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A Marriage Made for More



The word “marriage” can have a variety of negative and positive connotations for different people depending on their own experiences. Continuing in our Take Heart series, Ben Stuart explores what Peter has to say in scripture about God’s design for marriage, and gives an encouraging word about how we are meant to help each other flourish.

Key Takeaway

God has a special calling for both men and women, especially put on display within marriage, but also applicable to all for healthy relationships. It all comes down to how we use our conduct and power.

All points are taken from 1 Peter 3:1-7

1. Wives- excel in higher conduct from a higher calling. Verse 1.

Early Christianity was unusually appealing to women because within it they enjoyed far higher status than in the Greco-Roman world at large. In Roman culture, there were far more men than women because baby girls were thrown out. So the girls that were kept and survived were a commodity and sold off into marriage around age 10-11. There was also rampant prostitution that allowed men to use women without having to care for their emotional or financial needs. This was a highly common practice in the pagan culture. Christianity was different. It said that women have dignity in the image of God, are to be loved and cared for, and are co-heirs in Christ. So there was a dignity afforded to women. They married a little later and had more choice in it, so women tended to thrive within the Christian culture.

It is always important to define the terms and Peter defines "submit" as willfully inclining to receive and affirm the leadership of that man and his intention for your good. He's not calling for abuse or inappropriate behavior. He will address that later.

Women are to be subject so that their husbands may be won by Christ. These are women who came to know Christ after they were married. Their husbands' conversion is their motivation. Peter is talking to a very specific group of people. The fact that Peter even addresses women is radical. In Rome, the men were always addressed about the home, never the women. So, Peter's addressing women as moral agents capable of decision-making is huge. He is telling the married woman whose husband does not know Jesus, that you have a decision to choose to subject yourself and serve him out of your fear of the Lord. There is no verse in the Bible that one person can demand the submission of another. No, we are moral agents and get to choose.

The reverence and fear talked about throughout the entire book has been for God alone, not of any other authority. Peter's point is that as the wife came to Christ, she changed her allegiance to Him and His community rather than her husband's Roman gods and friends. This would cause her husband anxiety and fear because he could lose his social standing and he doesn't understand why she is doing it, but the wife could still choose to serve and care for her husband: that is something he does understand. This doesn't mean she has to do whatever he wants; her commitment to God is both a guideline and a guardrail to what behavior is appropriate. Her faith will scare him, but her care will encourage him.

So, beyond marriage, excel at everything you can to celebrate in someone's life. Lean into their place of interest. If you have a loved one who is resistant to your faith, if they see the outworking of your faith become tangible expressions of love to them, they will take your faith more seriously.

Peter is telling WIVES to not jump out of the relationship too quickly, however, he is not giving permission to jump into one either. There are plenty of verses that speak against "missionary dating" that lead to a marriage of no foundation in Christ. He's writing to people who are already in one of those marriages.

Wives- display a deeper beauty from a deeper place. Verse 3.

He's not saying you can't braid your hair or wear jewelry, it's not a prohibition; he's saying don't make is a point of emphasis. Where are you investing your energy to develop more of yourself? Your outward body or your inward heart?

Verse 4. A gentle and quiet spirit is a "non-anxious presence". Gentle, not harsh. A quiet spirit, like still waters, because they know God is in control. They don't get rattled, therefore, they can bring peace. Proverbs 31:31 talks about fearing the Lord is actually what is truly attractive. This applies to both men and women. Be a force of peace. Do you spend more time getting your face ready than in the Word getting your soul ready? Do you spend more time in the gym sculpting abs, but no time in the Word sculpting your character?

Solomon- most handsome, but insecure and dangerous

Absalom- long flowing locks, but a complete mess.

David- ruddy and handsome, but had character. He's your guy.

Verse 5-6. Who are our examples of this? Sarah and Abraham. The verse he quotes is Sarah taking ABOUT Abraham, not TO him. She showed respect when she could have torn him down. No one has the power to wound a husband's soul like his wife. So do good, suffer for righteousness sake, fear, and honor the Lord.

2. Husbands- use your power to elevate, not denigrate. Verse 7.

Why does Peter say less to husbands? Because they were less at risk. If you read the entire book in one sitting, you see Peter was talking to people who lacked power and facing persecution. Husbands were less at risk of that happening in their own homes.

Live with her in an "understanding way" means "according to knowledge", it's an invitation to know your wife, and know what shows her honor, value, and respect. Use your power to serve her. You have to know her to honor her. This was revolutionary! This is why women flocked to the early church.

When Peter uses the term "weaker vessel", he is not assigning value. He's pointing out that men are physically stronger. Even according to studies and competitions today, it has been proven over and over that men have more physical strength and capacity than a woman. So, Peter is saying: men, don't abuse your power in "might make right". Don't use your strength to dominate, use it to elevate.

Peter also warns that if men don't abide by the standard God calls his daughters to be treated, they'll have to deal with God about it. He will not allow His daughters to be mistreated. God doesn't want to hear from men that hurt His daughters. He takes it seriously enough that the man's prayers are affected.

This is a reminder that marriage is to be a picture of Jesus and His Bride, the Church. He loves her so much that he cares for Her, honors Her, supports Her, and gives himself up as a sacrifice for Her. And the Church responds to that sacrifice by loving Him, caring for what He cares about, honoring Him, and sacrificing our lives so that others may come to know Him. Whether in an earthly marriage or not, if you are a Child of the King, you are in a holy relationship.


"A gentle and quiet spirit is a "non-anxious presence". Gentle, not harsh. A quiet spirit, like still waters, because they know God is in control. They don't get rattled, therefore, they have the ability to bring peace. People of God should bring peace."

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • 1 Peter 3:1-7
  • 1 Peter 2:12
  • Proverbs 31:31
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.