How many of you remember the 1960s era cartoon, The Flintstones? If you haven’t seen it, the cartoon is set in an imaginary cavemen society, except their society has all the amenities of modern society with cars, television, and neighborhoods. The main characters, Fred and Wilma Flintstone, are husband and wife.
In Season 2, Episode 23, “The Happy Household,” Fred and Wilma had gotten into a fight because Wilma came home from a shopping trip, and Fred blamed her for spending more money than he makes. Fred thinks Wilma should get a job. So the next day Fred is surprised when he comes home from his job and Wilma is not there. He is used to Wilma having a big dinner waiting for him. Instead Wilma wrote him a note saying Fred should warm up a frozen dinner. Fred is not happy. He tries to get leftovers from his neighbor Barney, but Barney says there aren’t any. Barney tries to placate Fred by turning on the TV. Does it work? Nope, Fred gets the shock of his married life. Here’s the clip:
Later that evening, Wilma returns, and things blow up. Take a look at the next clip:
I don’t know why the person who posted that YouTube video gave it that title, because Fred never hits Wilma. And yet, the cave man speaks. Did you hear what he said? “A woman’s place is in the home!” Is that just a cave man speaking? Or do we still hear that phrase today?
You might think, “Well, the Flintstones came out over 50 years ago! Society has changed.” Very true. Society has changed. But for many people the questions remain. What are the appropriate roles for husbands and wives in marriage? Does God care? How do we find out?
Around the world we Christians for centuries have had strong feelings about these questions. Christians have been in sharp disputes. It still goes on today.
Think about it. That day you say your marriage vows you begin a new journey with a long road in front on you. How should a husband and wife relate to one another?
What does the Bible say? In our next section of 1st Peter, chapter 3, verses 1-7, Peter talks about husbands and wives. Check it out and see what you think. Peter says “Wives be submissive to your husbands.” Before we get into Peter’s teaching, the primary question that people ask about these submission passages, is this: Is this passage to be applicable for all time OR is it to be understood as for that time only?
If the passage is to be for all time, then Christian marriage, always, everywhere, forever, should be a relationship of the wife being submissive to the husband. Period. The husband is the leader, the head of the household, the decision maker, and the wife must submit to or obey the husband’s authority!
If Peter only was writing for that time, then Christian marriage roles between a husband and wife could look different. Shared leadership. Equal authority. Or the wife could lead, and the husband could submit.
So how do we know? Christians still today disagree about which interpretation to use. I think Peter has BOTH in mind. I suspect he is thinking both about the Christians in that day, but also laying a foundation for Christians in the future.
Here’s why. Peter seems to be responding to the Christian teaching of freedom in Christ. This teaching was new. He told them that they were free, but asked them not to use their freedom for evil. That’s back in chapter 2 verse 16. There he says, “you are free, but don’t use that freedom as a cover-up for evil. Instead, though you are free in Christ, you are bound to serve God.” That is a massively important mindset. Yes we are free in Christ…free to serve God! That means we first and foremost submit to God and to the mission of his Kingdom.
This week we’ll explore further how freedom in Christ can help us understand what Peter has to say about the role husbands and wives have in marriage. See you tomorrow.