One of the constant themes in "women's classes" is to examine what the Bible tells us about wives, but through the prism of actual wives in the Bible. In essence, we examine what little we know about wives in the Bible and try to draw conclusions. Sometimes, we draw very odd conclusions, but sometimes we draw very good conclusions indeed. 

So, let's look at some Bible wives this week, starting with Sarah, the wife of Abraham, our father in faith. 

Immediately, we find that we have serious limitations. We are told nothing at all about what kind of wife Sarah was. There is nothing about how she "ran the house" or dealt with servants or interacted with her husband (the things we consider to be most important in our wife classes). We cannot draw any conclusions about how she cooked or cleaned. :)

The one thing we are told clearly is that she is a model for women in how to honor their husbands. 

     For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by 
     submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. 
     And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

1 Peter 3:5-6. The language comment appears to be a reference to the language recorded in Genesis 18:12, in which Sarah refers to Abraham as "my lord." There are a lot of things to learn from Peter's words.

First, of course, he is talking about submission, the on-going issue for so many husband/wife discussions. The Bible could not be more clear in its commands for wives to be submissive. We can talk forever about what that means. It clearly does not mean passive (see Proverbs 31 and the activities of the Excellent Wife). It does not mean foolish or ignorant or inferior. It means submissive. Just as a husband is to be submissive to fellow believers, so a wife is to be submissive to her husband. (There is also a submission from husband to wife, but that is a husband issue, not a wife issue.)

Second, however, notice that he describes submission as an adornment. It was by submission that "holy women . . . used to adorn themselves." Adornment is a very important issue for women. Women love what we now call "accessories," which are really just adornments. An adornment is something that makes something attractive and pleasant. Flowers on a table are an adornment. 

Holy women are to adorn themselves with submission, which means that they are to be known for and notice for the nature of their relationship with their husband. We live in a world that tells people to build up their own image by putting down others, but the Bible envisions a world where we build up ourselves (adorn ourselves) by building up others. Adorn yourself with submission.

If you do so, finally, then you are "her children," at least if you do good and live bravely. In the Bible, being someone's child is not a biological issue, but an issue of character. You are her children, children of Sarah, children of a righteous woman, if you live as she lived. Do good with your life (as in Proverbs 31) and do not let fear stop you. 

The warning about fear is central to the problem of submission. Women fear submission because they fear being abused or simply ignored. Women fear being treated badly because many men have done so over the years. 

Put simply, Peter gives you a very clear choice. You can live in fear, but you cannot be an Excellent Wife living in fear. You can compete with your husband or even dominate him, but your efforts will not adorn your life. You will not gain approval by so acting. 

Ultimately, this is something you must deal with in your spiritual life. God calls you to a submission empowered by your faith in Him and your reliance on Him. Submission is the measure of your faith in God, the measure of your obedience to God, and the measure of your assurance that God is sovereign.

Leave a Reply.