Since my conversion from dead religion to the risen Christ in 1984, there is nothing I have wanted more than God’s profound favor upon my life. Therefore as a husband, I find 1 Peter 3:7 deeply sobering: “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.”
The “likewise” at the start of this verse links this exhortation to Peter’s previous exhortations addressed to citizens (2:13-17), servants (2:18), and wives (3:1-6). In each case, Peter calls his readers to a life of submission motivated by the desire to imitate the example of Jesus, so that the gospel might be made visible (2:19-25). The teaching directed at husbands is a sober call to submit to God by being a considerate leader.
We must be clear what we mean by a husband who is considerate and understanding and honors his wife. It does not mean he is called to passively go with the flow and allow his wife to lead the marriage and household. Nor does it mean he is called to actively assure that she always gets what pleases her. Either approach would represent a relinquishment of the husband’s God-given authority and responsibility for which he will one day give an account to God. A faithful husband must lead his wife, loving her as Christ loves the church and actively looking out for her welfare—and sometimes this will mean making decisions that do not please her or even aggravate in her the willfulness each of us carries in our hearts.
The challenge facing every Christian husband who desires to be godly is to love his wife by both leading her confidently and loving her gently. Because every husband-in-the-making still wrestles daily with his own serve-me-first depravity, this challenge cannot be met without the empowering grace of God. But as a husband submits to the Lord and pursues obedience to this call by walking in the Spirit, his efforts will please the Lord. As he grows in this important role, his obedience will remove one principal reason for his prayers being hindered. Let’s look briefly at the two main components of Peter’s exhortation to husbands: that they understand their wives and honor them.
For a husband to live with his wife “in an understanding way” means to dwell with her according to knowledge and consideration. The word translated “understanding” may refer to Christian insight as well as tact. This is a clarion call for a man to mix humility, kindness, wisdom, and clear biblical leadership into a single attitude of heart and mind. To live in ignorance of a wife’s spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical condition, or to be uncaring about what it means to lead and love her as Christ does the church, this is disobedience to God.
A husband must also hold his wife in high esteem. In the culture of Peter’s day, women were considered inferior to men. Peter’s command was therefore a significant elevation of women and a bold challenge to the ungodly status quo. Through this passage, a husband of that era came to understand just how radical was this faith he had come to embrace. Instead of treating his wife as a second-class citizen, here he is commanded to grant her “honor.” This means to hold her in high regard due to recognition of her intrinsic worth. Of course, in a day when many husbands take better care of their cars than they do their wives, this command still has profound relevance.
As a husband learns to walk in obedience to God, by the Spirit’s empowerment, the Father’s ears will once again be opened to his prayers. May every husband commit to the ongoing process of becoming a gentle, considerate leader so that his prayers are not hindered.
Earlier Posts in this Series
- 6 Common Reasons God Does Not Answer Our Prayers
- The Problem with Pet Sins
- Why Refusing to Resolve Conflict Hinders Prayer
- Religious Sins