The first word in chapter 3 is very key to understanding what has been a controversial passage. The chapter begins this way…
1) Likewise what? Likewise as in the same way that Jesus submitted to the Father and loved the church sacrificially by way of the cross.
2) In what way is chapter 3 controversial? Verses 1-7 uses some language that when not understood in context has been used to make women come across as inferior to men…
- “Wives, be subject to your husbands.” (v.1)
- “women, submitting to their own husbands… calling him lord.” (vs 5-6)
- “women as the weaker vessel” (v.7)
When you understand verses 1-7 in the context of the cross and especially when you use Scripture to interpret Scripture then these verses begin to make sense. Ephesians 5:21-33 and Genesis 2:18-25 are especially helpful.
I will say a few things that I believe are helpful to understand when talking about the roles of men and women in marriage:
First, it is the husband’s job to sacrificially love his wife as Christ demonstrated His love for His bride, the church. Husbands are to lead their into a sanctifying relationship with the Lord and to gladly do whatever it takes to make sure they are cared for, provided for, and honored.
Second, wives are indeed to submit to their husbands love and leadership. The best definition I have ever heard for the word submit goes like this: Submission is a wife’s willing and glad response to her husband’s sacrificial love. In other words, when the husband is doing his job then the wife’s job is a no-brainer. What wife would not want to gladly respond and follow the leading of a husband who is first and foremost looking out for her interests, her needs, her hopes, her desires, her dreams.
1 Peter 1:1-7 has to be understood in terms of the “likewise”. And it is kind of like everything else about the Christian life – when we rightly understand what Jesus did on the cross then the Christian life not only makes perfect sense but becomes a joyous and thrilling pursuit.
May this brick help you to again remember the cross!