The Weaker Vessel
- οἱ ἄνδρες ὁμοίως
συνοικοῦντες κατὰ γνῶσιν
ὡς ἀσθενεστέρῳ σκεύει τῷ γυναικείῳ ἀπονέμοντες τιμήν
ὡς καὶ συγκληρονόμοις χάριτος ζωῆς
εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐγκόπτεσθαι τὰς προσευχὰς ὑμῶν
Likewise, ye husbands,
dwell with them according to knowledge,
giving honour unto the wife,
as unto the weaker vessel,
and as being heirs together of the grace of life;
that your prayers be not hindered.
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.
There have been times when this was interpreted to mean that women were morally weaker or intellectually lesser than men. There are those who preach this gospel today, that women lack "logical analysis" and are not fit to be the "moral guardians." But, we are not concerned with this. We want to know what the author intended to say.
The term for vessel, σκευος, is used in several places so we can look at a few more examples.
- But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Cor. 4:7
If a man [anyone] therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. 2 Tim. 2:21
So, as "vessels," we are instruments of God. As humans we have "bodies" of clay. We are Adam. However, in some way, women are weaker in their physical being than men.
Not in longevity, not in endurance, not in many ways. I am sure that sometimes men just look at women and say, wow, I wish life were that simple. I think sometimes, life is very straightforward for women. Grow up, make friends, sit and drink tea, raise you brood, and you don't have to ask the heavy questions like what is life all about anyway. 'Cause women know what life is all about. (I'm kidding!)
But, most women don't mind admitting that they are physically weaker. That doesn't mean women can't do most things men do, but not everything. And the average women cannot compete in hand to hand combat with the average man. So ... men have to honour this. I don't think it is any more complicated than that.
Both men and women have weak bodies, in some ways women's bodies are weaker. No argument from me.
There are three ways to read sexism in the Bible.
A God intends women to exercise their gifts in fewer arenas than men. Not sexist, just God's sacred design.
B Sexism was put into the Bible by the scribes or translators.
C Sometimes authors of scripture have sexist presumptions, like "A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike." And how about men, eh?