D. God gives law for purposes.
Since the Holy Spirit gave the instructions to wives to submit to their husbands, then we must conclude that there is a divine purpose for the instructions. If wives do not submit to their own husbands, therefore, we must expect that something unfortunate will happen in the lives of the children when they leave the home.
God did not give arbitrary instructions for the home with no purpose in mind. There were reasons behind the instructions. Since the instructions come from God, then we would first obey the instructions without asking questions because we seek to obey God. But if we need reasons for the instructions, then we must simply observe the dysfunctions of society in order to discover what happens when people do not follow the instructions of God.
E. Submission for evangelism.
In the context of Peter’s instructions, there is a contrast made between the way of the world for the married woman, and the example of the godly disciple. A lack of submission on the part of the wife manifests to the world arrogance and defiance on the part of the wife, which is the way of the world. But in the domestic setting that Peter addresses, his reason for giving instructions concerning the submissive example of the wife is not only for the preservation of society, but also for evangelistic reasons. The reason for the submission is for the purpose “that if any [unbelieving husbands] do not obey the word, they, without the word, may be won by the behavior of the wives.”3:1
This is evangelism through the power of performing the word of God. This is the meaning of Jesus’ mandate for unity which He gave to His disciples during His earthly ministry. They were to maintain their unity with one another “so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn 17:21). The same principle of godly behavior should be manifested by the wife who is married to an unbeliever. The unbelieving husband may be won to Christ when he “observes your pure behavior combined with fear” of God.3:2 If a woman is married to one who is not a Christian, then her submissive behavior is evangelistic, and thus, she is showing her love for her husband in order to illustrate the love of Christ. As Christ submitted to our needs through the cross, and thus drew us to Him, then submissive wives might draw their unbelieving husbands to Christ through their submission.
F. Dress for successful outreach.
In order to be successful in this evangelistic outreach, the adornment of the wife’s body “should not be outward,” and thus according to the world.3:3 Godly wives must recognize that their evangelistic outreach to their unbelieving husbands begins in the closet and before their mirrors. When the Christian wife steps out of the house and into the public, there is a manner by which she can be identified as a woman of dignity, and not a woman of the world. A godly woman manifests her submission to her husband by dressing in a manner by which she is not advertising her body to other men.
Christian women must “dress themselves in modest clothing.” (1 Tm 2:9). Though the word “modest” may be subject to the definition of present times, there is still something that is considered modesty by the world. If a Christian woman first desires the attention of worldly men in her dress, then the concept of modesty and submission to her husband takes second place in her eyes when she sees herself in a mirror. Every Christian woman must remember that in the eyes of the Holy Spirit there is such a thing as modesty. Christian women should dress themselves as if they were presenting themselves before the mirror of the Holy Spirit. When a woman dresses herself in order to sexually arouse a man, then she knows that she has dressed immodestly.
Peter instructs that the Christian woman not adorn herself with the revealing nature of those clothes that advertise her body.3:3 She should dress herself with the modest apparel by which Christian wives reveal their inward spiritual focus (See 1 Tm 2:8-15). The wearing of jewelry should indicate that she is one who seeks to focus on godly matters. Both clothes and jewelry should manifest the dignity of a God-fearing woman who seeks to reveal “the imperishable quality of a meek and quiet spirit.”3:4 It is this inner character that “is precious in the sight of God.”3:4 It cannot be as the world would state, “A wife is usually satisfied with only two things: a mink over her shoulders, and a husband under her thumb.” It is both of these “styles” of behavior against which Peter and Paul advised.
G. Dress for respect.
Spiritual and physical adornment characterize the godly woman, for it is the spiritual that is revealed by the outward physical appearance. “Holy women who trusted in God” in the past “adorned themselves” inwardly with submission “to their own husbands.”3:5 Former godly wives maintained their exalted position in society through their submission to their husbands. Whenever they left this position, they were stepping down from their leadership of the home. The godly wives of old realized, as someone said, that “a good wife is like a port in a storm. A bad wife is like a storm in a port.” But it should be as one grateful husband wrote, “A loyal wife is one who sits up with you when you are sick and puts up with you when you are well.”
In the context of the wives of the times when Peter wrote, it would be the wise wives who would see through her husbands and the understanding wives who would see their husbands and families through difficult times that were coming in only a few years. It was through these times of social chaos that Peter’s readers were going to suffer greatly. Their suffering as disciples of Jesus would increase, and thus, it was going to take strong women to see their families through the social turmoil that would come in the consummation of national Israel.
If the Christian wife would be the spiritual descendant of Sarah, then she will reveal her respect for her husband by the manner she addresses herself to her husband. Sarah’s “calling him [Abraham] lord”3:6 revealed the fact that she dressed in a physical and spiritual manner that revealed her submissive relationship to her husband. In maintaining her God-ordained relationship with her husband, she had confidence before God.
Sarah’s behavior was such, not because she was fearful of Abraham, but as Paul revealed in reference to the motive for our submission to one another. It was “in the fear of God” (Ep 5:21). We seek to manifest in our behavior what “is precious in the sight of God” in order to be pleasing to God.3:4 And when wives so behave as Sarah, then truly they are her spiritual children. All society, therefore, benefits from the submission that wives exercise toward their husbands.
[Next lecture: SURVIVOR HUSBANDS & WIVES: January 22]