In 1 Pet 3:1-6, Peter tells a wife how to win her disobedient husband. Disobedient husbands are “any who obey not the word,” [1 Pet 3:1]. The best opportunity she has to “turn him” is by following what Peter wrote, not by doing what she “feels” is right. Nevertheless, whether he gets right with God is his decision, not hers. So, she must do what she’s supposed to do. To win a disobedient husband, a wife:
Must be in subjection to him – 1 Pet 3:1 – “be in subjection to your own husbands.” In 1 Pet 2:18-25, Peter exhorted servants to be subject to their masters, even to the froward ones. So, in 1 Pet 3:1-6, when Peter turned his attention to the relationship between a wife and her husband, he said, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.” He said, “Likewise,” because wives are to be subject to their own husbands, whether they are obeying the word of God or not. If he is not obeying the word, being subject to him seems contrary to the way to win him.
I am praying for three women who’s husbands are not obeying the word. In each case, I have counseled the wives to pray, read their Bibles, be faithful in church, and be subject to their own husbands. This fourth instruction came as a real surprise to them because their husbands are very disobedient to the word. And yet this is exactly what Peter told wives to do. When you are in subjection to your husband, you will:
- Obey him – 1 Pet 3:6 – in Titus 2:5, aged women teach younger women to be “obedient to their own husbands.”
- Reverence him – 1 Pet 3:6 – Sara called Abraham “lord,” [Gen 18:12]. And you are her daughter, in a spiritual sense, because Abraham is our father in the faith [Rom 4:11-12]. Wives are to reverence their husbands [Eph 5:33].
Must not argue with him – 1 Pet 3:1 – “they also may without the word be won.” You are not going to “talk” your husband into obeying God. You might subvert him and drag him into obedience, if he’s that kind of man and you’re that kind of woman. But if you do, you’ll just ruin him. Otherwise, he’ll fight you or shut you out. Husbands will hide from their contentious wives [Prov 21:9, 19]. Instead of fussing with your husband, pray to God [Prov 19:13]. Don’t be a nag.
Must maintain a chaste conversation – 1 Pet 3:2-4 – “while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” Husbands are won by the conversation of the wives. Conversation is behavior and conduct, not the use of words [v. 1 “without the word”]. They can “behold” it. Your behavior must be chaste [modest, clean, and spotless]. If your behavior is not chaste, your husband will find a way to justify himself and fault you for his disobedience. And you must fear God.
A chaste conversation:
- De-emphasizes your outward adorning – Esther didn’t require anything extra [Est 2:13, 15]. Jezebel fixed her hair and make up when Jehu came [2 Ki 9:30]. There is a way to dress that exudes haughtiness [superiority] and bravery [Is 3:16, 18]. Avoid this; you know what these adornments do to your attitude. Your attitude is supposed to be sober and shamefaced [1 Tim 2:9, marked by modesty, bashful]. Outward adorning usually involves your hair [plaiting is braiding], jewelry, and apparel. These must be modest.
- Reveals the hidden man of the heart – When your husband sees Jesus in you through your meek and quiet spirit, he will be convicted. God is working on him from one side, and the hidden man of your heart is working on his conscience from the other side. A meek and quiet spirit in the sight of God is of great price.
Must trust in God – 1 Pet 3:5 – the example of the holy women in the old testament is that they “trusted in God.” You must handle the matter of a disobedient husband the way God shows you in this passage. And you will, if you trust God. Trusting God is at the heart of your proper response to your husband’s disobedience. You must remember that your husband’s disobedience is a problem between him and the Lord, not between you and your husband.
Must do well – 1 Pet 3:6 – Just like Peter’s instructions to servants, you must “do well,” even though you might suffer for it [1 Pet 2:20]. “Take it patiently.” You must trust God through the rough times of your husband getting right with God. Things will probably get worse before they get better.
Must not be afraid – 1 Pet 3:6 – “not afraid with any amazement.” That is, you are not to be astonished by what you see God doing in your lives in order to get him right with God. Your tendency will be to resist what God is doing, if you become afraid. Settle down; God knows precisely what to do and when to do it. Trust him, do well, and don’t be afraid.