“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, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct” (I Peter 3:1-2).
Peter continues his examples of submission in chapter three. Building upon the illustrations of citizens to government, and servants to their masters, the apostle now delves into the relationship of marriage. Peter begins chapter three with the transitional word “likewise” (ὁμοίως; homoios) which means similar, or to be similar to something else.
He directs his attention, as he did with the God created social institutions of government and work, with the social institution of marriage and the home. He begins with the wife, much like the Apostle Paul does in Ephesians 5:22-33.
The word wives (γυνή; gyne) is plural. Peter is speaking to all wives. This instruction will be binding to all women who are in a covenant relationship with their husbands. Peter also affirms heterosexual marriage in this particular section. Without apologies, so do I.
What are wives responsible to do in the marriage relationship? They are to be submissive (ὑποτάσσω; hypotasso). As one commentator explains, (Hypotasso) is “a Greek military term meaning to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader. In non-military use, it was a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.” This second meaning is what Peter is referring to when he calls wives to be submissive.
Wives are not to be forced or physically compelled to submit to their husbands. They are not to be abused, either verbally or physically.
Rather, they are to submit to their godly husbands willingly. This means that God calls wives to be voluntarily responsible to their husbands and for their husbands. This is a lifelong commitment in the marriage, which continues until death.
This relationship is uniquely between a wife and her own husband. She does not, and must not, be compelled to display this submissive behavior towards anyone else including her own husband. On the contrary, she willingly submits to only to her own husband and this becomes a sacred and holy bond of oneness between the two.
If you are a wife, do you find yourself misunderstanding the responsibility of biblically submitting to your own husband? Many Christian women do. So too do Christian men. May husbands and their wives strive to foster a biblical relationship in their marriage. To do so brings glory to God who created marriage in the first place.
Soli deo Gloria!