First, I was intrigued that the moderator of our discussion chose to start in the middle of 1 Peter 2, with a passage that describes two things Christ did for us: he suffered (v. 21) and he left us an example to follow (v. 21). What was that example?
- He committed no sin (v. 22)
- no deceit was found in His mouth (v. 22)
- while being reviled, He did not revile in return (v. 23)
- while suffering, He uttered no threats (v. 23)
- He continues to entrust Himself to the Father (v.23)
In providing these standards, if you will, what was Christ doing? Obviously, He was being obedient to God the Father but, more than that, he was being a servant. He was serving.
The second interesting item was at the beginning of 1 Peter 3:
In the same way, wives be submissive to your own husbands.In what way are wives to be submissive to their husbands? In the same way. The same as what? The same way as Christ, the actions that were just described in the preceding verses. Does that mean I can suffer and die for someone’s sins as outlined in 1 Peter 2:24-25? No, of course not, but it does mean that, like Christ, I can serve (as outlined in 1 Peter 2:22-23) and that I am expected to serve. I will always fall short, of course, because I am sinful by nature, but I am expected to try.
So if 1 Peter 3:1 states that wives are to be submissive to their husbands, what are husbands supposed to do? Whenever Scripture utters a word like “submissive" in the same sentence as wife, the general fear that runs through the female population is downright palpable. As women who are no longer relegated to stereotypical female roles, we look upon “submission” as giving up our ability to think, to grow in knowledge and skill, to be who we are. But look at 1 Peter 3:7:
You husbands likewise, live with your wives…The use of the word “likewise” here implies the question, “like what?” Again, like Christ. Husbands, like their wives, are called to be servants too. Just as Christ serves the Church, so husbands are to serve their wives. This makes sense, given that marriage, according to the model presented in Scripture, is a picture of Christ’s relationship to the Church on earth. Looking further into 1 Peter 3:7:
…live with your wives in an understanding way…and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.A cursory examination of the word “fellow” from most dictionaries yields the meaning: “a person in the same position,” an equal. So husbands are to treat their wives in an honorable way and as equals. More importantly, though, what is the consequence for husbands who do not behave in this manner? Their prayers may be hindered. Wow! I don’t know about you, but I rely on prayer a lot and I certainly wouldn’t want to willfully hinder it in any way.
Idea that jumped out at me: once again, the Lord seems to present a paradox, the complexities of which must be worked out by faith. Women are equal, yet they should be submissive. Husbands are the head of the household, yet they should live as servants. Fascinating.