“In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2 (NLT)
“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”
1 Peter 3: 7 (NLT)
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it means to “accept the authority of your husband”.
It’s funny. When my husband and I married, I refused to say the word “obey” during the ceremony, even though we (read “I”) chose to recite traditional vows. There has always been something about the words “authority” or “submit” (found in other verses such as Ephesians 5:22-33) which have rankled me.
Visions of taskmasters, chains, and being under someone else’s control have been what’s sprung to mind in the past.
What I’ve come to realize is that by placing myself under the “authority” of my husband (or “submitting to him” as the head of our relationship) I am trusting the man I married to follow through on his promise to love me as Christ loves the church and honor me as an equal partner in God’s kingdom. By doing so, I place myself (and our children) under his spiritual covering–even as my husband places himself (and us) under God.
This can be hard to do in a society (world) which teaches us (as women) not to place our faith or trust in a man as husband. In fact, I’d say men are not encouraged to be who they are created to be as men. Even as I type these words, I can hear the rallying cry in my brain against the idea of Biblically inspired definitions or ideas regarding the roles of men and women. But when you stop to consider that divorce is more prevalent in the church than secular society— there is a problem.
Truthfully, God’s model for marriage and relationship is good. It’s how it is (or isn’t) played out in individual lives or couples which raises the eyebrow at the suggestion of giving it a try. Here’s the thing: there can be no submission without trust, authority to be given or received without honor and love returned. All of these verses directed toward wives and husbands must be taught in tandem. Attempting to implement one verse (for women) without doing the same with the other (for men) within a marriage is a recipe for disaster.
Perhaps if wives begin to view “submission” or “accepting the authority of our husband’s” as spiritual covering and husband’s view “honoring and loving” their wives as a sacred trust, we will see the broader scope of what God intends marriage to be—and discover a deeper meaning of covenant with our beloved in the process.