Written in October 2006 by Kate Plourde
When I study, I use my King James Bible and a Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Both are quoted in this study. This is a long study so you may want to break it up into several sessions so you can read each verse and highlight them in your bible.
Before I start, I want to share a little something with you. I was saved on April 1, 1980. John and I had been married for 6 years already. I was no longer in love with my husband and I wanted “out” of my marriage. I no longer loved my husband and, in fact, hated him! I was married to an unbeliever for six years before he got saved. During these six years, God taught me how to be a submissive wife and what His Word said about being the wife of an unbeliever. God not only taught me in these areas but he healed my marriage and restored my love for my husband. I speak to you today because I have been through this. I speak from experience of the wonderful things God can do in your marriage if YOU allow Him to do it. That’s the key. Allowing God to work in our lives is a CHOICE. We must allow God to work in our hearts, our husband’s heart, and our marriage. God desires for you to have a great marriage. God desires for your marriage to be equally yoked. For you ladies who are married to a saved husband, please read the study anyway as it involves submission … and we can ALL stand to have refresher courses in this very important area in our lives. 🙂 Are you ready to commit to that? Are you tired of your marriage being rocky and miserable and unequally yoked? Are you desiring a husband who will serve God and love Him? These wonderful things CAN be achieved if you do your part with your heart and leave your husband to the Lord.
Let’s get on with the study then 🙂
Heavenly Father, I know that all things work together for good for those who love You. I pray, Father, that You would use this study to Your glory and that You would heal the heart of the lady who is desperately trying to draw nigh to You. I lift up each marraige represented here and pray God that Your Holy Spirit would work in the hearts of the women to be the help meet You want her to be. I ask all these things in Jesus’ Precious, Precious Name. Amen.
Definition of a Wife:
What does the Word define a wife as? A wife is a helpmeet according to:
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what help meet means. She will help her husband and she will meet his needs. 🙂 Simple, isn’t it? Does it say that she is a help meet only if the husband is saved? Not in my Bible 🙂 Does it say that she is a help meet only if her husband is doing right? There are saved husbands out there who are not following God’s will for their lives. So where does God draw the line on being a help meet? As far as I’ve read in the scriptures, He does not make any prerequisites.
When Does a Wife Submit:
We are to be help meets regardless of where he is spiritually. Before I begin, I need to stress that God’s Word for wives does not only apply when we are married to a wonderful Christian man. It would be very easy to be a wife of such a man. God’s Word applies when we are married to an unbeliever, a backslidden believer, drunkard, gambler, drug addict, etc. It applies to the woman who has been married for many years and is no longer in love with her husband (and vice versa). Well, Kate you might say, just how in the world can I be a help meet to a man such as my husband? He’s simply awful! The answer is quite simple. Let God work in you to be the kind of wife He wants YOU to be and HE will take care of your husband. 🙂 This is not an easy thing to do… I know that. However, I’ve been there and I know what worked in my heart and for my marriage. We need to stop trying to change our husbands and let the Holy Spirit do the changing in him. If we concentrate on our OWN spiritual growth, we won’t have time to worry about our husband’s spiritual growth – or lack of it.
The best place to find information on what is expected of you as a wife is to go to the Source where the information is perfect and absolutely correct 🙂 … and that, my friend, is your beautiful Bible. Let’s look at probably one of the most important passages of Scriptures for married women.
1 Peter 3:1 God starts the verse with Likewise. Likewise means: In like manner; also; moreover; too. ….
Hmmmm, likewise to what? To see what Peter was referring to, you must go to chapter 2 and read the latter part of it. When these letters were written, they weren’t divided by chapters and verses as they are now so we lose that continuity. As you see, Peter is referring to Christ’s work on the cross and how we are now returned to the Bishop and Shephard of our souls 🙂 Isn’t that beautiful? As Peter lays the groundwork here, he then moves on to chapter 3 verse 1. SOOOO, now that we are saved we have some instructions to follow.
Submission to Whom?
Next, the instruction is to “ye wives” … it does not say husband here. This is a definite instruction to US. Furthermore, that verse goes on to say that you are to be in subjection to your OWN husbands. Why do you think Peter would need to tell the wives this? Could it be that they were listening to other men but not listening to their own husbands? I use to be that way. My husband could tell me that the sky was blue but I wouldn’t listen to him. But let another man (especially a saved one) tell me that the sky was blue, I listened to him. Isn’t that sad? I’m ashamed to even say that I did that, but I did. 🙁 (Thank You Lord for Your patience with me as I grow in Your will for me.) In fact, Peter thought this SO important that he says it again in verse 5.
I believe Peter had a tender heart for wives … he had a wife of his own. He knew exactly what we needed to hear and God spoke through Peter as he wrote these instructions for us. Verse 1 continues to say “that if any of your husbands don’t obey the word” … let’s park there for a moment. Does it say that if any of your husbands are not saved? No, it does not. Therefore, this could also apply to women with husbands who ARE saved but don’t obey God’s word. Both the unsaved and backslidden husbands are disobedient to the Word.
So what does Peter tell us to do if we are married to a man who is disobedient to the Word? He says that they “may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;”! 😯 Do you see that wives? When I first read this verse, the words WITHOUT THE WORD jumped off the page at me and convicted my heart! 😥
This can mean several things: no preaching to hubby, no correcting him, no nagging him because he’s not going to church, no nagging PERIOD, no belittling him, and all those other nasties that tend to come out of our mouths when we are not happy with him. Why? The answer is in the latter part of that verse … so that they may be WON by the conversation of the wives. Well, if we’re not allowed to speak, what conversation is Peter referring to? God’s not saying that we cannot speak at all. He’s telling us that He doesn’t want us “preaching” THE WORD to our unsaved husbands. Our behavior doesn’t stop with our mouths. Our behavior continues in our attitude – sulking, rolling eyes, etc. Why do you think God doesn’t want you to quote the Scriptures to your hubby when he’s sinning? Aren’t we suppose to correct our brother in Christ like Matthew 18 says?
Not your husband! Let the Holy Spirit deal with your husband. You must remember that the Holy Spirit IS God! His way is perfect and His way will bring peace and reconciliation in your marriage … not YOUR preaching. You are not your husband’s personal little ‘holy spirit’! We have many opportunities to speak the Word – we can speak it to our children. Sometimes your husband will even overhear you from the other room. I truly believe that when we “preach” to our unsaved or disobedient husbands, it comes across to them as “fingernails on a blackboard.” I believe this because this is what my husband told me he felt.
What CAN I Share With My Husband?
Now let me stop here a moment to clarify that I am not saying that you cannot tell your husband that he has hurt you or share with him something that you would like him to do. For example, if your husband is constantly using the Lord’s name in vain, it is OK for you to ask him to please restrain himself from doing this because it hurts you. BUT, you don’t have to quote him the Scriptures that deal with using the Lord’s name in vain. Does this make sense? The Word says that you are not to preach to him… example: Hubby doesn’t want to go to church but yet you remind him that Hebrews 10:25 says that he should go to church. THIS is what God is referring to. You can invite him to church but leave it there. Let the Holy Spirit convict your husband’s heart. He will accept it a whole lot better coming from God than coming from you. In fact, when we preach to our husbands about their sin, we distance ourselves from them. They will resent us for “being more spiritually minded” than they are. God knew what He was saying in this verse. Just go to church and let God deal with your husband.
It’s All In The Attitude
Let’s move on to verse 2. Our husbands need to observe our chaste conversation coupled with fear. What is God talking about here? Chaste means pure … pure conversation … I’m thinking sweet, clean, holy and uplifting conversation, aren’t you? But not just that alone … God says “coupled with fear” … what do you think He means here? God is saying that your husband should hear pure conversation from your mouth to the point where he actually can tell that you fear God (respect Him, reverence Him, obey Him). Do you suppose your husband thinks that you fear God when you’re snapping at him? I don’t think so. Verse 3-5 go on to describe the chaste conversation of the wife and how it does not mean “how she looks, fixes her hair” but how her HEART is. God is saying that the wife is to have a meek and quiet spirit … a mild and peaceable spirit. Can she truly have this type of spirit if she is preaching to her husband or correcting him spiritually? Of course not. Well, Kate, this is easier said than done. You know what? You’re right! It is. However, my Bible says that ALL things are possible with Christ. My Bible says that ALL things work together for good. Therefore, I must allow God to do the changing in MY heart. Forget my husband’s sins because I have enough of my own to deal with!
Forget my husband’s faults. Forget my husband’s disobedience. Holy Spirit, work within ME to change ME and I will leave my husband to Your care, Lord. We’ve all heard the Scriptures that God is the Potter and we are the clay. God needs to mold you to be the wife He wants you to be for your husband. As He is working on you, He is working on your husband so give God a chance to work! He’s YOUR husband, not someone else’s. You cannot trade him in for another model, ladies. I hate to put it in these terms, but you are stuck with him. You chose him to be your life-long partner. You would be out of God’s will if you divorced him and married another so the only alternative is to “submit” to the Holy Spirit and let Him work a miracle in your life by healing your heart of the sin of being an unsubmissive wife … yes, I said sin! It is sin because it is rebellion against God’s will for you as a wife.
The Extent of Submission
It IS sin to be unsubmissive. We’ve been commanded in several Scriptures to submit to our own husband, amen? Confess this sin and forsake it. Let God work in your heart. Don’t worry about your husband. God will take care of him. I’m speaking from experience. 🙂
Lastly, verse 6 gives Sarah as our example. She called Abraham “lord” (little “l” not L). Webster defines lord as:
(1) master (2) husband (3) a title of respect, as applied to kings, or as to a respectable person.
God is not saying that we should call our husbands lord with our lips but He IS saying we should call our husbands lord with our hearts. He is saying that we should recognize our husband’s position as master of our home and to give him the respect due him, just as you show respect to the President of the U.S. One of the definitions of master is “husband”! Does that make an impression on your heart? Your husband is given this position as lord of your home by God Himself. God is Lord over your husband, whether he is saved or not and whether he obeys God or not. God will deal with your husband so you don’t have to.
So if any of you ladies believe that you just HAVE to rule your home because hubby’s doing a horrible job, you need to ask the Holy Spirit to change your heart! It is not your job to rule your home. It is your job to “help” your husband fulfill his role as master and ruler of your home. Your unbelieving or disobedient (to the Word) husband has the rule over you, your children and your home. Your husband has direct authority from God to be master of your home. Just because he is not saved doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the God-given responsibility as your head and head of your house.
Why would Paul have to tell the Ephesians that the husband was the head of the wife? If husbands ruling over the wife WAS being practiced, do you think Paul would have to tell them this? Good question, huh? It is your natural fleshly desire to have the rule over your husband. We think we know better than our husbands at times. We think we just have to get our way or his way will lead us to ruin! Sound familiar? God says that your husband shall rule over you. Maybe you are better at doing some things but that does not take away the fact that your husband is still head of your home. You may have insight to a situation that your husband doesn’t have. You can speak out in meekness and kindness. However, if he disagrees and makes a different decision than you wanted, leave it there and be sweet, not angry because things didn’t go your way.
If you think of a master of a house (either during the time of slavery or even an employer of a company), you think of someone who makes the decisions and runs the show. No employee would tell his boss what to do and get away with it. No slave would tell his master what to do without being chastised for it. Although we are not slaves or employees to our husbands, the concept is pretty much the same. Someone has to make the final decision if there is a split-decision. For example, your husband wants a Pontiac and you want a Chevrolet. Your husband has to make the final decision since the two of you are not agreeing in this matter … and guess what, ladies, YOU HAVE TO LIKE IT! Not just “like it” in your head but “like it” in your heart. This is where submission comes in.
Attitude of Submission
You have to submit to the point where it shows on your face. You can say “All right, get the Pontiac, but I don’t have to like it!” … and your face looks as though you’ve been sucking on lemons! 😯 That is not submitting. Submitting is leaving the decision (whether it’s the right one or the wrong one) with your husband and trusting God to take care of this decision. God is still God and He can work through the wrong decision just as much as He can through the right decision. Let me take it one step further. Submitting also means not “throwing it in his face” when his decision ends up being the wrong one. Ouch If you want to be in God’s will in your marriage, then you must desire to have your unsaved husband be the head of your home and ruler over your home. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean that you must get permission from him on what time you should eat lunch. It means that you SHOULD ask him if it’s OK with him if you spend money on a new dress… these are just examples but I think you get my meaning here. 🙂 Even if your husband is not saved, he is still the head of your house. The sooner you accept this fact in your heart, the quicker you will be able to learn the meaning of submission. You cannot submit to someone you don’t WANT in authority over you… does that make sense? As a side note here – Your submissive spirit will be a testimony to your daughter on how she should be as a wife. Always remember that. It also shows your sons what to look for in a wife.
I clung to 1 Peter 3:1-6 in the first few months of God’s dealing with me on submission. I read them daily and asked God to change my heart. I memorized:
What is a right spirit in this study? It is the spirit of accepting what God has planned for your life as a wife to an unsaved husband… accepting that God’s will is that you submit to your husband whether he is saved or not. Accepting that you are not your husband’s personal little holy spirit in charge of making him spiritual or godly. This is God’s job … and, after all, once God does the changing in your husband, it will be perfect and permanent. 🙂
Submission applies to all wives … not just to those whose husbands are not saved. It is the will of God. It is harder for women whose husbands are not saved because she is unequally yoked. The wife of an unsaved husband goes through a spiritual battle every single day. She is placed in situations that an equally-yoked marriage does not experience. Does this mean that she should sin if her husband asks her to? Of course not. This is when the wife must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29 we see that Peter was told that he could not preach the gospel and his response was just that…. I will obey God rather than men.
I like what Paul wrote in:
…. as it is fit in the Lord … this is what is called a qualifying statement. Paul didn’t end his sentence after the word husbands. He continued with “as it is fit in the Lord” for a reason. So Paul is telling us that in our submission, we must obey the Lord’s commands and not go against His will. The husband abuses his authority if he commands his wife to sin. She must obey God. She can sweetly say to her husband that she fears God’s chastisement on her life if she disobeys HIM. God will take care of the wife if that husband gets upset with her. She is being obedient to God in this instance. However, in all other instances (where sin is not involved), the wife must obey what her unsaved husband asks of her. Her obedience and subjection is service done to Christ. When a woman submits to her unsaved husband, she is submitting to Christ. She is fulfilling God’s desire and will for her life. This brings much comfort and peace in a woman’s heart. It brought great comfort to me. I had such child-like faith when I was first saved. I just KNEW in my heart that God would take care of me when it came to submitting to my unsaved husband. I just knew that God would not allow me to go through certain things that would place me in a situation I could not handle.
The wife of an unsaved husband experiences things that no other wife experiences. There are times that her husband verbally abuses her because of her faith. There are times when her husband mocks her because of her faith. There are times when her husband tries to provoke her to anger and sin so that he can appease his own guilty conscience. These times are extremely difficult for this poor wife. We women are created by God as emotional beings, therefore, we get emotional during these trials and tests.
Have peace in your heart because you love the Lord and don’t let anything your unsaved husband says offend you or upset you. Tell the Lord about your hurt feelings. Tell Him how much you’re hurting inside. Tell Him how you can’t bear it any more. He WILL comfort you. He WILL give you that peace. He WILL take care of your problem. I promise this! God is not an ogre. God is not insensitive. God is not heartless! God IS LOVE! He loves you! He doesn’t want to see you hurting!
How many of you enjoy seeing your child hurting? None of you. God doesn’t either. He comes running when He hears us crying to Him. What a lovely and comforting thought, huh? God will NEVER give you more than you can handle. The trials we experience will also have a temptation to go with it. A temptation of possibly giving up and leaving the marriage, giving in and try to take the rule of your house away from your husband, giving in to the desire of yelling back and saying unkind words, etc. However, the Word says that God won’t give you more than you can handle and WILL provide you with a way to escape this desire to yield to temptation.
Turn to Him and share with Him your deep hurts. He WILL listen. He WILL not allow you to be tested beyond what you are able to handle! That would be cruel if He did and we know that God is love … He is not cruel.
If you are experiencing a difficult trial with your husband (whether disobedient to the Word or unsaved) today, take shelter in the shadow of His wings.
Take refuge in God until your calamities (trials) are past. A dear friend of mine shared these verses with me when I was going through a trial recently, and I felt that it would apply beautifully in this study. God will perform His will in your life for your benefit … you have to want it and you have to allow it.
God bless you as you grow in Christ in this area of being married to an unsaved man or a disobedient man.
Heavenly Father, again I lift the dear lady here who is in this situation. Help her, Lord, to have a teachable heart and a willing heart to be the submissive wife she needs to be to her unsaved husband. Bless her, Lord, in Jesus’ Name I pray.