"But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." 1 Peter 3:4
You might well imagine that a woman (as described in the lower right hand column of this blog, as a woman with the heart of a warrior) may often find these versus being "used against her", so to speak, by those who think that Peter is telling women that they should have a "meek and quiet voice"; a "meek and quiet personality". This misunderstanding usually occurs because of a lack of understanding of the terms "meek" and "quiet" as used in this text.
It is the "spirit" of the woman (the hidden heart), he is referring to. There are many women with meek, quite, gentle voices and demeanors whose spirits and hearts are harsh, loud, ugly and obnoxious. It is a meek and quite "spirit" that we should all desire and that is not necessarily outwardly manifested by a soft-spoken, timid, wall flower demeanor, by a woman because she is more concerned about being perceived as a godly Christian woman, than she is about being used by the Lord to speak tenderly, when tenderness is required, and with conviction and power when such strength and boldness is required.
I greatly appreciate the teaching on this passage by Dr. Derek Thomas - professor of systematic and practical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and minister of teaching at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi. An excerpt follows:
"Now less we misunderstand, Peter uses here an illustration and he goes to the illustration of Sarah in the Old Testament. Now Sarah, just as a matter-of-fact, was no shrinking violet. Sarah knew occasions when she would inform Abraham of things that he should not have done. Peter addresses here Sarah regarding a particular incident in Genesis 20 where Sarah refers to Abraham and calls him “Lord.”
"I think we need to be avoid the idea, especially us men, that what Peter is suggesting here is a lady-like quality. That’s not what Peter is saying; the quality that Peter wants women to adorn is actually a quality which can be seen in Jesus Christ himself. The word that Peter uses here of a gentle, or meek and quiet spirit is a word that Jesus used of Himself in one of those few moments in the gospel when Jesus actually describes his own character: “I am meek and lowly of heart,” He said.
What Peter is saying here is, “you should have the same characteristics about you that was true of Jesus Christ” and I think that seeing it that way almost turns the whole thing upside-down. Let me put it in this way: it’s a Christ-like quality that Peter wants to see in these Christian women. Not develop a soft-spoken ladylike, Southern Belle-type quality--no that’s not what Peter is saying at all. He’s saying develop Christ-like properties, a property that says, “I long to see my husband honor God and be honored by God,” and if it comes down to it, “I long to see my husband more honored than I am myself.” That’s what Peter is saying, and that is a Christ-like quality. "
This blesses and delights my soul. I can easily become discouraged, resulting in the Spirit of God being squelched, when I listen to the opinions of others who seem to think that if a women is going to speak with conviction and power it is only acceptable and appropriate if she does so in a way that most cannot hear her.