Peter does not promote the idea that a wife ought to respect her husband’s bad behavior, nor that she must go along with his sin. Peter would never instruct a wife to accept the evil in which her husband is engaged.
Likewise, those familiar with the story of Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts (5:1-11) will recall that Peter confronted Sapphira for going along with her husband’s wicked plan to lie against the church and the Holy Spirit. Peter would never have said to Sapphira, “Thanks for respecting your husband by respecting his wicked choice and going along with his iniquity.” Instead, she lost her life. Peter does not view a respectful attitude and words to mean giving a husband license to do whatever he wishes and that a wife ought to participate.
Instead, Peter calls wives to win their disobedient husbands with “respectful behavior” which means drawing a line in the sand but never rudely, disdainfully, or contemptuously.
Is this fair to a wife? No. Does this work? Peter tells us that if anything will win a disobedient husband, her respectful behavior influences his heart.
Listen to this wife:
- “I have been treating Chris as respectfully as I can, and I have asked the Lord to work all contempt out of my body language, facial features and tone of voice, and to work respect in. I am doing my best to win him back without a word… I am pleasant to him… Not always an easy thing considering all that has happened… But I know God has a plan, and this unfamiliar commandment to unconditionally respect my husband is playing a huge part of it. Is it working? Well, Chris finds little ways to serve me, whether it’s a little chore around the house when he visits, or purchasing items for the house without my asking him to, or giving me extra money for no apparent reason. This week he’s offered to finish a long overdue renovation project for me, and he’s asked me to accompany him and the children out for dinner this Tuesday. He always brings Tim Horton’s coffee for me when he comes, and in the evenings that he is here, he stays for an hour or two to talk to me after the children go to bed… I would chance to say that once Chris does find the Lord again, he will likely come home. That’s my prayer and hope.”
Simply stated, when a husband is unrespectable God reveals that her contemptuous and disrespectful demeanor will not win his heart.
Though respectful behavior does not guarantee winning him, disrespectful behavior pretty much closes the door on winning a husband’s heart. No human being responds to contempt.