Peter moves on from his discussion of Christian slaves and their masters in which he called upon slaves to be good and reliable workers who respect their masters for the sake of the Gospel, and now applies the same thinking to marriage.
Marriage is an interesting relationship: Two people love one another, live together and relate on multiple levels with each other… and they get to know each other for all of their faults, and all of their strengths. They see each other at their worst and at their best, and they have times of bliss and times of turmoil. Peter teaches that each is to put the other first.
He tells wives that they should submit to their husbands, as Paul says that wives should obey their husbands. Peter says that husbands should be considerate to and give respect to their wives. Paul says that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her. Even though some today would be critical of these comments, in truth, allowing for the fact that Peter and Paul wrote in a very different cultural context, the message is really the same: Each should put the other ahead of themselves. For one thing, this is a recipe for a happy marriage in most cases, for another reason, this is how we are supposed to treat everyone. It is how Jesus behaved toward everyone also.
Sadly, as in some other areas, there have been those who used Bible passages for selfish purposes at various points over the years, using selectively some of these injunctions to assert male dominance over women. People who deliberately misapply Scripture are called “false teachers” by the Scriptures, and in our time, I think that it is important that we not allow the sins of false teachers to sour God’s Word for us. The whole point of these passages is to demonstrate what Christ’s love looks like in action in various everyday situations. Oppressiveness toward one’s spouse can hardly be called the love of Christ. Putting the interests of the other person first, even when they are not being very lovable, is always Christ-like. Being abusive and then citing the Word to justify it is downright evil.
Putting others first, is very much like something Jesus said one day. It’s a rather famous statement, and I’ll bet you’ve heard it once or twice: Do unto others as you would they should do unto you. Yes, that’s it, the Golden Rule− That is how husbands and wives are supposed to behave toward each other. So, one cup of the Golden Rule, plus a teaspoon of forgiveness is a good recipe to begin a happy marriage.