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Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. (1 Peter 3:1-2)

“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands.” Why do so many cringe upon hearing that? Could it be that people have been deceived by the world’s lies into thinking that the word submit , when it refers to wives, must be a mistake? Why does the man get to be the head of his wife and family? Because God says so. Why is it so difficult? Because sin changed everything. The blessing of “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) was given to Adam and Eve before sin, but after sin there is sorrow and pain in childbirth. The blessing of work was given to man before sin, but after sin there is pain, sweat, and difficulty in man’s work. Likewise, the woman was given to man as a submissive, helper wife before sin, but after sin there is this great rebellious struggle within marriage. Thankfully, God doesn’t just point out the problem; He also provides the solution.

In Ephesians 5:22, Paul writes, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord .” That’s the key, isn’t it? To bring Christ into view. “As to the Lord” does not mean, as some would like, that the wife is to treat her husband as a god; as though everything he said was to be obeyed, even things the wife knows to be against God’s Word. Rather, “as to the Lord” means that the wife, in view of God’s mercies, presents herself a living sacrifice to God in thanksgiving for His grace and forgiveness in Christ Jesus as she carries out her role of submissive, helper wife.

Peter says further that an unbelieving husband may notice and be blessed by the godly living of his Christian wife. Peter was addressing the situation of a married couple where the wife becomes a Christian and the husband does not. After conversion, the change in the wife’s attitudes and actions toward her husband is so different that it can cause him to wonder and investigate.

The story is told of a wife who had converted to Christianity while her husband had not. She desperately wanted him to believe and to share her joy in the Lord, so she began listening to Christian music and a Christian podcast in his presence every day, hoping he would overhear and take notice. He didn’t care for the music and was turned off by the constant preaching of the podcast and would often walk out of the room. Distraught, the wife turned to her pastor, who pointed her to this passage in 1 Peter 3, encouraging her to focus on acts of service and love to her husband, living out her calling as a Christian wife. Eventually, the husband noticed the changes in his wife, investigated the faith more seriously, and became a believer.

Despite the world’s lies, there is nothing for a Christian wife to be ashamed of as she lives out God’s calling to be a submissive helper to her husband. In living so differently from the world’s ways, she likely will be asked, “Why do you submit to your husband and help him like that?” She then has opportunity to respond, “I do so out of love for my Lord and Savior who bought me with His own blood and bids me live this way as a wife to my husband.” What a reason for Christian living! To share about Jesus! Who cares if the world may call the Christian wife a “loser” for properly submitting to her husband. In the Lord’s eyes, Christian wives are winners!

Chad Seybt is pastor of Morning Star Lutheran Church in Fairchild, Trinity Lutheran Church in Millston, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Melrose, and Peace with God Evangelical Lutheran Church in Onalaska; all in Wisconsin.