Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17th - Gender Roles

Prayer Requests
Jordan – Boot Camp
Hawaii Missions Trip
Superbowl Missions Trip
New Middle School Friday Nights
Haiti, especially the Baptist Haiti Mission

Text – 1 Peter 3:1-7

The passage we’re going to look at today starts with likewise, so it is imperative that we remember what we’ve been talking about so that we understand what Peter is going to say now.

What’d we talk about last time? Slavery and the importance of respecting those in authority over you.

Who is our supreme example? Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

Two things I wanted to focus on before we move onto the passage are the fact that Peter says Christ didn’t threaten, and a really good definition of biblical slavery which I found.

First, Peter says that when Christ was reviled, he didn’t revile in return, when he suffered, he didn’t threaten. But, we see Christ threatening in verses like

Luke 13:4-5 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.


John 8:23-24 He said to them, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."

Both of these are threats, but this isn’t what Peter is talking about. Peter is talking specifically on the day that Christ was crucified, he didn’t threaten for the treatment he received. When he threatened in the days and years leading up to his crucifixion was for sins against Heaven. He didn’t say, “Unless you shut up, I’m going to punch you in the nose.” Rather it was more like, “You need to be forgiven or else you will reap the consequences of an insulted and holy God.” His threat wasn’t for their treatment against him, but for their sins against Heaven.

In Hawaii I was preaching on the beach and a very angry old woman came up and told me, “I’m a heathen and I [bleeping] love it.” I could have gotten mad at her for bothering me, but that would have been wrong, instead I pointed her sins at Heaven, that she could be sure her sins would find her out, and the fleeting nature of sin is not worth the eternity of wrath she would face lest she repent. She got even more mad and told me she didn’t need to repent, but that I needed to repent and then she ran off.

So this is what Peter means, that we don’t threaten for our treatment, but we are quick to warn of the threat of eternal damnation for those who continue to rebel against God and who don’t receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We see this in Christ’s prayer, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is a passive threat to them that they need forgiveness.

Next is the slavery issue, and I’m just going to read this so we can get onto the text for today, but this was too good for me to pass up. Dave gave me John MacArthur’s A Tale of Two Sons for Christmas, it is an absolutely wonderful book. Here is what Dr. MacArthur says about biblical slavery,

It was a truly amazing turnaround for the Prodigal Son to reach the point where he would even consider being a hired servant to his father, and it’s a very clear indicator that he now realized just how low he had sunk. The Greek word translated “hired servants” is misthios. It refers to day laborers-the lowest of all workers on the economic scale. In the first-century culture, that kind of hired servant held a much lower status that a slave. Slaves were supplied with living quarters, clothing, and all the necessities of life. Trusted bondservants might even be put in charge of important business affairs…Many household servants were educated, cultured, honorable, highly skilled people, whose status was anything but lowly. Nehemiah, serving as cupbearer to the king of Persia, is one biblical example of a slave who enjoyed honor and advantage.

You can also see evidence of the relative comfort some slaves enjoyed in the ruins of ancient Pompeii, a resort town consisting largely of homes that belonged to wealthy Roman citizens…The typical household servant’s living conditions were usually the most Spartan rooms in the estates…but all the servants’ needs were supplied, and they lived in relative comfort. In some cases, they even enjoyed many luxuries.

Day laborers, on the other hand, were society’s most desperately poor. Unlike slaves, they had no master continually caring for them. They were on their own, and they lived as best they could on whatever they could earn from day to day. Many of them were homeless and unskilled. They would therefore be given the menial or undesirable work. They were usually hired to do temporary manual labor…Such workers needed everything they could possibly earn just to scrape by from day to day, it was considered unjust to withhold their wages until a scheduled payday at the end of the week or even later in the month. As the Prodigals own experience demonstrated, not everyone paid menial workers enough to live on, and outside Israel, they might not get paid in a timely fashion.

But the Prodigal remembered that his father paid even the lowest of his hired servants more than enough. Day laborers who served his father actually had leftover food. That confirms what we have already observed about the father’s character. He was generous, kindly, and compassionate.

So all that to say, Peter’s point is that we are to respect the authority over us, no matter if they are good or bad. This is an important part of the likewise, because Peter is now going to talk to husbands and wives, and his first assumption is that the husband may not be a good husband.

I heard a young lady say recently that if a man-eating lion got loose in the United States, it would starve to death.

So while this passage is going to speak mostly to the ladies, there is a huge amount here to be learned for the men. We could spend two or three class periods on this, but we’re so far behind our schedule and since you’re all at least a few years from being married, I’m going to just teach what Peter says.

1 Peter 3:1-7 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. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

While researching for this, every single one of the resources I looked at coupled this passage with Ephesians 5, and rightly so, but we’re not going to go there, I want Peter to make his point without having to reference Paul. If this Epistle was the only letter the Pontian and Asian Christians had, then it must be sufficient, so we’re going to stay mostly in Peter’s Epistle. I’m sure this passage might even make some of us mad or uncomfortable, so that is why I am going to do my absolute best to stick to the text so if you get mad, it’s at the text and not at me.

v.1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands,

The first thing that we get from the context from the likewise, and then from the “be subject” is that Peter fully sees a hierarchy in the marriage covenant, that the man is the authority. Peter is using the same word here that he used in verse 13 about being subject to the government and verse 18 about being subject to a master.

According to the Bible, the husband owns the wife; but on the converse, so does the wife own her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

It is so tempting to go to Ephesians 5 right now to explain why from a theological standpoint, but that isn’t Peter’s intent, read Ephesians 5:22-33 when you get home and you’ll see it from a totally different, yet totally viable perspective. Peter gives a different why in the second part of verse 1,

v.1-2 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.

Until I researched this, I was sure this passage only had to do with unbelieving husbands only, but it doesn’t. That is a part of this, but this is focused on so much more. Even believers are sure to be disobedient in some ways, sometimes willfully, sometimes ignorantly, and Peter is exhorting the wives here to live righteously to show their husbands the right path, instead of taking the authoritative position and telling them they are wrong, to live it out so that through their conduct they may be won to obedience in the Word of God.

The next part is probably the most important for your age group, so I’m going to keep moving even if it doesn’t feel like I’ve spent enough time on verses 1-2. If you feel the need to punch me in the stomach on the way out, then let’s keep talking about this after class.

v.3-4 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.

While this is pointed by Peter at women, guys, let’s pay extra special attention because this is what you should be looking for in female friends and future wives.

The external standard of beauty is always changing, so I want to put together a hyperbole of the ideal woman. Let’s say the standard of beauty becomes that the ideal external standard is a woman 7 foot 6 inches tall; it doesn’t matter if she is skinny or overweight, blonde or brunette, ears pierced or not, has perfect eyesight or wears glasses, is dressed in a $5,000 dress or in rags, if she is 7 feet 6 inches tall without stilts or crazy hats, she is the ideal of beauty and everyone who is shorter or taller is not considered beautiful by the culture. What can someone who is 5 foot 5 inches do in this culture to be considered externally beautiful? Nothing.

Now say we had someone that fits the requirements, and assuming the standard doesn’t change, is this beauty imperishable? No, with the ravages of sin she may get osteoporosis and her bones shrink and all of the sudden she is only 7’5, or she starts to hunch over from old age, no longer beautiful, or she breaks her leg and when she limps she goes from 7’6 to 7’5 to 7’6 to 7’5. External beautify is fleeting.

But in the hidden person of the heart, Peter says this is an imperishable beauty, and very precious in the sight of God. A gentle and quiet spirit, a godly character, respectful and pure conduct; these are everlasting. Can every Christian woman achieve this? Yes.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Guys, pay attention, if what is important to God is the heart, then what ought to be important to you is the heart. If you marry a girl just because she’s the most beautiful girl on earth on the outside, you’re in danger of the effects of sin making you think someone else is more beautiful or judging your wife against her former beauty. My friend Melissa had the most beautiful smile and then she bit down on a carrot stick wrong and shattered her front tooth, but her beauty wasn’t only external; her godliness wasn’t affected by her missing tooth because her internal beauty is imperishable.

And what does it matter if the whole world thinks you’re beautiful and God doesn’t? It astonishes me with women like Helen of Troy, of whose beauty nations went to war against one another and who it is said “had a face the launched a thousand ships”, and who really only the king of the winning nation could have, had such impact with their beauty. And yet is Helen of Troy beautiful today? Has anybody gone to war for her recently? No, she is 3,200 years old. To the contrary, check out what Peter says about women with inner beauty,

v.5-6 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Various places tell us that Abraham is in Heaven, and in just a second we’re going to see that Sarah is too, and is her godliness still beautiful today? Definitely, and even moreso because unlike external beauty which fades, internal beauty grows in sanctification until it is perfected in Heaven.

In Galatians 4 it refers to Sarah as the allegory of freedom and Hagar the allegory of slavery, and so Peter is making the point that when you submit yourself to the authority first of your husband and second and more importantly under Christ (as the progression has been moving from chapter 2:13) then in your submission you become free.

Genesis refers to Sarah still being beautiful in her old age, and while it certainly bears the idea of her external beauty, I wonder if much of the reason that Pharaoh desired her so much was from her inward beauty, something he couldn’t find anywhere in the women of Egypt.

She is the perfect model of a holy life, not like the models of today who model nothing more than the fact that the world is totally focused on the outside of a person, that sex and materialism are sources of happiness, and that women are objects rather than people.

So Sarah is the one to be followed. The way you know you are her spiritual children is if you do good out of love for God and in submission to him first, not out of fear, and not backing down in matters of purity. Peter says all of this before mentioning the husband’s duties, and I think the reason is because he is really trying to press home the importance of submission, placing Christ’s submission in the middle as the perfect example.

While men and woman are definitely equal in worth and character and intelligence, our roles are not equal, men have different abilities and duties, and so do women. Mary Daly just recently died, she claimed to be a Christian and claimed the Bible made women out to be inferior and therefore fought to make women equal to men. Feminism tries to make women do the duties of men and men do the duties of women, and one of Peter’s main points is that we ought to stay in our gender roles. This is true feminism, truly recognizing the beauty of the husband/wife roles. Science has backed this up by finding that the happiest and most fulfilled women are those that devote themselves to their families, and the unhappiest and least fulfilled are those that operate in male gender roles. Likewise, the unhappiest and least fulfilled men are those whose wives run the house.

Now, the path to happiness is not simply through submission, albeit this will certainly lead to eternal happiness, but the way this is supposed to work is that both husband and wife fulfill their roles in the way which God commands and desires. For example, the word Islam literally means submission, but it is submission to a made-up god who can’t give anything in return. Their submission does not lead to salvation, but our promise is that if we submit ourselves to God, he will lift us up. So the wife’s submission should be coupled with the husband’s role. And here is the man’s role,

v.7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Living in an “understanding way” is hugely important; it is recognizing that there are differences between men and women and that reactions and methods to doing things may be considerably different. And there is the huge implication in this passage that even when there are disagreements, they must be worked through. A wife with a disobedient husband stays with him, a husband must show grace and love his wife’s internal beauty no matter what happens to the external.

The husband must show honor to his wife within her gender, not expecting her to step out of that role and act as a man. Does this mean she is lesser in worth or in the eyes of God? No, as this verse says, she is an heir to grace leading to eternal life.

Christianity is constantly called misogynistic, or containing a general hatred toward women. In reality I think it is really the most woman-glorifying religion, it doesn’t look at girls and say, “You’re pretty good, now be better by not acting like girls.” Rather it says you’re perfect in your composition and abilities; you are created by a loving Creator who knows what he is doing, and desires your utmost ability within the role in which you fulfill, and has promised you an inheritance in his Son which is neither above nor below the male role.

When Christianity got ultra-liberal in London in the 1800’s, there were debates on whether women even had souls; when what those debaters should have done is simply read their Bible and seen in this verse that women are heirs to grace.

We’re going to skip the “so that your prayers may not be hindered” for now, it is Peter’s transition to the next passage and we’ll look at it next week.

So in conclusion, Peter has given us three purposes of submission, first to the government, then to our employers (which for you encompasses your teachers), and finally within gender roles. He starts wide and impersonal then narrows it to the most personal. Christ being our perfect example in all three. Next week we will look at the purpose of this submission.

The conclusion for our study today, ladies, don’t get all caught up in external beauty, focus on your inward beauty through a quiet, gentle, and pure heart, which is what is truly beautiful and precious, both in godly men’s sight, but mostly in God’s sight. Guys, know that the external is perishable, but the internal is imperishable. Your future bride must be chosen for her godliness and not just ‘cuz she’s pretty.

I have two homework assignments for you, both sure to be of use for you for all of eternity.

First, I want you to memorize 1 Peter 3:4, [Ladies] 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.

Ladies, memorize it as the person you want to be; guys memorize it as the person you want to marry.

Second, help your mom do something nice for your dad. Then help your dad do something nice for your mom. Do it because a strong marriage bond glorifies your Saviour by modeling his relationship with his bride, the church.