There has always been a rather large debate around the roles of men and women when it comes to relationships. It’s easy to get lost in the details of who’s supposed to submit to who and who’s really in charge. A closer look at 1 Peter 3 reveals a deeper law, a deeper truth that should squash any thoughts of power and control from a worldly perspective.

Peter writes in verse 8, Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (NIV) Regardless of what the roles might look like in your family or your marriage, Peter makes it very clear—love is what covers it all. The goal of any type of leadership or authority is never to “lord it over” another, but rather to serve the other in love. It’s hard to be compassionate while rude. It’s hard to be humble while boastful. It’s hard to be like-minded while disagreeable.

The endgame of any relationship should be love. Not hierarchy, structure, or authority. If love is not at the center, we’ve lost our way. If our attitudes and actions don’t reflect the person of Jesus Christ, we’ve missed the mark. Peter writes in verse 15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord…” If each person in a relationship submits to the authority of Jesus and fears him, there will be no room for power grabs, harsh words, dictating kinds of behavior, and more. Why? Because we are each subject to the authority of God. We’re accountable to him. All power and authority ultimately come from him.

What if our question is day in our relationships is not “Where can I exert authority today?,” but rather, “What would it look like to live in reverence to Jesus in my relationships today?”

Questions for reflection:

  1. Why are compassion, humility, unity, and sympathy so hard in relationships? Do these characteristics describe your relationships?
  2. What difference would it make if instead of seeking only what you want each day, you made loving well your ultimate goal? How would this change your approach to each person in your life?