Marriage Manual for Christians

Marriage Manual for Christians

The Bible is full of instructions for husbands and wives. But Peter has a marriage manual for Christians in his epistle. In 1 Peter 3:1-7, Peter devoted more words instructing wives in marriage. In contrast, he packed a single, pointed verse to husbands with a lifetime’s worth of practical wisdom.

These 7 verses provide the basic outline for a healthy marriage. Difficulties in a relationship can usually be traced back to a violation of one or more of these principles by either husband or wife, or both.

Manual for the Wife

We read in chapter 2 that living successfully as a Christian in a hostile world requires submitting to civil society and the workplace. But at the start of chapter 3, Peter added two more places: the family and the local church. Then he went on to give the following plans of action to every Christian wife.

1. Be Submissive

God has commanded authority in homes because in His wisdom this is the best arrangement for a happy, fulfilling marriage. Subjection does not mean that the wife is inferior to the husband. God created both the man and the woman out of the same basic material and made them in His image.

Wives, submit to your husbands

But wives have been given a role that puts them in submission to the headship which resides in their own husbands. Since two people cannot form a democracy, someone in a marriage must have the responsibility for leadership – the husband.

This is not intended to be a “makes all decisions” kind of relationship but the duty to share decision-making. Unless a deadlock occurs, at which time God expects the husband to step up and exercise authority. A man is more likely to give his wife’s perspective serious consideration if he knows that the tough choices will be up to him.

Winning the Unbelieving Husband

It’s important to note that in this particular verse, Peter must be talking to a wife whose husband is an unbeliever. “That even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives (1 Peter 3:1b).”

In Greek culture, women were viewed as lower than men. Thus, a huge potential for conflict and embarrassment in the marriage of a believer and unbeliever was significant. Yet Peter did not urge the Christian wife to leave her husband, preach to her husband, or demand her rights. Instead, Peter admonishes her to respect the authority of her husband.

The loving, gracious submission of a believing wife to her unsaved husband is the strongest evangelistic tool she has.

2. Be Pure and Reverent

Purity or modesty of life with reverence for God is what the unsaved husband should observe consistently. Peter was not condemning all outward adornment. His condemnation is for incessant preoccupation with outward appearance while disregarding one’s character.

De-emphasizing outward appearance does not mean that a wife should neglect herself and not try to be up-to-date in her apparel. It simply means that she should not major in being fashionable just to keep up with the crowd. Any husband is proud of an attractive wife, but that beauty must come from the heart and demeanor, not the store.

Every Christian woman is especially to concentrate on developing that modesty, meekness, and Christ-like character.

3. Have a Gentle & Quiet Spirit

In addition to her submission and modesty, the wife should be gentle (1 Peter 3:4). This is the beauty that never decays, as the outward body does. “Gentle” is actually “meek or humble” and “quiet” describes the character of her action or reaction. How does the wife respond to her husband and life in general?

I once heard the testimony of a Christian woman who has an unbelieving husband. She did not only pray for her husband to come to faith in Christ for years. More importantly, she made sure to treat him with kindness and the utmost respect. Every time her husband restricted her to attend church on Sundays, she obeyed and spent time with him instead.

A Woman's beauty should not come from outward adornment,

This believing wife knew that God would one day convict her husband of his need for a Savior. In the meantime, she continued to love him, prayed for him, and took really good care of him. She never once spoke to him rudely despite his high tone. She believed that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV).

Until one day, her husband said he wanted them to go to church together. That did not come as a surprise to her because she knew that God would one day answer her prayer. Her husband gave his life to Christ that day and they continued to serve God, along with their children.

If you are a wife with an unbelieving husband, know that God can and will turn things around. Just be faithful to God and obey His marriage manual.

Manual for the Husband

Although Peter’s marriage manual for husbands is contained in a single verse (1 Peter 3:7), it is quite extensive.

Don’t think that submission is only for the wife. Submission is the responsibility of a Christian husband as well. This does not mean that the husband submits to his wife as a leader. Rather, the believing husband must submit to the loving duty of being sensitive to the needs, fears, and feelings of his wife.

In other words, a Christian husband needs to subordinate his needs to hers, whether she is a Christian or not.

Peter reminded husbands that care for their wives must be practiced in four areas:

1. Emotional (give honor)

This means that a husband respects his wife’s feelings, thoughts, and desires. He may not agree with all her ideas, but he respects and honors her right to speak. He desires her input and recognizes that God can guide him through his wife’s sensitivity and natural cautions.

Women tend to be more emotional especially when they are going through hormonal changes. When this happens, the husband should do his best to accommodate his wife and just let her express herself.

2. Intellectual (with understanding)

Despite the old saw about men not being able to understand women, a husband has the delightful challenge to learn to understand his wife. The husband must pay attention to his wife.

God created men differently from women. While things are often simple when it comes to men, this is not the case with women.

A Christian husband must get to know his wife’s moods, feelings, needs, fears, and hopes. He needs to listen with his heart and seek to approach her always in an understanding way.

Ephesians 5:25, NIV

3. Physical (live together)

This implies much more than sharing the same address. Marriage is fundamentally a physical relationship (Ephesians 5:31). Of course, Christian mates enjoy a deeper spiritual relationship, but the two go together (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). A truly spiritual husband will fulfill his marital duties and love his wife.

While the wife is fully equal in Christ and not inferior spiritually because she is a woman, she is physically weaker. In effect, she requires protection, provision, and strength from her husband.

Marriage is the best relationship earthly life has to offer. Hence, the husband must cultivate companionship and fellowship with his wife, Christian or not.

4. Spiritual (equal partnership in God’s gift)

In the central place of life – access to God in a relationship – both husband and wife have equal standing. This is why when both are growing closer to God they inevitably grow closer together. Praying together and living spiritual lives in harmony are the too-often neglected building blocks of a strong marriage.

The last part of verse 7 talks about the husband’s prayers being hindered. This refers specifically to his prayer for the salvation of his wife. Such a prayer would be hindered if he does not respect her needs and fellowship.

Closing Words

A Christian husband must minister to his wife and help to beautify her in the Lord. A Christian wife must encourage her husband and help him grow strong in the Lord.


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Recommended Resource: Your Marriage God’s Way: A Biblical Guide to a Christ-Centered Relationship by Scott La Pierre 

Your Marriage God’s Way: A Biblical Guide to a Christ-Centered Relationship by Scott LaPierreCelebrate the Marriage God Made for You

Your most important earthly connection is with your spouse, and when you honor the person you married, you’re also honoring God. He created marriage to be one of life’s greatest gifts, and the instruction manual you need for a joyful, lasting union is found in His Word.

In Your Marriage God’s Way, author and pastor, Scott LaPierre, takes a close look at the principles for building a biblical marriage—one in which your relationship with Christ brings guidance and blessing into your relationship with your spouse. You’ll gain the tools to…

  • understand the unique roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives
  • recognize and resolve the conflicts you face with a heart of hope and compassion
  • follow God’s worthy command to love and cherish your spouse unconditionally

Whether you’re at the beginning of your journey or you’ve been on the road together for years, Your Marriage God’s Way will provide the helpful and encouraging insights you need to experience marriage as God intends it.

4 Replies to “Marriage Manual for Christians”

  1. You’ve made some very important points here in deconstructing Peter’s vision of Christian marriage. I think the outline for a healthy marriage has a lot of merits and it may be more important now than ever.

    I know in my marriage, my husband and I have total respect and regard for one another, although we show it in different ways. Some might find it old-fashioned but it works for us. My Christian friends get it, but some who are not, don’t.

    Do you find that these pointers might be more difficult to apply to marriage in our modern society? Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Respect is very important in any relationship, otherwise, it is bound to fail. Also, it has always been the biblical principle in marriage to put the interest of your spouse ahead of yours.

      It’s true that non-Christians think it’s old-fashioned for the wife to submit to her husband. This is because they see submission as a sign of weakness on the part of the woman. They always say that the husband and the wife have an equal standing in marriage which means neither of them should dominate the other.

      Perhaps, these pointers are much more difficult to apply today because of the mindset that most people, including self-confessed Christians, have. And this is why Christian marriages today are not necessarily exempt from a divorce.

      Thank you for dropping by, Lee.

  2. This was an awesome article on Christian Marriage.  I enjoyed your article very much. It was easy to read and understand.

    My husband and I have been married for 50 years this coming June, and I can honestly say that we follow the instructions in the Bible on how to live a Christian Marriage.

    1. Hi Carol,

      A marriage founded and grounded on biblical principles is always almost guaranteed to last a lifetime.

      Thanks for your comment and congratulations on your upcoming 50th wedding anniversary. May the good Lord continually sustain you both and gives you more years to celebrate together as a couple.

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