1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
I want very much to be a good husband. It’s something that I regularly pray about, study, and strive to be. 1 Peter 3:7 has been a verse that has been both challenging and helpful. Unfortunately, it is also a verse that has been wrongfully used by men to make themselves feel superior to, and boss their wives around. I just want to go on record as saying that is 100% wrong and the opposite of what this verse is trying to accomplish. But if you don’t understand this verse within its historical context, I get it. What does it mean “the weaker partner?” So before I talk about how it’s been helpful for me, let’s look at its biblical and historical context.
A Bit Of Background
Right from the very beginning of Scripture, we see equality between men and women. Both are equally created in the image of God1. Women are not second-rate people, they are not beneath, or less than men. This is exactly the point Peter is making when he says women are co-heirs of the grace of life.
But here is the problem. Sin has grossly distorted and ignored this truth and as a result, men have objectified women throughout history. In Roman society, when this part of the Bible was originally written, women were treated as second-rate people. Their testimonies were not permissible in court. Wives were often treated as property.
So when Peter comes along and says Husbands, in the same way,
Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, he is referring to their position in society. “Because they are in a weaker position in society you need to honor them. You need to seek to understand them. You need to treat them as equals.” The world devalued (and still devalues) women, but Christianity came along and affirmed women and said that they are equals with men in God’s eyes. Christianity treats women in a very counter-cultural way and this passage demonstrates that.
The Instructions For Husbands
With that context laid, let’s look at the instructions themselves. As husbands, our job is not to “lord over” our wives. We don’t even have the biblical authority to tell them what to do. We are not their boss. Our job is to serve our wives. Our job is to sacrifice for our wives. It is my job to pursue my wife and seek to understand her so that I can know how to best love and serve her. Husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way. This means we need to work at getting to know them throughout our lives. The best piece of marriage advice I have ever been given is “Always be a student of your wife.” It’s amazing how men can rattle off stats about sports but are often lost as a fart in a windstorm when it comes to their wives.
Part of seeking to understand means we need to listen! And listen to understand, not always respond. It means we ask lots of questions so that we can better understand because we value her thoughts and burdens.
Christian husbands are called to be gentle and lowly, just like Jesus. We are to be driven by what is good for our spouse; selfless love, honor, and grace. When the book of Ephesians5 says the husband is the “head of” the wife it defines that leadership by loving and sacrificial service in her pursuit of holiness. Throughout the New Testament, we are told that biblical leadership is service.
Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
We husbands should be consistently laying down our lives for our wives. Sacrificing our wants for their wants, our desires for their desires. Some guys try to be super macho and say “I’d take a bullet for my wife.” Great. Why don’t you do the dishes? Why don’t you spend some time praying for and over your wife? When was the last time you gave up something you wanted for her?
Husbands, Your Wife Is God’s Daughter
Peter tells us that we are to show them honor as coheirs of grace so that our prayers will not be hindered. What Peter is saying should put the fear of God in us as husbands a little bit. I feel like once I had daughters, this verse began taking on a new meaning for me. There is something special about a dad’s relationship with his daughter. When one of my daughters runs up and gives me a big hug or tells me I’m the best, my heart just melts. If anyone would ever do anything to hurt one of my little girls we would have a BIG problem. Imagine some jerk treated one of my daughters awfully, then turned around and asked me for money. How would you respond?
What Peter is telling us is “Your wife is God’s daughter.” Honor her as such so your prayers won’t be hindered. If I as a husband refuse to align myself under God’s agenda for my home and do not honor and love and serve my wife, his daughter, the way he calls me to, I should not expect God to answer my prayers. Almost like God is saying “Don’t talk to me, go talk to her.”
What I’m Learning
Sarah and I did marriage counseling our first two years of marriage. One of the first things our counselors did was have us take personality tests. When they gave us our results our counselors told us, “People with as opposite of personalities as you guys should not get married.” This was about a month after we got married.
What am I learning about being a good husband? It’s often been messy, but always worth it. I can’t imagine walking through it with anyone other than my Sarah. Our marriage hasn’t always been easy. We have had more than our fair share of fights. We have gone to a lot of counseling. But I am learning that following God’s plan is always worth it and he is using it as a means of his grace in both our lives.
- Genesis 1:27
- 1 Peter 3:1
- 1 Peter 3:4
- 1 Peter 3:5-6
- Ephesians 5:22-26