1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. 1 Peter 3:1-6
I would suspect most pastors skip this passage concerning wives these days. If they do preach it, it’s on tiptoes. But they should wade in, as Peter puts it, “without being frightened by fear,” since this is a brilliant strategy that only a woman could put off. Submissiveness as a slave has just been taught, and Peter says, “in the same way” to wives, so we get the idea. But he has something up his sleeve; having to deal with a strictly patriarchal society. He’s giving women a shrewd way to get their way. The given is that these wives love Jesus and want to do right. The strategy is double-pronged.
When I read the Bible’s descriptions of women, it’s obvious the books were written by men. Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Esther, Ruth, for example, are either directly described as beautiful, or there’s a strong indication that they were quite compelling. Peter was married, so being honest, he wasn’t ready to dispense with all the accoutrements of a woman. God’s women have curb appeal.
But to win over a yet saved husband, there’d need to be more, and he knew that it’s hard to resist both stunning outward beauty, and a “gentle and quiet spirit.” Throw in chastity and respectful behavior and a woman to a man will be irresistible, as will the message of God’s love.
So stop being afraid of the word, “submit.” Peter whispers in the ears of all women, “do this, trust me.” It must have worked on him, and he was one potentially tough guy to live with.