A Hot Topic

1 Peter 3

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Gender is a hot topic these days. We live in a society where there is much flexibility in how someone chooses to live their life, irrespective of cultural norms or the directives of our creator (let’s stick to what Peter writes about in his letter). Misogyny and radical feminism are two ways in which humans have messed up what was designed to be a tremendous blessing from God.

There is a lot to unpack here as Peter begins by addressing wives. In reading the text and then looking at commentaries it appears that foremost in Peter’s mind is a woman who has come to a saving faith in Jesus but is married to a man who does not share that faith (though we can gain something from this even if we’re not in that demographic).

The way that societies functioned, specifically the society that Peter would be writing to, did not offer much in the way of opportunity for a woman to exert influence over her husband. Her options may be quite limited in what her husband allowed her to do or permitted her to go. Where a husband and father who came to faith would be expected (even simply allowed) to bring his family along with him to religious functions, the same could not be said for the wife.

So how is a woman to minister to her unbelieving husband? How does she influence him intentionally in a way to bring him into the body of Christ? Nagging is probably not the most effective way to do this, in fact it might have the opposite effect; rather, the solution that Peter proposes is to allow the gospel of Jesus (i.e., the gospel of the Kingdom) to radically influence your way of living. Being salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14) is not just something that you are to be for people whom you may be unfamiliar with, even more importantly it is something you are to be with those who you are most intimate with. Living a life that bears the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) and exemplifies Jesus’ beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11; Luke 6:20-26) will make you a more desirable (and influential) person.

Obviously, there is no way to guarantee that an unbelieving spouse will come to faith, but by being holistically attractive (not just externally, but internally as well) you will have a far better chance to influence them than if you were to try to get by on physical attraction (I don’t even know how that would really work) but be ugly on the inside.  

Peter addresses the ladies in verses 1-6, but he shifts gears in verse 7 and speaks to husbands. He says to “live with your wives in an understanding way” (ESV), literally living with her “according to knowledge” as opposed to living with her in “sheer thoughtlessness” as the Expositor’s Bible Commentary puts it. I can speak from experience, it is very easy to do what I want and expect my wife to pick up the slack, but that is not the way that Peter instructs husbands to operate. Instead of living in a way that could breed resentment and other problems (infidelity?), husbands are commanded to live in a thoughtful way.

Husbands are instructed to honor their wives as “the weaker vessel.” Huh? What does that mean? There are different ways to look at this… Societally women were weaker (we’ve already considered the lack of influence), typically women are weaker in physical strength (I can think of a few ladies that could probably wipe the floor with their husbands in a fight), and sometimes women are more emotionally fragile (have a wider range of feelings?) than men. The word for weaker (ἀσθενεστέρῳ) can be translated with lots of nuance, but one big take away from this is that women are not inferior to men. Whatever Peter is getting at with the idea of the wife being a weaker vessel, something is very clear: we are co-heirs of all the benefits that come with accepting Jesus and believing in the kingdom message. As objects of God’s salvation there is no distinction between male and female, just as there is no distinction between Jew or Greek. While husbands and wives may be called to different roles in their relationship and even in their roles in the church, this is not because of a lack of capability, this is the function that God has laid out. Husbands and wives are to minister to one another and to minister to others. We can use our marriages as an example and an opportunity in ministry. Authentic Christianity has done more to liberate women from misogyny and oppression than any other organization ever has; that being said, it has not changed the fact that men and women are different. We have equality in standing before God, we have equality in salvation, we ought to have equality in rights, but we are still different and that is a blessing. As the church is a body with many parts, the one flesh that we become in marriage takes into account our uniqueness as individuals and the differences in our physiology. We are to be reliant on one another (do not read as co-dependency), and we are responsible to one another to meet the needs that we have as image bearers of God and the uniqueness that we have as men and women.

-J.J. Fletcher


To those of us who are married: We should evaluate where we are at in living as Peter instructs. Hopefully you are married to a fellow believer who you can discuss this passage with and commit to one another to implement these tactics in your union. If married to a non-believer, behave in a way that is intentional in living the gospel out to them.

To those of you who are engaged or hope to be married one day: Look for a spouse who takes scripture seriously and is willing to change their behavior to conform to what scripture dictates, both in their life as an individual and the way that they approach relationships.

For those of you who are called to a life of singleness (or just end up that way) or those of you who know someone who fits that description: I believe that the behaviors that the relational and internal things that Peter speaks of here will be beneficial in building authentic relationships that help navigate the potential challenges that a life of singleness may bring.

Making A Different People : Atonement, Sacrifice, Sexual Relations

Leviticus 16-18

Leviticus 18 3 4 NIV
As we move through Leviticus, it’s important to remember two things.
— First, for the Israelites, God was and is creating a different kind of people; a people who stand out in the world. They were to look different than the nations around them. We will see this more clearly today.
— Second, for us, God is showing us what he likes and wants from his people in principle and practice. We need to see what God likes and wants, and what commands are required from the principles found in the text. Christ covers the commands, and yet reinstates certain patterns of holy behavior.
Having these ideas in mind with help make sense of Leviticus 16, 17 and 18.
Starting at the end, the laws of Leviticus 18 are all about sexual relations. In our Victorian and yet hyper-sexualized society, each of these commands are important. No one command had precedent in the ancient Jewish community. For example, Leviticus 18:22 was just as bad in the eyes of God as Leviticus 18:23. It wasn’t that 22 was LESS serious or MORE serious, all of these actions would bring defilement on those who practiced them.
But it’s neither of these passages that we are focusing on today. Read Leviticus 18:1-5, or go back and read it again. God, when giving these commands to Israel, is trying to make a people that are different than the Egyptians and the Canaanites. He want a people who will walk in his commands and his statutes. God has unending, infinite wisdom; therefore, God’s ways of living are better than mere human ways. Therefore, when he is saying “Live my way, not the Egyptian way or the Canaanite way”, he is saying “Live the best way possible.”
God doesn’t want you to settle for a second class life. All the sexual gratification in the world doesn’t hold a candle to the joy of living life in accord with God’s commands. All these ancient prohibitions for sex are teaching us that we need to be careful to not allow sex to control our lives. Our sexual orientation, our gender identity, our gender expression, are all to be in accord with God’s commands throughout scripture and must be submitted to God. God wants you to be righteous in your sexual life because it is better for you and everyone around you.
The way you can become holy has also changed from the time of Leviticus 16. God’s best life for us is no longer in animal sacrifices, but in allowing Christ to be our atonement. The blood of Christ cleanses us from sin. Christ brings us before the mercy seat in his sacrifice, and he also goes out from the community as the scapegoat, carrying our sin far away.
Today can become your day of atonement. If you trust in the sacrifice of Jesus and call him your savior and lord then you can read Leviticus 16:30 in a powerful new way : “for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” This day can be today, and Christ can make you clean from all your sins.
Jake Ballard
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+16-18&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Leviticus 19-21 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
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