What if I am being abused? What if I am told to participate in something illegal? Is submission best when it results in me sinning? What if they are... (gambling, drinking, into pornography...)? Do I submit to that type of person?
The "What if...?" questions are common when submission is a topic for discussion. Each of those and many other questions like them is legitimate. But it also may be justification NOT to do what God asks. In other words, those questions justify not submitting.
…who trusted in God...as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. — 1 Peter 3:5-6
And this is true of both men and women. Typically, men want justification to not submit to their authority or boss. Women wrestle with submission in marriage.
The thinking is something like—submission asks me to limit my freedom, which may hurt me. So, I want to know when NOT to submit. Or, a more extreme version—submission is only acceptable when I think it suits me.
Answers Are In the Context
It is challenging to understand submission without looking at the context of 1 Peter 3:1-7. When you study 1 Peter 2: 18-3:7, the context is about UNJUST SUFFERING! That theme carries throughout 1 Peter.
The example of Jesus in 1 Peter 2: 21-25 clearly shows that submission leads to pain and death. The example of Sarah (1 Peter 3:6) shows submission results in situations that are risky or, worse yet, potentially sinful. Sarah was put in a position where she could have been "adulterized," but God did not allow it to happen. I believe Abraham would be responsible for any sin of Sarah's in that situation.
In both situations, trusting God to take care of them was the answer. Jesus "...committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" and Sarah "...trusted in God...obeyed Abraham, calling him lord..."
And, look at the result—Jesus "...has [been] highly exalted...and given...the name which is above every name..." (Philippians 2:9). Sarah did not suffer in either the situation with Pharaoh (Genesis 12:10-20) or Abimelech (Genesis 20:1-18). In both cases, Sarah and even Abraham were blessed through her submission. Pharaoh and Abimelech gave them money and resources to leave.
God says that women who submit trust Him instead of themselves. What is the result for the women? They will "...not [be] afraid with any terror." (1 Peter 3:6). When you trust God, you remove fear from your life. That means submission is a clear sign that you believe God knows what is BEST.
Satan wants to convince you to trust something other than God. Please do not do that (Proverbs 3:5-6). Instead, do it God's way, and He removes fear (for women - 1 Peter 3:6) and answers prayers (for men - 1 Peter 3:7).
Below are four guidelines that cover most situations. Please send me your thoughts about other options. The four guidelines help when you are REALLY in an extreme situation.
Submit to God, Then to Man
Consider (Acts 5:29). If you are UNCLEAR about what God wants, do what man asks. You may argue that Sarah was submitting to man, but I believe she chose to submit to God. She chose the highest desire of God - to pursue the best for Abraham (love him) to protect him from being killed. In those days, a husband would be killed for his wife but would be paid money for his sister.
Also, while she was asked to lie, the story shows Abraham lied, but there is no record that she did. She did not argue against it, so you may be correct to say she was complicit in the lie to protect Abraham. I think her actions were trusting God, not Abraham since that is in 1 Peter 3:5.
Choose Man's Consequences, Not God's
For example, Sarah chose to submit and protect Abraham and suffer the consequences of being separated from Abraham and put into another man's harem. She decided to do that rather than try to defend herself. If she had decided to protect herself, she could have been subject to God's consequences for not submitting, not trusting Him, and seeking her best, not Abraham's. Or, maybe you are asked to do something that violates God's Word, so you suffer man's consequences since you did not do it but escape God's consequences for doing what He clearly stated was wrong.
Choose God's rewards, Not Man's
Suppose you are asked to lie, which results in you getting money or privilege. It's best to choose the eternal reward of doing what God asks rather than the temporary reward, which will result in consequences from God in the future and probably soon when the truth is discovered.
Seek Protection If Abused
God’s not asking you to stay in abusive situations, only to suffer patiently if abused. God is not against protection (Cities of Refuge) but wants dependence on His protection with a "gentle and quiet spirit." Remember, a "gentle and quiet spirit" is internal, producing external actions and words that help reduce abusive situations.
PURSUING THEIR BEST - Freedom in Relationships