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    “Biblical Womanhood”: What is a Woman?

    What a woman is. She is an image-bearer. It was the first day of a class I was teaching on the role of women in the home, church, and society. Driving in to the seminary where I teach, I thought through the material I planned to cover, and honestly I feared that some of what I’d prepared to say was too elementary for graduate-level students. Many of them were raised in church and have heard messages all their lives. Did they really need to hear again that Genesis 1:26–27 teaches that both male and female were made in the image of God? Nevertheless, I determined I’d better make sure. So I…

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    Weak and Weaker Vessels

    Having counseled the more vulnerable of the marriage partners, Peter briefly turns his attention to those with more social power—the husbands. He urges them as follows:  “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (3:7, ESV).  In the husbands’ instructions, Peter uses a comparative term to say the wife is the “weaker.” He does not say she is “weak,” but “weaker,” suggesting the husband, though stronger, is also weak. And indeed, females are physically weaker on average than men. They…

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    Why Peter Would NOT Want a Wife Today to Call Her Husband “Lord”

    In Peter’s instruction to wives with disobedient husbands, Sarah, one of the godly woman of old who hoped in God, is singled out as modeling virtue. Her “adornment,” as was true of that of the other holy women, manifested itself in submission to her husband. And according to Peter, in her submission Sarah goes so far as to call Abraham “lord.”   But strangely, the only time the Old Testament describes Sarah calling Abraham “lord” is in the context of an off-hand comment she makes in response to the revelation that she will become pregnant by him when they are quite old (Gen. 18:12). She scoffs and asks if she…

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    Peter to Wives: Put Off. Put On. Watch This.

    Instead of telling first-century wives to submit because they are inferior, as many believed at the time, Peter urges them to be submissive for a very different reason—so that their husbands might find true life (1 Peter 3:1). Peter encourages these wives to be subversive (keep worshiping Christ—which hubby may not like) in a cloak of respect (submit to your husband) so as to achieve a good end. Here is his rationale: In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as…

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    Is Peter Insulting Women? Part 2

    Go here for part I.  In the apostle Peter’s first epistle he writes some words that can trip up the twenty-first-century reader. Both his instruction to wives and to husbands can make us say, “Whoa! What?” After telling wives to have gentle, quiet spirits, Peter adds an example: “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear (1 Pet. 3:1–6). He goes on to tell the husbands to live with their wives “according to knowledge” because—and here’s the kicker—she is the “weaker vessel” (v. 7). Are today’s wives to call their husbands “master”? Are women…

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    Is Peter Insulting Women? (Part I)

    Was the apostle Peter a misogynist? In response to this question one writer said, “99% of people in his culture were—so sure.” If we take Peter’s words at face value, we might think so. In his first epistle he writes some instruction that can trip up the twenty-first-century reader. After telling slaves how to deal with unjust masters, he adds this word to the wives: In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.…

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    “Not with Braided Hair…Or Pearls”

    Ever wondered why Peter had a problem with pearls (1 Peter 3:3) and why both Peter and Paul took issue with braids? In 1 Timothy, Paul wrote, “I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness” (1 Tim 2:9–10). Let’s start with the pearls. Contemporary access to affordable costume jewelry and cubic zirconia combined with the matronly image of pearl-draped Barbara Bush make it difficult for us to imagine what a strong class statement a first-century woman made when she publicly…