New commenter Punditius* proposes that biblical submission is an artifact of the times in which the New Testament was written:
As a man in a marriage to a woman (sigh, that has to be said these days), both much better than I deserve, I have to say that I have trouble following this notion that a woman must be submissive to her husband. My own experience is that what is required of both husband and wife is good faith in each other’s intentions. The idea of “submissiveness” strikes me as an artifact of the society Christianity was rooted in, and I suspect that as with much of what Jesus and his disciples said, it contains a truth that is deeper than the superficial seeming. There is something else going on here, covered up by a veneer of ancient custom. I confess that I don’t know what it is. Still working on that.
The problem with the “rooted in the times” theory is the texts are very specific that this is eternal. In 1 Pet 3:3-5 Peter tells us wives should be submissive because this is beautiful to God:
3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands,
God isn’t influenced by our fashion trends. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Clothes, hairstyles, and jewelry are all subject to the whim of fashion; Peter is telling Christian women to not get caught up in the fashion of the day and instead focus on what is eternal.
Then in the next verse (6), Peter tells us this is timeless once again by tying this back to Genesis and the original covenant with Abraham:
6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
There are other problems with this theory, including Paul’s explanation of the husband-wife relationship being a mirror to the relationship between Christ and the Church in Ephesians.
What is undeniable is that someone is/was being influenced by their times. The only question is who. It is either God, Peter, and Paul, who were following the fashion of the day and overlooking what is eternally true, or us who are overlooking what is eternal because we are blinded by the customs of our time.
*Welcome Punditius, and welcome Instapundit readers who were referred to the previous post.