- In 2017, when we got engaged, many people were surprised. (Married at the age of 23 and Yeng at 25) “Di ba parang masyado kayong nagmamadali?
- And after a marriage counseling session wherein the pastor expounds on the difficult realities of marriage, he asked, “So, ano, tuloy pa kayo?… Sigurado kayo? Wala nang atrasan ‘to… Mahirap ang buhay mag-asawa.”
- [TRANSITION POINT]: Mahirap naman talaga ang buhay mag-asawa, lalo na kung hindi si Cristo at ang enbanghelyo ang pundasyon ng inyong pag-sasama, at kapag hindi niyo naiintindihan ang tungkulin niyo sa isa’t-isa.
The Context and Meaning of the Text
NOTE: Being God’s people also affects our intimate relationships
NOTE: The length of section for the wives does not mean husbands have less issues/duties in marriage. And though some principles are more emphasized on wives, it doesn’t mean they don’t apply to husbands, and vice versa.
- Verse 1
- “Likewise” — Following Peter’s points since verse 11. Living honorably, submitting to those we must submit to, and honoring those we must honor.
- “Be subject” — Recognize their authority, “Magpasa-ilalim, magpasakop” (To be discussed more later in our sermon point 1)
- “So that even if some do not obey the word” — Some Christian wives are married to unbelievers.
- Context: Wives during Roman times have no social and political rights like men do. Some can be abused and treated like slaves, doing the duties of slaves.
- Context: Christian wives married to unbelievers experienced greater pressure. Greek historian Plutarch (A.D. 46-127): “A wife should not acquire her own friends, but should make her husbands friends her own. The gods are the first and most significant friends. For this reason, it is proper for a wife to recognize only those gods whom the husband worships.”
- Hence, women converted to Christianity while having unbelieving husbands are going contrary to the social norm. Subject to accusation and threat of persecution.
- Some may be tempted to get out of this difficult marriage or perhaps retaliate. (In fact, some unbelieving spouses separate, cf. 1 Cor. 7:15). But as for believers, they are called to be faithful in their duties despite their “incompatible” marriage.
- “they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct” — Living honorably among Gentiles as God’s witnesses (1 Peter 2:12). Not to say we don’t share a word from God, but only emphasizes that the conduct and character of the wives will be a greater testimony for their unbelieving husbands.
- Verse 3
- “Do not let your adorning be external… or the clothing your wear” — It also doesn’t say that wives shouldn’t care to look attractive and appealing to their husbands. Rather, the greater emphasis is just on the godly character that comes from within. (cf. Proverbs 31:30 – “Charm… Beauty…)
- Verse 4
- “But let your adorning be the hidden person… imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” — Not “literally” quiet, but like 2:18-25, the emphasis is on not retaliating, taking revenge, or being argumentative. That is a more beautiful trait and pleasing to God.
- Verse 5
- “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God…” — The gentle and submissive spirit is rooted from trusting and hoping in God
- Verse 6
- “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord…” — (Gen. 18:12). Not that you call your husbands, “lord.” But to show them respect.
- “And you are her children…” — You follow in her steps, you will likewise receive God’s promise, when you remain faithful even when things are frightening/fearsome
- Verse 7
- “Likewise, husbands…” — Not that they must submit to their wives as well. Rather, the same principle of honoring those to whom honor is due. “Honor” means recognizing and assigning value and dignity to someone.
- “live with your wives in an understanding way” — According to “understanding,” according to “knowledge,” not according to passion or emotion. Being considerate (maunawain) and sober-minded (tama at matinong pag-iisip) towards your wives.
[What should we understand concerning them?]
- “as the weaker vessel”
- “Vessel” — someone exercising a function (i.e., helpmate)
- “Weaker” — with some incapacity & limitation (esp. physically)
- “and as heirs with you (co-heirs) of the grace of life”
- Like the Christian wives, it is possible that there are Christian husbands married to unbelieving wife.
- Interpretation 1: If unbelieving wife, she is also an image-bearer of God and recipient of this blessing of life
- Interpretation 2: If believing wife, she is also a recipient of eternal life
- In any case, there’s the sense of equality
- “so that your prayers may not be hindered”
- Interpretation 1: If you’re not living in peace with your wife, you can’t pray together
- Interpretation 2: If you’re not living well with your wife, or even others, God won’t receive your prayers (cf. Matthew 5:23-25, reconciling first before coming to God’s presence)
- In any case, your relationship with your wife affects your communion with God.
[Transition]: Now, in this passage exhorted to wives and husbands, we see certain principles concerning marriage. (*We can’t discuss everything about marriage, and let’s pray we can have a conference/retreat for couples next year)
SERMON POINT 1: The Christian’s Duty in Marriage
- Marriage is a “creation ordinance” — It is given to people in general. It is not only for Christians. Unbelievers can and do marry as well.
- But marriage is an ordinance instituted by God (Gen. 2:21-25) — Not an invention of man or culture. Hence, although we don’t view it as a sacrament, we consider it as “sacred.” (Hebrews 13:4 – “Let marriage be held in honor among all…”)
- Since marriage is divinely instituted, it is God who defines the structure of marriage and the rules in it. And the way to a good marriage is to follow God’s design for it. This applies even to unbelievers, but more especially to believers.
[What is this design of God?]
Leadership & Submission
- State: God has set standard roles and functions in marriage. It is the divine design of God that husbands should lead, while wives submit.
- No explicit word “lead,” but the command to “submit” implies it
- READ Ephesians 5:22-25
- Place: Husbands are never commanded to submit to their wives within the system of marriage (*”submit to one another in Christ” is for all generally). Likewise, wives are never commanded to lead their husbands.
- “So that even if some do not obey the word.” The command is general. Whether or not your husband is a believer, your duty as a wife is to submit.
- Clarify: Male leadership and female submission are not explicitly instituted by God for all areas of life (Example: Some women can lead better in companies than men). But the command applies specifically for the church and the family.
- Repeat: Husbands lead, wives submit. (*Again, we can’t discuss everything, but let us clarify some things)
Clarify: Submission of Christian Wives
What it is not
- Submission does not mean obedience in absolutely everything (i.e., sin, like getting involved in prostitution)
- Submission does not mean keeping your thoughts to yourself or not calling out your husband’s fault
- Submission does not mean just receiving harsh and abusive treatment silently (i.e., women in ancient Rome have no rights to protect them but we do now. We can seek the help of authorities.)
- ***Difficult to discuss such a sensitive topic and our advice would be on a case to case basis. So it’s best to have counseling with pastor or elders in such cases.
What it is (to submit with a gentle and quiet spirit)
- Submission means you become sensitive to the needs of your husband (e.g., bilang katuwang sa buhay, suportahan mo kung ano mang panawagan ng Diyos sa asawa mo)
- Submission means you obey as long as it is not sinful, and even if you have to disagree—you disagree peacefully and respectfully. (Not quarrelsome – Proverbs 21:9)
- Illustrate: “Ang pangit naman ng idea mo. Wag ganyan, ganito dapat…” … “Hindi ba parang mas maganda o mas makakabuti kung ganito? Tingin mo?”
- Kahit na magkamali ang asawa mo, hindi ‘to nagbibigay sa’yo ng karapatan na maghiganti, maliitin o insultuhin yung asawa mo. (APPLY: How do you speak about your husband to your own family and friends?)
- Example: Some tend to think little of their husbands is they are earning less than expected or if the husband is not as mature as the pastor or elder.
- Submission involves encouraging and praying for your husbands. MAHIRAP MAG-LEAD. Are you thankful?
- They (including me) will always be making wrong or not so wise decisions. Yet still, be faithful to your role as a helpmate.
Clarify: Leadership of Christian Husbands
What it is not
- Leadership does not mean we dictate everything we want (i.e., tayo lagi masusunod, hindi na natin hihingin opinyon ng mga asawa natin sa mga desisyon natin). Reality is, we don’t know everything.
- We assume final responsibility in our decisions and take responsibility for errors (rather than blaming wives). But taking responsibility doesn’t mean lording over our wives.
- And even if they don’t agree and comply with us, though they are weaker, it doesn’t give us the right to force them, abuse them or think low of them.
- Leadership does not mean playing “god over our wives.” In Ephesians 5:25-26, the point is self-denial and sacrificial love, but we don’t sanctify our wives.
- IMPLY: Hindi tayo ang laging tama. Sometimes, our wives can teach us and remind us of God’s Word
- APPLY: Do you say sorry and ask forgiveness when you sin & make a mistake?
What it is (lead and live with our wives in an understanding way)
- Leadership means we initiate our walk together under God’s rule.
- Illustrate: Triangle relationship, not vertical. Both man and woman are equal (co-heirs of life), and we simply possess the role to initiate our relationship towards God (not towards ourselves).
- And the more we and our wives get closer to God, the more we draw closer to one another.
- Living with our wives in understanding way also means being considerate to them.
- Be gracious and gentle to your wives. They are weaker in various ways. If they fail to do something or to submit to us, instead of quickly judging, understand why?
- Leading and living with our wives in an understanding way involves honoring/valuing them and praying for them.
- Proverbs 18:22 — “Finds a wife… finds a good thing…”
- When was the last time you thanked your wife for her labor in the house? For raising up your kids? Or at least for staying in your marriage?
- (To say that this is too cheesy and only for honeymooners is a worldly view)
- IT IS HARD AND FEARFUL TO SUBMIT. Yet still, deal gently and graciously with your wives.
Point Summary: So again, wives, be subject to your husbands. Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way.
[TRANSITION]: Now, in this whole design of God for marriage and our duties as Christian spouses, there’s one thing being emphasized for us…
SERMON POINT 2: The Christian’s Focus and Hope in Marriage
OBSERVE: When the Bible teaches about marriage, it doesn’t talk about money or appearance (though not saying unimportant). It focuses on character, godly character. Following God’s design and loving and serving one another.
- [Side-Comment for Singles]
Marriage is not all about fame, sexual pleasures, and romantic moments. What’s most important is character. That’s what you ultimately pray for yourself and seek in a potential partner.
Example: Some “appreciate” their relationship mostly because “ang pogi/ganda ng boyfriend ko.” When you have conflicts, you don’t reconcile just because of your appearance.
So if you are in a relationship with an unbeliever, think twice and thrice. (Context of 3:1 is that they were already married prior to conversion).
- The clear revealed will of God is that you marry “only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 9:39).
- “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…” (2 Cor. 6:14). Although the immediate context is not for marriage, the principle is there. Why? Because marriage is a lifelong covenant. And you better not be “one flesh” with someone with a different faith, different convictions, different desires, etc.
- Marriage with a believer is hard. How much more with an unbeliever?
- Example: Big conflict. While you want counseling, your unbelieving spouse don’t.
- Do not put God to the test.
- TO THE MARRIED
- We recognize this reality: “Marriage is a school of character” – Martin Luther
- Realization: It takes a lot of maturity to get married and stay married (i.e., good marriage)
- CLARIFY: Not to say that those who don’t get married are immature. Not necessarily. I don’t know exactly your background in relationships.
- But the reality is that in marriage, you are two sinners living together. And to live with another sinner like you almost 24/7 truly requires a lot of selflessness and understanding. And you cannot truly do it, and enjoy doing it, unless you are cleansed by the blood of Christ and his Spirit dwells in you. (REPEAT)
This is implied in v. 8, that submission is rooted from a “hope in God.” And the same applies to the leadership of Christian husbands.
- By ourselves, we cannot lead nor submit. It is part of the curse of sin.
- Genesis 3:16b — “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
- Wives: Imbes na magpasakop at rumespeto sa asawa, ang natural sa mga misis ay labanan ang asawa
- Husbands: Imbes na manguna, gabayan, at ingatan ang asawa, ang natural sa mga mister ay mamuno ayon lang sa gusto natin.
- AND THAT’S THE REALITY OF MARRIAGE AS SINNERS. Yung akala mo, napaka-bait mo na, napaka-loving mo na, napaka-unselfish mo—yun pala, hindi. WE ALWAYS INSIST ON WHAT WE WANT.
- But the GOOD NEWS is, si Cristo ay sinumpa upang palayain tayo mula sa sumpa ng ating mga kasalanan.
- And the gospel of Christ not only gives us eternal life, but also fixes our lives here on earth. Christ does not only reconcile us to God, but also reconciles us with one another. Siya’y namatay sa krus upang pagbayaran ang kasalanan natin at tayo’y mapatawad. At hindi lang ‘yon, upang linisis din ang ating mga puso, para ating mahalin ang Diyos at pati ang isa’t-isa.
- If you are having serious marital problems, only God can fix it. (Ask God for a change of heart)
- If you’re married to an unbeliever, only God can change him/her. Be a good witness. Pray.
- For us Christians married to another Christian, conflicts and problems will always arise in this life on earth. But by the grace of God, continue fulfilling your duties and keep making effort to understand one another (even if it’s hard).
- Wives, it’s hard to submit, but trust God in your husband’s leadership. (Hope that God can work in your husband)
- Husbands, you don’t need to be harsh toward your wives, deal gently and hope in God to work in your wives.
- Because as co-heirs in God’s grace of life, God will work in you.
- End by going back to our experience before getting married. And hopefully, this will also encourage our singles longing for a Christian marriage.
- Marriage counseling Pastor asked us: “People are asking why you’re making a big decision in a relatively quick way. Marriage is hard. How sure are you of this?”
- I answered, “We recognize that marriage is hard. We see it even in our parents. And if we will only look in ourselves, we have every reason to stop this and get out… But because we are Christians, our trust is in the Lord. We’ll never be sure we can provide for our family in the future, but we are sure God will provide. We are never sure if we will stay the same and love one another in the future, but we are sure that he who began a good work in us will complete it until the day of Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Even recently, Yeng told me about someone who commented: “Parang di kayo nag-aaway ni Bro. Reuel”
- May conflicts and misunderstanding din po kami. We still need to grow. Perhaps, we already established a healthy way of treating one another well and resolving our conflicts.
- BUT THAT IS NEVER BY OURSELVES. IT IS ALWAYS FROM THE LORD.
- So Christians, as we embrace our duties in our relationships and witness to others, may we hope in God that he will work in us and through us, for his glory. Amen.
Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.