“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” – 1 Peter 3:7
Peter says that the husbands are to “be considerate” of their wives. This is a word for knowledge. To consider her is to know her. To consider her is to understand her. Understanding takes deep consideration and reflection. So, husbands, pay attention to her and get to know her.
To treat her with respect is to show her honor. She is to be honored because she is valued and valuable. The woman living like 3:1-6 is a woman of great value. Peter says treat them with respect as the weaker partner. The word “partner” in the NIV misses some of the meaning of that word. The word vessel is a word for an object, a thing. This is where we get “weaker vessel” = a weaker object. That same word is used in Acts 9:15 of Paul being God’s chosen “instrument” or “vessel” to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. That doesn’t mean she is to be objectified or be seen as an object. That isn’t Peter’s point at all. Peter is saying there is something about her that is by nature weaker than a man. This is no value statement. This is not a moral statement. She is not weaker spiritually or morally. It is a physical statement. Women have more physical limitations than men by and large (childbearing excluded!).
Last, Peter says something that should stop us in our tracks – if you don’t do these things toward her your prayers will be hindered. There are a lot of things we might think would hinder prayers. We might think of things like sin being a hindrance to our prayers. Peter says to not see, value and treat your wife in this way can get between you and God. That is a sobering thought, men!
I brought this up in class recently and kind of got slammed for it, but in our culture and their culture and the cultures before, things that are weaker are often seen as less worthy. This is a natural observation. The stronger something is the more useful it is. The greater something is the more it is seen as valuable. A king or queen is seen as greater than a peasant. A bull is a thing of force, a cow to be eaten. A rock star is to be awed and a lounge singer not. Etc.
And yet the scriptures as a whole subvert this kind of thinking in general in regards to man.
On earth, the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
The weak shall be strong and the strong shall be weak.
The proud shall be humbled and the humble shall be lifted up.
The weaker vessel (woman) shall be honored because of her weakness.
Men (husbands) should not think of themselves as greater due to being stronger.