I preached on this text last night:
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)
It’s sad that for many our first response to this text is to be chaffed because Peter refers to the woman as the “weaker vessel”. And in some ways I understand that because guys can be jerks and use texts like this one to promote their insecure theology. Yet if we aren’t careful we’ll neuter the beauty of this text because of our 21st century chaffing.
I like what Robert Rayburn says about the meaning of “weaker vessel”:
Remember weaker" is being used in a context. A ming vase is weaker than a five dollar hammer; a Rembrandt canvas is weaker than a razor blade; and Mother Teresa was weaker than Mike Tyson! Peter is not talking about comparative worth, he is speaking of the reason why men have a special responsibility, laid upon them by their Creator, to show a particular regard for women and their wives in particular. It was not so long ago, even in secular Western societies that a man's manhood was judged according to the way in which he protected and provided for the women in his life. Only a feminist ideologue surveying the wreckage of American society can really believe that the abandonment of this viewpoint has improved the lot of women and children.
Wives are a treasure that are given to husbands to nurture and care for. The Lord loves His daughters so much that He promises if we do not treat them with the care we ought it will hinder our prayer life.
I’ve known men (including myself) that have felt a darkness and a separation in our prayer life with the Lord. I have felt my ability to pray (not to mention preach and write) hindered. It’s like there is this big fat rock that stands between me and the Lord.
At times I’ve been so foolish as to think what I really need to do to remove this rock of separation is to get uber-spiritual. Perhaps if I fast. Maybe I just need to read a book on prayer. Possibly a little time alone in the Word will remove this rock. When in reality I just need to stop being a bear to my wife. Maybe what needs to happen is that rather than sit in my office and pray about this separation and mourn the distance I need to go home and repent of my attitude and lack of nurturing of my wife.
What is really interesting is that if we are praying for our wives to change and yet we are not treating them with honor, tenderness, and understanding our prayers will be hindered. And they will be hindered until we actually begin treating them with honor, tenderness, and understanding. What is really crazy about this though is that our repentance before our wives may just be the means that God uses to answer our prayers for her.
It’s not always the case that feelings of distance in our relationship with the Lord is because we have been blowing it as husbands. But this is one of the few things in Scripture that the Lord promises will hinder our prayers. And so if we feel a distance there it would do us well to analyze our level of tenderness towards our wives.
As a side note to our married female readers. Consider how much the Lord loves you that He would cause a hindrance in His relationship with your husband because your hubby is not nurturing you. God cares for you mightily, so much that He rips up the conscience of us men until we begin treating you the way that we ought.