It is amazing how easy it is for us to make a mountain over a mole hill. It is no different with the Word of God. We often major on the minor things instead of keeping everything in the context in which it is written. The beginning of 1 Peter 3 is just such a passage that people have used to make into doctrine. I grew up at a time when women were frowned down on if they paid for a fancy hair cut, wore jewelry, or, dare I say, wore make up. Now I am a man who prefers the natural beauty of a woman's face but if a lady decides that a bit of make up is helpful then I have no problem with it because the Bible certainly does not speak against it. Peter wrote:
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (1 Peter 3:1-2)
This is Peter's point in this passage that should not be lost among his supporting statements and is the reason I am isolating it like this. When a woman truly loves her husband she shows it with love and respect and, according to God's plan, this is revealed in her attitude, which includes healthy submission. Many women today have a problem with this because they believe it means complete obedience without argument. That's not what a marriage is. Any husband worth his salt is going to listen to his wife's advice; he would have to be crazy not to. Families are important and decision need to be made with both perspectives in mind. After receiving advice from his wife, a husband will weigh everything and then make a decision, and take the blame if it is wrong. Now the point Peter is about to emphasize is the real beauty of a woman. He could have been writing a Dove commercial:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
Peter did not say women can not or should not wear jewelry, fine clothes or have the latest hair style. What Peter has said here is that these things are not the true beauty of a woman because the beauty of a woman is not found in her outward appearance. God is not concerned with your outward appearance one way or another; his concern has always been, will always be the heart. Let us put the emphasis where it belongs here, and it does not belong on the negative. Women can wear whatever they want, keeping in mind modesty, as long as they understand that their true beauty comes from their inner self. I think it is worth re-reading that verse:
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
Incredible words, "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit". It is amazing how the doctrine of a woman's appearance is still prevalent in the Church today. It is a result of people making mountains out of mole hills, of putting the emphasize on the negative instead of the positive; of turning a beautiful passage into something ugly. Wear what you want but recognize those things do not make you beautiful in the way God desires you to be beautiful:
For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. (1 Peter 3:5-6)
Why is Peter referring to fear? Back then was no different than it is today. It remains a fearful thing to submit, to give control over to someone else. Just as it is important that women understand what true beauty is, it is important for men to understand what true strength is. It is the reason why marriage should not be entered into lightly. Women need to take the time to chose a partner with the character of Jesus and trust God with the whole control issue. If women do not understand that it is God they are trusting and not their husband then fear will enter in and cause division. There is a major thing here for men as well but we will deal with that tomorrow.
The real issue in this passage is not what women wear but the issue of Godly character and a sign of that character is the willingness to be submitted to the husband. Often times it is not an easy task so it is good to consider what Peter wrote previously about submitting even when it is something that is not beneficial to us. Often times our suffering produces opportunities of salvation for others. Submission is one of the signs of the true beauty of a woman, the beauty of the inner self, which is what our Father is developing in those women who love him above all else. Honestly, I do not believe our God is into fashion but he does produce beautiful children.