This is the transcript for my post for today on our circuit ‘Going Deeper’ daily posts.
I’m just going to go straight in to the reading today. It is ‘one of those’ passages in the bible. You might have a knee jerk reaction to it, but we need to look further than that, beyond the first sentence. Anyway, here goes.
Wives and Husbands
3 In the same way you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe God’s word, your conduct will win them over to believe. It will not be necessary for you to say a word, 2 because they will see how pure and reverent your conduct is. 3 You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear. 4 Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight. 5 For the devout women of the past who placed their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful by submitting themselves to their husbands. 6 Sarah was like that; she obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are now her daughters if you do good and are not afraid of anything.
7 In the same way you husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are more delicate than you. Treat them with respect, because they also will receive, together with you, God’s gift of life. Do this so that nothing will interfere with your prayers.
Suffering for Doing Right
8 To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another. 9 Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you. 10 As the scripture says,
“If you want to enjoy life1 Peter 3:1-12
and wish to see good times,
you must keep from speaking evil
and stop telling lies.
11 You must turn away from evil and do good;
you must strive for peace with all your heart.
12 For the Lord watches over the righteous
and listens to their prayers;
but he opposes those who do evil.”
“Use today’s set reading from the Prayer Handbook” the Superintendents said.
Nothing controversial to see here – at all! When I had stopped laughing, I did look more closely.
Perhaps the most important part are the first four words, “in the same way”. Before we get our chunter on, we ought to find out to what Peter is alluding. This is not the start of the letter, but part way through. We are not reading this passage in isolation; it follows on from the chapter before. He has been giving instructions to different people about how to live out their Christian faith. This is new to all of them, they are all working it out, and so Peter is sharing some helpful reflections on how that might be, based on how Jesus lived, and died.
So, in the same way as what? He is pointing to Christ’s suffering, all that he gave for us, and that being our model for Christian living, especially amongst those that do not have that faith.
It would probably surprise most people to know that when Paul and I married 35 years ago, I opted to have the “honour and obey” vows in the service. It was an option, but I deliberately chose to do that. I think I shocked most people at the time doing that! Perhaps it is especially because I am, and always have been known to be a ‘Strong Yorkshire Woman’ that it seemed important to me to make that point, that we were in this together, it was not, and is not my show.
The rationale Peter gives behind this instruction is that it is about your conduct, how you live. This passage is actually written in the context of a believing woman being married to a non-Christian husband. She is not to use her faith as an excuse to pull against the marriage or her husband, but by quietly getting on with it, working together, she will bear testimony to that faith. Living in the kind of way that makes someone else ask questions about why you behave as you do and seeing God in that, is a powerful lifestyle.
The next part becomes is equally as contentious – don’t use adornments to make yourself beautiful. I do not live in the world of false everything and the latest high fashions, but I do like to look nice. Something we have all stressed about during lockdown is our hair, and I have certainly been glad to get mine mowed and back into some sort of tidiness, if different.
I take this advice to pertain to not wasting time, energy and resources on all manner of ‘improvements’ when your life is not right. We know the saying that true beauty comes from within, and I think this is what Peter is getting at. True beauty comes from doing the right thing, living a good way – God’s way, sharing, loving, and seeking to bless others.
The advice does eventually turn to men, and how they should live as husbands. In the time it was written, this would have been quite revolutionary news to men. They would have been used to treating women as possessions, required to do their bidding. But if a woman is being asked to obey her husband, he has to be acting the right way for that to be safe and sensible.
So man are asked to treat their wives with respect. Life is a joint effort with God.
The whole premise of this is then widened out much further – love one another, be kind and humble, don’t pay back evil with evil, but with a blessing. All a very sound sensible way to live for all of society – essential if you are a Christian.
So from anger, frustration, despair at how outdated this advice is, perhaps we have managed to glean some important things for human, Christ based, living for today. And that can never do us any harm!
you ask us to love,
to live beautiful lives,
to live your way.
To live together
in mutual respect.
to learn to live your ways,
to be a blessing
with those I live amongst,
may my behaviour point
Today’s song suggestion: Love God Love People by Danny Gokey