I hope I was up to the challenge last Sunday of teaching I Peter 3:1-7 to the Singles Class at church. I took an admittedly unusual approach. I asked the men what they thought women wanted in a man. I asked the women what they thought men wanted in a woman. Then I asked the women what they really wanted in a man ... and the men what they really wanted in a woman. We charted it all on the whiteboard.
And I proposed - using Ephesians 5:21-33 as Paul's parallel take on the subject - that what both apostles were calling for in these specific passages was NOT submission to authority (which Peter had already dealt with in chapter 2).
But they do call for Christ-like, sacrificial submission to the NEEDS of others.
We looked at the chart on the whiteboard.
Sure enough, the men craved respect. The women craved expression of love.
- Exactly what the apostles recommended giving.
I exercised my option to disagree with the text of the lesson in our handouts - this particular one written by my minister's brother-in-law. Though Promise Keepers and many others strongly advocate male authority in the home (and therefore in the church), I can't see that it is supported in these passages from Peter and Paul.
Rather, they are describing a change in the relationship between man and God through Christ. In the old relationship, there were two: the Ruler and the ruled. In the new relationship, there is ONE BODY with a Head, which is Christ. He gave up everything to establish that relationship; to submit to our needs.
The instructions given by the Head are not for the sake of authority, but for the benefit of the rest of the body, His bride: His followers.
They are few and simple.
Love the Lord your God with everything in you. Love others as yourself.