Monday, March 12, 2012

Ergo, 1 Peter 3:1-7

This is the second post that I will attempt to translate a passage that discusses the roles of men and women in light of my posts entitled, "Why Boys Like Guns," and "Why Girls Like Playing House." For some reason, whenever people debate this issue, Peter goes unmentioned. Yet, he has probably one of the most important things to say about the issue of gender roles in terms of how to respond to abuse (along with one of the strongest commands and condemnations against abuse), although Paul has words for this as well. Maybe people feel better disagreeing with Paul than Peter, so they bring up Paul more? I don't know. In any case, it's difficult to break 1 Peter up, as the following passage has a lot of context in the sufferings and submissive role that Christ endured in the world as our example; but I had to break it somewhere. So, 1 Peter 3:1-7:

 In the same way, wives, be in submission to your own husbands so that even if any [of them] are disobedient to the word, through the manner of life of their wives, they may be won over without verbal coercion, as they observe your pure manner of life in recognition of their authority. 
Let your life be about, not external appearances (e.g., braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses), but the hidden woman of the heart, with the immortal quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is considered "high class" in the presence of God.  
For, in this same way, the holy women, who also directed their hope toward God, used to adorn themselves by being in submission to their own husbands---For example, Sarah, whose children you have become by doing what is right and not being afraid of what may come as a result, obeyed Abraham, calling him "lord." 
Husbands, likewise, live together with [your wives] in accordance with the knowledge that she is physically weaker in her feminine role; and show her respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be prevented [from being heard].

I'm just going to comment on a couple things here, and if anyone has a question about the translation, feel free to ask.

I've already discussed much of the words used when I did the "Ergo, Ephesians 5:21-33" post: the middle/passive uJpotassovmenai, the nature of the word fovbo" as meaning a recognition of authority rather than a giving of authority in terms of respect, that these instructions are given to the wife in regard to her own husband and to the husband in regard to his own wife, etc.
The phrase a[neu lovgou kerdhqhvsonta literally means "without a word they will be won." The idea here is that authority figures are won to Christ by conduct that first gains a hearing, and then by the word that either has been or will be spoken once that hearing has been granted. This pattern is the same for slaves and masters, as well as hostile governments (let all activist Christians stand up and take notice) in the preceding verses, and we might also apply it to children who want to see their unbelieving parents saved.
Peter then contrasts women who want to be considered high class and respectable by presenting themselves as such in the way that they dress and adorn their bodies with jewelry and Christian women who seek their "high class" status before God by becoming a gentle and quiet spirit (i.e., someone who has control of herself and doesn't need to talk about herself or continually verbalize her discontent to get the things that she wants in life). Instead, holy women, as they have in the past (using Sarah as an example), gain their adornment (i.e., what makes them look sophisticated and "high class") by yielding to/being under the direction of their own husbands.
The command to husbands is one of the most frightening in all of Scripture. Here, Peter tells them to live together with their wives in accordance with the fact that they are physically weaker in the role that she has been given as a woman. The phrase wJ" ajsqenestevrw/ skeuvei tw'/ gunaikeiv "as in a weak vessel in the womanhood" simply refers to the fact that her role is not that of the man's, and thus, she is given a different body for those purposes than he is. As such, he is to be mindful of her difference from him in terms of her physical strength. 
Even though her role is different than his, however, he is to treat her as a fellow heir (lit. one who inherits along with him) the grace of life. Peter lifts her to the status of a son, who inherits his father's possessions. He then goes on to tell husbands that they are to ajponevmonte" timhVn "show respect" for her (this is true "respect" in the sense of an honor given to someone who will be lifted up as one who is extremely important).
If he fails to both acknowledge her role as a woman so as to abuse her instead, and/or he fails to acknowledge her status as a fellow heir to the grace of life by showing her honor and respect, HIS PRAYERS WILL BE HINDERED!
If you're not aware of what that means, it means that God will cut you off. If you want to abuse, see how much life abuses you at the point when God turns you over to the demonic powers that want to bring you to ruin. You have no escape from them, having burned the bridge between yourself and God. But it is not only the sin of commission (i.e., abuse), but the sin of omission (i.e., not showing the proper respect for her as a son of God, who will inherit all things) that brings about this judgment. Here, Peter sets up what I believe is a type of merism, where the two opposites are contrasted in order to convey the whole. What this means is that she is not only to not be physically abused (as that to which the passage literally alludes), but she is to be given full honor and respect as one of the sons of God who will inherit God's gift of life and all that goes with it. Hence, she is not to be abused AT ALL, but instead to be given complete respect/honor. And if this is not done, the husband better get to repenting and begin to do it, or he might as well string two verses out of context and apply them to himself: "Judas went out and hanged himself." "Go thou and do likewise." I cannot overstate this. Being cut off from God hearing your prayers is the end. It is something the Bible presents as God's final judgment upon someone, and it leads to their complete and utter ruin. 
Hence, if the man is the prince, although he is lord of the princess, she is still a daughter of the King, who rules them both, loves His daughter and lifts her to the same status in eternity as He does His Son, and will not let any mistreatment of her go by without severe consequences. Husbands, beware. Your role has been given to you to protect her, not to be her destroyer. Read Ephesians 5:21-33 again if you think otherwise. Our roles exist for good, not for evil, and it is a crime against God Himself to treat them as otherwise.


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