It has been rightly said: so goes the home, so goes the church, so goes the church, so goes society.
Outside of our relationship with Christ, there is no area more vital to the health of our homes, churches, and society at large than the area of marriage. Marriage has long been the favored target of the Devil ever since he sought to deceive Eve and trigger original sin (Genesis 3:1-24). Our adversary seeks to erode the holy matrimony that God destined for His sons and daughters. This reality is hardly breaking news. Marriage is under the constant assault of the enemy as abuse, ego, indifference, adultery, liberalism, rebellion, homosexuality, pornography, dominance, pride, and selfishness clamor for the hearts of husbands and wives.
One of the primary ways that sin wages war on marriages is through the rejection of God’s design for men and women. Specifically, the command of God for husbands to love their wives like Christ, and for wives to be submissive to their own husbands. If we ever wonder why society is crumbling and the nuclear family is barely a shell of what it once was, the answer is simple: rebellion against God’s design will erode healthy marriages and vibrant family life.
If you want to experience holy matrimony in your marriage, you must go back to God’s design.
In this 2-part blog series on marriage, we’ll look at God’s design for men and women. Here in part 1, we have the portrait of a godly wife from 1 Peter 3:1-6. In the next post, we’ll break down the portrait of a godly husband from 1 Peter 3:7.
Here are 5 distinct marks of a godly wife based on this particular text:
1. A Godly Wife is Submissive
1 Peter 3:1 “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands…“
This first mark is not acceptable to the culture today. Feminists hate it, and all sorts of false ideas are read into the Bible about it. Even worse, some churches and professing Christians prefer political correctness over faithfulness to God’s design. But God’s command that a wife be submissive is reasonable and biblical. It is Christ-like. A godly woman doesn’t heed the rebellious calls of the culture. A godly wife willingly submits to the husband she has selected. This is God’s beautiful design for the order of marriage roles. A few more key truths help us better understand the idea of submission.
First, godly submission is to your “own” husband — as in, the one you chose — not all men. The Greek word idios means the “one that belongs to you.”
Second, this is a willing choice to be submissive, not forced dominance by men. “Be subject” is the Greek word hupotasso which means “to bring yourself under the authority of someone else.” A godly wife chooses a husband (wisely of course), then by choice brings herself under his leadership in the home.
Third, male headship in the home is the normative pattern across Scripture. 1 Corinthians 11:3 explains, “But I want you to know the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” Ephesians 5:22-24, and Colossians 3:18 both reiterate similar truths.
2. A Godly Wife is Influential
1 Peter 3:1b “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.”
Not all wives will be married to believers for various reasons, but God will use the exemplary character and conduct of a godly wife to win the soul of an unbelieving husband. Peter uses “disobedient to the word” in a way that means that this man does not obey the gospel nor believes in Christ by faith. It is a Greek word used in the present tense, meaning this man lives a lifestyle of disobedience to the Word. And yet, he can be won, not with words, but actions.
The godly wife is influential because of her conduct. She is not a nag, she does not win him with constant attacks on his character or habits, she does not insult him or belittle him. He is not vexed by her. She is not the contentious woman that Proverbs warns of saying, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife (Proverbs 21:9).” Her actions, not her words, win him.
If the godly conduct of a wife can influence an unbelieving husband, how much more should it have a quick and immediate impact on a believing husband who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and helped by the conduct of his godly wife?
3. A Godly Wife Fears the Lord
1 Peter 3:2 “when they see your respectful and pure conduct…“
Respectful can mean multiple things in the Bible, but when Peter uses it, he primarily refers to the fear of the Lord. That is typically his favorite way to use the term. In other words, this is a woman who says, “I will do what is right in God’s eyes, I will obey God. I fear the Lord.” This is a woman who genuinely believes that if she fears the Lord, everything else will fall into place and the Lord can even win an unbelieving husband through her faithfulness and steady walk.
This is strength. This is wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). This is dignity. This is greatness. This kind of woman is a blessing to her marriage beyond measure! Proverbs 31:30 reminds us, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Ask yourself: Do you people please at the cost of your husband and home? Do you make excuses for your lack of submission and respect? Is God’s word applicable to other women but not you? How you answer those questions will help you discern whether or not you fear the Lord.
4. A Godly Wife is Holy
1 Peter 3:2b “and pure conduct…”
The Greek word here means “holy; innocent.” This rules out any idea that a woman is to submit to her husband for sin. A holy woman is not a doormat. A holy wife obeys God. In the original context that Peter wrote these instructions, an unbelieving husband would likely be inclined to mistreat his wife because she was a believer. She would refuse to worship his idols, participate in wickedness, and therefore, rebel against his leadership in regards to sin. This is acceptable and commendable, though she should remain respectful while she obeys the Lord.
In her book, The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace lays out 5 ways a holy wife obeys God instead of her husband when he tries to lead her into sin:
- He forbids you to go to church. You obey Hebrews 10:25 and gather with saints.
- He forbids you to talk to the children about God. You obey Deuteronomy 6:7 and teach them about your God.
- He tells you to participate in sexual sin, including introducing pornography to the bedroom. You obey Ephesians 5:3 and not let impurity or immorality even be named among you.
- He demands you enjoy other unrighteous behaviors. You obey 1 Corinthians 13:6 in which love does not rejoice in unrighteousness and Ephesians 5:11 in which you refuse to participate in the deeds of darkness.
- He forbids you to tell anyone about his sin, abuse, and lie for him. You obey Ephesians 4:15 and speak the truth in love, and you obey Ephesians 4:25 and lay aside falsehood.
Holiness is the godly wife’s highest call. If you are a Christian wife, you are allowed to make every decision in your life based on what most reflects the holiness of your God. You do not submit to your husband into sin.
5. A Godly Wife Prioritizes Inner Beauty
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair and putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear — but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is precious.”
The NASB best captures the intent of Peter here saying, “Do not let your adorning be merely external.” The godly wife is not primarily focused on presenting herself to attract the lusts of men and the jealousy of other women. She does not define beauty and strength the way the world does She does not buy into the notion that showing more of your body and flaunting your wealth increases your power. The godly wife may certainly look put together on the outside but she puts her highest priority on the inside.
Peter identifies these qualities of true beauty as:
- Gentle: an adjective describing a woman who is not overly impressed with her self-importance. She is humble and considerate.
- Quiet spirit: a word that means quiet, and also can mean well-ordered. It is the same word used in 1 Timothy 2:2. This is a woman with a dignified lifestyle, she has self-control, she is not a drama queen, she does not spew opinion with rudeness or condescension, and she isn’t a firing squad with her mouth.
Why is this beautiful? Because God says it is. But even further, it is precious in His sight. This word means “costly and highly valuable,” and paints the picture of God as an appraiser. He sees the woman who is godly, meek, modest, and dignified as highly valuable. The world may consider such characteristics as old-fashioned and out of sync with today’s culture. God considers such characteristics as that of a precious and timeless diamond.
Meekness isn’t weakness. Modesty is beautiful. A woman who is gentle and has a quiet spirit is precious in God’s eyes.
6. A Godly Wife Trusts in the Lord
1 Peter 3:5-6 “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.”
Does this question mean you must call your husband, “Lord”? No. But you can if you’d like because this reference is denoting a term of respect that can also mean, “sir”. Peter’s reference is from Genesis 18:12 when Sarah shows respect for her husband even in a moment of shock that she’d be pregnant at 90 years old. She submitted to her husband, following him in faith, and trusting the Lord. This is how the holy women who hoped in God did it and still do it. Their example silences anyone who says it’s ridiculous to preach submission, modesty, and godliness for women. It’s righteous! Godly wives model after the holy women of old, hoping in God, respecting their husbands, knowing they are never more beautiful than when they are submitting to their own husbands just like Sarah did.
After making this clear, Peter finishes his statement in 1 Peter 3:6 saying, “And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” This appears to be God’s acknowledgment that submission can be a frightening thing for a woman but there is no need to fear if you a part of the family of God. Even if submission, fearing God over people, gentleness, pure conduct, and willingly coming under that man could be daunting, those fears can be given to the Lord Jesus as you choose to trust in the Lord. These holy women of old hoped in Him, therefore, they laid aside fear about obeying Him. They trusted God and submitted to their husbands as “unto the Lord.”
To summarize the concept of biblical submission, let’s use another helpful list from The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace:
- A wife is submissive to her husband in all things unless her husband asks her to sin
- A submissive wife is not afraid to “do the right thing”
- A wife is to be submissive even if her husband is not a Christian
- A submissive wife does not dishonor the Word of God
- A wise wife will seek training and counsel on submission from a godly older woman
My prayer is that this post helps to affirm, shape, or even challenge your view of biblical roles in marriage. In the next post, we’ll break down one of the most serious passages in Scripture regarding the loving and sensitive care expected by a Christian husband.
The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace