God calls men to be leaders in their families and to treat women with gentleness, understanding, and honor. That concept is taught and modeled throughout the Bible. God made Adam first, and then He made Eve to be His helper. In the Garden of Eden, “the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him'” (Genesis 2:18). When Eve and then Adam sinned in chapter 3 by eating the forbidden fruit, God spoke to Adam first to ask what he had done because Adam was the leader and he had failed to protect his wife from Satan’s tempting. Several times in the New Testament letters, husbands are told to “love their wives” sacrificially, the same way that Jesus loves His church (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:19, and today’s verse, 1 Peter 3:7). Men are not to abuse their roles as leaders, but to humbly and lovingly guide their families to follow Christ and His commands.
Our middle school and high school guys are not yet husbands and fathers, but most will be some day. Even for those who will remain single, they still have an obligation to learn to treat all women right. Now is the training time. Because of their love for Jesus, our guys should treat all the women in their life as 1 Peter 3:7 commands, with kindness and respect. This includes your mothers, sisters, female teachers, and friends. The young man who says that he is a Christian but consistently disrespects the females in his life is disobeying and dishonoring Jesus. Such a man will not enjoy God’s favor and blessing. The cool thing is, though, that the more that you practice being nice and gentle to women, the better you will feel as you walk in God’s peace. They will actually be nicer back to you, too! For the Christian, obeying God brings joy into your life and the lives of those around you.
God also has a plan for women. He calls them to develop sweet, gentle spirits. Yes, that includes wives submitting to husbands, not as slaves but as people who are equal with men before God yet not given the leadership role in the family. By humbly following the leadership of their husbands and treating them with respect, wives show Jesus to their husbands. Peter says that a quietly godly wife can sometimes even end up persuading an unbelieving husband to submit to Christ and become the spiritual leader of the family that God wants the man to be. Our middle and high school girls are not yet wives, but like our young men, they are also in training for the future. Instead of obsessing over how they look and dress (which is often more about impressing each other than the young men, who usually don’t know or care much about fashion – just saying), young ladies should develop their hearts for God. Why? Because your heart is what God cares about; “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). And a gentle and loving heart for God is also what a true godly young man will care about when you start dating in late high school or college.
Imagine what an awesome school we would have if all of our students were pursuing biblical manhood and womanhood! Don’t waste your teenage years living like so many careless fools. Use this time to start becoming the man or woman that God has made you to be.
The Text (1 Peter 3:1-7)
1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward–arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel– 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Background and Observations
• Submitting to the leadership of their husbands and other male leaders does not make women cowards or doormats. Biblical submission is actually a sign of spiritual strength and bravery (look at the end of verse 6). It also does not mean following a husband into sin. If the husband is not a Christian, the wife should still do her best to encourage the faith of her children in a respectful way. That would include doing her best to get the children and herself to church each week whenever possible and spending time with God herself each day. Of course, for our students (who are not yet married), the key is to make sure that you know your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s Christian testimony before you commit to marrying him or her. Looks will fade and cease to impress, but true faith will grow and become more beautiful with time.
• Peter’s reference in verse 7 to women being the weaker vessel is probably talking about them being less strong physically and perhaps also emotionally. Men should not take advantage of their stronger bodies or better control of their emotions, but instead show compassion and understanding towards women. This would include husbands protecting and supporting their wives and fathers protecting and supporting their daughters. When the man of the house follows God, he acts as a spiritual anchor for the whole family. When dad follows Christ, the whole family will usually end up following Christ.
• Verse 7 also shows that for a man to stay right with God and have his prayers answered, he must be treating his wife with love and honor. For our male students, if you have been disrespecting your mother, sister, female teachers, or other ladies in your lives, you will need to ask forgiveness and make those relationships right to restore your fellowship with Jesus. God will feel distant and far away until you deal with your sin against the women you should be respecting.
Questions to Think About
1. For the young men, how are you treating the ladies in your life right now? Are there any relationships that you need to make right?
2. For the young women, are you focusing more on your physical appearance or on your heart right now? How can you tell?
3. How can you begin preparing now to have a biblical marriage in the future?