1 Peter 3:1-4

Second in a two part series! Part One is here: 2 Peter 2.

1 Peter 3:1-4

1 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.


This is one of those passages that has always made me come over all lefty and feminist. This time approaching the passage I was determined not to read in the same old way. When I read this time, I was struck by the idea of providing an example, rather than giving verbal admonishments — words were like the superficial decorations mentioned in verse 3, while conduct was like the gentle & quiet spirit of verse 4. I didn’t think of wife vs husband; I thought of myself being an example to my wife (and to myself).

Then I read the reading notes, which drew attention to the “even if some do not obey the word” in verse 1:

However, I think Peter might’ve had a specific group of women in mind when he was speaking these words —– wives who were married to unbelievers —– though every woman or man can learn from his teachings on submission here.

I am married to an unbeliever!

Going back again to read the passage, reading verses 3 & 4 broke a wave of upset and confusion over me:

3 Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing — 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.


3 Your beauty should lie, not in outward adornment — braiding the hair, wearing gold ornaments, or dressing up in fine clothes — 4 but in the inmost self, with its imperishable quality of a gentle, quiet spirit, which is of high value on the sight of God.


I didn’t realise it at the time, but each time I returned to the text I was reading it more and more “as” the wife. And then I hit the end of verse 3: “the putting on of clothing”; the REB actually says “dressing up” which is the phrase I use on this blog.

My thinking (if you can call it that – emoting) went like this:

“… the putting on of clothing”, “dressing up in fine clothes”

  • what kind of clothing would I be putting on, as a wife? That is the clothing I’d like to be putting on;
  • the language “the putting on” seems to focus on the activity itself: stepping into the “fine clothes”, and the relief and safety I feel;

“Do not let your adorning be external”

  • for me these adornments are not external, they are carefully hidden and private, and associated with a secret (snowflake) “inmost self”

I don’t think I ended up with any message, but the reading I was constructing was so obviously at variance with any “correct” reading, I found it very upsetting — out of nowhere.

I think perhaps I was primed for something like this to happen as I’d been doing a lot of online “window shopping”: some business trips, and some wife & son absences, were coming up. (I didn’t buy anything in the end.)

Why do I want to recount all this here?

  • I was surprised and still am at how shocked and moved I was by this confrontation with Scripture.
  • The power and the shock only happened because I was reading the Scripture as part of a group.
  • The strength of this response shows me, I think, how this “dressing up” habit is much closer to my heart, more a part of me, than my other Bad Habits.
Next Post
Leave a comment


  1. There’s a lot to respond to here, David. There’s a lot that I believe is not even clear to you yet, therefore, certainly unclear to me. Not that you are looking to me for “clarity.” But I hope that I bring another perspective that can aid you in this journey of self- and God-discovery.

    Before I dive in, I want to say that I’m so grateful for your transparency here in this space and in the FB Bible study. That is a HUGE step in the right direction–in God’s direction. As you’ve said above, this habit has been a “secret” and I’d ad “delectable” (especially since I don’t know what you mean by “snowflake”) that you’ve missed because of the power it held in your life at one time. I still feel as if it holds power in your life now, no doubt. It’s just been weakened by your firm resistance at certain points along the way, as well as your willingness to grapple with God’s truths. Which is another amazing thing you are doing for yourself, David! Looking at this without the filters of your past is so important and beneficial to your spiritual growth and understanding. Kudos to you for those brave choices and actions!

    I also believe Scripture IS powerful, David! Hebrews 4:12 says as much, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Therefore it is able to reveal much more than you or I ever bargained for! In this case, I feel as if what you’ve shared here is a perfect example of that powerful and cutting impact. But at the same time, I also believe there is a spiritual battle going on in your heart/life, especially since I view your fetish as a spiritual stronghold, not to mention it reemerging the moment you drop your resistances to that temptation. To put it bluntly, this habit is an idol from your past that still holds a great sway on your mind and heart. I say that not to shame you. I’ve grappled with strongholds in my life as well–most, if not all, do. Some strongholds in my life are “stronger” than others. Some I’ve been able to weaken through my ongoing reliance on the Spirit and His refinement of my heart. But it is not an easy, “wish away” kind of problem you are dealing with. I’m certain you know that and seem to be at the very least bothered by that, based on what you’ve shared here.

    I also want to reassure you that this is normal, though not to be ignored or minimized. God wants to work with you on releasing that idol to Him. Also, as I mentioned above, demonic forces are pulling your mind in the other direction. Add in your own flesh nature, and you’ve got the makings of a three-way tug-of-war! But the good news is … God is stronger than any demon or human–even combined! Through Christ you already have the holiness you desire–as your ongoing and eternal position in Him. That doesn’t mean the Spirit isn’t continually working to refine you more into Christ’s image, as you yield to Him. The former is often referred to as “positional holiness” and the latter is called “personal” or “progressive holiness.” If you stick with my upcoming studies, first Galatians and then Hebrews, you will learn much more about those two doctrines.

    Back to this passage, I believe we can and should take a generalized view about submission. In Eph. 5:21, we’re told to submit to “one another.” And if the husband is to love the wife as Christ loved the church–giving His life for her (Eph. 5:28,29), then I believe husbands are being asked to lay down or submit in deeper and more profound ways than wives. The whole issue about “dressing up” is more a statement about vanity or making something more important (idol) than Christ who wants to develop a gentle and quiet spirit in all of us (men and women) when we yield to Him. In this context, I believe that “quiet” does not mean that a woman should not speak, but rather choose her words wisely, being sure to show respect and deference to her husband–just as he should do the same for her. The main issue in this passage, however (as you’ve already pointed out) is about not being a stumbling block to any unbeliever, but especially with our unbelieving mates. Again, in my opinion, that truth can be generalized to husbands as well as to wives.

    I’m so glad that you see the power of this passage on your heart being related to studying Scripture with others–“in a group.” There’s something powerful added to our personal experiences when we come together to “spur one another on” in our faith. God made us to need each other. He also uses us to help refine and support each other. And you are right, you probably wouldn’t have seen that nugget of truth without giving yourself to that worthwhile process.

    Back to the issue of your habit being “secret” … I see you as coming forward “out of the closet” in many ways and that is so encouraging. But to be free of these entanglements in your life, you will need to free yourself from the secretiveness you find so comforting. Rest assured, I will never pushing you to tell you wife about your habit, nor to come out as a Christian with her. Maybe I’ll encourage you, but never push you! ;-) After all, those are decisions that God will guide you in and give you the courage to do along your way. I’d just say, keep pushing forward with being open and honest about your feelings and your convictions in small and incremental ways with trustworthy people in your life.

    I’d love to dialogue more with you about the pull that this habit has on your heart, perhaps in an email rather than here. I wonder how and when this habit began in your life, as well as how the association to comfort began or developed. Don’t know that knowing those things will help you or me to understand it. And I am by no means an expert on dealing with a stronghold/fetish of your type. But I do know that the more we, as humans, talk about our innermost struggles with God and with other trusted believers, the more we loosen the grip of those struggles in our lives.

    You know that I’m praying for you and will add this reemergence of an old habit to my daily prayers for you. Keep on sharing and processing! It is good for the soul!

    • Dear Beth

      Thank you very much for your very thorough comment!

      I agree some history would be appropriate. I think I wrote something on this for an old blog. I’ll update that and post soon.

      > To put it bluntly, this habit is an idol from your past that still
      > holds a great sway on your mind and heart.

      That is fair. One question might be: to what extent does the idol need to be investigated, explained and transformed, and to what extent can it be allowed to fade away as I turn to other things? Ah yes, except it isn’t fading away.

      > God wants to work with you on releasing that idol to Him.

      I don’t know how I would do that, or even what it means, more than “stop doing it”.

      Praying, reading, studying, being together (even only online) with other Christians, and generally inhabiting this space, all help a lot. I am very grateful for you, and all the other people out here who have shown me such kindness and friendship.


  1. 2 Peter 2 | Luke 7:39

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.