Volume 9, Issue 2: Femina
Much godly wisdom about the feminine character is packed into the first six verses of 1 Peter, chapter three. The primary charge to women in this passage involves submission, and the rest of the exhortation addresses related areas of modesty, internal beauty, a gentle and quiet spirit, trust in God, and fear. It is vital that women understand the connection submission to husbands has to that much desired gentle and quiet spirit.
God has put two hedges around a Christian woman for her protection. The first and more important is a woman's trust in God. This is followed by a godly submission to husbands. "For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands" (v. 5). Trust in God enables a woman to submit to her husband, for it is certainly a prerequisite. She tells herself that God is faithful, that He has commanded her to submit to her husband, and that her obedience to God in submission is pleasing to Him. When submission begins to look foolish or frightening or just plain unappealing, a woman remembers this hedge of trust in God. He has promised never to leave or forsake His children. A wife must trust Him and walk by faith. This is the first protection.
Some people mistakenly think that a gentle and quiet spirit is displayed when a woman never speaks. This has concerned some of the outgoing personalities because they don't know how to be a silent lump. This is merely looking at externals. Certainly sometimes a quiet spirit will be exhibited by silence, but not always. And a quiet person can be all worked up on the inside. This is missing the point. A heart that is resting in the faithfulness of God is gentle and quiet; it is not stirred up with worry and anxiety. This gentle and quiet spirit is a calm, peaceful spirit. It is a tame spirit, a gentled spirit. I have often compared this kind of spirit to a glassy lake, not turbulent or troubled, but hardly showing a ripple. In contrast, the anxious spirit is like a stormy sea with whitecaps whipping along the shore. This of course brings to mind our Lord calming the troubled Sea of Galilee. Likewise, He can calm our troubled spirits when we look to Him.
The second hedge of protection is the submission itself. When a woman trusts God, she is enabled to submit joyfully to her husband. This submission is another hedge of protection, because it is obedience. The responsibility of the decision rests on the husband; the consequences are his problem, not hers. This resting in God and submission to husband is what makes a woman beautiful: "let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God" (v. 4). God thinks highly of this gentled spirit, and so should we. We must strive for this kind of beauty, for it is incorruptible. A calm wife is a joy to her husband; a worried wife is another problem that needs solving.
A woman who is anxious and worried is marring her beauty because fear is antithetical to a biblical beauty. Sarah trusted in God and submitted to her husband in obedience. Christian women are called to imitate her faith and her good works of submission. This kind of good work keeps women from being afraid with any terror. When she is tempted to worry about a decision her husband has made, a woman can tell herself that she is trusting God and submitting to her husband, and that is what she is called to do. She is not sinning and can rest peacefully, knowing that God is pleased when she acts like one of Sarah's daughters.
Consider what this kind of trust and submission looks like. Your husband has decided the family will travel to visit an aging aunt who lives in the mountains. It's snowing. The roads are slippery. You are tempted to worry, and you think it's a bad idea to go. Now stop and think about it. Trust God. Is He the Lord of the roads? Is He Lord of the weather? If He isn't, then go back to your worrying. But because He is sovereign over all things, you can trust Him. Next, if you have given your husband your advice, and he still wants to go, submit to him. It's his call. Trust God, and submit to your husband. Rest and be beautiful.
Many areas of marriage and child rearing are affected by this trust and submission. Your husband wants you to homeschool and you feel inadequate. Your husband wants to put your children in the local Christian school. You're afraid they are not ready, or that the school won't be what you hoped. Your daughter wants to go shopping with a friend in a big city an hour away. Your husband says yes and you wish he hadn't. Your son is playing football, and you are worried he will get hurt. In all these situations, after respectful communication of your concerns, trust God and submit to your husband. This is the only way to have a gentle and quiet spirit.
Remember, submission is your primary duty before God to your husband. Learn to submit in a trusting, beautifying manner. Not only will God be pleased, but so will your husband. Even unbelievers are impressed with such behavior (v.1). Learn to appreciate the two hedges you have about you, and be thankful.