I Peter 2:20 – 3:9 calls us to hope and trust in God instead of giving way to fear and self-protection in relationships.
(This passage has sometimes been misunderstood to encourage sin or domestic abuse. Those interpretations are neither accurate nor biblical. All sin and abuse are wrong and are not part of God’s plan for any marriage. I hope to address the issue of abuse in a future post, but today I want to consider what this passage says to a person in a difficult, but not abusive, marriage.)
We were created by God to uniquely reflect God’s image. But sin messed that up and left our relationships broken. Our perfect relationship with God was replaced with shame and fear, and our perfect relationships with each other were replaced with blame and self-protection. God, however, didn’t leave us without hope. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and carried our sins in his own body to the cross where he died (with our sin in him) so that our sinful brokenness could be healed by his wounds.
Peter says that when Jesus suffered mistreatment, he “kept entrusting himself to him who judges righteously.” And Peter instructs both wives and husbands to follow Jesus’ example by acting “in the same way” he did. Jesus didn’t revile when he was reviled because he trusted in God’s justice. We have a hard time believing God is just when God doesn’t instantly punish people who hurt us. We forget how patient God is with us. And we tend to return insult for insult instead of responding to insults with blessings.
We have a choice: We can follow Jesus’ example and entrust ourselves to God, or we can resolve to protect ourselves by attacking the other person with verbal threats and put-downs, attempting to manipulate and control them so they behave the way we want them to, or using superficial methods to attract the love and attention we desire.
Peter urges wives to respond to their husbands like the holy women of old. Because their hope was in God, they were able to make good choices that weren’t rooted in fear. They had calm, peaceful spirits rather than anxious ones because they were resting their hope in God’s loving power (Ps 62:11-12) instead of in their own ability to control their husbands.
Peter urges husbands to respond to their wives in the same way. Husbands are to entrust their needs to God as they spend time and energy studying their wives and learning to live with them in a way that demonstrates a true understanding of their unique perspectives and needs.
As we trust God, we will be freed from the need to protect and promote ourselves and will be able to bless each other with the gifts of effective prayer, relational harmony, sympathy, kindness, and mutual understanding. Peter says we were called to this so that we ourselves could inherit a blessing. I hope that you will also experience the blessings that come from continually entrusting yourself to God.