1Peter 3:7 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.
Last week we talked (here) about the Bible portraying Jesus as a man of strength and gentleness. When you look at Him, He, by the Spirit, flows between being hard and compassionate, gentle and harsh, protective and exposing, and empathetic and intolerant. We are to be led by that same Spirit acting accordingly to each and every event.
Of course, as men we want the rulebook, or, in military language, our left and right limits (thereby eliminating our need for God); but our Father doesn’t give us independence but dependence on Him to get it right.
As a leader, as a husband, the Scriptures are pretty rough on us. Sometimes, to be honest, it feels too rough, but we need it. The men in our country as a whole have failed to lead. Do you question my assessment? Lets take a brief look.
Who teaches the majority of classes at your local school? Who teaches the majority of Sunday school classes at your church? Who are the majority of lay leaders at your church? The national average is 60% percent women. Of course your church is the exception but this is the truth across denominational lines. We are missing the men and it is because strong male leadership attracts other males.
As we talk about men leading, it is inevitable that people will swing to the left or right depending on their background, the men in their life that mentor them on being a father and husband, the model their parents showed them, and a host of other variables that cause us to do our own thing instead of being faithful to the Scriptures. However the Scriptures are absolutely clear about the role of leadership and what is expected from the husband. To be honest I struggle in my own marriage for exactly the reasons listed in this passage. 1 Peter 3:7 nails me every time I read it and shows me how far I have to go.
In 1 Peter 3 there is this interesting little tidbit in leadership. It tells us to live with our wives in an understanding way and by showing them honor since they are a weaker vessel. I love this passage in the midst of the current debate about women in Combat Arms and how women are every bit as able as men to perform these tasks.
Are women the “weaker” vessel? The answer is Yes and No. Women are equal to men in value, importance, and as human beings.
Men and women are made differently with their own sets off strengths and weaknesses and the truth be told we need each other to offset both our strengths and weaknesses. Thus we have marriage.
Peter breaks leading our wives down into two principles. First, guys, we are to live with our wives in an understanding way. This means that we should be patient, compassionate, empathetic, and gentle. This is being Christ-like!
As I mentioned above I feel this passage pretty strongly and need a lot work. I am a fighter and have always been a fighter. I was abused as a kid and learned really quickly what happened to people who aren’t tough enough to protect themselves physically and emotionally. If that wasn’t enough, I joined the Army and went into the infantry where I learned how to be even tougher.
Lets just say this, I think an Armadillo probably has softer skin than I do and a carcass probably has more empathy than me, but I am working on it. I got married and two boys later we had our daughter, so God has given me a tough learning curve and I have a long way to go.
The second principle is to treat our wives with honor since they are the weaker vessel. I read this and I struggle even though I know what it means. This is difficult for me but I know it to be true.
I remember when my daughter Eleasa (my princess) was just around 8 months old. I was holding her over my shoulder and my boys were screwing around and I hollered at them. They gave me a look and saw I had Eleasa in my arms and knew I was occupied (had to deal with that later). Eleasa’s reaction though was radically different. While holding her and loving on her I hollered at the boys — she broke down crying. I realized right then and there … Oh, My God, Help Me!
Men, ladies are not one of the guys. We should treat them with honor. We should treat them delicately and as a high valued treasure. I think we should look at this passage similar to the way we treat other things of value in our home. If you care about something that is expensive and precious you handle it gently and don’t just throw it around. You really go out of your way to keep it in good shape. This is honoring.
A military example is the difference between an AK-47 and a M-24. One is a specially crafted long ranged rifle that needs special attention, loving-care, to be kept clean and free of defect or it will not do what it was made to do. The other is a cheap universally manufactured weapon that will fire if you put sand in the chamber, slam it around, and never clean the thing.
I guess, guys, a good way to look at both of these principles is by asking yourself these questions. Do you have a daughter? If so, would you treat her like you treat your wife? How would it make you feel if she married a man who treated her the way you treat your wife? Would you be ok with that? Think about that reality because if you don’t man up and lead in a Christ-like way she will marry someone just like you, or maybe a man who isn’t even really a man, who doesn’t love God or her.
Image: King Arthur and Guinevere,outside the post office in Llangybi; source: geograph.org.uk; author:Philip Halling; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license