In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives, -1 Peter 3:1
Wow, that one packs a wallop, doesn’t it? What do you do with instructions that challenging?
One of the things I love about God is that His ways are provocative, unapologetic, and radically different than mainstream culture. The things He says push against my flesh and challenge me to grow up into a fully-developed eternal person (James 1:2-3; 1 Peter 4:12-13) while I still live here in the temporary realm. This growing up is hard at first, but God always delivers the power for us to complete what He instructs if we follow His way instead of doing it on our own.
1 Peter 3:1 was one of those verses that used to challenge me, and occasionally still does. Sometimes the problem I had was with the first half, and sometimes it was with this little phrase: they may be won over NOT by discussion.
I used to hate that phrase. It offended my flesh because it didn’t make sense. When I thought I had grasped what it meant, I went beyond confusion straight into anger. “God’s telling me to shut up! That’s just not fair!” My head felt like it was going to explode from shutting up.
If I know anything about God, I know that He is always just. If something seemed or felt wrong or unfair, the injustice came from my interpretation of His instruction, not from the instruction itself. He mercifully waited for me to grow up so that He could help me understand this verse in a way that changed how I see it. It is a relief to not struggle with it so much anymore. I hope it will bless you too!
1 Peter 3:1 is not about setting the tone for the entire marriage. Instead, it is a God-style conflict resolution tool that is to be used when the two of you are at odds and the unity of the marriage is threatened. It’s something to flow in and out of, not where the relationship lives. The time that wives are to move into this silence is stated in 1 Peter 3: if any do not obey the Word [of God].
The Word clearly states that the time to use it is when your husband is being disobedient to God, in whatever form:
- Not allowing himself to be persuaded; refusing to believe or withhold belief; refusing belief and obedience
- Will not comply with
The above description is from Blue Letter Bible. Also, it’s pretty clear from esword too: Contumacious – Stubbornly or willfully disobedient to authority.
Thanks, But No Thanks
… [husbands] may be won over NOT by discussion …
The word, ‘not’ is from the Greek word aneu and it literally means: without one’s will or intervention. Translation: God doesn’t want my will for my husband’s life or need my intervention in the scenario we are currently fighting about.
God has asked us as wives to be quiet because He is better qualified to intervene in our husbands’ lives than we are. Your husband will hear God’s correction, but he won’t hear you harass him about the circumstance. God needs you to stand down and back off. The phrase ‘not by discussion’ beautifully and purposely captures God’s intention towards the disobedient husband, as well as His message to a wife: “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve got this.”
My Words Were Wrong?
If you find that you have little to no understanding about men, this generally translates into disrespect for them. My lack of knowledge came through the cultural instillation of feminism. I did not know how to talk to my husband so he would hear me. I needed a new understanding, and a new language to express that understanding.
Do you realize what God is actually doing here? In the vehicle of this current fight, He’s calling shotgun and wants you to voluntarily move to the back seat and keep quiet. This is more commonly called ‘minding your own business.’
Try looking at it this way: You are a parent. Your son is disobeying and your daughter keeps chirping in and trying to get her brother to do right by being the one to tell him he’s wrong. He just won’t listen, so they always end up fighting over the same thing. What are you going to say to your daughter? “Be quiet. I’ll deal with this.” You don’t want to hear from her, do you? As a parent, you know there are times to step in, and times to let them be, and it’s your choice.
This is EXACTLY the way our Spiritual Father works – He’s the Good Parent, we are the siblings. It’s HIS choice when to step in. As a wife, your chirping-in is just seen as controlling and bossy, nagging… disrespectful. The fact that my husband wouldn’t listen to me, didn’t come to me for counsel, or ask my opinion, was the proof that I had not been speaking correctly. You will never be a beneficial influence in your husband’s life – especially when he’s off track – if you have talked too much and done it wrong.
“You don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of things they’ve taught me.” –Scott Adams
Part 2 to follow next week:
Stop Talking – OK, I’m quiet, now what do I do?