The weaker vessel

"Mother and son" by Robert Duncan
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. 
(1 Peter 3:7)


If you want to stir up strife and offend women, Christian and non-Christian alike, share this particular verse. 

Why . . .  because women jump to the conclusion that being "the weaker vessel" means that they are:

have lesser value in society, 

are not as capable as men,

less able to do things,

less important, and 

men see themselves are more superior.


If we just look at the word "weaker" in a physical sense only . . . it is true that women are physically weaker than men. I can't lift really heavy objects whereas my husband can, it is a fact that cannot be disputed and has been proven many times.  Of course, if we are home alone, we can improvise and do some of those heavy jobs ourselves, but they are not good for our bodies in the long term. We simple are not as physically strong.

However, in saying that, women have amazing strength it's just a different sort. . . the fact that we can give birth demonstrates our strength. We have strength that keeps us going during very difficult times moment with our children (remember all those sleepless nights that seem to go one forever). We have strength that makes us very protective our family and many mothers will to do almost anything to protect their children. We often see this during wartime. This is a strength that comes from the mind rather than physical strength that men have.

God created men and women equally, neither were made superior or inferior to the other.

However, God made our bodies different, both physically and mentally to undertake different roles in society and at home.

Women are designed to be bearers of children, nurturers, to create and maintain the home, to teach, to reach out to those in need, to be a helpmate to ones husband. These tasks require less physical strength and much more emotional and psychological strength. Women need to be organisers, communicators, have the ability to empathise with others, to multi-task, have financial skills, be able to shop wisely, to be creative etc.  These are all gentler skills that do not require lots of hard physical labour (even though at times it might feel like it).  Women were never expected to go out and fight wars and to do all the heavy lifting which is why we don't have the same physical strength as our menfolk.  Proverbs 31 is a perfect example of the role of a wife and mother. She is a very busy woman and one that is never idle, but she doesn't need the same physical strength that her husband needs. 

The word "weaker" does cause great offence and it shouldn't. Whilst women are weaker - which is undeniable, it doesn't mean that women are limited in what they can do (as in the Victorian era). Women can still maintain the car, mow the lawn, paint the house, go skiing, run a marathon if they want, play sport, grow a vegetable garden (I do all my own digging), even join the fire brigade.  Women can go out to work if necessary and work in most occupations if they have the ability and skills.

Some women are stronger than others, however we  need to accept that we will never be able be as physically strong as men as this is the way God made us. And we need to allow our menfolk to take care us and do the heavy-lifting just as God intended. 


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Comments

  1. Great post. I have heard this scripture explained through vessels. There was a weaker vessel that was placed on the fireplace, when you saw cracks in it that was a warning of earthquakes...it helped to protect the family, whereas the larger heavy vessels were used for other purposes, but couldn't warn of danger from earthquakes.
    Great post!

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    1. There is so much more to this verse, I only wanted to focus on two words that seem to cause so much offence. Your explanation is a beautiful one - it shows that women are very much in tune with their surroundings and can pick up the slightest change that may affect their families.

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  2. Hi Jo! I saw your blog title and thought to pop over. I once read a great article by Eric Pazdziora on this topic and shared it on our Light and Life Bible Ministries page on Facebook (we have lots of posts about God's heart for women on that page). Here's the post by Eric Pazdziora: http://ericpazdziora.com/the-myth-of-the-weaker-vessel/

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    1. This is really quite a complex verse with so much contained within it, but so many women only hear the two words "weaker vessel" and get all upset. As to the word "honour" I don't think modern women want to be honoured either, they see this as degrading as well. Have a lovely weekend .

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  3. Yes, Jo! Yes! People who want to be willingly ignorant about something like this - and constantly get offended by Scriptures such as this - do not know the 'heart' of God. They are full of pride and don't know the basics of the human body. The fact of the matter is that the male hormone - testosterone - is the muscle-building hormone that gives men their physical strength and endurance, a hormone which they naturally have in abundance -- and women DON'T and SHOULDN'T have a lot of testosterone! Yes, women can build muscle and endure, but it's simply not the same as it is for a man. God has *built* the man with a strength that He simply didn't give to women, and with good reason. There are different roles required for a good, peaceful and successful world, and God designed men and women to perfectly fulfill those different roles and work as a team without needing to get their hackles up about weaknesses and strengths!
    And, something else that is true is that women tend to be more emotional and more sensitive - perhaps this is part of what God was meaning when He inspired the writer to call women a "weaker vessel", as well as in a physical sense. This doesn't make women inferior either - being sensitive is not a weakness in the sense of being hopeless or without abilities. And again, think of the garden of Eden - Eve was weak in that she was easily swayed and deceived - perhaps this is a bit of what that verse is referring to as well.

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    1. I think our emotions and sensitivity should be seen as a strength as it is these feelings that make us nurturers and carers and able to show compassion the way men can’t. Our differences compliment each other and don’t oppose which appears to be completely missed by modern women. And not being stronger physically doesn’t make us a lesser human in any way. Why do women have this driving need to be the same as men - if more men wanted to be like women, I wonder if women would all of a sudden want to be more like women to!!!

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  4. My husband often mentions this verse as a way of explaining why he just plain and simply is just more suited to some things, or is obligated due my different make-up to be my protector. I am admit, I am not always gracious about it, but I am trying hard to be grateful that he is willing to step up to his responsibilities and care for me. That definitely is a wonderful thing!
    Humans always grasp for more, for bigger, for what is perceived to be better - seems to be part of the curse as we grow. After all it is good that babies work hard at reaching, grabbing, crawling, walking, etc, but as we mature we need to realise our God-given limitations and work at being thankful for them!
    love,
    Bets

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    1. Women have this stubborn drive that they believe they can do everything and they don't need men. I don't quite understand where it comes from and why we need to "prove" that we are better than men. Men are quite open to admitting they need women about to do "stuff" and more than happy for the help. Just accept our limitations as you say and do the best we can do - which isn't everything. Its all very crazy when you think about it!!

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  5. I agree with you completely. In fact, I love this verse. It is what gets the trash taken out for me, heavy things moved, boxes of groceries unloaded, etc... I always say "honey I am the weaker vessel you know" and I smile :) I don't find anything offensive in the truth. Thanks for pointing out the inoffensive nature of this verse. Thanks for sharing this also on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

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    1. I do try to things myself rather than calling on help, I don't like to disturb others (and I have an independent steak/stubborn in me!), including my husband so tend to do quite a bit of heavy lifting. But there are things I simply can't move, such as a pot I wanted moved the other day and I had no choice but to ask for help. I have been known to move furniture around the house that are really way to heavy for me and my husband hasn't been around. But I certainly don't take offence to this verse and those that do are the sort that would attack much of what the bible has to say.

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  6. Great post. I can see how other people would be offended by that scripture. But if they took the time to read the rest, they'll find it's actually quite beautiful. Being "heirs together of the grace of life" is such a powerful sentiment to have with a husband; it's explains the ultimate bond between two people who are committed to each other. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. I think this is a major problem for many who get offended by what the bible has to say - they read selective verses and not all so they miss the full context of what the scriptures have to say. Thanks for dropping by :))

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  7. This is a great post Jo, so true. We are weaker but no less loved or valued by God. There seems to be such a movement with women wanting to be considered better than men and this isn't what God says. There are lots of things I can do better than my husband and there are lots of things he can do better than me but it's these skills that together make us a couple. Each able to help the other where they fall down. I stand beside my husband but he is the head of the house, every decision rests on him, not me, he answers to God for our family. I hear women condemn their husbands because they forget their wives birthdays or they can't do this or that, and it really upsets me (I had an episode yesterday afternoon with a friend like that). We should honour our husbands and help them, we are created to be his helpmeet, not his boss. Thanks for sharing this at Good Morning Mondays, I am enjoying your posts very much, blessings to you and yours.

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    1. And that is the fundamental part to this, God doesn’t see women as lesser creatures because He made us weaker - He just gave us different roles that are equally important.

      Our husbands are so different to us, they don’t remember things like birthdays, however with a smart phone my husband is a little better as he has included it in his reminder list!!

      My husband is retired so home all day and I go off to work. I sometimes get annoyed that he doesn’t see all the jobs that need doing (i.e. the dirty bathroom), however I keep reminding myself that the reason why he doesn’t do them as he doesn’t see them dirt as we women do - they look at things differently. When I point them out to him to realises they do need a clean. On Friday he cleaned all my kitchen cupboard doors and did a great job, but I did the shower this morning as I knew he wouldn’t see all the nocks and crannies that needed to a good scrub.

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    2. Good post. First of all, I believe women and men bear the image of God and are equal in worth to God. Now, I’d like to bring an insight to this passage - something I heard in Bible College (and don’t think I heard this interoperation since), and I think it’s the key to interpreting this passage. It’s the word “vessel” I want to emphasize here. A vessel holds something. Men aren’t called vessels, but women are. Though we both “hold” the image of God, a woman holds something else - something precious to God. She can hold a baby. She is a baby bearer and the man is not (men, picture yourself having a womb!). As a baby bearer, there are many aspects of weakness attached to that reality - whether or not she actually carries a child, but more so if she does. Just having a womb carries with it a vulnerability: her monthly cycle, the actual carrying of another human being in her body for 9 months, giving birth, lactation, menopause, susceptibility of the womb to diseases, etc., Two observations so far: Men have nothing to do with this, and, these aspects of having a womb make the woman vulnerable, or “weak.” What an honor: the woman is partnering with God to bring an image bearer into this world. No wonder Peter exhorts men to give her a special honor here and be considerate in light of her being a baby bearer. If a man doesn’t honor his wife in light of this partnership with God, then God will be upset and not answer his prayers. Just a thought.

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