“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 ESV)
In our last devotion, we looked at Peter’s instruction for wives. We saw that they can win their husband, without a word, by their conduct. And, for this reason, he instructs them to be subject to their husbands and to adorn themselves with a quiet and gentle spirit.
In the above passage, we see Peter’s instruction for husbands. He calls on them, first of all, to live with their wives in an understanding way. He then says something that many women find offensive. He calls on men to show honor to the woman as the weaker vessel.
This phrase is not intended to convey disrespect. It reflects the simple reality that women are typically smaller in size and weaker in strength when compared to men. It reflects a simple reality that leaves her vulnerable.
It’s this reality that leads to the abuse of women in other systems of belief. Her rights are reduced and her status is lowered. And the tendency is for her to be exploited.
Men naturally operate by the “might makes right” principle. They live in a world where the strong rule over the weak. And their sinful nature drives them to exercise dominion by sheer force.
However, because she is the weaker vessel, Peter calls on Christian men to do something that runs counter to this inclination. He calls on them to show honor to their wives. They are not to use their strength to dominate. Instead, they are to treat their wives considerately and use their position to bless them.
Men are to do so, recognizing that their wives are joint heirs with them of the grace of life. They are to recognize that their wives are recipients of the very same blessing. They are to recognize that, by faith, their wives will also receive the salvation of God.
Finally, men are to behave in this way that their prayers may not be hindered. This implies that, failing to do so, may keep their prayers from being answered. As they live in unrepentance, refusing the calling with which God has entrusted them, their prayers are impeded.
Once again, this may seem old-fashioned. In a day and age where we’re told that a woman can do anything that a man can do, it seems quaint. Yet, when we look at what Peter is saying, we understand that it does not lead to oppression for women. We find that it leads to an increased freedom and to greater opportunity.