationships.
An analysis of 1 Peter 2:23-3:12 provides an illustration of how
Jesus sets an example for marriage partners.
2:(23) When they hurled their insults at Him, he did not retaliate;
when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself
to Him who judges justly.
(24) He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we
might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you
have been healed.
(25) For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned
to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
3:(1) Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that,
if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without
talk by the behavior of their wives,
(2) when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
(3) Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as
braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
(4) Instead, it should be of your inner self, the unfading beauty
of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God=s sight.
(5) For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their
hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive
to their own husbands,
(6) like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You
are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give away to
(7) 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.
(8) Finally, all of you live in harmony with one another: be compassionate
(9) Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with
blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit
(10) For whoever would love life and see good days must keep his
tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.
(11) He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and
(12) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears
are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against
those who do evil.
As you read these passages in 1 Peter, what things stood out?
Among highlights are the humility of Jesus and His supreme sacrifice
while emphasizing similar traits in marriages through submission
of wives, consideration and respect for wives and pursuit of harmony.
These scriptures relate the humble role of Christ (2:23-25), one
that should be emulated by married couples. They tell of Christ's
non-retaliatory submission to the Jews and governmental authorities
to bear our sins in His body on the tree to deliberately suffer
and die. His sacrifice clothed us with righteousness and made us
acceptable and in fellowship with Him, the Father and Holy Spirit
throughout eternity. Other scriptures in this reading urge wives
to seek purity and holy submission to their husbands while giving
their mates notice that they have the responsibility to be humble,
respectful and considerate in their headship role.
Who or what sets the tone in the passage as Peter talks about
the role and responsibilities of husbands and wives? Why is it important
to bear this in mind?
Christ by His example sets the tone by His willingness to accept
sacrificial death for sinful mankind. This is a prime lesson for
husbands and wives to deal with each other in cooperative, loving
and virtuous relationships reflecting a sacrificial approach. Verses
3-4 emphasize the importance and beauty of a a gentle and quiet
spirit on the part of wives, instead of relying on adornments. The
husband is to be compassionate and humble and both should strive
to be blessings to each other in honest communication. Christ is
our model: If He could die for us sinners with such love we should
emulate his attitude in sacrificing our egos and willfulness for
each other. Consequently if marriage partners follow through with
their responsibilities to be more Christ-like in this manner, their
relationships will be smoother in mirroring the sacrificial, servant-oriented
mode of the Redeemer.
Does being submissive mean that wives cannot question their husbands--or
wives--unilateral decisions that threaten to disrupt relationships?
Although scripture makes clear the headship of the husband, submission
is not entirely a one-way street. Ephesians 5:21-23 declares, "Submit
to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your
husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife."
However, such submission does not mean a wife is precluded from
exercising her rights in expecting understanding and consideration
of her views, needs and happiness. In fact, she has a responsibility
to take action and express herself if her husband is off track,
indulging in improper or abusive behavior or making decisions that
threaten married or family life. Verses 10-11 warn of the threat
to "good days" from an evil tongue and deceitful speech,
which can be construed as advice to both partners. For that type
of communication can only lead to trouble. However, the tongue,
utilized in a loving and thoughtful way, is required to sort out
marital difficulties and problems. In "Rocking the Roles,"
the authors point out a wife is abdicating responsibility if she
fails to properly communicate her counsel and disappointment when
the husband is heading down a sinful road imperiling his marriage
There is a reference in these scriptures to Sarah (3:6), who obeyed
her husband and called him "master." Does a wife have
to be submissive to that extent and refer to her husband in that
Cultures change through time, especially when we are living two
thousand years after Peter wrote his letters and the expression
was in use and even longer if we consider the Old Testament period
of Abraham and Sarah. "Master" was also a familiar term
during the 19th Century when slavery was common. And of course a
wife is not a slave or a doormat for her husband to the extent she
has to consider him her "master" and defer to him in literally
every instance-far from it! Consequently "Master" is not
generally included in our vernacular today unless it relates to
careers outside marriage.
How can a wife's behavior change a husband's view without even
mentioning scripture or the Bible as outlined in verse 1?
This refers, in a sense, to "silent" communication in
terms of speech but says plenty about love in action. The verse
goes on to detail pure and reverent behavior to captivate a husband
and persuade him to change his attitude and be "won over"
to her and the Word. In this way, she could influence and persuade
him to become a convert to Christ. This would also help strengthen
her marriage because her husband would then be more open to Biblical
rules for husband-wife relationships. Proverbs 31, pays tribute
to "The Virtuous Wife" with verses which can be interpreted
to describe her as trustworthy, building up her husband, considerate,
of good repute, wise and kind, modest and God-fearing, among others.
Verse 3 in our study also makes clear God sees more value in the
spiritual characteristics of a woman rather than her dependence
upon external adornment to enhance physical beauty.
Do you think Peter is ruling out jewelry, perfume, hairstyles
and makeup for today's woman? A related question is whether the
use of such items is a type of communication?
Such adornments can be a negative form of communication, if used
flagrantly and unwisely to attract the attention of men, especially
on the part of a married woman. Verse 3 makes clear God sees great
worth in the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit"
of the inner self versus dependence upon external trappings as the
main source of a woman's beauty. While that is primary, cultures
change over the span of many generations and centuries. It is doubtful
that a Bible-believing Christian woman would think twice about donning
certain accentuations and grooming aids, applied in good taste.
Proper judgment in clothing styles is also in order, since the daring
costumes so popular in modern society could cause scandal and controversy,
especially on the part of a woman who proclaims to be a follower
of Christ. Such items as clothing and others considered can be judged
as positive or negative communication. If donned improperly and
applied garishly they can be sinful and lead to more sin, such as
immorality and even danger to the woman. Utilized modestly and temperately
for innocent purposes, such as enhancing feminine charm and particularly
to attract their own husbands, they would seem appropriate. In such
a case a Christian wife can reflect a fine example of inner and
Do you think action or reaction on the part of the wife (or husband)
without basing dialogue on scriptural principles is a proper type
That would definitely be off base and would open up marriage relationships
to possible disaster. One of the most important warnings is Biblical
admonition to be guarded in patterns of speech. Inappropriate language
through misuse of the tongue, according to James 3:6, is a "fire,
a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole
person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself
set on fire by hell." On the other hand, voicing praise and
support for our mates builds their confidence, fans the flame of
love and energizes positive relationships. Proverbs 31 frames well
the role of the wife--but is applicable to husbands as well--in
pointing out in verse 11: 'Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm."
Verse 26 adds, "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction
is on her tongue." As Peter advises in verse 10 of our study
text, keeping our tongue from evil and deceitful speech helps us
"love life and see good days." And a goal of married couples
should be to do whatever is possible to make such days multiply
into a lifetime of harmonious relationships. It cannot be emphasized
enough that reliance and soaking up scripture will serve to provide
proper guidelines to our use of language. In Matthew 4:16 Jesus
said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word
that comes from the mouth of God."
What are some of the primary sources of communication in marriage?
Vocal expressions; tone of voice; body language and facial expressions,
physical exchanges such as casual closeness in frequent affectionate
hugs or kisses; actions and reactions as part of sexual intimacy
to take into account the pleasure of our partners; lovingly written
messages (notes, letters, e-mail, anniversary and birthday greetings)
and gifts-- sometimes of a surprise variety. (Failure to do so can
cool marital ties, as indicated in a sad lyric in a popular song
recorded by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond to the effect that
"you don't bring me flowers anymore"). To wit: Creative
romantic gestures are not confined to merely the courtship or honeymoon
phases. They should endure a life time, spicing up relationships
as preludes to romantic interludes and firming up marriages.
In verse nine it is recommended that interpersonal blessing be substituted
for evils and insults. What is the inherited blessing it refers
It represents the glorious promise of an eternal reward of fellowship
with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and fellow Christians.
And Jesus is the path or "way" leading to this everlasting
paradise. In John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth
and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
The power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians is particularly
important to communicate in marital actions, as outlined in Galatians
5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It
value of each one of these individually or as a package makes for
a healthy, well-rounded marriage that will invigorate relationships
and pave the way for marital contentment.
The importance of God's role in marital relationships is emphasized
further in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
4:(9) Two are better than one because they have a good return for
(10) If one falls down his friend can help him up. But pity the
poor man who falls and has no one to help him up!
(11) Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how
can one keep warm alone?
(12) Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A
cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Jesus is the third strand Who unites with a couple to weave a
marriage cord that is viable, binding and durable. How does Christ
In a previous session, there was a discussion concerning of "leaving,
cleaving and weaving." Just as we determine to unite intimately
with our mate as we "leave" our original family, we cleave
to our partner and draw closer to Jesus in prayer and faith as we
tap into His enormous spiritual power. The love, grace and teachings
of God in the Bible further strengthen His main and central strand
in a Christian marriage, and enable partners to withstand the tensions
and strains that our sinful natures and life itself exert. The steadfast
loyalty Jesus offers to us is guaranteed, for in Mark 28:20 He promised,
"Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."