Respect your spouse

Pulpit Reflections

Use the word “submit” or anything like it to describe the relationship between a wife and her husband and you are bound to get a strong response. 

The apostle Peter does use that kind of language, telling women of faith to “be subject to” their unbelieving husbands (1 Peter 3: 1 – 6). He hoped to help them avoid another kind of conflict with authority.

Peter writes this not to keep women down, but to help women win their husbands to faith by showing respect. The Christian women of Peter’s day had much more freedom at church than at home, so he reminds them not to neglect respect at home. 

Times have changed; we don’t show respect to our spouses in quite the same ways. The idea of submitting has been misused, sometimes leading to abuse. This passage should never be used to treat women badly. But respecting your spouse is still important. Women can honor and respect their husbands by speaking well of him; by paying attention to what he asks for and cares about; and by understanding his work and goals. 

Peter also tells husbands to treat their wives respectfully (1 Peter 3:7). Men respect their wives by listening to them, spending time with them and making them feel valuable and wanted. Peter also reminds men to treat their wives gently. Men shouldn’t be forcing their wives – or any woman – to do anything under threat of physical violence. 

How we treat our spouses matters. Peter warns that poor treatment will affect our prayers – our spiritual lives. Others’ spiritual lives are affected, too. How we treat our spouses can detract from or attract people to the gospel, depending on how well we reflect the love of Jesus to our husband or wife. 

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