We all know the Bible tells wives to submit to their husbands. But this is so hard, and even can be confusing, when our husbands show their "fleshly" side. (By "fleshly" I mean sinful.)
I don't think most women would actually say that they only have to submit to their husbands when their husbands are right or when they agree with them, however, that's exactly how a lot of us act. When our husbands try to lead us down a road we think is wrong, we put up a fight. And sometimes we plain don't follow.
- What if my husband tells me to get a job because we are struggling to make ends meet but I want to homeschool my kids?
- What if my husband often puts his own feelings before mine?
- What if my husband says we can't afford private school for the kids anymore and wants to put them in public school but I am fearful they will be led astray in that environment?
- Or what if he says he just doesn't want to pay for private school anymore, even though we can afford it?
- What if my husband says we are moving but I don't see the need?
- What if he tells me he wants me to wear sunscreen but I don't like the chemicals on my skin? (You may laugh but this is an example from personal experience!)
There are endless scenarios to which this could apply.
However, God has clearly told us what to do in a situation like this. Hang with me for a minute while I set the stage...
1 Peter 2:18 tells slaves (which wives are not) "...in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh."
I found myself wondering if this could be applied to wives as well, knowing that I have not read anything in the Bible that puts it in these exact terms for wives. So I kept reading. Peter goes on to talk about what it looks like for a slave to submit to masters even when they are harsh. And then right after that he says in 1 Peter 3:1, "Wives, in the SAME WAY submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."
"In the same way" points to the previous thing that was said, which was about slaves submitting to their masters even when they're harsh. When they are unfair and unkind we are still to submit to their authority. The same goes for husbands who are harsh or unfair or sometimes just plain wrong.
Think back to when Jesus walked this broken earth. Was He treated fairly? Were the people always kind to Him? Were the people right in their accusations of Him? No. But did He ever retaliate or act unkind or unloving to anyone? Never. Jesus suffered greatly for us at the hands of sinful men. He wants us to follow His example. And He has equipped believers to walk this out with His help.
1 Peter 2:20-21 "But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."
Even when our husbands are believers and follow Jesus, we can still win them over with our behavior to love Jesus even more. Our men, those who love Jesus and those who don't, will fail us sometimes. They will make decisions based on selfish motives, but God has still commanded us to follow them anyway, knowing that it will develop our character to do the right thing (James 1:2-3). It will deepen our walk with God to suffer in this way, because Jesus suffered for us.
The remainder of 1 Peter 3 talks about suffering for doing good. It's no accident that it follows the command for wives to submit to their husbands in the same way slaves should submit to their masters.
God knows your heart, dear friend. He knows it's hard to do the right thing over and over again while your spouse may not. He wants us all to stop looking horizontally and to stop comparing ourselves to the people around us, even our husbands, and He wants us to look up to Him and strive for godliness (Philippians 2). Focus on doing the right thing for Jesus, because He did the right thing for you, and don't worry about what your husband is or isn't doing. It doesn't matter. God has given you a desire to follow Him and make the right choices so walk in that.