1 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 behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 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. 5 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, 6 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.
7 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.
With their newfound freedom in Christ, Peter addresses how the traditional authority roles should work for Christians. In chapter 2, he talked about how Christians should respect the governing authorities and submit to them as God's agents of justice. Next, he talks about slaves (or as we said yesterday, the word is "bond-servant) submitting to their master, even if it causes suffering. Peter points that Jesus is our model, enduring suffering on the cross for us.
So now he turns to the relationships between men and women. Let me say first that this verse has widely and often been misinterpreted. When Peter tells the women to submit to their husbands, he is using the previous two illustrations to show what the culture looked like in his day. In Peter's day women were subservient to men. So Peter is saying, you wives could use your newfound freedom to rebel, especially with an unbelieving husband. But he is saying the opposite. He says as you submit to your husband, and when he sees your inner beauty, he will be won over not by words but by behavior.
But Peter doesn't stop there. This is why you can't proof text and say see, "the woman should submit to the man". But Peter tells the husbands in the same way (I.e. Mutual submission) be considerate and treat your wives with respect. I.e. Not dominating them because they have greater physical strength. This also relates to the verse which says, "treat them with respect as the weaker partner". He is not saying weaker morally or spiritually, but physically. A better translation of the word is "weaker vessel". Vessel is always related to the body.
So what does this mean for us? In marriage there is mutual submission because of the fact that Jesus submitted himself to God for us. The marriage is the place where we use our newfound freedom to serve one another if we are married. Let's be honest if a man and wife mutually submit to each other, that marriage is likely to be a good one. Peter's hope is that Christian marriage would be a witness to Christ's love and work in our lives. Unfortunately this is often not the case today. When the Christian divorce rate is the same as in the world there is a problem. If we heeded Peter's idea of mutual submission I think we could change this fact. What do you think?