This week we’ll be considering the Bible’s teaching in 1 Peter 3:1-7 that a beautiful wife is a submissive wife. But before we can even begin to grasp that truth, we need to understand the biblical foundation for submission. Without a proper foundation we’ll be building a case for biblical submission on sinking sand.
I want you to notice three building blocks that together make the Bible’s foundation for submission. They are not politically correct. They are not culturally acceptable. They may seem outdated and uncool. But they are clearly taught in God’s Word, therefore they are true.
God Created Us Male and Female
You cannot understand the Bible’s teaching on submission if you don’t understand that God created us male and female. This is clearly taught from the Bible’s first chapter. Genesis 1:27 says, So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Now I don’t need to tell you how controversial that statement is. Some would even consider it hate speech. Just last year The Times of London reported that the British Broadcasting Corporation had produced a series of nine educational films aimed at children ages 9-12 teaching that there are “100, if not more” gender identities.[i]
Now before you respond, “well that’s just the crazy people in London!” you need to know this sort of thinking is here. In your town, in your neighborhood, on your street. Just a few weeks ago our family was visiting the town library when we saw several children’s books on display promoting this sort of thing.
We ought not to be angry or surprised when the world rejects the Bible’s teaching on gender. But let’s not be ashamed of what we believe. It’s an essential part of understanding the foundation for our passage.
There’s a second building block that makes up the foundation for submission:
Men and Women Are Equal, Yet Different.
You cannot understand the Bible’s teaching on submission if you don’t understand that men and women are equal yet different. This idea is all over Scripture, but let me show you the way Peter puts it in 1 Peter 3:7—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.
Peter refers to women as “the weaker vessel.” We’ll talk more about what that means next week, but for now let’s agree that Peter believes men and women are different. Peter also refers to women as “heirs with you of the grace of life.” Even though men and women are different, they are equal recipients of grace.
This is what Paul means in Galatians 3:28—There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. He is not, as some have argued, obliterating the distinctions between men and women. He is simply saying that men and women are equal in God’s sight. They are equally created in God’s image, equally valuable, equally fallen into sin, and equally redeemed by the work of Jesus.
There’s a third building block that makes up the foundation for submission:
Men and Women Have Different Roles In The Home And The Church.
You cannot understand the Bible’s teaching on submission if you don’t understand that men and women have different roles in the home and the church. This is where even many of us Bible-believing Christians are struggling if we’re honest. We may agree with those first two building blocks, but this one is tough. We may even agree with this, but we don’t live like it.
At this church we’ve been careful to teach that the role of elder/pastor is reserved for men. That’s clearly taught from passages like 1 Timothy 2:12 and others. So at PBC we have a clear difference between the roles of men and women in the church. What about in your home?
I can’t remember who said it, but I read a Bible teacher recently who said that the evangelical church is filled with same-sex marriages. He didn’t mean that evangelical churches were filled with homosexual marriages, but that in our heterosexual marriages we have obliterated God’s design for differing roles between men and women. In other words, there are many Christian marriages where there is no practical difference between being a husband or being a wife.
God wants our marriages to look different. Peter, and the Holy Spirit who inspired him to write this letter, want us to understand that a beautiful wife is a submissive wife. And to do that we need to understand the foundation for submission.
[i] Nicholas Hellen, “BBC Films Teach Children of ‘100 Genders, or More,’” The Times, September 8, 2019, The Sunday Times edition, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bbc-films-teach-children-of-100-genders-or-more-7xfhbg97p.