Should Wives Call Their Husbands "Lord"?

by Sam Stinson

"For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening" (I Peter 3:5-6, ESV).

Someone suggested that if those who preach the authority of Scriptures were sincere, they would teach that Christian women must call their husbands "lord" such as Sarah called Abraham. Let's examine.

In Peter's discussion, he is instructing Christian women to "be subject" to their husbands (I Peter 3:1). He says if these husbands are not Christ's disciples, they may be won to Christ without a word simply by the respectful and pure conduct of their wives (I Peter 3:1-2). The word for "be subject" implies putting oneself in obedience to another, to be in submission to him. Peter's evidence of this, of Sarah's obedience to her husband Abraham, is the fruit of her submission to him. The tree is her heart submitted to her husband, calling her husband lord is the fruit. Peter's implies that you can tell Sarah was in submission to her husband by reading her words from Scripture. Which words?

Recall the spot in Scripture where Sarah referred to her husband Abraham as her lord. In Genesis 18:10, Yahweh said he would return within a year and Sarah would have a child at that time. Scripture continues: "Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?" (Genesis 18:11-12). The man Sarah calls "my lord" is indeed Abraham her husband. According to Strong, the Hebrew word Sarah uses for lord, is from the root meaning "to rule." Since the word is interpreted "lord" in context, we see that Sarah was in submission to her husband by her respectful conduct of her mind. She "laughed to herself, saying" which means in her private thoughts, internal monologue, which Yahweh knew, Sarah showed respect for her husband by calling him lord.

A Christian woman calling her husband lord in her mind is one fruit of her submission to him. Submission is a tree which bears much good fruit. The apostles wisely instructed Christian women to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). One means of showing respect is submission in heart and works, as Paul instructs wives (Colossians 3:18; Ephesians 5:22, 24; I Corinthians 14:35). One submits not only actions but first heart (cf. Proverbs 23:26). Yes, Christian wife, respect your husband by submitting to him. Yes, Christian wife, call your husband "lord" in your heart in your devotion to him and show this in your works. Caveat: husband, make this easier for your wife by actually being a man of respect, good heart, conduct, devoted to providing for and meeting his family's needs through his love and works (Colossians 3:19; Ephesians 5:25, 28).