In our study of 1 Peter chapter three, we continue to look at holiness. Here, we look at holiness and our relationships with others. That holiness begins with our relationship to God, continues into our marriages and how we treat our spouse, and ultimately flows into all of the other relationships in our lives.
"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your 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." NIV translation
This could quite possibly be one of the most wrongly quoted and applied verses of scripture. We are probably all familiar with it as many preachers/teachers have tried to broadly apply it to Christian households. However, this verse is meant for a man and a woman that did not know Jesus before they were married. We know this because this letter was written to scattered Jewish Christians and, according to Mosaic Law, Jews were forbidden from marrying Gentiles. In this case, it appears that after marriage the woman came to faith in Christ. Peter tells the wife, in that case, to be voluntarily subject to her husband so that he too may come to believe. He used the example of the suffering of Christ in chapter two to be the example and reason for her willing submission. The submission that he refers to has limits in that, as a Christian, she is not to willfully follow him into doing sinful things.
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." NIV translation
Here, we are given the ultimate beauty secret for women and it is quite simply this: Accept and follow Jesus Christ! In the case of this woman, he is telling her that her outward appearance is not going to bring her husband to faith in Jesus. You just cannot seduce a man into accepting God's grace and mercy. Many Christian women will marry an unsaved man in hopes that he will love her enough to come to Christ but that is not how it works. We see that real beauty comes from the inside and is a reflection of a woman's walk with the Lord. Many have falsely used this passage to say that Christian women need to walk around looking all plain and unattractive but that is not what Peter is talking about. A Christian woman can wear nice clothes, take care of herself, and look her best to bring glory and praise to God. Christian men can see the beauty of a Christian woman and praise God for his wonderful creation!