CTNAHM: Treat Your Wife Like the Weaker Vessel She Is

A Guest Post by Aletha

Originally Posted on Yllom Mormon

Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 54

I hope y’all are ready for a whole lot of Bible. Because even though this section is 4 paragraphs long, it packs in a LOT of scripture.

I Need Her to Cover Me In Prayer

It is essential that “husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together in the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Peter 3:7) [emphasis Michael's].

Oh. I had wondered why in the honeymoon story, Debi referred to herself as a “weaker vessel”.  What I don’t understand is why the Pearl’s take this analogy—because that’s what it is-so literally.  My interpretation of this scripture is “treat your wife well because, as a person, she’s fragile”.   Not OMG WOMENZ ARE TEH WEAKZORZ!  And I’m not meaning fragile in a demeaning way.  People in general shouldn’t be tossed about, harassed, abused, or be yelled at.

Life requires a great deal of grace from God, but a particular grace for one unique purpose, and it is accessed only by means of two keys.  The wife gets one key and the husband gets the other.  They must go into heaven’s bank together and insert the two keys at the same time if either of them is going to access the grace of life.

Yes, life is hard.  I can see how some people believe that praying makes a difference. But thinking that both parties need to pray (apparently at the same time) is a bit confusing.  What about marriages where one spouse isn’t Christian?  Or don’t those count?  Also, could someone please explain to me what the “Grace of Life” is.  This is the fourth or fifth time Michael has used it, and I have no clue what it means.

If, according to the passage, a husband fails to “give honour” unto his wife, “the weaker vessel,” then their prayers are hindered.  Husbands who are ignorant of their wife’s needs and fail to relate to them as weaker vessels, not dwelling “with them according to knowledge” will fail to “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

One thing I’ve noticed about Michael (and I’ve found the same problem in Mormonism) is that there is a lot of telling what to do, without saying how to do it.  For example, how should a man honour his wife?  Michael doesn’t really say.  He just says “Do it or else!”  I’m really starting to hate this “weaker vessel” thing. It sounds like a reason to treat women like lesser beings.  If you believe that God created one gender weaker, then you will, naturally have less respect for them.  And despite being on page 55 by now, I have yet to read about a wife’s needs, except for “she needs to be needed”.  Is that truly all he thinks women want?  If so, it’s disturbing.

I don’t know what Michael means by relating to wives as the weaker vessel, but I don’t think it’d be complimentary.  I’m thinking of how I relate to people I think aren’t as [insert adjective here] as I am.  I tend to be a bit snotty and condescending, because THEY won’t understand anyway.  Oooh!  We have a threat! Considering how often Debi used threats against women, I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed at the way Michael threatens men.  I guess I’m still hoping Michael will be as forthright and blunt as his introduction promised.

Mister, this may be the most important warning in this book.  By not relating to your wife with knowledge of her status as the weaker vessel—the vessel being her body—your prayer line to heaven is cut, as is hers.  That means the person closest to you in the world will not be able to pray for you, and as such, you will not be a recipient of the grace you will need to deal with the issues of life.

OK. I have a question.  If it’s the woman’s body that’s the weaker vessel (and where does it specify that in scripture?), then what about her mind?  If women’s bodies really were the weaker vessel—and really, all you need to do is watch the women’s gymnastics team to prove that theory wrong—then why would an all-knowing God give childbearing to them? It’s interesting that while Michael stresses women are weaker in body, he hints that they are also weaker in mind. And as such, can’t handle big decisions, responsibilities, and problems (that’s why they need a MAN).

The weaker vessel nonsene aside, I’m really steamed about this prayer line part.  As a Mormon, I was taught everyone has agency (which means ability to make choices), and people have to bear consequence for their own choices.  But Michael is preaching if men don’t treat their wives like a weaker vessel, her prayers won’t matter to God.  Apparently women can’t have a relationship with God without their husband.  Which makes Debi’s idea that a praying, God-fearing wife’s actions can transform her heathen husband into a Christian, a bit confusing.  Why would a loving God be OK with the wife’s communication line being cut because the husband is a jerk? It just doesn’t make sense.  And yet again, no where does it talk about men reciprocating and praying for their wives.

Alright. Here comes the scriptures.  Weirdly enough, apparently Michael thinks they make enough of a point without bothering to interpret or explain.

1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray ever where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting.

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.

Interesting.  The title of this section is “I Need Her to Cover Me in Prayer”, yet none of these scriptures talks about women at all.  They are all telling men to pray, to confess, and pray more. In fact, besides the fact these verses talk about prayer, there’s not really much in them that helps flesh out this section.  It’s a bit odd, actually.

So overall, men need their wives to cover them in prayer.  How this happens is, apparently, men treat women like the weaker vessels they are, and then husbands and wives use their special praying keys together, and God listens to their prayer and gives them mercy and grace.  Or something like that.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X