Husbands & Wives are to do good in their Relationship Together
Intro: Well morning South Sydney Anglican Church. My name is Matt Johnson and today as we continue our study of 1 Peter – we are remembering that in our pilgrimage towards heaven – many of us are walking hand in hand with a husband or a wife…
PRAYER: Well I’m hoping that all of you can cut me some slack with this passage today. Sadly, this teaching – about husbands and wives is now so far removed from our modern society – that many of you will be defensive before I even begin. So please hear the whole sermon before you decide to walk out?
The rise of feminism in the 1970’s saw a whole lot of women become quite hostile towards BIBLICAL/TRADITIONAL concepts of marriage. Traditional ideas about husbands being head of the home and wives submitting and raising children was decried as oppressive. So, pastors started to dodge and weave with Bible passages like this – as feminism was heralded as the great liberator of women. Of course, its NOT! It’s actually Jesus that is the great liberator of women.
But shortly thereafter we also started to redefine marriage itself. First, the U.S. in 2015 and then Australia in 2017 thropugh the marriage plebiscite. So now – in Australia, two men or two women can make vows to each other – and the state calls that marriage. It’s not actually marriage. It’s simply a legal, contractual relationship between two men or two women recognized by the state. But even as I say it is not actually marriage many people are genuinely confused. Why not? Love is love Why is it not marriage?
Now if that’s not confusing enough, gender fluid and transgender ideology now means that I also need to clarify what I mean by a husband or a wife. Even these terms are now gone. It’s now possible for a biological man to identify themselves as a wife or a woman. And a woman can actually be identified as husband on a marriage certificate.
So in today’s climate I look at a passage like this and think, where on earth do I start? In a few weeks time I’m hoping to show a video in church called (Slide 2); “What is a Woman?”, by Matt Walsh. It is a bit controversial. But the sad reality is the academics of the world (who want to keep their professorships in academia) can no longer answer the question – what is a woman?
Now this blatant rejection of truth and even common sense – is promising FREEDOM and UTOPIA for Millennials and Gen.Z’ers, But I assure you that it is actually creating A DYSTOPIA for everyone. The basic premise is lets reject the concept of absolute truth altogether and let’s see what happens?
Now if you are still an active and enthusiastic participant in this experiment, then you may not be ready for this sermon. But if you are beginning to see that the worlds experiment is NOT ACTUALLY WORKING for anyone and you’ve DECIDED TO TRUST JESUS – then I ask you to simply approach this passage with an open mind. THE PROBLEM is not that this passage is upside down and back to front. The problem is we are now upside down and back to front.
Point 1: Wives Submit to your husbands within the limits of what is Good
Explain: So here goes. When the Bible talks about a wife – it means a biological woman who enters into a covenant lifelong, monogamous relationship with a biological man (BEFORE GOD) for the purpose of 1) glorifying God, 2) serving one another in love and 3) having children. Generally speaking a wife is also a MOTHER. (Now yes, I know some wives are not mothers because of fertility issues. But the Bible always presents this as a sad reality, not a choice). Wives are meant to be mothers. Forget the OVERPOPULATION argument and realise we stop trusting God at our own peril. THE VERY FIRST COMMAND God gave to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply.
So here is an ABSOLUTE TRUTH – God made men and women equal but different – so that we could pro-create and glorify God together. Now throughout the history of the world the one impossibility for two men or two women was pro-creation. A man and a woman can make babies because our complementarity works together to produce life. Now the fact that we have come up with a way through IVF and surrogacy to bypass this natural complementarity, doesn’t make the underlying reality any less true. A man and woman together brings something to the table that two people of the same sex do not.
Of course, I am speaking in ideals. In our fallen, sinful world many heterosexual marriages are also deficient and less than God intended. But nonetheless, a heterosexual marriage has a potentiality to it, under God, that a same sex relationship can never reach. SIMPLY ANSWER THIS QUESTION; Would the world be poorer if there were no women in it? Would the world be poorer if there were no men in it? (PAUSE). Of course, the answer is YES. But this means a marriage without a man OR a marriage without a woman – is also somehow poorer – for the couple, for children and for society. IT IS POORER. It may be hard to QUANTIFY. But every corporate board room in Australia knows it is somehow richer when it has both men and women on the board.
Now this idea that men and women are complementary comes from Genesis 2. This is what God says to Adam; (Slide 4 – Gen.2:18). This word “SUITABLE” means complementary, compatible or counterpart. So when you combine Genesis 2 with Genesis 1 – which says; God made man and woman both in His image – it means men and women are equal, but different and complementary. So let’s, just express what the Bible is teaching in terms of man-woman relationships.
Apply: Now you’re going to have to work this out for yourself – but I believe the Bible teaches what Christian scholars call COMPLEMENTARIANISM. So with this concept of equal, but different and complementary lets look again, at what Peter says (Slide 6; 1Pet.1:1-2). Peter says wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands.
Now immediately, most woman naturally pull back. I get it. But Peter tells wives to submit “IN THE SAME WAY” that workers submit to bosses, and in the same way as Christians generally submit to the authorities of the land. But Peter has been clear that this submission is NOT ABSOLUTE. GOD GIVES some people power, strength and authority to uphold what is good and restrain what is evil. So as Christians we respect the laws and we submit insofar as they are upholding good and restraining evil. But if a master or authority starts promoting EVIL – Christians should still do good rather than evil, even if they then suffer for doing this good. And Peter then uses Jesus as an example of someone who challenged corrupt authority and then suffered for doing good…
Now automatically this tells us submission to husbands has never been absolute. It is like all submission. But insofar as a husband is using his God given strength and power to bring good to the family, protect the family from evil and helps discipline the kids (when they’re doing evil) – then the wife is told to work with her husband, not against him.
Of course, if the husband is doing EVIL – the Christian wife has a responsibility to continue doing good. Now of course, this is where things sometimes get messy and some marriages rightly – end in divorce. The Bible acknowledges that in our pilgrimage towards heaven some marriages will inevitably and sometimes necessarily end in divorce.
But that is not the FIRST PORT of call. RATHER, wives are told to submit to their husbands (even non-Christian husbands), so that they might be won for Christ. Now remember this is a non-Christian husband. He’s not with you spiritually. He’s moral compass is deficient and he’s heart is unregenerate. He’s less than an ideal husband. If you have a husband better than this – be thankful. This wife is not told to divorce her husband. But to win him for Christ – by being an excellent wife.
Now this is a tough word. I’m sure most Christian women would like a Christian husband. You may even be a little envious of women with Christian husbands. But the pilgrimage to heaven is not about our personal happiness and heaven now. It it is about winning people for Christ. And if you are married to a non-Christian (and they are willing to stay with you) well God has given you a personal evangelistic assignment. I’m sure – it is less than ideal. But Peter says; “Don’t pull the pin. Rather do whatever you can to win your husband to Christ – by making yourself beautiful.”
Point 2: Wives win yourself a Christian Husband, with your Beauty
Show: 1 Pet.3:3-6 (READ)
Explain: Please note this passage is NOT telling women to simply ignore their outer appearance and go around everywhere in trackys. Yes, it is true that God looks at the heart. So your heart is the most important. But remember, (if your married or your hoping to get married) MEN do tend to look at the outer appearance – as much or more than the heart. And this is a strength. God made women to be beautiful.
I believe God gave women a certain OOOH LA LA – because he wanted Adam to be fruitful and multiply. If Eve looked like a hairy monkey we would have been doomed from the start. THE FACT IS – apart from sin (and the damage done to us in life) generally speaking 1) MEN WERE MADE to find women beautiful and 2) WOMEN WERE MADE to find a certain joy in being found beautiful. Beauty is a woman’s super-power. Now I readily admit that because of sin, anxiety and trauma this is not always the case for everyone. If what I am saying does not ring true to you – we will probably need a bigger conversation. Sadly, our world is broken. But the Bible leads me to believe this was Gods intention.
So when it comes to a PROPER TRANSLATION of today’s passage – I think the New American Standard Bible comes closest to getting the translation right (Slide 9). Please notice the word “merely”. The NKJV does the same. I think this is correct. So the idea then is – “Don’t ONLY be beautiful on the outside, be beautiful on the inside too.” I don’t think this is really forbidding women from wearing nice clothes, doing their hair or wearing jewellery. Yes, there are perhaps limits. But the fact is God made women beautiful and I think Peter is saying embrace your whole feminine beauty super-power (including your inner feminine beauty) to win your husband. Now thankfully, women enjoy looking beautiful and they know part of winning a man for marriage (and making babies) is accentuating their physical beauty. So with this reality (and it is a reality) – a multi-billion dollar beauty industry was born.
Every women’s magazine has a section on beauty tips and in 2019, it is estimated AUSTRALIAN WOMEN spent $888,405,000 on beauty products. But who would have thought a woman could use her beauty not just A) to win a husband, but B) to win a husband for Christ. THIS IS BEAUTY EVANGELISM – 101.
Now exactly what Peter – a smelly, rough fisherman, from Galilee thought he was doing – giving beauty tips to women – I’m really not sure. He is a BRAVER man than most. But remember, at this point, PETER is also inspired by the Holy Spirit. So the first beauty tip Peter offers in verse 4 is the unfading beauty of a GENTLE AND QUIET SPIRIT.
Now you may like to think why is a GENTLE AND QUIET demeanor is of great worth in God’s sight, and beautiful to men? (PAUSE) Wives are told don’t try A) to win your husband with many words (verse 2), but with B) a quiet and gentle spirit (verse 4). Now rather than get myself in trouble – why might God be giving these words to women specifically, rather than men? REMEMBERING, that men and women are equal, but different, is it possible that women may struggle with certain sins more than men AND men struggle with other sins more than women? So in the presence of men and trying to win men (in some way) with your beauty – what is this saying?
APPLY: Well Peter goes on and says the holy women of the past ALSO made themselves beautiful by taking a posture of respect and submission with their husbands. (Now whether you agree with this or not – lets just understand what Peter is saying before we pass judgment on it). What Peter is saying is that men find women beautiful when they acknowledge a certain aspect of their masculinity. I’ll tell you now, this has to do with MAN’S PHYSICAL STRENGTH and the responsibility all men feel to lead, protect and provide for those weaker than themselves. Men just feel their physical strength matters, like women feel their physical beauty matters.
And then Peter says to wives (SLIDE 10: 1 Pet.3:6). Now remember throughout this long section on submission – the focus has been on doing good, not evil. And Peter is saying that when women (and wives) RECOGNIZE AND ACKNOWLEDGE that God has given PHYSICAL STRENGTH TO MEN – to enable them to lead and provide – men find such women even more beautiful. For those who have ears to hear – this floats a man’s boat – perhaps more than anything. But the great fear of women is that if I acknowledge man is stronger than woman – they’ll somehow use it against me. (I’ll let you in on a secret. Most men already know they are stronger than you. You acknowledging it – isn’t going to change anything). So God says trust me, do not give way to fear, because this is how you float a man’s boat and win his heart…
Point 3: Husbands use your Strength to Serve your wife as an Equal
Show: 1 Pet.3:7 (READ)
Explain: Now the phrase – “in the same way” is still harking back to authority and submission. Every little boy knows God made him strong. That’s his superpower in the world. And the Bible explains (previous verses) the reason God gives strength, power and authority to some people – is so that they USE THIS STRENGTH ADVANTAGE to promote what is good and restrain what is evil. Every little boy is crying out to show you how strong they are. They love showing you there muscles or what they can do. SECRET (DON’T TELL ANYONE); little boys NEVER really grow up?
So Peter then goes on to tell little boys to be considerate of their wife’s needs and treat them with respect (as the weaker partner). Now be considerate – means use your special super-power, of strength – to serve women’s special needs. Just as it is true that women are usually more beautiful than men, it is also true that men are usually stronger than women. So why did God make men strong? And what does strength have to do with leadership in marriage and the home?
Well, apart from the last 100 years (and perhaps only in the western world) – I’d say men’s physical strength meant a lot when it came to leadership, protection and provision. Prior, to perhaps the 1800 or 1900’s – every woman who did not have a good strong man looking out for her was in serious danger. Even now, in third world, non-Judeao-Christian countries women and children are constantly in danger – because they are not as strong as half as the population.
RAPE is a constant possibility. ROBBERY AND EXPLOITATION remains a real threat. In a pre-computer age simply providing food for the family was seen as A MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY because most jobs in agriculture, pre-industrial and even post-industrial factories required hard labor – more suitable to men (because of their phsyical strength). And good, decent men found pride (and a sense of masculine identity) in fulfilling these important roles of protection and provsision.
But sadly, it was often also exploited. So Peter tells husbands not only to use their strength advantage to serve their wife, but remember she is your equal.
SHOW: 1 Peter 3:7 (READ)
Apply: The word “weaker vessel” reminds husbands that women are different to men. So husbands are told to be considerate and use their superpower to serve their wives needs. (Conversely, wives were just told to be considerate of their husbands needs and use their beauty superpower to win their husband’s hearts). Now because of sin in this world (and the changes modern life) – each husband and wife will need to work out what this still looks like today. There will be nuance – but the underlying differences of beauty and strength still exist. And each marriage needs to work out how to recognize and celebrate oner another’s super-power – and harness them for God’s glory. Recognize and celebrate difference.
But the husband is also reminded that his wife is an heir with him of Gods gracious gift. The word “heir” means co-heir or joint-heir. It implies EQUALITY. The same precious blood of Jesus that saved men also saved women. We are equal in dignity and worth.
One of the terrible things that happens in marriage is when husbands treat their wives like second class citizens. There is such a thing as SEXISM. It is wrong. There is such a thing as DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. It is wrong. Such things should never happen in Christian homes. And if it is happening – other good Christian men should have the courage to call that husband to repent. Yes, perhaps the wife is talking too much, and maybe she is not showing respect. But nonetheless, men should never hit women. Boys, you should never hit a woman. EVER! Yes God made you strong and that is what makes you a man. But use that strength to serve women, not hurt women – ever.
Sadly, we now live in a world that is completely confused in these matters. I know fear prevails among women – that if they are feminine, quiet and gentle – men will walk all over them. So women then become more like men to ensure they get their rights. Meanwhile, fear prevails among men – that they are not strong enough to lead a loud, strong capable, feminist woman in this modern world (where physical strength means nothing) – and so they go quiet, submissive and start making themselves beautiful, becoming more and more like women. WELCOME TO THE SYDNEY MARDI GRAS. I think much of it is coming from fear, rather than faith. But, by and large, the losers continue to be – women.
Men pretend to be women and real women then miss out on babies. Men pretend to be women – and real women now miss out on gold medals in athletics AND swimming. Even gender diversity ratios on corporate boards can now be met by employing transgender men. The weaker sex continues to lose – unless good Christian men decide to stand up for what is good and restrain what is evil. Where are the strong Christian men?
You may have noticed that there are no women pretending to be men in competitive sports or corporate boardrooms – because it never works to women’s advantage. I guarantee that TINDER is a man-made construct that is exploiting women. I’d say most ABORTIONS in Sydney are happening not because women want them, but because little boys are too scared to grow up and become men, husbands and fathers. We live in a world where everyone is giving into fear – and truth and goodness is being swallowed up by evil.
So do we still have a few good Christian men who are strong enough and brave enough to confront the evil in this world (restrain it where possible) and restore what is good – not just for the sake of our prayer’s, but for women’s sake too. THANKFULLY, we do have a heavenly Father – who still cares about us – (and if we are willing to repent and trust him) he will teach us again, what it means to be STRONG MEN and BEAUTIFUL WOMEN – but will we listen to Him.