Who Are The Weaker Vessels?

I wonder if we have it backwards. I wonder if we’ve made a mistake. By “we”, I mean the church. By “we” I mean church tradition. By “we” I mean the traditional way we’ve interpreted 1 Peter 3:7. By “we” I mean most commentators who’ve commented on 1 Peter 3:7. I mean “we” in a collective sense. By “we” I also mean me, as I’ve accepted the traditional view of this passage without questioning what I’ve heard. Peter writes:

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. (1 Peter 3:7)

The traditional interpretation of this passage goes something like this: husbands need to remember that since their wives (and women in general) are weaker than they are, they need to be nice to them and show them honor. But I don’t think that’s what Peter means and in fact, I think that interpretation falls under its own weight in light of the context here. The context goes all the way back to chapter two:

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The Prodigal’s Father

If you’re like me (and I hope you’re not) you may be rolling your eyes right now, thinking, “Oh great! Another blog about the story of the Prodigal! Haven’t we read and heard enough about this story already?” If that’s you, I empathize with you. I suppose you’re right and a part of me feels the same way. For several years running, it seemed the story of the Prodigal was always popping up somewhere. Perhaps it was due to the popularity a few years ago of Keller’s book, The Prodigal God. It does seem like that book started a trend that perhaps has been overdone.

But I think this post is going to have a different flavor – a different emphasis – because I want to talk with you about the Prodigal’s father. Not as a picture of what God is like, although I think that’s accurate, but as a human father. A broken father. A hurting father. A disappointed father. A worried father. An anxious father. A scared father. An unknowing father. An uncertain father. An angry father. An unappreciated father. A sad father. A powerless father, unable to fix the obvious wrong he sees. And a doubting father who often finds himself questioning the silence and absence of an all-powerful God in the midst of the heartbreak.

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