The Conduct Of Our Lives:I Peter 3:1-7


Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior. Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God. For this is also how the holy women who hoped in God once used to adorn themselves and were subordinate to their husbands; thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him “lord.” You are her children when you do what is good and fear no intimidation. Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding, showing honor to the weaker female sex, since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

The “likewise” that  Saint Peter uses here, reflects back on his command to slaves in the previous chapter.

In our study of the Domestic Church in August of 2006, we examined carefully the roles of both wives and husbands in Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Saint Peter says the same thing here, but gives different emphasis as to it’s result.  

Wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct. This word “conduct” is anastrophe in Greek and is also translated as behavior and conversation. Using the “conduct” or “behavior” definition, better explains this sense being won over without a word.Some people have given a proper title to this action, lifestyle evangelism, and rightly so. Our lifestyles should lead our (unbelieving) spouses (and others) to faith in Christ, if indeed we find ourselves in this situation. But what about those spouses who already believe? After all, Saint Peter was addressing wives who had converted to Christianity (most likely) after their marriages, for Saint Paul teaches us in II Corinthians 6:14, not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” So what about those who already believe? If the “behavior” of the believer can lead an unbeliever to faith in our Lord, how much more will our “behavior” lead our believing spouses into a deeper faith in our Lord? If we are willing to do this, will not our marriages be strengthened and our families be more solidified? Of course they would!

I will not get into the historical details of women’s dress and pagan worship in the first century, because what Saint Peter is really addressing is the hidden character of the heart. A gentle and calm disposition, is precious in the sight of God, like Sarah had with Abraham. Saint Peter says, you are her[Sarah’s] children when you do what is good. This is not a foreign concept for us Catholics- as Sarah can be called a “mother of obedient wives”- so Mary can be called all believers [or the Church’s] spiritual Mother. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in paragraph 969 and 970:

“This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”

“Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.” “No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.”

 

 Alright guys, it’s our turn!

We must show honor to our wives. That means showing them special esteem or respect and reverence. If we do this we are told that our prayers may not be hindered. This should inform us as to the importance of the Sacrament of Matrimony to our Father. If we do not respect our spouse, a visible sign of the unity of the Trinity, God will not hear our prayer. Is this not like Saint Paul’s description of prayer without love, “a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal” (I Cor. 13:1)? Is your prayer life ineffective? Examine your relationship with your spouse. Are you showing her honor and respect? Are you treating her as a joint heir? It would do us all well, to take Saint Peters words to heart here.

So this week, let us (wives) be subordinate to our husbands, and men (husbands) let us honor and respect our wives. Let us test the truth of God’s word, that our conduct will lead others to (or deeper in) a faith walk with Jesus Christ. And that our conduct toward our spouses, will not only enhance our relationships with each other, but will find favor in God’s eye’s and He will receive our prayers.

Amen.

 

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3 Responses

  1. Um. What do you (St. Peter) mean by subordinate in this day and age?

    Why was the husband part so short? 🙂

  2. As familiar with the Scriptures as Peter and Paul both were, we must not try to place 21st century definitions to 1st century thought.

    Woman was created to complete man (it’s not good for man to be alone, and the two shall become one flesh).

    Jesus is God, yet He subjected Himself to the Father’s will for redemption. I’s not just a matter of a woman’s submission to her husband, but also her husbands submission to Christ. And we are all to submit to one another.

    These scriptures have been mistaught to long.

    For the longer version for husbands look in Ephesians
    chapter 5: 21-33.

  3. I can’t do it! 🙂

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