Pastor Mike Gerhardt, Peter’s Letters Series #9, January 15, 2017, Wives and Husbands, Part 1, 1 Peter 3:1-7. A man over for dinner was impressed how his friend asked his wife how her day went and told her she looked pretty. The husband later praised the meal, thanked her and helped with the dishes. When the two guys were alone, the man asked: Why do you treat your wife so well? Because she deserves it and it makes our marriage better. The visitor decided to try it. He went home and embraced his wife saying: You look wonderful, I’m glad I married you! I’m the luckiest guy in the world. His wife burst into tears. Bewildered he asked: What’s the matter? She wept: Well, Billy got into a fight at school; the refrigerator quit and spoiled all the groceries; and now you’ve lost your mind!
Let’s look at the relationship between husband and wife. Before we do, let’s check our attitude toward scripture. The Bible speaks to intimate relationships in ways that may be counter to our 21st century culture. Many think the Bible is outdated. Some want to twist it to suit them in a politically correct way. We need to approach each text carefully and leave attitudes behind especially the me attitude prevalent in today’s world. You may think, well, I don’t have any problem with this passage: our marriage is a 50/50 proposition. Well if you think marriage is a 50/50 proposition, you already perceive things differently than scripture. Marriage isn’t about balancing power, money, or rights. It’s about sacrifice, unconditional love and giving everything you have without reservation. When we discuss the necessity of men to love their wives as Christ loved the church, or of wives to submit to their husbands, your first thought should not be, Yes but what do I get out of it? Statistics can challenge us to rethink our attitudes. One I read said that over half of all children in the US live through at least one divorce, and half of those live through a second divorce. Some statistics show that over 50% of school age children live in single-parent households. Lest you think I am just talking to young couples, the generation with the highest divorce rate recently are those between 55 and 75. I would ask you to hear what the Lord has to say to you concerning husbands and wives.
Wives: Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. The Greek word hupotasso means to place oneself under authority, it’s a military term. In the same way, Jesus placed himself under the authority of His Father. Peter is not saying that a wife is the husband’s slave, nor that a husband can abuse his wife, nor that the wife is not allowed to influence the family. He’s simply saying that God has created marriage in Genesis 2:24 where it a man and woman shall be joined together and the two shall become one flesh, one unit, one family. Unfortunately (or fortunately), our brains don’t actually fuse together so that we think the same thoughts. So, in this melding of two people into one, God has design the way in which it works and each one is given a certain role. I Corinthians 11:3, Paul writes: I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Paul is giving us a procession of responsibility, he’s not saying anything about equality.
Is God the Son inferior to God the Father? Not at all, and a submissive wife is not inferior to her husband. Manymarriages today do not follow this pattern of responsibility. There is a lot of brokenness, fighting and finger pointing. Men who are not submitted to Christ as their head, can break their families apart. This order of responsibility is God’s blueprint for our lives.
Warren Buffet is one of the richest in America. Among the billionaires, Buffet acquired his wealth through investing. Many investors look to him for advice. His firm Berkshire Hathaway has the most widely read annual report. A book The Warren Buffet Way was written about his investment strategies. If you could sit down with Warren Buffet for a while and get some investment tips, would you? I think you would. Imagine for a moment that your family is your greatest capital. If you could get some investment tips on how to grow it spiritually, would you be interested?
We hold in our hands a treasure of investment strategies for growing our family relationships. The Bible, God’s Word in written form, contains countless pro-family principles and precepts. If we learn and practice them, they can make our family relationally wealthy.
Win over your unbelieving spouse: without words, with purity and reverence and with a gentle and quiet spirit. These three are instructions for a conduct that is simply pure and modest. Paul mentioned that husbands and wives should not abandon their unbelieving spouses but win them over. 1 Corinthians 7:12-14 If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. Some were saved after they had married. Should they leave their unbelieving spouse? Should they refuse the marriage bed? What if the unbelieving spouse wants to end the marriage? Paul’s counsel is clear: stay where you are and use every opportunity to try to win them. If the unsaved mate is willing to live with you, remain in the home and be a good witness. Your Christian testimony might win the unbeliever. The children from such a marriage are not unclean as would be the case if a Jew married a Gentile; their children would not be accepted into the covenant. Yet verse 14 doesn’t mean that children born in a Christian home are saved; only that the spouse sets them apart for God’s blessing. God blesses the lost because of the saved one. If an unsaved mate refuses to continue in the home, then the believer can do nothing but let them depart. God has called us to peace.
Back to 1 Peter: Adornment should not be merely outward: arranging the hair, wearing gold, putting on nice clothing but nurturing the Spirit of godliness of your inner self to shine forth. God doesn’t want you to cover your inner self, the person that He gave His Son to save, under a lot of frills that are not really you.
You are also to act with reverence, or righteous fear, toward God. That’s why Peter talks about the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. Peter uses Sarah as an example because Sarah was known for her outward beauty, yet was also the mother of the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people. She honored and submitted to Abraham in a godly way.
We have an example of the principle of headship in the U.S. Submarine Greeneville. The Greeneville is probably best known for colliding with a fishing vessel off the coast of Oahu in February 2001. It surfaced suddenly underneath a Japanese trawler off Pearl Harbor, sinking it and killing nine people. The commander Scott Waddle narrowly avoided a court-martial and resigned from the Navy. Why? Did he personally operate the controls that caused the sub to surface? No. Was he the sonar operator who was monitoring the vessels in the area? No. Did the civilians on board interfere with the activities of the crew? Quite possibly. But Waddle was the one in charge. The buck stopped with him.
Men, in our marriages the buck stops with us. We are responsible before God for our wives and families. It is a high calling to love and serve our wives. But unfortunately, I don’t think many men get this. It has been said that most marriage problems are rooted in the fact that husbands do not love their wives as Jesus loved the church and gave himself for her. More on this next week.