Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives,when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
On the topic of marriage, Peter’s teaching seems very similar to Paul’s teaching. One difference is that Peter encourages women whose husbands do not believe the word to live pure and holy lives so that their husbands will become more open to the gospel. He is not giving a legalistic ban on all dressing up or fashion, but rather he is giving wise advice in a culture where women did not normally have friends of their own outside the house. A Christian woman going out to a church meeting wearing make-up and fancy clothes might appear suspicious to a non-believing husband. Peter’s advice also reminds me of a verse we saw earlier in the week when we looked at Proverbs 31:
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
The instructions to husbands need to be read carefully. Peter is not saying that all women are weaker than all men and this verse should not be used to justify sexism. With this particular verse it is helpful to look at the King James Version:
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
Look at the word ‘as’. Peter was using a simile. He was comparing the way people treat delicate, valuable fine pottery with the way husbands should be gentle with their wives. Fine pottery may be more easily broken than heavy pottery, but it is more valuable and should be handled with special honour and respect. Husbands need to be gentle and sensitive in the way they treat their wives, otherwise their prayers will be hindered.
Let’s pray today for Christians we know who are married to husbands or wives who do not share their faith. Let’s ask that God will give them wisdom to live pure lives that will make their spouse want to know more about God.