“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” (1 Peter 3:1–2, ESV)
I have shared my conversion story many times. Yet, there is a vital part of this story that I need to make known. It is the part my wife had in the story. While serving in the U.S. Army in Germany, we encountered a crisis in our marriage. I was in the field and she was about to leave me to go home. The Army Chaplain spoke to her about turning the marriage over to the Lord and she did more than that. She received Christ’s salvation.
Jump forward seven years. I ended up leaving the military and we were living in a Chicago suburb. A little mission church came to town, some from the church stopped by and invited my wife to the church. She began faithfully attending with our two children. Frankly, I wanted nothing to do with it. Yet, if it made her happy, I was ok.
Yet, one day, she came home from the Sunday worship service and informed me that she was going to be baptized in the church. This provoked me to be very angry. I did not say a word, but it was written all over my face. I was angry and she knew it. Yet, she remained steadfast in this decision. Looking back on it, her steadfast devotion to the Lord, demonstrated in this decision for baptism, had a profound influence on my life. I began searching the Scriptures for answers and in short order, I came to faith in Jesus also.
Here, Peter wrote about the role of wives in winning their unbelieving husbands to the Lord. He stated that they could win them by their proper conduct. He specifically tells them that this conduct includes being subject to their husbands, and the demonstration of respectful and pure conduct. Peter told these women that they could win their husbands without speaking a word and this is what happened to me.
Now, when we look at the proper conduct of which Peter wrote, we will see that he means godly character. The word “pure,” hagnos is from the same as hagios, which refers to sacred, consecrated, holy one (Strong G53, 40). The emphasis here has to be primarily in being steadfastly obedient to the ways of God and His will. When Peter mentions that wives must be subjected to their husbands, he does not mean compromising righteousness or obedience to the will of God. My wife knew that I was angry about her decision regarding baptism but she remained steadfast in obedience to the Lord’s command in this area.
Many women have compromised in an area of their relationship with God because of pressure from their husbands. This they do to the detriment of their witness to their husbands and their children. It may not be easy but you must stay steadfast in the faith to maintain a good witness. One other thing, many women in an attempt to win their husbands, badger or speak down to them with the gospel. While their zeal is commendable, their demeanor can be less than respectful and gentle. This also will be detrimental to their witness. Be mindful of Peters words, be submissive, respectful, and seek purity. In doing so, your witness will be highly effective.