In last week’s post, we dealt with the husband’s role in marriage. Today, we are looking at the wife’s role in marriage. Before you take the stance of a man writing about a woman’s role in marriage, let me say that I intend to write more as a pastor and father of girls than as a husband to a wife. Hopefully, my daughters will be wives one day, so I write this column from a father’s heart.
Regarding gender roles in marriage, much conflict can arise; why? Because ultimately, we do not like people telling us what to do. Regardless of who it is, we all want to lead, but few want to be followers.
While studying the topic of husbands and wives, I read a familiar passage about husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22-33. However, the passage that has helped me is the Letter that the Apostle Peter wrote. Yes, the entire Letter, not just a verse.
As I read 1 Peter, I naturally drifted to 1 Peter 3:1-7, where Peter uses the words “wives” and “husbands.” However, in verse one of chapter three, Peter uses the phrase “likewise” (ESV). The word connects the reader to the previous chapter, chapter two. Once you return to chapter two, you realize you must read chapter one to understand chapter two. Therefore, we find in chapter one that the key to the Christian life is the living hope that we have through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Wait a minute, Draper, what does the “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” have anything to do with gender roles in marriage? Everything! A man cannot be the husband God calls him to be on his own or through his efforts. Neither can a woman be the wife God calls her to be through her efforts. You can only be the husband or wife God calls you to be by being born again in Christ. Nothing that Peter talks about in this Letter is possible unless you are in Christ. It does not matter how many books you read on how to be a better spouse, you will modify your behavior, but something will happen. After it happens, you will resort to your old behavior. Our only hope is to focus on Christ and allow him to change us.
Are you in Christ?
Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed God raised him from the dead? Have you repented of your sins and made Jesus Lord of your life?
“In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live”
1 Peter 3:1, CSB
Ladies, before you tune me out, let me explain a few things. I want to draw your attention to an essential word in 1 Peter 3:1, “submit.” The term “submit” here means to be submissive, to be or become inclined or willing to submit to orders or wishes of others, or to show such inclination. We must interpret this verse within the framework of the entire passage. As said earlier, the key to the Christian life is the living hope that we have through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 3:3.) If the husband and the wife are both focused on Christ, then they understand what they are to do in their marriage.
Contemporary society…does not value personal submission. Rather, it teaches that the ideal, the highest position a human being can attain, is that of personal autonomy.
STEPHEN B. CLARK,
MAN AND WOMAN IN CHRIST
Please hear me when I say this, men and women are made equally in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27.) Men and women have access to salvation (Galatians 3:28.) Men and women share the same destiny (1 Peter 3:7.) The difference between a man’s and a woman’s roles does not cancel out equality. Thus, the submission of the wife does not signify inferiority. It demonstrates the relationship between Jesus Christ and God the Father. Jesus is equal to God the Father but submits to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28.)
The Bible makes it clear that the husband is the head of the household, but this headship is for the sake of order. However, this headship is not a dictatorship but a loving exercise of divine authority under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
In explaining the wife’s role in a marriage, one author noted the following,
It is Christ’s example that Peter calls us to follow in all the relationships of life. We need not be concerned about maintaining our rights. Jesus trusted his Father, the righteous Judge, to do that; and so should we. The Christian who follows Jesus does not grasp for privilege; he or she is already privileged beyond imagination. The Christian seeks rather opportunities to imitate Christ in willing subjection to service.
Therefore, the husband and the wife must imitate Christ’s example in submitting. Although they have different roles, their identity of attitude is the same, servants of God seeking to serve others for Christ’s sake.
I understand this column may not give a wife a “warm and fuzzy” feeling, but we must change our understanding of things to match the Bible’s. We get into trouble when we try to impose our thoughts on the Bible and get it to say what we want. Regarding marriage, as Christians, we must look to the Bible, not the world, to get our understanding and guidance. As Christians seeking a godly marriage, we must imitate Jesus Christ in His submission, obedience, and desire to serve others. We will have joy in our marriage and homes when we do that.
I loved how one author summed up the topic of submission in a marriage,
There is nothing degrading about submitting to authority or accepting God’s order. If anything, it is the first step toward fulfillment. And Ephesians 5:21 makes it clear that both husband and wife must first be submitted to Jesus Christ. Husbands and wives must be partners, not competitors. 
The key to submission is profound, reverent submission to Christ.
R. Kent Hughes
Dr. Draper Rogers is a pastor with Gardendale First Baptist Church and a contributor to The North Jefferson Herald and North Jefferson Magazine.