Nearly all of the instruction to husbands and wives in the New Testament tends to make modern Christians very uncomfortable. There is for example a cottage industry to explain away headship and submission in Ephesians 5:22-27. This cottage industry has built a veritable tower of babel consisting of mutually exclusive rationalizations for why the Apostle Paul can’t possibly have meant what he very clearly wrote.
This basic pattern of rationalizing away biblical instruction which doesn’t jibe with feminism is pervasive, but one verse in particular which troubles modern Christians is the Apostle Peter’s instruction to wives in 1 Pet 3:1-6. In fairness, the instructions in that verse not only go entirely against our modern sensibility of moxie-as-virtue, it also asks a great deal of Christian wives. Wives are instructed to respond to failing husbands with more submission, so that they might win their husband over without a word. This is the verse which blows Ephesians 5 rationalizers out of the water with their “wives only have to submit if their husband is loving them like Christ loves the Church” because it calls on wives to submit even to husbands who don’t believe/obey the word. While husbands are instructed in Ephesians 5 to actively lead their wives by washing them with the water of the word, wives are instructed 1 Pet 3 to let their silent submission and purity win over their wayward husband’s hearts.
But why exactly are modern Christians so uncomfortable with the instruction in 1 Pet 3:1-6? Is it because they lack faith that God’s instruction to wives is good and wise, or is it the shockingly anti moxie part of the message offending their feminist sensibilities? Clearly the answer is both, but there is a twist. We can see this by changing the instruction to wives in 1 Pet 3 into instruction to husbands and see how modern Christians respond. Imagine if Peter’s words were instead instructing husbands to:
- Submit to their wives as Sarah submitted to Abraham (calling him her lord).
- Focus on winning their wayward wives without a word, through their untiring demonstration of purity and submission.
With just this small modification to 1 Pet 3:1-6, we suddenly have scripture the ladies in your church and perhaps even your pastor can eagerly get behind. This is the kind of teaching modern Christians are thirsty for. All it took was a little twist, and these out of fashion words from the Bible are suddenly transformed from (modern Christian) turd-in-the-punchbowl to divinely inspired philosophy; unlike the distressing original, it is a message modern Christians never tire of sharing with both Christians and non Christians alike, especially whenever speaking to a husband who is experiencing marital difficulty.
Not only are modern Christians thoroughly enamored with this new improved version of Scripture, practically no one seems to have noticed the slight twisting required to make Christian marriage something to gush over. Don’t take my word for it; ask the men and women on any Christian online forum what they think about Fireproof, and the Love Dare and see what I mean.
They hated the Book, but they loved the movie.