Marriage is a wonderful gift from God and His Word gives us guidance in how to have a happy one. This message will briefly consider requirements God has of husbands and wives within their marriages.
[Frank Dunkle]: It is a wonderful time and I don't want to detract from Mr. Holiday's sister-in-law, but tomorrow's special for another reason. It's going to be special to me, and I know for several people in this room because I'll get to perform one of the happiest duties that a minister has, and that's to officiate at a wedding. And it's especially happy because it's two young adults who are members of the body of Christ. They've committed to God for all eternity first, and they're ready to commit to each other for the rest of their lives. And I remember when I first was told I was coming to teach at ABC, I thought, boy, I'm probably going to get to do a lot more weddings and a lot fewer funerals than I have in the past. Well, I have done a lot fewer funerals, but not as many weddings as I expected or as I'd like. I'd have to say though, admittedly, I'd love to do one every week, they're wonderful occasions.
But it reminded me that I also have not done something else as often as I thought maybe I would, and that's speak on the subject of marriage. It's an important topic for us as Christians, but I do remember consciously thinking that, when I went into the field to begin serving, I thought, "I'm just a kid"—now, a kid in my late 40s—but I still realized that many members of the congregation had considerably more experience in the field of marriage than I did. And I thought, "Who am I to teach them?" So, I didn't speak on it all that often, and that was a while back. A lot of years have gone by and actually, they've gone by really quickly. They say time flies when you're having fun. So, I'd say that's a good sign and I'll give credit to my wife, Sue. I think she should get more credit for why the years have gone by fast and we have had a happy, successful marriage than I should get.
But looking back on that, I thought, you know, I think I had a misunderstanding when I said, "Oh, I shouldn't speak on marriage because of my lack of experience." Partly because, you know, even today what I have to say about it, doesn't really matter that much. I hope what I'll have to say is worthwhile, but what really matters is what does God's Word have to say about it? And it does tell us plenty. It tells us what we need to know. There are different things we could discuss about marriage from God's Word. Could be a good time to devote time to talking about what God's Word says marriage is. Then again, one man joined with one woman for life, that's pretty simple. Despite what some activists would say and what the propaganda tries to convince us, nothing could ever change what God created. I think much more importantly, we could talk about what marriage represents spiritually, and that's very important and very valuable.
But, you know, I think especially knowing that we have two young adults getting ready to be married, and as I look around the room, I think there's a lot of young adults that I hope will be getting married in the near future. I'm looking for the smiles and laughs, but we're not getting any. I've noticed that when people get married, they suddenly want everyone to get married. And I've been in that mode for nearly 20 years now. So, we're not starting a matchmaking service, but I hope that what happens tomorrow is followed up by many others. And so, what I'd like to do is spend some time looking at what the Bible tells husbands are their duties and what it tells wives are their duties. There are certain do’s and don'ts that are listed in the scripture.
And, you know, they're not...boy, the word multitudinous came to mind, oh, and it came out of my mouth. So, that's pretty good. Yeah. It's not a very, very long list, but it's an important one that I'd like to go through. Now, useful for anyone who is about to get married in the future, but also a good reminder for those of us that have been.
Now, the biblical account of creation shows that God created man first and then the woman. So, I'm going to talk about the husband's responsibilities first and we can start that with the account of God creating marriage. If you'll join me in Genesis 2, we'll begin in verse 20. Of course, verse 20 doesn't start by talking about marriage. It sort of sets the stage for Adam needing to get married.
Genesis 2:20-23 “Adam gave names to all the cattle, to all the birds of the air, to every beast of the field, but for Adam, there was not found a helper comparable to him." Now, God knew that was going to happen because he'd made everything. "So, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and as he slept, He took one of his ribs, closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib, which the Lord God had taken from the man, he made into a woman. And he brought her to the man." And Adam said...I often think the first thing he probably said was, "Wow," but that's not what it says in scripture. He said, "This now is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man." And the Hebrew, I believe was, "She shall be called Ishah because she was taken out of Ish." So, Adam said this. What follows then is what God said.
Genesis 2:24 "Therefore," and we could say that therefore is because God made man and woman comparable, to complement each other and complete each other. "Because of that, a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife and they shall be one flesh."
It's evident, to me at least, that a man leaving his father and mother and being joined to his wife are part of the same process. Marriage creates a new family unit. Now, let's note the newly married man does stop being part of his parents' family, but the relationship is changing somewhat. A husband's priorities must be changed because his wife is now his closest family. She's closest, his first family member. You know, honoring father and mother is still required, still one of the 10 Commandments, but the husband is joined to his wife. They're to be inseparable. So, his first responsibility is that. And one way of putting it is to say he must put her first, even before his parents.
Now, I could say this is greatly aided by what comes at the end of that verse, the becoming one flesh part. But before we talk, say anything about that, I want to say more about the permanence that was intended of the marriage union. So, for that, if you will, turn to 1 Corinthians 7. 1 Corinthians 7, we'll begin in verse 11. And I'm not going to read all of the chapter, especially because I can't find it, but here it is. I mostly want to read just the last line and we'll talk a little bit about the context. But the very last thing it says.
1 Corinthians 7:11 "A husband is not to divorce his wife."
Before it goes further, I should admit that there is this context. You know, scripture does say that God hates divorce, but it also says that there are some causes for which divorce would be allowable, sexual immature, not immaturity, immorality. Yeah, I get paid to speak for a living, you would never guess. Sexual immorality and some other rare causes. But for the most part, the directive is clear, do not divorce your wife or to put it in the positive, stay married to her. If the first directive is be joined, put her first in your life, the next one would be, stay that way. Keep your wife in that position. Husbands, I could say to each of you individually, and I say to all of us collectively, including me, your wife is number one, she's your top priority in this physical life. Of course, God comes first, always has, always should, always will. But your wife is right after that. Top priority, she's a part of your life.
Now, when those two major priorities and responsibilities are taken care of, I'd say that's when we can talk about the next one that I'm going to discuss. It's the one we're often more eager to get to and we find it in the same chapter. So, if you will, turn with me to...well, actually, you don't have to turn. It's 1 Corinthians 7, beginning right at the start of the chapter. Paul is writing to the congregation at Corinth. And so he addresses something that they had written to him.
1 Corinthians 7:1-5 He says, "Concerning the things of which you wrote to me, it's good for a man not to touch a woman." Now, someone had written that to Paul, and it seems that he's saying, well yeah, there are some circumstances when that's true, but he'll say, nevertheless. And I would say it's generally not true within marriage, and that's what Paul's going to say. Picking up in verse 2, he says, "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her and likewise the wife to her husband." Now, that's what we call a euphemism. And all of you who are married, I believe, know what it means. So, we'll talk about it more and it becomes clear what he'll say in a bit. And in verse 4, he says, "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except with consent for a time that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer." And here's where we see the euphemism that, "Come together again, so that Satan doesn't tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
Now, some like to point to the next verse where he says, "I say this as a concession, not as a commandment." Well, what I would say is the concession is admitting that we're not required to get married. For those who have no desire to be married, that's not a sin, it's perfectly okay. Matter of fact, the Apostle Paul says, sometimes the state of the world is such that you might be better off, but generally, that's not the case. And he's making it very clear, if you are married, a sexual relationship is part of that. It's a requirement. That is to say, well, I put in my notes, you know, there are a number of commandments if we look at the old King James that begin with "thou shall not.” Thou shall not, you know, murder, steal, all that. There aren't many that say "thou shalt." So, it's good to pay attention to this one. It's a way of saying you're not only allowed to do it, but required in this setting. I still remember being kind of amazed at that when I was still a newlywed. Something that I'd exerted great effort to avoid doing, suddenly, I was required to do. And as I said, the positive command comes in verse 5 where Paul said, "Come together again." It's funny, whenever this comes up when I'm teaching at ABC, I see those uncomfortable looks on the faces of the students. So, I'll say, for those of you who don't want to listen to me talk about this subject at length, you'll be glad to know I'm not going into any detail. You know, I'll leave the subject behind though after I mention the one other requirement that Paul gives for husbands. We back up to verse 4, it does say.
1 Corinthians 7:4 "The husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does."
The way I would put that is saying a husband has the responsibility and the requirement to submit to his wife's desires and needs and her will in this area. Sometimes a wife might use her authority over her husband's body to keep it on his side of the bed, so to speak. Now, I'm glad I got a chuckle there. But I will say, we're going to come back and read the other half of that verse in a little bit and see that it goes both ways.
But let's move on to another requirement, one that I think might be a little harder for husbands. If you'll turn with me to the book of Ephesians in Chapter 5. Ephesians 5 of course, addresses responsibilities in marriage, I think pretty clearly. And of course, the Apostle Paul here, he talks about the responsibilities of children and of servants, but particularly, of husbands and wives. I'm going to begin in verse 25. And right at the start is the main thing I want to hit.
Ephesians 5:25-32 "Husbands, love your wives.” Husbands love your wives. “Just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself, a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." Like that, it says, "So, husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife, loves himself." Reminds me of that old saying that says, happy wife, happy life. And if you're not married yet, take my word for it, it's true. "And no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it just as the Lord does the church, for we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones." And Paul then refers back to the creation of marriage, reminding us of what God said when He created marriage. "For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." Paul says, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church."
What I think Paul is saying here is that marriage gives us an insight into why God created man and woman, why He even made us male and female, that it gives us some insight into the way God wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to have a relationship with us that's a family level, that's close and intimate and enduring. And so, He created marriage to give us just an inkling of what He wants us to develop. So, that's very important. But the next verse says...well, even if that's not correct, which I don't think it's incorrect, but even if you don't get it, I'm not sure about this whole spiritual thing.
Ephesians 5:33 "Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself."
So, regardless of any of that other stuff, men, love your own wife. Notice it's your own wife, not anybody else's. Well, I was going to say, depending on which word you mean for love, but love yourself as in a way similar to the way that Christ loved the church. That's a deep and abiding love. We don't get to define what type of love that is. Many of you have heard that in the Greek they had three different words for love and as the noun form it would be Agape, Philia, and Eros. Paul used the word here for the verb. So, it's Agapao, he didn't write Phileo, not Eroteo, those types of love are good and they should be a part of marriage. But the Agapao is the godly self-sacrificing love. That's what's required. That's when he says, husbands love your wives. That's the type of love that we're required to show and exercise.
I like to put it this way, love is not a feeling or it's not just a feeling, but it's what you do. And what is it that we do? Well, I'm not going to turn there, but you could jot down 1 John 5:3, tells us "This is the love of God that we keep his commandments." And it goes on to say, "His commandments aren't burdensome." The commandments aren't heavy, but how do we show love? Well, God's commandments show us how to love our fellow man and how a husband should love his wife at least in one sense. We often say that the second half of the 10 Commandments show us how to show love for our fellow man. Shouldn't those especially apply to our mates? To love my wife, I should not murder her. I should not steal from her or lie to her. Certainly, shouldn't commit adultery, that one's there just for her.
We could go on and on, not only through the 10 Commandments, but all through God's law, that's how it shows us what to do. The action that's required. In some cases, the action to refrain from that is loving our wife with the Godly self-sacrificing love. You know, it's not just that warm, fuzzy feeling. And I'll say that fuzzy feeling is not only nice, it's terrific. You want to have that, that's great. But even if that's not present for some reason or another, the Bible says husbands exercise that godly, serving, self-sacrificing love for your wife. And Paul says, it'll make you happy. It's how you show love to yourself. You'll be giving yourself the greatest gift you could ever ask for.
Now, I would dare say that it's much easier to accomplish this if we fulfill the next requirement that I want to talk about. We can find that in 1 Peter 3:7. So, if you'll turn there with me. And like Paul, the Apostle Peter lays out some directives for the marriage relationship. Glad I put on my glasses, I was looking at 2 Peter.
1 Peter 3:7 "Husbands, likewise dwell with them." The ‘them’ here is your wives. So, could be husbands to wives or an individual husband. Hey, you husband, "Dwell with your wife with understanding, giving honor to the wife as unto the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered."
So, we are required, we could say to understand our wives, that's how we honor them. So, we can honor them. Could say that's a pretty tall order. Some might even say, "Who can understand a woman?" Oh, almost nobody chuckled at that. Yeah, you win some, you lose some. Well, we might spend all of our lives working on this. But I want to say the aspect that Peter, I think, especially means for us to do, is to understand that women are different. That's one thing. They're different from men physically, but with the exact same spiritual potential and destiny. When he says "heirs together," you know, the woman has no inferior spiritual merit to the man at all, but we're physically different.
I did get a chuckle that I wasn't trying to get at camp. I think it was this last summer in one of the Christian Living classes. And I wasn't talking about marriage, but talking about differences between men and women and how we are both heirs together. And I said, "You know, men and women are different than in just the plumbing," and that's where they chuckled. And the reason I say that is I've heard people say that, "Oh, men and women are the exact same except for that." No, no. God built genetic differences into us, you know, and so we have different hormones and we have physiologic differences that even affect differences in the way our minds work and the way we think. And that's a good and a wonderful thing.
If I were clever, I could say a lot of humorous things about those differences, and a lot of serious ones. You know, in general, there are some things that apply true for women and different for men. Women tend to be more verbal. I think I read once that women will use like 20,000 words a day and men about 5. And the men's aren't all that clever when it comes to it either. And we've a saying, men seem to have this incapacity to see dirt. I dunno if your wife's ever come in, "Why didn't you clean this up?" "Clean what?" I've been in that case. And of course, men are totally incapable of asking for directions or help on certain things.
No matter these supposed differences though, one thing we want to be clear on, and I won't turn there, but in Genesis 1:27, it tells us, both men and women were created in the image and likeness of God. Eve was not made in Adam's image, she was made in God's image. God created both man and woman. He made us different, but both in His image. One way I like to express this, and this is Dunkle's expression, so don't take this as...I don't think it's wrong, but I think God might have made some of His traits to be more predominant in men and other of His own traits, to be more predominant in women. So, we see the differences, but both in God's image, and perhaps we're most in the image and likeness of God when we're joined in marriage. I like that. Again, the scripture doesn't say it in those words, but we are definitely both men and women in God's image.
And Peter's admonition, you know, tells a man to understand his wife. Dwell with them with understanding. Doesn't say that a husband has to understand all women, but you have to understand your own wife. And those differences are important, but I would say there's all the other subtle ones unique to her. You know, what's her personality and temperament? If you have ever read Gary Chapman's work, what's her primary love language and her secondary would be good. What's her favorite flavor of ice cream? You know, where does she like the thermostat set? Boy, words aren't coming out, and so on and so on.
I think if Peter were speaking the vernacular, he might say, "Dude, you better understand your wife so that you can live with her. Need to understand her so that you can love her." Paul said, "love your wives." Peter said, "understand your wife” and while you're at it, while you're understanding, never forget she's every bit as much a child of God as you are. She's striving for eternal life in God's kingdom, just as you are.
Let me add one more requirement for men and I'll say, I might start looking uncomfortable, not because I'm going to go along, but because I might end more quickly. No one ever complains about that. I saved this last one for men, not because it's least important, it's pretty important, but it's pretty straightforward and easy to understand. We see it described in 1 Timothy 5:8.
1 Timothy 5:8 Paul writes, "If anyone does not provide for his own, especially those of his own household, he's denied the faith and is worse than unbeliever." Yeah, I think it's clear, you know, Paul has husbands and fathers primarily in mind when he wrote this. You know, he says, if anyone does not provide for his own, those of his own household. This was written when, you know, in an era where you didn't see single-parent families very often. There are some rare occasions where a woman might be the head of the household and have this responsibility. And I say that because that was my mother. You know, I grew up in a fatherless household and she provided, but as I said, God clearly has this responsibility in mind for husbands, they must provide. And Paul made it clear in how that's to be done. I won't turn to 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 He says, "The way to do it is work." He said, "If anyone won't work, they don't deserve to eat." So, a man's job is to do his work and provide for those of his household. It doesn't say in scripture that the parents of the husband or the wife are responsible to provide. It doesn't say that the government is responsible to provide. Doesn't say the church is responsible to provide. Now, any and all of these should and might help out. Matter of fact, it's good when a family falls into need, we want the church to gather around and help, and the government does that, parents should, but it's the husband's responsibility. That's where the requirement is put. He is to provide subsistence for his wife and his children. Well, with that, that was fairly easy.
I want to move on to responsibilities the scripture describes for wives. Now, I was thinking people might be a little nervous looking at the clock because my intent was to spend more time on the husbands, not because the wife has fewer responsibilities or those that are less important, that's not the case, but several of them are the exact same. And so, I don't need to reiterate them entirely, but it's worth mentioning. So, we don't need to turn back to Genesis 2:24, but I think you'll readily agree that when it says, "A man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife." For that to happen, the wife has to do the same. She must leave her father and mother and she must be joined to her husband. She joins in forming that new family unit that's created. Now, the new family unit has connections to both sets of parents. So, there's extended family, of course, but it's a new family. So, the wife now puts the husband first, even ahead of her father and mother. And I say that because sometimes it's more difficult for a young woman to realize, "Hey, mom and dad have been there for me, always there in charge, now, it's this guy." Hopefully, she chose wisely, that guy.
For the men, we next turned to 1 Corinthians 7. And I would like to turn back there because we'll see women have the same requirement and Paul did write it out. 1 Corinthians 7, I want to turn to verse 13 and just read the last line where it says.
1 Corinthians 7:13 "Let her not divorce him." Okay. Well, in the context it's clear that he says "If a woman has a husband who does not believe." If you have a husband who's not called by God and he's not in the church, if he's willing to live with you, don't divorce him. So, that's the context in which Paul is writing. I think it should be understood though that within the church, if your husband is a believer, certainly, we don't want to end the marriage. Again, husband and wife are to be joined together as one and stay that way. And we noted before, there are some occasions when divorce becomes necessary, a few reasons, but the overall responsibility in the standard that we strive for is, once married, once joined, stay married. And as we did for men, we could read in this chapter, see that marriage requires sexual relations.
1 Corinthians 7:4 "The wife does not have authority over her own body, the husband does." And I think Paul makes it pretty clear both wives and husbands are to submit to each other in this part of their marriage. He does say you're not to deprive one another, meaning in the positive of you are to provide for the other's wants and reasonable...or needs and reasonable wants. And there's where it gets interesting. Neither one of them has authority of their own body, but does have authority over the other. It reminds me of those...you've ever seen the skits where somebody gets behind someone with a shirt and they have the arms that are trying to feed someone. And so you're trying to will those arms to go in the right place. If you haven't seen it, this sounds dumb. But if you've seen it, hopefully you have some memories that are pretty humorous. What I'm getting at is for this to work, requires communication. There has to be talking. Husband and wife, both have to share with each other what they're thinking, what they're feeling, what they want, what they don't want.
Communication is essential. Communication needs to be open and it needs to be honest. You would think that would be obvious. You would think it would be easy. Too often, it's not. And maybe you would think, "Well, who would ever think that was easy?" But it is essential. It's something we have to have. And we could spend a whole series of sermons and seminars and Bible studies to explore this topic. It's worthy of that, and that's not my place or my purpose here today. So, that's not what I want to accomplish. I just want to remind us that scripture does say it's our responsibility. Husbands and wives both share that responsibility to each other. It's part of marriage, so we have to make the effort.
Now, up to this point, I've gone through responsibilities that are the same for men and women, but now we can move on and see some different instructions. And to do that, I want to go back to Ephesians 5. And here's where we get to that famous phrase that we know is in Ephesians 5, or if you don't know, you're about to hear it. Ephesians 5 beginning in verse 22.
Ephesians 5:22 "Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord." Yeah, that's what it says. It goes on to say, "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church and he, Christ is the savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." Now, when I was young growing up in the church, it seemed like I heard this spoken on quite a bit, much more than I have in more recent decades. And at some point I thought, "Why was there such a difference?" And I think I understand now, looking back with the view of a historian because of what was going on in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a big movement in society to liberate women from so-called male domination. And so, you know, in the church we were compelled to say, well the Bible does say this. You know, I don't want to get involved in arguing against or for social activism on the point, just want to note what the Bible says. Unequivocally, it says, the husband is the head of the family, he's the head of the wife. And that involves not only the responsibilities but all the burdens and sometimes difficulties that that brings.
It's worth noting it does not say that all men are head over all women. A wife is to submit to her own husband, not necessarily to anybody else's husband. This tells me for one thing, that a woman should be pretty particular in who she chooses to marry. Ladies, if you're not married yet, find someone that you can willingly submit to, and happily do so. As Paul also, nowhere says that men are to conquer their wives. Men, if you're not yet married, and even if you are, even if I am, I want to point at me as well as any of you, it's our job to strive to be the type of man that a woman would be willing to submit to. You know, this scripture has often told women submit. It does say that, but I'd say men on the other side, be someone that a woman will happily submit to. That's something we can be working on our whole lives, I believe. That said, let's add another requirement from this chapter. And yeah, verse 33, after addressing how men should love their wives as Christ loved the church.
Ephesians 5:33 "Nevertheless, let each of you husbands in particular, so love his own wife as himself and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
Wife must respect the husband. Hmm, respect, not the same as submission. You know, they could be related. Respect, not the same as love, although they can also be related. Now, I've heard some people wonder because Paul tells husbands, love your wives, he never writes, wives love your husbands. Now, does that mean the wife doesn't have to love her husband? Well, you can make that argument, but I don't think that's why he wrote it that way. I think Paul realized that women tend to naturally be more loving, especially in that agape type of love, that self-sacrificing and serving. I tend to think maybe women don't need to be told that the way we men need to be told. They don't need that strong reminder, but perhaps Paul thought that women might need to be reminded to respect their husbands.
And there might even be a bigger spiritual reason that relates to the metaphor analogy that Paul was writing about if we think about what does it mean to respect? Now I'm pausing because it never crossed my mind when I was writing my notes, but I suddenly just thought of the Aretha Franklin song. I'm tempted to start singing, but I won't. But the Greek word here that's translated respect is one that also in many places is translated as to fear. It can even mean to be alarmed. I don't think Paul means for wives to be alarmed at their husbands or fear them. This is the same word in Greek that's used to tell us to fear God. And we understand within the church that when we fear God, it doesn't mean we're terrified of God, it means we have a deep respect. Now, it makes sense though if wives are not to be afraid of their husbands, but they are required to treat them with a respect beyond that, that they show to other men. It's something deeper and different. And there's where I wonder on the spiritual side, is this requirement a reciprocal of the requirement for a husband to show God-like, Christ-like love to his wife? He has to show that godly self-sacrificing love and she's to respond with a deep respect in a way similar to the way we respect God. If we see marriage as a picture of God's relationship with the church and with Christians, we could say that we will grow and benefit spiritually, by living out the roles that God assigns to us within marriage. Now, husband and wife, truly, must love each other. They must respect each other on a spiritual level. Now, I won't presume to say that this comes naturally. I'm not going to say it's easy. It's something we spend all of our lives striving for and trying to maintain what we do achieve.
Now, I do want to turn to 1 Peter 3 for one more biblical requirement that we see in the Bible for wives. 1 Peter 3, and I meant to mention this, you know, we talked about submission in Ephesians 5. Peter mentions that also at the beginning of 1 Peter 3, but I want to drop down to verse 3. Okay. And read this, verses 3 and 4. So, he's speaking to wives and he says.
1 Peter 3:3-4 "Do not let your adornment be merely outward." And I'm glad that they inserted merely. So, nothing wrong with having outward adornment, you know, arranging the hair, wearing gold, putting on fine apparel, "But rather let your adornment be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and a quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."
This seems to be saying in a way that this inner beauty can help women to be more submissive. You know, Peter's not telling women to disregard how they look. Not at all that, that's why we say the word "merely" the translators inserted is important. I think Peter's acknowledging that God made women beautiful to look at. I started noticing that when I was about 12 or 13 years old and I still realize, you know, women are beautiful and God made it part of their nature to work to improve that, by arranging their hair and wearing nice clothes and jewelry. Peter acknowledges that, but he's saying, make an effort to develop beautiful character as well, the inner being. And he gives an example in verse 5.
1 Peter 3:5 He said, "In this manner, that is, with an incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. In this manner in former times, holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves being submissive to their own husbands." As I was saying, seems to say that developing this inner beauty makes it easier to be a submissive wife. Hopefully, it'll make the husband, you know, want to be someone more that you could submit to. It'll make the husband more loving as Christ is. And again, we could discuss different aspects of this all day.
At Ambassador College I spend a lot of time talking about, you know, in practical living, how do we interpret this? What do we do? How do we, you know, take care of our clothing and our hair and all this? It's a long subject. Important part of it here for us today is to say that Bible tells wives, take care of this, do this. God requires wives to work at growing, we could say more and more beautiful in their hearts, even as time will inevitably make the outer beauty start to fade somewhat. And I'd say, although Peter doesn't say it, we men would do well to emulate that also. We should be developing inner beauty. You know, maybe he doesn't mention it for us men because we don't have much outer beauty to start with.
I want to wrap this up and I want to point out that I've led us through somewhat of a list of requirements for husbands and wives, you know, do this, don't do that. And by the way, this is a list of my own composition, so I'm not going to claim that it's comprehensive or complete that I've covered it all. But I do want to say that marriage does not consist of just checking off a list of dos and don'ts. You know, in some ways I feel like I'm still a novice in the field. I'm still learning about it. This divine institution that Paul tells us, it gives us instruction about Christ in the church, but I've experienced it long enough to know and be very confident that marriage is a wonderful gift from God. You know, short of eternal life, it's the best thing we could have. So, again, many of you who are married are saying, "Well, yeah, we know that." You know, for those of you who aren't married, I'm saying "Move on ahead, it's worth it. It takes work, takes sacrifice by both a husband and the wife to make a marriage happy and healthy." Fortunately, God's Word gives us direction. We just saw several instructions and exactly how to do that. I want to conclude just saying that, if we work to do what the Bible tells us to do in our marriages, it will be absolutely well worth it.