I’m just reading 1 Peter 3:1-7 for some work I’m doing on marriage prep material, and it really is striking and counter cultural.

Wives are called to be submissive, even to unbelieving husbands. I don’t know about you, but often the image of a submissive wife is one of a defeated, subjugated woman, rather than a strong woman. A strong woman stands up for herself, asserts her views and gets her way. However the wife presented in 1 Peter is one of quietness, reverence and purity, focusing more on the ‘inward beauty’ of gentleness. Not a great one for feminists of the 21st century… or is it?

In v6, after giving the example of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, Peter says “You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear”. That made me pause. Do not give way to fear? So to be submissive is the opposite of being fearful.

Then I looked back through the passage. In v5 Peter says that the examples we have from the past who lived like this ‘put their hope in God’. We put our ‘hope’ in so many things other than God, often to try and achieve what we think is the life we want – it may be the way we dress and our appearance, it may be the words we use to win an argument (many of which we regret later), it may be the use of physical force or weight of personality we use to control.

What’s going on? We fear not having our way and so we use whatever means we have at our disposal to get our way. We fear.

What would it look like not to fear? What we find in these verses. As we put our trust in God, not needing to control, not needing to get our own way, not needing to manipulate and change others, we have nothing to fear. This enables us to do anything – including laying down our claims to control and submitting to others. And this is not only the calling of wives in marriage. Paul says in Ephesians 5:21 that we’re to submit to each other. In 1 Timothy and Romans 13 he calls for a godliness that is submissive to all authorities. This is not the response of weak and feeble people – quite the opposite. It is the response of those who have no fear.