“You wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior. Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of
the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God. For this is also how the holy women who hoped in God once used to adorn themselves and were subordinate to their husbands; thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him ‘lord.’ You are her children when you do what is good and fear no intimidation.
Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding, showing honor to the weaker female sex, since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic , loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.” ~ 1 Peter 3:1-9 (NABRE)
Before you start calling me a sexist and claiming that I’m suggesting that women should act as slaves to their husbands I want you to stop, take a breath and relax. First off, we need to realize that when Paul wrote this letter there was a much different view of marriage as compared to today. And even though he was writing for that audience, we can still take this advice and use it. If you take off your Offended glasses and read this passage again you should see that what Paul is trying to get at is that a relationship needs to be based on mutual respect, loving each other for what’s on the inside, and not for what can only be seen on the outside. In Paul’s time women had very little rights and often were treated as property. That’s why this was such a huge statement for him to make. As Christians we are called to love one another as God loves us knowing that ALL of us have an equal share in God’s kingdom. When we are standing in front of Him it’s not going to matter what gender we are, how tall we are, how rich we are or how good looking we might be. What does God care about? The heart.
When I was growing up we didn’t attend church and I knew very little scripture. What I did know, though, was The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ~ Matthew 22:39). My mom said that all the time, and it’s good advice. No matter what type of relationship you are in you should always consider your behavior and are you treating the other person as you would want to be treated? Do you apologize when you realize you might have mistreated the other person? That is very important to me in my relationships, but especially in my marriage. I have apologized to my husband for misdirected anger that he didn’t deserve because that was the right thing to do.
How often do you give yourself a break, and then you turn around and judge others for doing the exact same thing? It’s okay that the dishes didn’t get done tonight because you had a rough day and all you want to do is lose yourself in your sewing, but it’s not okay that the grass didn’t get cut (because your spouse was tired after a 12 hour shift at work)? On the other hand, after you got home from work all you did was watch TV and yet you expect your spouse to cook dinner even though they worked outside the home all day, too?
Love. Honor. Respect. Sacrifice. These are things that Jesus did for all of us and we are called to share that Love. Think of somebody who truly lives out this calling. I always think of Mother Theresa. She loved and respected everybody she met, no matter what they looked like or who they were. She didn’t treat any of the world leaders better than she treated the lepers under her care. To her they were all sons and daughters of God, and she treated them as if they were Jesus in the flesh. I can only imagine how just being in her presence had to be very similar to being in the presence of Jesus. You would feel as if you were being enveloped by love and it was shedding light on all of the darkness in your life. THAT is the kind of adornment that Paul says you should put on instead of gold or fancy clothes.
This scripture passage actually came into my head tonight after my husband challenged me to write a faith post based on the conversation we had at his work bench. I had related a conversation to him that was held between two college interns where they didn’t feel any girl was worth a $5k engagement ring. He agreed and I teased him about the value of the ring he gave me. I said something along the lines of, “I was just happy you decided that you wanted to be stuck with me.” When he asked why I would think that, I pointed to how I was dressed… my sweat skirt (not sweat pants, but a skirt), a 25 year old t-shirt, Crocs and I was wearing a sling pouch that I put my cat in to hold him when he is needy (but I need one hand available to do other things). My husband’s reply was, “Maybe that’s my type.” And it really is. He honestly doesn’t care about what I am wearing, how I look or if I have a huge zit on my nose. He loves me for who I am on the inside.
Love. Respect. Honor. Sacrifice. Understanding. Compassion. Humility. Forgiveness. That’s what it’s all about. Whether it’s your relationship with your spouse or your relationship with your neighbor. This is the secret to world peace. If we all loved each other in this way then it wouldn’t matter how many weapons each country had because they wouldn’t want to use them. Love is not perfect and it’s not easy. We are going to mess up because we are human, but we have Jesus as the greatest model for all of these behaviors. Just do it… love like Jesus.