God’s Favor Toward His and Her Submission, Part 2: God’s Favor to Husbands
In part 1, we explained how the Bible’s command for a wife to submit to her husband actually means that she is to submit to his need for respect. We then shared one woman’s story about how when she began doing this, she found out what 1 Peter 3 means about “finding favor” with God. What about husbands who submit to God’s plan to love their wives? Do they also find God’s favor?
Yes, and this is especially true during a conflict when a wife shows disrespect (Ephesians 5:21, 25, 33). Remember, “When you do what is right and suffer for it” and “you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:18-20).
But, note what Peter specifically calls husbands to do: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
Many strong, talented women balk at the word “weaker” and miss the fact that the phrase “in the same way” outlines patterns for submission. In the section from 1 Peter 2:13–3:7, Peter addresses three relationships that require submission: citizens to government, servants to masters, and wives to husbands.
Then, when he addresses husbands in 1 Peter 3:7, Peter uses the phrase “in the same way.” In the same way as citizens, servants, and wives are to submit, so husbands are to submit. How are they to do this? A husband submits by loving his wife (Ephesians 5:21, 25), understanding his wife, and honoring his wife so that she may enjoy the God-given status of being “a fellow heir of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).
What is the reward for the husband who submits to love his wife in this way? According to 1 Peter 3:7, God will answer his prayers. Talk about God's favor!
Listen to this story of a husband we will call Tim, who sought after his adulterous wife and worked to win her back with love much like Hosea in the Old Testament (Hosea 3:1). Though Tim owns that his lack of love for his wife contributed to her unfaithfulness, he found God’s favor when he submitted to her need for his love.
About once or twice a year we'd have a big argument where she would give me the laundry list of all the things I was doing wrong and ask why I hated her. I was always surprised—I thought I loved her very much. By biting the bullet and not letting her emasculating behaviors toward me affect me, I thought I was being the bigger, better man. In reality, I was the king of the stonewall. The only time I would show her any tenderness at all was when I wanted to have sex . . . which was constantly . . . so I thought I was showing love on a regular basis. She became desperate for me to love her, which I thought I did. Only now do I realize that my behavior was telling her just the opposite.
By God’s grace several things happened that helped turn this marriage around. The first was that Tim “came to understand that [his] wife had been having an affair for a couple of months.” As he says, “This rocked my world. It never occurred to me that she would ever cheat on me. This devastated me.”
The next thing that intervened in their marital crisis was a visit to the in-laws where Tim discovered a copy of my book Love & Respect sitting on the table. Through the book, Tim says that he came to realize, “I had failed in my greatest task—to love my wife as Christ loves the church. Never before in our marriage had I seen how my behavior was affecting my wife.” Looking back, he can now see that he never believed his wife when she said things like, “Why do you hate me?” Because he had never said those words to her in his life, he thought she must be “crazy.”
After reading the book, many of Tim’s perspectives were altered. He says, “I now see how my stonewalling and my hard and closed-off heart gave her exactly that message. I was selfish, hard-hearted, and closed.” Once he realized this, he says,
I hit my knees and begged God for the grace to change and the grace to forgive her. And boy did He ever grant that. I've never understood the idea of “the fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much” until that moment. I prayed, and the Lord answered my prayers. The wall of stone around my heart was crushed and broken. Armed with the knowledge from your book, I began to love my wife the way I should have been doing for the last ten years.
Though Tim’s wife had decided to leave because “she just couldn't take it anymore,” he won her back by his submission to love her even though both had been deeply hurt. He told me, “I have learned to love by serving. For example, my wife and I have started cooking together, and it's one of the best parts of our day. Not only have I been open and soft-hearted with her, but she has been a completely different person towards me. I see now how my behavior affected her.”
God favors the husband who humbles himself like this. Submitting to his wife’s need for love elevates a man in his home. God will hear such a man and work great things in his life and the life of his wife. So, husbands, when you think of submission, think of God’s favor!
Questions to Consider
- What do you think it means to “live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker”? Is this more a statement on the wife’s physical ability or on how her husband is to love her?
- How have you shown your wife honor, as 1 Peter commands? In what ways could you begin doing a better job of that now?
- The turning point for Tim came when he realized how his behavior was affecting his wife, to the point of even pushing her to adultery. How is your behavior, negatively or positively, affecting your spouse?
- Emerson wrote, “Submitting to his wife’s need for love elevates a man in his home.” Though this seems like a contradiction, how does this work? Why do we often try elevating ourselves in our home by becoming more authoritative? How does this usually work out?