When a husband loves his wife like Christ loves the church, it gives her a deep sense of true spirituality. Again, quoting 1 Peter chapter 3, he tells husbands to “give honor to their wives as co-heirs of the grace of life.”
It’s a rather remarkable statement for the first century when women were not recognized as equals but as chattel at best. Much of the Eastern world hasn’t changed that perspective, but as the Gospel of Jesus moved west, the equality of women in the world began its trek through the suffrage movement in the 20s and the equal rights movements that followed. Peter says it clearly, and he said it 2000 years ago: we are all “co-heirs of the grace of life.” In his day as it still is in many places James Brown’s song is still sung, “It’s a man’s world.” Peter made it clear that men possessed nothing extra or special above and beyond what their wives possessed as well.

The phrase that follows, however, has caused much confusion. In the same verse (1 Peter 3:7) Peter refers to women as “weaker vessels.” The weaker vessel remark must refer to her physical strength in a general way. Men have been bigger and stronger as a rule and have brutalized women in many ways. He gets his way through sheer force. This abuse is exactly what the equal rights movement is all about. Bigger and stronger is not better in anyway. It took protests, violence, and great sacrifice to get the world to acknowledge the equality of the sexes in their essential being. I’m bigger and stronger than my wife. That means I get to carry the trash out. I get to unload the groceries from the trunk of the car. I carry the heavier things when necessary. Living in a understanding way with our wives is to let our complementary strengths and weaknesses be mutually recognized, honored, and respected. I like what one commentator observed while commenting on this verse. He said, “Women possess strength in many areas of life which men can never match—childbirth being the most obvious example.”

The point seems clear. We are all equal in God’s eyes. Paul also made that clear in Galatians 3:28 where he said that in Christ there is no social difference. There is no racial difference and there is no gender difference in the eyes of God. Living with our wives with knowledge and understanding and honoring her instead of degrading her carries with it an interesting P.S. according to Peter. A man who fails to recognize and honor the equality of his wife before God is in danger of having his prayers go unanswered. He is suggesting that God will turn a deaf ear to those who are unwilling to do His will in this significant area of life.