Summary: In 1 Peter 3:1-7 we can see The Wife’s Responsibility of being A) Submissive, B) Faithful and C) Modest
Lina Joy, 43, lost the court battle to change her religion from Islam to Christianity on Wednesday when the Malaysian Federal Court ruled she should seek permission to officially change her religion from Islam to Christianity at Islamic Shariah courts.
Joy had been engaged in a legal battle for six years with Wednesday’s court ruling, Joy now again faces Shariah courts, where apostasy is mostly considered a crime punishable by heavy fines or imprisonment.
Joy was born and raised a Muslim but began to attend church in 1990. She then received baptism in 1998. Because she is still legally a Muslim, she is unable to marry her Indian fiancé in Malaysia. About 60 percent of Malaysia’s 26 million people are Muslims.
In the grand scheme of Muslim nations, Malaysia is still considered to be one of the most progressive and modern Muslim democracies. The Malaysian Constitution has been criticized as self-contradictory by analysts who point to the fact it both defends freedom of religion and declares Islam the official religion, according to the New York Times.
“After 50 years of independence it appears that Malaysia’s High Court has tipped the future of the country toward Islamization by ruling that Shariah law takes precedence over civil laws,” remarked the Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick, Washington representative of Christian Solidarity International, to The Christian Post. “The courts have ruled that there will be no ‘exit visas’ from Islam; religious freedom itself is subject to the limitations imposed upon it by Islamic law.
“It reveals the flaw of parallel legal jurisdictions - one ruled by secular civil court the other by religious law,” he added. “In essence, the High Court has sentenced Lina to life as a prisoner of her own act of conscience. Muslim by legal obligation, Christian by conviction – Lina is now an exile in her own country.”
Joy hinted that she might leave Malaysia to openly and legally practice her faith in a statement released on Thursday, according to AP.
In Peter’s day when a wife became a Christian, the potential for difficulty was much greater than it was if the husband first became a believer. A wife was expected to profess the religion of her husband. In that society when women, who were viewed as inferior to men, became Christians without their husbands also becoming saved, the likelihood of his being embarrassed and shamed by what was viewed as an act of defiance by his wife, was predictable, as was the conflict subsequently generated. Husband would consider her unfaithful to him and his pagan religion.
Under Roman law, the wife had no rights. Under Greek law, her status was quite limited for example in property rights. Under Jewish practice, she could be divorced for almost any reason with little recourse.
Peter explained a status for women as being of equal worth and value to a man.
Galatians 3:27-28 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
Her responsibility was to be obedient to God’s commands. She was responsible to the human institution of marriage that God instituted.
1 Peter 2:13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution
-If you recall from our previous discussions, the reason for subjection was for the Lord’s sake.
Most of us can testify to having a close friend or congregation member that is going through this situation. Once again, this is not some intellectual speculation, but a real life, current issue of concern that touches us all. When we can understand the situation and how to appropriately respond, our counsel will be wise, our testimony will be strong and the radical life changing impact of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be shouted in its perfection and glory.
In first-century Greco-Roman culture, women received little or no respect. As long as they lived in their father’s house, they were subject to the Roman law of patria potestas (“the father’s power”), which granted fathers ultimate life-and-death authority over their children.
Please turn to 1 Cor. 7
Husbands had a similar kind of legal authority over their wives. Society regarded women as mere servants. If a woman decided to obey the gospel, that decision to change religions on her own could result in severe abuse from her unsaved husband. When such conversion did occur, a wife needed to know how to respond to her husband so that she might win him to the gospel. Her essential duty was to be submissive, as in the case of what we saw in previous weeks with the duty of everyone in civil and workplace relations.
First, the believing wife has the responsibility to stay with her unbelieving husband.