1 Peter 3:1-7
Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word…
I. MARRIAGE IS A DIVINE INSTITUTION, AND OUGHT TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY A RELIGIOUS CEREMONY.
1. The original institution might alone suffice to satisfy our minds of this. It is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocency.
2. Nor can it have escaped your notice that marriage was at all times treated as a religious ceremony.
3. Moreover, I cannot conceive of anyone possessed of godly feeling within him who can contemplate a rite so instituted of God as otherwise than religious.
4. And next I ask, How can that be a mere civil contract which we are so plainly taught in the Bible is distinctly figurative of Christ's love for His spouse the Church.
II. MARRIAGE WAS INTENDED TO BE INDISSOLUBLE, AND THE REVERSAL OF THIS IS A PROOF OF OUR DEGRADATION BY SIN.
1. The original appointment implies nothing less than this.
2. Christ distinctly said that marriage was intended to be indissoluble (Matthew 19:3-9).
3. The figure of the spiritual union betwixt Christ and His Church wholly fails if marriage was not intended to be indissoluble.
4. But if so, the question arises, "How conies a law of divorce in God's Word, or in our own laws?" To the former question the answer is simply in the words of Christ, "It was not so from the beginning, but Moses, for the hardness of your hearts, suffered this law to be given." "And this," says the Fulfiller of all righteous law, "is the one only cause of divorce being ever permitted among you: it was not so from the beginning."
III. ATTENTION TO THE TEXT WOULD DO MUCH TO RENDER MARRIAGE WHAT IT WAS ORIGINALLY INTENDED TO BE.
1. St. Peter tells you to regard yourselves as "heirs together of the grace of life." Marriage is for this life, and in heaven they "neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God." And yet St. Peter introduces this reference to eternal life in connection with it; and it would be hard to say why he does so, unless it be that a right fulfilment of that condition is a great help in Christianity between man and wife. But this becomes quite certain, if only you will observe one word in the text. St. Peter does not call you "heirs of the grace of life," but "heirs together of the grace of life." This plainly asserts that in religious matters husband and wife are intended to be helps-meet for one another — but who will think of this that recognises marriage as a legal ceremony? — that they are not to live a life through with, perhaps, much confiding love and esteem in other matters, but without any care and interest whatsoever in each other's future state.
2. One other remark here must suffice; it is on the importance of praying together. How many unhappy wives and miserable husbands would be rendered blessed if only they prayed together as "heirs together of the grace of life"! Who could rise to quarrel that knelt to pray?
Parallel VersesKJV: Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;