Marriages in Exile

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October 28th, 2018

Main Idea: The gospel brings hope to marriages by fixing our focus beyond marriage   

I. THE GOSPEL & WIVES (3:1-6)

In every culture, everywhere in this fallen world, the relative physical strength of men and the biological demands of childbearing and nurturing, have meant that when men are not intentionally self-sacrificial, women and children will be the hardest hit. - Russell Moore

Peter’s paradigm of a Christian wife with an unbelieving husband would have been culturally offensive to the Greco-Roman world: 

“A woman ought not to make friends of her own, but to enjoy her husband’s friends in common with him. The gods are the first and most important friends. Hence, it is becoming for a wife to worship and to know only the gods that her husband believes in, and to shut the door tight upon all strange rituals and outlandish superstitions. For with no god do stealthy and secret rites performed by a woman find any favor.” ~ Plutarch (Greek & Roman Biographer)

Peter exhorts Christian wives to be “subject to your own husbands.” 

1.     This is not based on the traditional values of society, but is consistently affirmed as God’s good design for husbands and wives (Cf. Eph. 5:22-33, Col. 3:18-19)

2.     This is voluntary and not under compulsion.

3.     This is a posture but not an absolute. 

4.     This does not mean that women (generally) are to be subject to men (generally).

5.     This is not because women are inferior to men

Peter’s expectation here is that unbelieving husbands “may be won” to salvation through their wives beautiful conduct, continuing his argument from 2:11-12. This is exactly what happened historically in the spread of the gospel in the early church. 

Peter urges wives to focus on the imperishable (cf. 1:4, 1:23) beauty of a character formed by the gospel. This kind of beauty can’t be taken away by gravity, time, age, or constantly shifting cultural standards. 

 A “gentle and quiet” spirit is a spirit that is settled and unshaken by circumstances. This is only found by rooting your sense of self and your hope in the Lord. 

 Peter points to the example of Sarah (cf. Gen. 18:11-12), whose hope in the Lord in the face of a difficult marriage with Abraham prompts her to respect her husband, even in the private spaces of her head. 

 Christian wives can find purpose in the midst of an impossible marriage by hoping in God. As they do so, they model the covenant of grace shown to us through Jesus Christ to their husbands and to the watching world


II. THE GOSPEL & HUSBANDS (3:7)

Husbands are to exercise “headship” in 2 ways:

1. “Live with your wives in an understanding way”

2. “Show honor to the woman as the weaker vessel since they are heirs with you of the grace of life”

Weakness is not a negative characteristic in a cross-shaped perspective. Vulnerability is not inferiority but is instead right at the heart of the most powerful reality in the universe: the crucified Christ who triumphs through vulnerability and leads us to find strength in our weakness - Russell Moore

Headship is about crucifying power and privilege in order to love one’s wife… Headship is not about having one’s laundry washed or one’s meals cooked or one’s sexual drive met, but rather about constantly evaluating how to step up first to lay one’s life down for one’s family. Headship will not seem often to the outside world to be “being the head of your house” at all. In many cases, headship will look like weakness. So does the cross. - Russell Moore

God takes the responsibility of headship so seriously that he will not listen to the prayers of husbands who are neglecting this. Husbands: Are you taking your cues from the head of the household of God?