Biblical Femininity: A Powerful Force week 3 October 29, 2017
This morning, we’re continuing a sermon series called “A Powerful Force,” in which we’re considering a biblical view of femininity. The goal of this sermon series is to interact with, interpret, and apply Scripture as it deals with femininity or womanhood. And a secondary goal is that our ladies and young ladies would have new or increased clarity, gratitude, and confidence.
Clarity – that you would clearly understand who you are as a woman and what you have been designed for. Gratitude – that you’d be grateful for who you are what you’ve been designed for. And confidence – that you’d feel equipped and inspired to do what God has called you to do.
The Bible has been our textbook and, this morning, our primary text will be 1 Peter 3:1-6, and our subject will be biblical femininity in marriage. And then next week we’ll close out the series with biblical femininity and motherhood. Before I preach this sermon, we should pray together. Please bow your heads with me.
If you haven’t already, please open your Bibles to 1 Peter 3. If you’re using one of our church Bibles you’ll find that on page 657.
These sermons build on one another, and we’ve had two sermons before this one, so let me summarize where in the Bible we’ve been, and what we’ve learned. Our main passages have been Genesis 1 and 2, Proverbs 31, and 1 Corinthians 11, and here are some things we’ve learned:
We’ve learned that a woman is a created image-bearer of God. In fact, men and women are both created image-bearers of God, and so they are equal; yet they are distinct. God has made men and women very different, each to function in accordance with the purpose of God’s unique design, and to complement one another.
And when it comes to creation, (though this is not all a woman has been designed for), we’ve also learned that a woman has been built for help, for hard work, and for glory.
So that’s where’ve been so far. Then on Monday of this past week, I wrote a little blog, making two clarifications following last Sunday’s sermon. First, in regard to the authority of a husband over his wife, it is just that, authority of a husband over his wife, not men over women; And, the authority is an authority to love and serve, not boss and push around. And second, in regard to the call for a woman to be homeward oriented, that does not mean that a woman may never leave or work outside her home, but it does mean that any work outside the home must never lead to personal neglect of the home and the people in it.
Now, something you may not be aware of, but something you may find helpful, especially following more difficult sermons: On our website, under resources, we have a sermon page. There, you can find audio for all our sermons, as well as a copy of my sermon manuscript. That way you can go back and read exactly what I said and then take it critically to the Bible.
I have seven points today, and each of them begins with “A godly wife is,” and the first point, as far as I’m concerned, is the most important. Here it is:
- A godly wife is precious and worthy of praise.
A godly wife is precious, priceless, and valuable, which is why Proverbs 31:10 says “an excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” Men, if you happen to be married to one of these godly women you are among a very small minority (she’s rare and hard to find), and so you should be thanking God for his grace because Proverbs 18:22 says “he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor (or “grace”) from the Lord.”
But not only should you praise God for your wife, you should praise your wife. Listen to verses 28-31 of Proverbs 31: “28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: (How does he praise her? What does he say to her?) 29 ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ (He says “You’re the best”) 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” There is an application for our blessed husbands this morning. If you have a godly wife you better be praising her.
Now, notice, I did not say “a wife is precious and worthy of praise.” Unfortunately that’s not the case. “A godly wife is precious and worthy of praise.” A woman who marries does not automatically become a crown and a jewel, and she is not to be praised because of her position as wife, but because she (according to Proverbs 31:30) “fears the Lord.” This leads to our second point.
- A godly wife is something you must become.
Married, or to-be-married women, you have to think about what kind of wife you want to be. You can be a godly wife, or an ungodly wife. But to be a godly wife is not just something that will happen to you, it is something you must become, and it will be very hard work. If you don’t work at this, you will not be “the crown of your husband,” you’ll be the second half of Proverbs 12:4, you’ll be “like rottenness in his bones.”
Some wives are quarrelsome; they pick fights, they are like (Proverbs 27:15 says) “a continual dripping on a rainy day.” According to Proverbs 14:1 an ungodly woman tears down her home with her own hands. Proverbs 25:24 says “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife,” and Proverbs 21:19 says “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.” In other words, while Genesis said it is not good for a man to be alone, being alone is better than being with a woman like this.
A godly wife, (who is precious and worthy of praise), is something you must become.
- A godly wife is the glory of her husband.
1 Corinthians 11:7, “but woman is the glory of man.” She is the lovely one in the marriage. She is beauty and she beautifies, and she can do this in a million different ways. She is translating what they believe into something you can see, taste, and hear.
They say “God is good,” and then you come into their house and it smells like cookies (fresh baked or a scentsy; doesn’t matter; that smell preaches). N.D. Wilson calls this a “persuasive force – a sort of aesthetic affirmation and enticement to believe what is being said.”
Ladies, we said, cultivate beauty within and without and around you. God is gracious, and beautiful, and kind, and mighty, and pure, and attractive – preach this through aesthetics; display the infinite beauty and value of God.
- A godly wife is a help to her husband.
In Genesis 2:18 God said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” We see this in Proverbs 31v12: “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” And so, verse 11, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” He has confidence in his wife because she does him good; she helps him, not hinders him.
So ladies, how should you help your husband? Many women don’t bother to ask that; they assume they know how to be helpful. But many of them, if they were to ask their husbands “am I helpful?”, and if their husbands were to be honest, they would say “not so much.” Don’t look at him now. And don’t ask him this on the way home.
Okay, the last three points are going to give you an overview of how to help, and we’ll spend more time on the next one than any other point this morning.
- A godly wife is in submission to her husband.
We’ll spend more time on this because this submission gets a bad wrap. It’s misunderstood and so then it’s resisted. Let me show you it in Scripture, then clarify what it is not, then define what it is, then show you why it’s so good and beautiful.
A wife’s submission to her husband in the Bible (three texts):
1 Peter 3:1 “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands,” … And then down in verse 5: “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands.”
Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” And then down in verse 24: ”Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
And finally, Titus 2:4-5 “…train the young women to… (v5) be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”
What submission is not.
There are many things I could say here, but let me just say a couple.
Submission is not silence. A helpful wife speaks. Now her words, according to Proverbs 31:26, to anyone, should be governed by a “law of kindness,” but a helpful wife speaks up to her husband; she will disagree with her husband and say so. She will challenge him. She will call him out. She will offer contrary views. There is a way to do it, which we’ll get to in our next point, but she does it.
Submission is not giving in to every demand. It is not being a doormat. Submission is not Giving up any court of appeal outside your marriage. There is no absolute authority in this world. If the authority is rotten she should seek help and be helped (and not necessarily in that order) from her father, grandfather, brothers, friends, and if not them, elders of her church.
So what is it?
A wife’s submission to her husband (remember, not submission to men in general) is an attitude that affirms the leadership of her husband. Submission is an attitude that affirms the leadership of your husband. It’s not just an attitude of course; it works its way out into behavior, but it begins in the heart.
A wise wife wants her husband to lead. She prays for her husband to lead. She encourages her husband to lead. A godly wife wants her husband to initiate. She wants him to make a plan. She wants him to take responsibility. She wants him to know where he’s going and where the family is going. It is a leadership-affirming disposition.
Now ladies, be mindful of this, this will not be your natural instinct. Your natural instinct will be to lead your husband, either actively or passively. “I’m find following him as long as leads where I want him to go.” That is actually a sinful instinct that has been around since the fall. Remember, after Adam and Eve sinned, God came to Eve and said, in Genesis 3:16 “your desire shall be for your husband, but he shall rule over you.” This is not a desire for romance, but for rule. In fact, it is the same word used the describe sin’s desire to rule over Cain in 4:7. So this will be difficult, but nevertheless, it is your responsibility in your marriage.
The beauty and glory of a wife’s submission to her husband.
This kind of submission to a sinful husband is only possible if you have a great God and faith in him.
This is connected to point three – “a godly wife is the glory of her husband.” A godly wife’s submission to her husband is the most glorious thing she does. If anything within marriage displays the infinite beauty and value of God, it is a wife’s submission to her husband. And that is because this kind of submission to a sinful husband is only possible if you have a great God and faith in him.
Listen closely to 1 Peter 3:1-6
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
So within this godly woman is something beautiful. Glory. It’s something that was within Sarah. And it is a gentle and quiet spirit – that means a soul that is at rest in God. And that rest in God shows itself, displays itself, through a wife’s submission to her husband.
Sarah’s submission to sinful Abraham displays to the world (and to God and angels and demons) that God is so good and so satisfying that she can willingly submit to an imperfect man.
Submission is lovely, it is not ugly. A wife’s submission to her imperfect husband is overflow from her faith and trust in God, and it’s beautiful. Peter calls it adornment, and it’s the kind of adornment a wife should primarily pursue.
By the way, if you’ll remember, in Philippians 2:6-11, it is Christ’s submission to God the Father, that is so glorious. Willing submission to your husband, who is your equal, is glorious like Christ’s submission to God the Father, who is his equal.
Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- A godly wife respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:33 says “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” And 1 Peter 3:2 says “…when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
It’s interesting, in the Ephesians 5 passage, the husbands are called to love their wives, and the wives are called to respect their husbands. Husbands are not called to respect their wives, and wives are not called to love their husbands. We of course should love AND respect one another, but this emphasis means something – ladies – this is something you must give your husbands – respect. He will not be as helped by your love as he will by your respect.
And think of it this way – Respect is the sound submission makes. Submission enfleshed is respect. Submission manifested is respect. Incidentally, and this is very important, ladies who are not yet married, marry a man you can respect. (not love or repair)
This comes out in the way you speak to your husband, and especially the way you speak about him to others, especially including your children and your friends. Do you sound respectful? Do you sound grateful?
Some woman might say this: “I refuse to respect him until he’s respectable.” “I can’t do this; it would feel like lying; I would feel like a hypocrite; it would be disingenuous; it’s a matter of integrity for me.”
Listen, even if he’s not the most respectable husband, he should be respected by his wife. He should be respected because if you do that (1) you’re obeying God and (2) a wife rendering respect to an unrespectable husband is God’s means of making him respectable.
1 Peter 3:1-2 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
Remember, this is different than saying “respect your husband because he deserves it.” This is about obedience to God, not giving your husband what he deserves. Isn’t it true that sometimes you don’t have a very lovely and loveable attitude? Don’t you want your husband to love you unconditionally? You should.
So obviously don’t make things up, but find things to respect in your husband, and respect him, verbally. Maybe start with “I’m so thankful you use a fork when you eat.”
- A godly wife manages her household well.
1 Timothy 5:14 “So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.” Titus 2:4 says the same thing.
The word used for “manage household” actually means despot or ruler. Literally, she is the ruler of the home, the lady (lord) of the house, the mistress (master) of the home.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
The husband is the head of the home; and he has authority over the home, but the wise husband delegates authority of and in the home to his wife, and submits himself to it. This is exactly where the Proverbs 31 husband has confidence (or trust) in his wife. Proverbs 31:11. If he is the head of the home, she is the chief executive officer. Her desires have the force of law and should be obeyed by all. Rules like:
“Keep your shoes off the couch.”
“Don’t jump on the couch.”
“Come to the dinner table with a shirt on.”
“Don’t reach across someone for food.”
“Don’t leave your clothes or wet towels on the floor.”
“Don’t season or sauce your food until you’ve tasted it.”
“napkin in lap.”
In conclusion, here’s a quick summary of the points I’ve made. A godly wife is precious and worthy of praise. A godly wife is something you must become. A godly wife is the glory of her husband. A godly wife is a help to her husband. A godly wife is in submission to her husband. A godly wife respects her husband. And finally, a godly wife manages her household well.
Keep in mind point number two, “a godly wife is something you must become.” Don’t be discouraged if you see placed where you need to grow. That’s a good thing. Set your mind and heart to it. And pray for the grace to do it.