In this Mom’s Corner series, we are considering the common problem a wife will face when she disagrees with her husband. Every wife will experience this difficulty in her marriage to some degree, but some will have great struggles because the disagreements are so frequent or of such mammoth proportions. The difference of heart may be as simple as how an evening of time is spent or as big as how the children are educated. No matter what proportion it is, a wife wants to look to Scripture to determine the path the Lord Jesus would have for her when these situations surface. I would encourage you to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series for the background from which we are continuing on this topic. This series of articles is not written for wives who are in abusive marriages.
Let’s review our key verses: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” (1 Peter 3:1-6).
1 Peter 3 is written specifically to wives and gives detailed, clear instruction as to what they should do if they have husbands who don’t obey the word. Even though this husband isn’t following the Lord, the wife is still told to be in subjection to her husband so that her husband can be won without her saying anything, but rather by her meek and quiet spirit. The teaching is definitive. However, the daily living out of 1 Peter 3 becomes the challenge. It will be an ongoing battle with the flesh that wants to keep verbally pushing a husband for change and is fearful of the consequences of no change.
The example given to us of women who had meek and quiet spirits rather than words of disagreement are holy women of old, specifically Sarah. We are told that Sarah obeyed Abraham, even calling him lord. Yet, consider the husband she was obeying. In order to protect himself, Abraham told Sarah to say she was his sister—and she was his half-sister—if they were ever approached by the men of the countries through which they were traveling. This actually happened twice. Because of Sarah’s beauty and obedience to her husband, she was taken two times into another man’s harem. Sarah chose to be subject to her husband rather than give in to her fear. To save his own skin, Abraham let his wife down, but God didn’t. You can read these two accounts in Genesis 12:11-20 and Genesis 20.
1 Peter 3:6 tells us, “. . . whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” I think Sarah would have had good reason to be fearful, but she is set up as an example to us. We are encouraged not to be fearful. Why does a wife speak up to her husband when she disagrees with him? Often her motivation is fear. What will happen to our finances if he makes these decisions? What will happen to our children if he makes these decisions? What will happen to me if he makes these decisions? What will happen to our future if he makes these decisions?
Verse 2 of 1 Peter 3 says that our pure behavior is to be aligned with fear, while verse 6 instructs us not to be afraid. The fear in verse two would have to do with our fear of God and the desire He has for a wife’s submission to God as her Lord and to her husband. Verse 6 is referring to not being afraid of the outcome of choosing to be in subjection to a husband, to win him without a word, and to have a meek and quiet spirit.
A wife’s hope and expectation has to be in her Lord Jesus Christ, not in what her husband does or does not do. It is a spiritual path of growing in faith for a wife. Whether or not a husband is walking in obedience to the Lord does not affect a wife’s obedience to Jesus’ instruction in 1 Peter 3, where she is admonished to win her husband without a word, by her meek and quiet spirit, and not to give in to fear.
Let me share with you a testimony from a wife who has been reading this series and writes about her personal experiences:
“Thank you so much for addressing the issue of disagreements between spouses. My husband has been backslidden from the Lord for a few years now. I often hear these 1 Peter 3 verses, but it can be hard to actually apply them to daily living. I know how hard it is to be quiet, when all you want to do is shake his eyes open to the Word of God! It becomes even harder to obey the Scripture as the years go by without becoming bitter and resentful if no change takes place.
“So I hope you will also encourage ladies who have been there a while not to let their obedience falter. God told Joshua to ‘. . . be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law. . .’ (Joshua 1:7). As we submit to our husbands, our behavior must still be that which is godly. We must be patient, and have faith that God’s way is the only way which will prove victorious. I consider Moses, Abraham, David, and others—how long they had to wait to receive God’s promises. ‘Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass’ (Psalms 37:5).
“My husband’s heart has not turned back to the Lord yet, but he does allow me to faithfully attend church, homeschool our two children, and use Scriptures to guide them. I know that God would not be able to bless in these areas if I took the situation into my own hands.” An Obedient Wife
As I read this testimony, I sensed the pain this wife feels over a husband who is not spiritually leading his family, her overwhelming desire to be obedient to her Lord Jesus Christ in her own life, and the choice she is making to dwell on the blessings she has rather than what she wishes were different. What a difference it will make in a woman’s life if she will practice “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Practically speaking, that would mean doing what “An Obedient Wife” has done by being thankful for what she has and is able to do rather than being unhappy about what isn’t happening. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). The Lord Jesus would have her be in subjection to her husband, despite his failures, rather than growing a critical spirit in her heart toward him.
May every wife study 1 Peter 3 and learn its application to her life. May we find the joy of obedience to the Lord Jesus in fulfilling our calling as wives—the easy aspects and the challenging ones as well. I still have more to share on this subject, so the series will continue.