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A Strong Husband Submits to God

I was talking with a friend the other day about 1 Peter 3:7 and how it’s so different from Paul’s teaching to husbands. If you go to a classic passage like Ephesians 5 you will find a lengthy challenge to husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. But Peter’s counsel if much briefer, and on the surface may even feel much more attainable.

My friend jokingly said, “well Peter knew what marriage was really like. What does Paul know about marriage anyways? He was single!” My friend was kidding of course, but the more I studied this passage the more I realized how untrue our joking was. Peter’s words to husbands may lack Paul’s theological depth but he makes up for it with practical breadth. Peter’s requirements for a strong husband are not easy. It will require more than you think.

This week we’ll look at Five Requirements for Strong Husbands from 1 Peter 3:7, which says: Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 

Today let’s begin with the first requirement of a strong husband. If you want to be a strong husband, you must SUBMIT TO GOD.

Notice that verse 7 begins with the two words “Likewise, husbands.” If you study this letter closely, you’ll notice this is the second of three times that Peter uses the word “likewise.” In 3:1, he says “likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands”. In 5:5, he says, “likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.” Why does Peter use that word “likewise” here?

It’s not, as some have suggested, because husbands are called to submit to their wives. Christian feminists have been twisting Scripture for decades, teaching a concept sometimes called “mutual submission.” This idea is taken from passages like Ephesians 5:21 which teaches church members to “[submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Now of course Ephesians 5:21 is true, there is a sense in which all Christians are called to cultivate an attitude of submission to one another. Our relationships towards one another should be like the timid driver at the four-way stop. We’re constantly waving each other to go on ahead. We don’t insist on our own way but constantly defer to the will of others.

But that type of submission is different from the submission that wives are called to give to their husbands. Nowhere in Scripture is there even a hint that husbands should submit to their wives. Meanwhile I could take you to dozens of Scriptures that command wives to submit and men to lead. And that’s the point of this word “likewise” in our text. Peter is not saying that husbands should submit to their wives, but he is saying that husbands should submit to their God.

As the submission of a godly wife is rooted in her prior submission to Jesus, your leadership as a godly husband should be rooted in your prior submission to Jesus. Husbands, you are not submitting to God if you’re not leading at home.

Consider the example of Adam. It’s clear that God created Adam with the authority and responsibility to lead. He was to lead in provision. Before God created Eve, man was working in the garden. God didn’t create Adam until after he had a job. Adam was to lead in protection. If you look carefully in Genesis 2, you’ll notice that Eve hasn’t been created yet when God warns Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The implication is that it was Adam’s job to explain this danger to his wife and take the lead in protecting her. Adam was to lead spiritually. Again, it was Adam who received the instructions from God to tend the garden, to exercise dominion, to be fruitful and multiply. It was Adam that God first spoke to in the garden after they ate the fruit. God knew it was Eve who ate first, but God said “Adam, where are you?”  

Husband, are you leading your wife?  Are you leading her by your provision? By the way, this doesn’t mean that your wife can’t have a job to supplement your income. She may even make more money than you do. But are you able to provide for your wife with what you make? If not, what steps do you need to take to work in that direction?

Are you leading her by your protection? Is she protected and cared for financially, emotionally, and physically? Are you protecting her from temptation and worldly influence?

Are you leading her spiritually? Who takes the initiative in getting the family here for Sunday services? Who sets the example in attendance, service, ministry, and membership involvement? Is she leaving you at home for Members’ Meetings, Fellowship Groups, Prayer Meetings, or Sunday School? Are you praying for her? Are you praying with her? Do you ever spend time in God’s Word together?

Charles Spurgeon was especially fond of 1 Peter 3:7 as a charge to men to lead their homes in family worship. He said this, “[This] text would be most appropriately used to stimulate Christians to diligence in family prayer. . . . I esteem it so highly that no language of mine can adequately express my sense of its value.”[i] Husbands, are you leading your families in prayer and time in God’s Word?

In his commentary on 1 Peter, Daniel Doriani has some powerful words for husbands who are struggling to lead their wives: “For every home that is crippled by male abuse of authority, several suffer from husbands and fathers who refuse to lead. For every man who dominates, several abdicate. They come home, flop down, plug in, and ignore everyone. The sins of domination are more catastrophic, especially if they include violence, but sins of passivity are more common. Pastors know: more wives lament an absentee husband than a domineering husband.”[ii]

Being a strong husband requires you to submit to God and His calling for you to lead.

[i] Donald S. Whitney, Family Worship (Wheaton: Crossway, 2016), 26.  

[ii] Daniel M. Doriani, 1 Peter, Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2014), 120. Emphasis added.