Journal Entry from February 25, 2009
I’ve been reflecting on 1 Peter 3:1-7 this morning, in light of last evening’s events. What I see so clearly this morning is how well Leslie lines up with 1 Peter 3:1-6:
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 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.”
Leslie has a deeply respectful and pure conduct toward both me and others. She is very careful not to give offense (in stark contrast to her husband, who seems to dish out offense like free lunches), and is always aware of what respect “looks like” in any given social situation. Her outward adornment is modest—she doesn’t feel the need for a whole lot of jewelry or makeup. She is amazingly frugal in her spending on clothing. (She stockpiles her gift cards from Christmas and birthdays. Seriously. Sometimes for years). She manages to pull off beauty without spending time on “women’s” magazines. Her heart is adorned with a gentle and quiet spirit that is amazingly patient with her very “work-in-progress” husband, and rarely offers unsolicited criticism, but always tries first and foremostly to encourage me—all of which makes her “very precious in God’s sight” (v. 4). Not to mention that she gladly submits to her husband, which makes her a ‘daughter of Sarah’ (v. 6). She is 1 Peter 3:1-6 in flesh.
Contrast this with her husband and 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.”
Last night Leslie asked for my input on some home decor things she had done. They were lovely. They were just different than the idea I happened to have. So I made some comments that were at best less than supportive, and at worst insensitive. To my hard-working wife. Who is pregnant and emotional.
In the future, I need to remember a few things from 1 Peter 3:7:
1) Being the ‘stronger vessel’ (whether Peter means physically, emotionally, or in terms of family leadership) carries with it greater responsibility to honor one’s spouse. Verse 7 doesn’t say, “Show pity to the woman,” or “Avoid the woman when she’s pregnant.” It says to show honor. When God puts us into a relationship with someone more vulnerable than us, we bear a greater responsibility for caring for them and protecting them (sometimes from ourselves).
2) The basis for the honor that husbands should show wives is God’s prior action. Whether the “grace of life” (v. 7) refers to the gift of saving life or the gift of physical life (i.e. Gen. 2), God has shown amazing mercy and graciousness to undeserving people in gifting them with life. How much more so should I be showering grace and kindness on someone who is better than me.
3) God is on the side of the dishonored wife and takes up her cause! Verse 7 clearly teaches that if a husband is unkind or dishonoring to his wife, then one of the ways God will respond is to shut the heavens to his prayers until, presumably, the husband makes it right. This is a startling reality—that God would stonewall husbands who dishonor their wives (but also amazingly kind of him). God tells idiot husbands, “You know what? We’re not talking until you fix things with the bride I gave you. Talk to her, and then I’ll deal with you.”
Lord (if my prayers are not currently being hindered), help me to honor and love my wife in a way that is aware of my greater responsibility as the stronger vessel and seeks to honor and bless her in a way that echoes how you have honored and blessed her and me with the grace of life.