1 Peter 3: 7 “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.”
Recently in conversation, a perspective on 1 Peter 3:7 was given by a man who insinuated that the man was to make all decisions and give the wife directions because she was the “weaker vessel”. In brief, we would like to address this passage and give some clarity towards the man as the chosen leader and the stronger vessel and the woman as the weaker vessel and the defined follower.
The passage is clear first in saying that a husband must be considerate of his wife. This consideration means that the man will give thought as into the direction of the family and the choices made for the family and include her in the decision making process. This consideration gives the woman a voice in the family, despite the distinction as head the husband carries. A man must consult, converse, consider, connect and co-design their families with the wife’s opinions as the rightful partner God defined her as (Genesis 1:26). This means that the man should listen to his wife opinions and consider her desires; not running roughshod over, using his physical dominance as the co-signer to all his decisions. Though he has the right to make decisions, he will not only hinder his prayers, but will not make as sound a decision because they are being made without the part that completes him. Marriages are not a sole-proprietorship! A man must have respect for his wife and not become abusive in any manner because of his physical strength or even because of his wisdom and intellect.
Husbands must maintain respect for their wives, and as this passage instructs, treat them with respect even though the do not contain the same physical strength as their male counterpart. Though the physical strength of the man is important, offering the spouse and children comfort and security, the role and leadership of the man is determined more than by physical traits. It is important to note that in this day of fitness, there are woman that physically are stronger and more fit than their male counterpart due to their discipline and care of their physical temples, and that in these cases, the Lord still assigns the leadership to the male of the home.
It is important that this passage is understood not to mean that the woman is the weaker vessel in every category. Having this perspective will make one unwise in their approach to leading and following. Both the husband and wife must value the voice and intellect of each other, not negating ones wisdom and intellect based upon misunderstandings and or level of educational accomplishment (which we see if starting to reveal more wives accomplishing more academically). The wife is fully capable of leading a family, hence the success of many single female parents and single women who do not have a male to follow or to submit too.
The concept of “respect” is a varied, and thus we generally define it by looking at what is “disrespectful”; however, we have found that this current generation has even redefined what “disrespectful” is by lacking respect for oneself. Because attempting to define “respect” and “disrespect” would take a series of blogs, we will cut the argument short by referring to this passage to define “respect”. The husband is to treat the wife not just as a partner, but as an “heir”. An heir to the Kingdom of God! In other words, we must consider wives to be a heir, which means they are a child of the King not just a spouse, and furthermore, the husband and the wife are Kingdom citizens under Kingdom rule! In this, we understand that honoring the husband or wife is honoring God. When it comes to leading our homes, we the husband and wife must both submit; the wife unto her husband, and the husband unto the will of their God (hence the graphic for dumb and dumber). Both must consider that their wisdom fails in comparison to the wisdom of the Lord! To make wise decisions, submission is needed by both partners understanding that the partnership of their marriage includes one that will be silent if His Word is not consulted or considered with regards to their home.
Husband must remember, the scripture says the wife is the “weaker vessel” not the “dumber vessel”.