Husbands, live in understanding with your wives

1 Peter 3:7 – Husbands, live in understanding with your wives, by Rev. Colin Pretorius.

I recently heard about a young man who met a girl at uni. He didn’t know much about her but from what he could see in class, she was quite intelligent and self-assured – and it didn’t hurt that she was gorgeous too! Early one evening he got up the nerve to ask her out on a date and to his surprise she agreed. As they walked to the restaurant, he was impressed to hear that she had a black belt in karate. Suddenly someone jumped out from behind a bush, knife in hand and demanded their money. Guys, what would you have done? What should you have done? Let me tell you what the young man did … he turned to his date and said “Honey, he’s all yours!”…..Now we might say that’s fair enough, after all she was the one with the necessary skills to deck the robber, but that doesn’t seem quite right, does it? Chivalry has gone out the window to a very large extent, hasn’t it, par­tially because of the effects of the feminist move­ment and partially because men don’t really know today what they ought and ought not to do… I’ll let you think about this in your own time, but was turning this problem over to his date the honourable thing to do?

Why am I using this example? Well, brothers and sisters, this morning we are looking at 1 Peter 3:7, which outlines the role of the husband in marriage. The Apostle Peter has an unambiguous instruc­tion to husbands and he uses just one verse to lay it out. But before we get into that, let me just point out that we shouldn’t make a big deal – as some have tried to do – about the fact that Peter uses 6 verses to speak to wives and just 1 to husbands. He’s not letting the men get off scot-free, so to speak.[1] If you can remember from last week’s sermon on the first 6 verses of this passage, Peter was speaking to believing women, who in Roman times were supposed and expected to follow their husbands’ religions. They were in a disadvantaged po­si­tion and he would’ve wanted to make sure they understood what they had to do as Christian be­liev­ers – how and why they had to conduct themselves in a particular way: to win unbelieving hus­bands for Christ. And when he writes to the husbands, he’s not being a shrinking violet by just spend­ing one sentence on them – no, in fact this sentence is packed with instructions and also with theo­lo­gi­cal content. He tells them to live with their wives in an understanding way and to hon­our them. He doesn’t just leave it there, though, he also gives them a reason – do this, he says, because not only are your wives co-heirs with you of eternal life, but also do it so that your prayer life isn’t impeded. So he gives husbands two commands and a dual motivation. They are to live in

  • An understanding way (7a); and
  • An honouring way (7b); with
  • A twofold motivation (7c-d).

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on James and 1 & 2 Peter (SNTI; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 189.