Summary: Women are called to lives of faith, just like Jesus was. Their calling includes this difficult command to submit to their husbands, even ones who are not believers. What is required is the same thing required of Jesus; an obedient faith.
May 11, 2003
"Women of Faith" 1 Peter 3:1-7
Pastor Jon MacKinney
Christianity, our faith, is most challenging when we read passages of Scripture like the one we read last week. From the chapter before the one Chris just read in 1 Peter 2:21 where it says, "To this you were called. Because Christ suffered for you leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps." And we saw last week that what we were called to was this life manifested and exemplified by Christ of obedient faith. We see other passages that are equally tough, like Philippians 2 "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being the very form of God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. But made himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant." Or also in the book of Philippians, verse 10 of chapter 3, "I want to know Christ, the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings." Now I say those things and you’re going to say, "Well, certainly Pastor Jon is not going to ruin Mothers Day by preaching from such a passage." Well, you’ve already gotten a hint from the passage that Chris read from 1 Peter 3, that in fact I am going to ruin Mothers Day. But I think we’ll find out that…. Well, first of all, let me just say that I didn’t plan it this way. I planned to preach through 1 Peter and I laid out the passages and lo and behold on Tuesday this week I said, "Wow, this is Mothers Day and look what I’m preaching." "Wives be submissive to your husbands." Thank you all for staying, by the way, after Chris read the passage and you’re still here.
I would like to suggest, though, that few passages in Scripture elevate Christian motherhood and womanhood better and higher than this passage right here – in the context in which it is found. Because remember what the context is saying. We make the mistake so often of taking a passage of Scripture like this and pulling it out and talking about it as if it was written in its own book – the book of 1 Peter 3:1-6. But the fact of the matter is that this passage is written in a letter, in a context that is calling all people, all believers, to this same kind of life. And that is the life of faithful obedience to God, for believing in God and following the example of Jesus which led Him to the cross. And in that context, then, as Peter has talked about the situation of citizen to country, has talked about the relationship of slave to master, has talked about the relationship of Jesus to His Father; now talked about the relationship of wives to their husbands.
As we look at this passage, let’s look at it in that context. Asking, "What characteristic is God looking for in believing women? What are the hidden treasures that God seeks in us?" It shouldn’t be a surprise. It shouldn’t be a surprise to us in this context that God is looking for the expression, the manifestation, of faith in the lives of women who are His beautiful daughters.
He’s looking first for faith in God’s redemptive purpose. If you were here last week, you might remember that this is the exact same faith that we talked about last week in the third point that Jesus had faith in the redemptive purpose of God when He went to the cross. And if you look at the last few verses of chapter 2, "He Himself bore our sin," verse 24, "in his body on the tree so that (for the purpose) that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." We have been redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ.
Now Peter writes, and he uses the word "in the same way," or it’s the word "homoios" where we get "the same." He says, "In the same way." Let’s not whip by that little phrase like it doesn’t matter, because what he’s saying is "Just like Jesus had faith in His Father, even to the point of death, he says, "In the same way (as found in that same example), wives I want you to be submissive to your husbands." Both require the same character of faith and for some it requires more faith than for others. This word "submissive," by the way (and this is important to notice) does not carry at all the implication or the connotation of inferiority, that "Women, you’re inferior, so get bossed around." That’s not what it says. The word that is used here is a word that is a military term for subordination. In the military there is a certain chain of command, if you will, that starts up at the general level and works down and each person has someone to whom they’re accountable. And even the generals are accountable to the Commander in Chief, in this case George Bush. God set it up this way on purpose so that there would be people who would be able to plan and organize and lead. And there would be people who would carry out those wishes. Imagine an army that was made up purely of five star generals. The only thing that would get done is that a lot of golf would be played. But in terms of actually fulfilling the purpose for which the army exists, nothing would happen because a general is only as good as the people to whom he gives orders and that they will subordinate themselves to carry that out.