Don’t Let Chivalry Die on Your Watch

Let me be clear: being a nice, moral guy will not save you, nor will it save your family. God’s wrath against your sin is only satisfied by Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). But even though acts of kindness are not the root of our justification, they are certainly the fruit of our justification.

After rejoicing over God’s sovereign grace toward sinners, Paul goes on: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Therefore, acts of kindness and love toward our spouses are not a works-based self-rescue plan; they are the overflow of our joy in Christ and the pursuit of joy in serving him! We all need this gospel reminder on a regular basis.

With the gospel of grace locked securely in our hearts and minds, let’s turn our attention to Peter’s first epistle.

If I had lived at the time of Christ, I would have naturally gravitated toward the strong-willed yet short-sighted apostle Peter. Yet after being restored by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter went on to become a shining example of humble, dedicated, biblical manhood.

He issues the following orders to all Christian husbands: “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” (1 Peter 3:7).

What exactly is the burly fisherman telling us to do?

Study your wife

Peter uses the word “understanding” (knowledge) in this verse, a word that in Scripture often refers to sexual intercourse. Having just preached the gospel (see 1 Peter 2:21–25), he shows how its implications should impact Christian husbands.

Just as Christ displayed selfless sacrifice in meeting our greatest need (salvation), we too should seek to know our wives intimately and to meet their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs.

This means that we must focus on ourselves less. You cannot live with your wife in an understanding way if you are selfishly focused on your passions, your hobbies, your desires, and your career. Don’t just mark “C” on every question in your marriage exam— study for the test! Get to know her. Ask good questions. Pay attention. Get off your phone. Turn off the television.

Serve your wife

When Peter refers to wives as “weaker vessels,” he is not referring to their mental capacity. He is simply making a general observation: men are physically stronger.

Therefore, honor your wife through practical acts of service that remind her that you delight to care for and protect her: hold the door, pump her gas, fix her car, maintain your home, carry the bags, and be the first one downstairs to see what that weird noise was.

In short, man up.

Enjoy your wife

The “grace of life” that Peter refers to is not only salvation; he is referring to the blessing of marital union.

In a culture that makes a sport out of mocking marriage and using demeaning words and phrases such as “the old ball and chain,” “my old lady,” and so on, you must protect your wife’s honor and God’s good design by speaking highly of marriage and expressing your enjoyment of the gift that God has given.

This is especially important when speaking to or in front of your kids. Let them know that your marriage is a gift to steward, not a burden to tolerate.

Excerpted from Man Up, Kneel Down: Shepherding Your Wife Toward Greater Joy In Jesus by J. Aaron White.

Shepherd Press