1 Peter 3:1-2 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
I have read over this verse countless times. However, when your marriage is struggling, or when your husband isn’t behaving the way you wish he would, it’s hard to get a straight thought in your head! So, turning to this verse in my times of marital ‘non-bliss’, was not my first inclination. In fact, my first instinct was to beat HIM into submission with maybe a frying pan or a wooden spoon! I mean, after all, HE is the one not behaving as he should, and HE is the one who has a problem, NOT ME! Well, this verse was the beginning of my introduction to humility.
We tend to write off verses about submitting to or being subject to our husbands as being outdated. Let’s talk about the book of Peter for a moment. Peter wrote this letter around 60 A.D. He was known as the “apostle of hope”. In this letter, he was addressing the Christians who were being persecuted for their beliefs. He was letting them know that suffering is temporary and we are rewarded for it when we get to Heaven. His main instruction was to stand firm in your faith, keeping Jesus as your example, and to focus on the blessings suffering can and will create.
Now, let’s address something else. In reading 2 Timothy 3:16, we know that all of the words of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments are God-breathed words, given to the writers by the Holy Spirit. When I started seeing this to be true, it kind of hit me harder that this direction Peter gave came directly from our Lord. 2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.
So, who am I to argue with the words of God? In these verses from 1 Peter, there is so much guidance crammed into one sentence. So where does the word “Likewise” come from? If we look back, Chapter 2 is referring to submitting to authority, where Peter was describing how Jesus suffered so much because of His love for us. We will never experience that kind of intense suffering, and if He can do that in the name of love, can’t we handle our smaller amount of suffering for our husbands who we are to be one with?
Peter is saying, just as Jesus was subject to His suffering, we should subject ourselves to our husbands. So that even if some do not obey the word…Even if your husband isn’t saved, isn’t acting as a husband should. They may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives…This part I’ll elaborate on a bit more. When your husband sees your example of taking his behavior in stride, it may just be the thing that saves him. We all know that responding out of anger or bitterness just keeps the cycle going; it doesn’t fix anything. We see over and over, examples in the Bible of how God uses suffering to bring about incredible miracles. What about Noah and his family suffering through the humiliation of building a huge ark in a location where it practically never rained (See Genesis Chapter 6)? How about Sarah and Abraham getting pregnant in their 90’s after longing for children for so long (See Genesis Chapters 15-18)? Poor Joseph was sold by his own brothers into slavery (See Genesis Chapter 37)! There are countless more examples, and these are just from the first book of the Bible.
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. When our husbands don’t act as we wish they would, we feel persecuted, but what great honor to you if by handling this persecution, you are able to see your husband saved by Jesus Christ. So, if you knew this would happen, would it be easier to deal with the struggle? Of course it would. It would give us a direct purpose, an end in sight. But that’s not how our God works. He has told us through these verses that He will bless those who suffer for righteousness’ sake, meaning our acting as Jesus would and following God’s word. And God always keeps His promises.
When they see your respectful and pure conduct. Unfortunately, we live in a society that thrives on getting revenge, seeking ‘karma’, and being hostile over ill-treatment. Where is forgiveness in all that? Where is grace? I think to myself, how many times has my husband just let me be nasty to him without saying a word? How many times has he turned the other cheek and just let my behavior go? None of us are without sin. We will always sin against our spouses in some way.
When my Pastor told me to reflect, pray, and meditate on this verse, it kind of surprised me in a way. And not in the way you might think. I was instantly ashamed. I was so ashamed that I had been acting so awful in a reactive way to my husband. He was mine to love, mine to hold, and I was just adding to the problem! For shame, for shame. I left his office that day so incredibly humbled before God, I wanted to dig a hole in the ground so I could bow down lower before Him. And let me tell you ladies, this works.
I don’t know how long God will take for your circumstance to show you His work, but in my marriage, this was almost an immediate change. Of course, I slipped up the first few days, letting out witty comebacks or arguing instead of just biting my tongue. But when I did slip up, I apologized instantly. God had burdened my heart so heavily to follow these verses. So I prayed on it, thought about the verses a lot, and did what my Pastor told me. And now I can see my husband getting closer to God, and he treats me SO much better. We are also mostly on the same page with our life plans. It’s incredible the changes I’ve seen.
Thank God for Paul writing down the words of the Holy Spirit, because these words are nothing short of miraculous. The main thought I had to get rid of was that it was my job to somehow save my husband and change his heart. I think most of us can agree we feel that way. But there has never been a more freeing feeling in my life than the moment I handed my husband’s fate into God’s very capable hands. He doesn’t need my help. And you can’t force someone to change. But God can. God will. God is so good. We will see that, as long as we let go of control and LET Him do His work. I truly believe I was inhibiting my husband’s growth by trying to control him and force him to change. I wasn’t allowing God to work in him. I’m so grateful for a wonderful Pastor who speaks the truth always and isn’t afraid to call me out when I’m acting like a crazy person!
Ladies, please take these words to heart. Learn from my experience. Don’t go through years of torment like I have. Once I started being subject to my husband and seeing the change in him, I have never felt more in love with him. It feels like we are newlyweds! And if it can work for us, it can work for you. God is always working, whether you see it or not, so let Him do His job and you focus on the job he gave you. Love your husbands. Show them an example of Jesus. If you need help getting started, let me know. I’m happy to provide more Biblical guidance for you.
Love in Christ,
*If you are in a dangerous situation, please seek help immediately. I also strongly urge reaching out to a trusted Pastor or strong Christian for guidance. We can’t do these things alone, girls. And there is no shame in that.