On submission, beauty, and humility…or not.

By October 12, 2012Study the Bible

This post was written by contributor Katie Orr.

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. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:1-5 ESV)

I have been stuck all week as to where to go with this post.

I could take a deeper look at the command to “be subject” to our husbands, and (for those of you who just got your feathers ruffled with the mention of submission) I might take note of the “likewise” here in this passage, in order to see the greater context of which this command is given, and the beauty of God’s plan for the marriage relationship.

For those of you who are married to an unbelieving husband, we could look at the great promise that God can use your respectful actions to bring your beloved husband to Christ.

There is always much to be learned from pulling out some Greek from the passage. Like, how “quiet” here is the Greek word hesucheos which literally means “peaceable” and “to keeps one’s seat.”  (Or, as I like to put it, the ability to sit down and shut up.) The Greek word for “adorning” is also pretty interesting, but I have already written a post on all of that, looking at some of the key words in 1 Peter 3, so you can just read it for yourself there.

Every truth, promise, and command in these verses is begging for its own post. But this is not what is on my heart for us today.

How we mis-use the Bible

My heart is heavy to implore us all to be careful not to read the Bible through the filter of what we want to hear.

It is so easy to make the Bible our own “spiritual Google”. When we are interested in a topic, we will go to the Word as our Wikipedia to learn a bit more. Or, we might be feeling “sick” spiritually, so we will look up a fix to our ailment, making the Bible our own spiritual WebMD.

The danger of using the Bible this way is that it is too easy to skip over the more difficult passages—like this one. If we’re not in the mood to get our toes stepped on, we can avoid the more command-laden passages. Convenient, huh?

I doubt that many of us are “google-ing” how to be a more submissive wife, posts on a humble spirit, or “how to sit down and shut up.” We’ve probably all spent more time and energy this week on the “adorning of the external” than the hidden person of the heart without even realizing it. Yet, our journey through 1 Peter has brought us here.

God has us in this passage, this week, for a reason.

So, whether you’ve been in this passage with us throughout the week, or are reading it for the first time, I ask that you would approach God’s Word to you as exactly that—His true, good, and perfect words to us.

His promises are not cute, little feel-good sayings to frame and put on our walls.

The commands of scripture are not given to be used as a self-improvement book.

The truths we see in the Bible are not to pick and choose from.

It is not up to us to decide what we take away from the Bible.

My prayer for us today is that we will be open to hear what God has for us, in each and every verse of His perfect Word to us.

My hope for you and I—this generation of Christian women—is to stop looking at the Bible as our own little road map for life, which we pull out of our glove-compartments when we are feeling the need for direction.

Instead let us treasure the Word as it is, our sustenance for living, source of daily direction and wisdom, and the strong foundation of our faith!

What are your thoughts on the role of God’s Word in your life? Are you guilty of picking and choosing what you want to hear from the Word? What is God speaking to you about, from these life-giving words in 1 Peter? Let us know in the comments.

About Katie
Jesus-lover. Pastor’s wife. Mommy of three. Grace-clinger. Truth-speaker. Auburn fan. Longs to equip others to walk with the Lord for a lifetime. Co-author of Savoring Living Water: How to have an effective quiet time and author of Focused15 Bible studies. Creator of Do Not Depart where you can receive encouragement and tools to abide in God’s Word.


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  • Avatar maddalena70 says:

    oh Katie… i may say that i started to read the bible because I felt alone and with a life that had not meaning anymoree… and everyday I discover he light and a new world…. not only in this pasaage of Peter but in other pasages too I understood that my being a mother and an housewife has a very deep meaning that I ignored before .. to helping my two little girls… and that I have my little mission just here in helping the irlsx and my husband to grow stronger and in peace with their role in their own life..
    .. my husband is not a true believer but now I know that it doesn’t mattr because God is my father and his father too nonentheless because of my faith… and that by eing ”submitted to my husband” and doing my role as an housewife, mother and woman I may playing my role as a god daughter….
    Oh I do not know if I’ve been able to explain the wolrd that has opened before me since I started reding the Bible and that ow ofr the first time in my life I’ve started felling at home… at peace.



  • Avatar Heather says:

    love it. preach it. good and true doctrine sista.

  • Avatar Melissa says:

    Katie – you go, girl! It is so true that often we only hear what we want to hear when we read God’s Word. That’s one of the reasons I love to study through a whole book in the Bible – it helps me keep the overall context in my head so I don’t get screwed up understanding what it means.

    Submission is hard – it goes against nearly everything I want for myself. But that’s just it – myself vs what God asks of me. Always seems to come down to this. And yet, when I practice in the little ways of submission, they grow into the bigger ways of submission and I find that I am indeed coming to love the way God asks me to love — to consider someone else as more important than myself.

    Thank you for your willingness to challenge us all on this.

    • Avatar Katie Orr says:

      Thanks for your encouragement, Melissa. I love studying a whole book of the Bible, and seeing how it all works together with the rest of scripture.

      Amazing, how the themes all come together!

  • Avatar Rhonda says:

    I am guilty of picking and choosing, but I have come to see Christ’s command to obey as a true freedom. I don’t have to figure it out myself – I simply stand by the truth of his Word (not something I remember everyday, of course.)

    Part of the reason it’s hard, I think, to claim God’s truth always is because of life events, situations, and circumstances not explicitly covered in the Bible. We all know women who have been, or are, in abusive relationships. I don’t believe a wife should submit to a husband in that kind of situation, but is that covered in Scripture? I know it’s a classic example, but it’s real – especially to me this year as I’m trying to be an encouragement to two friends who I found out have been dealing with abuse for many years.

    I believe we have been granted common sense by our Savior for such situations, but of course, common sense was antithetic to obedience in the Bible. It wasn’t common sense to build an ark during a drought, and it defied common sense to expect a few loaves of bread and some fish to feed thousands of people. But out of obedience, the Lord was glorified. It’s just hard to reconcile when circumstances are life-threatening.

  • I like this passage better than the Ephesians one, but they are pretty much in agreement, aren’t they? Sarah, she called Abraham master (in my translation anyway) and she went with his lie (half truth) that they were brother and sister (half?) twice. Both times God delivered her. You are her daughters if you do not give way to fear…hm.
    The word likewise, was it referring to like Jesus suffering or slaves?
    This was an interesting week to ponder 1 Peter 3:1-7 since I had asked my husband for approval to spend $600 to go visit a dying friend, and then my church asked me to lead the church council (husband said, “say no,” at the very least because neither of us has that time, and if I were to take the position he would be involved far more than I would be if he took it…they’d asked him first). I was glad to submit to his wisdom both times.
    I also think the beauty of “if he doesn’t believe the word,” is able to include the disagreeing believer husband. We married with different views on baptism, and in his reading he changed to my view (I wouldn’t have been able to persuade him). But we still hold different views on creation/theistic evolution. This passage says to me: don’t fight him but work on the quiet and gentle spirit, which is valuable to God, and God will take care of the persuasion!
    I’ve really enjoyed this one.
    My dad has an interesting take on the weaker partner: it’s like fine china teacups are treated more gently than stoneware mugs. Weaker there meaning delicate in the most positive way.

  • Two things – 1. where do you link up and how do I see the person before me? I’ve linked up on one of the other weekly roundup things, and I’m it…. Makes for lonely reading.
    2. I really held out no hope for poor old 1 Peter… and I stand corrected! That should speak volumes all on its own – if you knew me personally you’d know I have an opinion on EVERYTHING!! And I’m always right.
    God’s working on that.