Troublesome Topic: What if there Really Is a Vacuum of Leadership? 1 Peter 3

1 Peter 3:1



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wives, be subject

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to your own husbands so that, even if any refuse to obey the word, they will be won over without a word, by the conduct of their wives,


Just like in the previous examples, wives also should place themselves in a position under their husbands so that even if some husbands refuse to follow God’s word, they will be won over to following Christ without any need for preaching, arguing or condemning, but rather through the conduct they observe in their wives,

1 Peter 3:2


having witnessed your pure conduct in respect,

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when they observe your conduct that is free from ill intentions, anger or any other wrong attitude, and when that conduct is always carried out with proper respect [for the husband’s authority].


There are indeed cases where the husband and father is unwilling to even try to lead the family in anything. There are cases in which the husband and father is unwilling to lead in the spiritual realm but wants to try to lead in areas of everyday life. When is it right for the wife and mother to step in and lead, and what should that look like?

The key to this issue is that the wife and mother does need to step in sometimes, but it should always be done as a substitute leader, not as the new default leader.

What does that look like?

I think a wife should give the husband the opportunity to lead in every situation; if he refuses to take that opportunity, then she must step in as his substitute because we do not want children taking the role of leader of the home when they are still trying to learn what life is all about. If Dad is willing to lead in common ways but not in spiritual issues, then Mom should exercise leadership in spiritual issues only and even that should be done in ways that keep Dad in the loop of what is going on; nothing should be done without his knowledge. There may come times when an unsaved husband may tell his wife that he does not want her doing something in the spiritual realm, but because it is a key issue, she must politely refuse in order to follow the ultimate authority over her – God. An example of a key issue is if he asks her to get an abortion; that crosses the line and she must follow God’s will rather than her husband’s will. This should be done without arguing, and preferably with an explanation that goes something like this: “I want to respect your authority. I will follow your authority in every way I possibly can, but not when you clearly contradict God’s authority. In this situation you have put me in a position where I must choose whether to follow your authority or that of the authority that is over you – meaning God. I cannot follow you on this matter because your will is the opposite of God’s will. When you get on track with God on this issue, I will gladly return to following your lead in this matter.”

However, a wife needs to be very careful about how and when she takes action in this way. I believe it should only be done for the big things and especially when something will harm the children in the future. This is not a general, overarching permission to take over the leadership in all areas of life at home. This relates to very specific situations, and the husband can step back into that leadership role at any time.

A wife needs to realize it is a woman’s tendency to take control in every possible way and never give it back. Usually she does not do this for any nefarious reasons, but for the innocuous sounding reason of diminishing insecurity. However, even though her reasons seem innocent enough, according to the Bible, this is still wrong.

Ever since Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden, women have been tempted to take control and men have been tempted to become passive. Just because her husband is passive in some ways does not give the wife the right to take control in every way. She should encourage him in positive ways to become the man God designed him to be. Pestering and nagging him to step up is not positive encouragement. The best ways to encourage him are to show him respect in every way possible and to ask questions which give him the chance to make decisions. Sometimes you will need to give him time to make those decisions; pressure to decide quickly will likely make him back away from leading even more.

If he is not a believer, she should let him lead in every way that does not put the kids at jeopardy or does not violate a clear teaching of Scripture.

If he is mean to her or makes unreasonable demands of her, she should still follow his lead.

If he refuses to let her go to church, it is usually best for her to follow his demands than to fight against him. She can get spiritual nourishment in other ways, but she does not want to do irreparable damage to her marriage relationship. By showing respect for his authority in every possible way, she will be taking ammunition away from him that otherwise he would use against her and against God.

It is precisely the showing of respect that has the potential to win her husband to the faith. It is not her preaching at him, dragging him to church, or telling him how terrible he is; it is respect.

If following his leadership requires self-sacrifice and hardship, follow him, for that is what you are called to do. Actually all of us are called to a life of self-sacrifice all the time.

I know women who have suffered quietly and respectfully under the abuses of a husband who is not being what God intended a husband to be and those wives have acquired a sweet disposition due to their quiet suffering. Because they did not consider their own happiness and security the top priorities, they have found both of those things in an unexpected place. Doing the right thing is not easy but it is deeply rewarding.

I also know women who have looked for every opportunity to prove that their husbands do not deserve to lead in the home and have taken over the leadership role to make things happen as they desire. These wives have turned out to be anything but sweet; they are angry, explosive, critical, and overbearing. In their search for happiness and security, they have eliminated any chance of finding either. They have followed what is easiest and what is natural based on a fallen human nature only to find that the result is greater misery.

It is hard, very hard to be a selfless wife and endure the hardships caused by a husband that is not following God’s plan for the home. She must set aside what she wants at every turn.

It is also hard, very hard to be a selfless husband and endure the weight of responsibility caused by being the kind of leader of the home that God designed. He must set aside what he wants at every turn.

When both husband and wife act selflessly, the home will be a peaceful, happy, secure place; when either one of them or both of them seek to satisfy self, the home is a joyless, miserable, insecure place and more selfish decisions make it even worse.

The next lesson is: Don’t Be a Fake 1 Peter 3



“Likewise” refers to the fact that Peter has just talked about how everyone should submit to the authority of political rulers (2:13-17), that slaves should submit to the authority of their masters and endure hardship in a way that shows they are trying to follow God (2:18-20), and that all believers in Jesus should follow His example of suffering quietly, peacefully, and with trust in God (2:21-25). The second half of chapter two and all of chapter three are focused on how people in difficult situations can win others over by suffering hardship with a good attitude. According to this passage, the key element of this good attitude is proper respect for authority, even when that authority may be used incorrectly. The point being made is that respect for authority will go further to win over to the gospel those that are abusing their authority than any other single thing a believer can do. It does not make the abuse good, right, or proper, that is not the point here nor should it be interpreted in that way.


This is a compound word coming from “under” and “arrange,” and it is in a middle or passive form, thus it means “I place myself in a position under someone else.”


“in respect” must refer to a wife showing proper respect to her husband’s authority, for the context of this verse does not allow any other interpretation. The word used her actually means “fear,” but it is not as negative as our word fear. Yes, it included an understanding of consequences if someone disobeyed an authority figure, but it also included showing proper respect for that authority at all times, apart from fear of being punished. Its meaning was broad and covered everything related to the proper set of responses to someone in authority.