Monday, November 15, 2010

P4E.190 Do You Think Your Wife is Stupid? Part 2

Some Christian men hang their hat on what they think Scripture says to justify their prejudice that women are inferior. I Peter 3:7 immediately comes to mind,

"You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." (NAS)

Although we men would like to think so, this is not a belittling of women. There are so many explanations for the use of this word in this context. In the Greek the word for "weaker" is "asthenes" and it is used 25 times in the New Testament. Its use is certainly not limited to women. Its definition ranges from "sick," "helpless," "strengthless," "powerless," and "deficient."

Far from defining women as lesser human beings, in the context of I Peter 3:7, husbands are being encouraged to understand their wives. It would make no sense for Paul to demean women at the very time he is encouraging men to honor them as co-equal "heirs of the grace of life." What does he mean then? First, I think it's a nod towards the zeitgeist of 1st century Christians. In that culture, women were not considered first-class citizens and were powerless to elevate themselves in their society. Paul was actually attempting to elevate them in Christian husband's minds. I like to think that Paul is encouraging men to highly value their wives and treat them with special care, as one would a delicate, fragile, crystal wine goblet. In this verse, God is acknowledging that men can be rough and might normally handle women like a cast-iron mug. He is also acknowledging that women are more relationally, spiritually aware and this makes them appear emotionally fragile to the physically minded man. But their very fragility should cause us to "HANDLE WITH CARE."

PS -  Men are seemingly imbued with incredible power over women. The word-picture that helps me is that of one of those gigantic car-crushers with the powerful clenching fingers used with enough gentleness and finesse to pick up a crytal goblet without cracking it!

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