The Myth of the Weaker Vessel

The Myth of the Weaker Vessel February 7, 2012

by Eric Pazdziora

In response to a popular pastor’s perplexing pronouncement that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel,” Rachel Held Evans asked Christian men to write a blog post “that celebrates the importance of women in the Church.” Here’s mine.

Lately, both from online creepers and respectable preachers, I’ve seen several comments that come back to one idea: Of course we give lip service to the idea that women are equal to men, but actually they’re inferior, because the Bible says that a woman is a “weaker vessel.” Here’s a composite portrait, based very closely on wording I’ve seen in various places:

There is a difference between men and women, regardless of what you would like to believe. The Bible makes this clear: 1 Peter 3:7– “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the weaker vessel.” Either this passage is true and women are “weaker vessels,” or it’s not. If it’s not, why believe any of the Bible? God says that because women are weaker, they are more vulnerable to deception and temptation. There are lots of things they don’t know or can’t deal with. That’s why God has raised up men to be the godly authorities they need to guard their hearts and spirits…..

I find that rather unsettling. Continually dwelling on how someone is weak and vulnerable and in need of help is disturbingly similar to what’s called “learned helplessness” (or sometimes “gaslighting” after the Ingrid Bergman film). In its worst forms, it’s a technique of psychological abuse. It works with a chilling simplicity: the more a feeling of helplessness is reinforced on you, the more likely you are to believe it. If every time you go to pick up a bag I say, “Let me get that for you; you’re too weak,” eventually you’ll start to say, “You’ll have to get that for me; I’m too weak.” Even if you’re not.

So it’s no surprise that this Bible verse about the “weaker vessel” is a favorite weapon in the arsenal of religious people who want to dominate and control women (see The Bondage of Betrothal.) Even when people don’t intend to put women down, though, it can have much the same effect. If you say “Women are inferior” with the very best of intentions and disclaimers, you’re still saying it. Learned helplessness works in either case. Some of the most belittling statements in the example above were taken straight from a blog post written by a young woman. It’s bad enough when misogynists belittle women; it’s distressing when women do it for them.

Belittling someone is not a good way to celebrate them. The way it’s presented there, though, it looks like we have to embrace some form of sexism or else throw out the entire Bible. As a Christian, I don’t especially like either option. So here’s the question: Does the Bible really say that all women are “weaker vessels”?

Well… it does use the phrase “weaker vessels.” But to quote the philosopher Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

R. A. Torrey’s remarks, which I’ve mentioned often, are more than usually relevant here:

A very large part of man’s difficulties with the Bible comes from not noting exactly what it says. Time and time again men have come to me and said, “I cannot believe this which the Bible says,” and then have quoted something which they supposed the Bible said. But I have replied, “The Bible does not say that,” and when we have looked it up, lo, it is some minute modification of what the Bible really says that has given rise to the difficulty. The Bible is always so absolutely exact, that I have found the best solution for very many apparent difficulties in the Bible to be to take the difficult verses precisely as they read. (The Voice of God in the Present Hour, pp. 11–12)

Just because someone begins a sentence with “The Bible makes it clear that…” does not mean that what follows is necessarily biblical, or even that it’s in the Bible at all. Torrey warns us to look out for “some minute modification of what the Bible really says.” In this case, though, there isn’t some minute modification. There are some major modifications.

Look at the actual words of the verse in question:

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, ESV)

Compare it to the way it was quoted at the beginning — which, I should mention, was taken verbatim from an (admittedly dubious) online source — and you’ll see three very striking differences that might make us reconsider what it means to be a “weaker vessel.”

First, it says wives, not women. The misquoted verse is used to make a point about how we should view all women. But it’s not about that at all. The very first words give it away: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives…” Can it get any more obvious? File it under Reading Comprehension 101. The verse is about how one particular man (a husband) should treat one particular woman (his wife).

The recommended way to treat your wife is not, “Tell her to submit to your authority.” Rather, a husband should treat her “in an understanding way” – be considerate and empathetic, don’t set unrealistic expectations, be kind and compassionate and caring. Not just that, “showing honor” – treat her as valuable, special, priceless, precious; be respectful and deferential and courteous; treat her as more important than yourself.

Honor is what you give people you look up to.

Honor is what you give people you admire for qualities you aspire to.

Honor is what you give people who are superior to you.

So why does it say “weaker”? That leads to the second major modification:

It says as, not is. The misquoted version leaves out the terribly important word as (Gk. hōs.) The Bible doesn’t say, “The women is a weaker vessel.” It says, “Show her honor as a weaker vessel.” Those little letters make a big difference. It’s not an equivalency but a comparison. Consider another Scriptural example:

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

If someone said that the Bible makes it clear that we need to have wool, slither around, and lay eggs, you’d say they were nuts. You’d be right. The word “as” shows that Jesus is using a simile, a figure of speech. We’re not doves; rather, we’re like doves in one particular point for the purposes of an illustration. (Namely, we should be gentle and innocent in our dealings with others.)

In what way is a wife like a weaker vessel? She’s certainly not weaker mentally, spiritually, emotionally, giftedly, or any other way that really matters. Speaking as a not-at-all wimpy human male, I know women who are more athletic than I am, better educated than I am, more successful than I am, and have emotional and spiritual strength I can only dream of aspiring to. (In fact, I’m married to someone who’s pretty much all of the above, plus much better looking to boot.)

That’s not some feminist dogma; it’s a simple observable fact. Lindsey Vonn has won an Olympic gold medal; I haven’t. Jane Yolen has published over 300 books and won most major literary awards; I haven’t. My boss, the VP of a large publishing house, is a single mom with a doctorate in theology, which I don’t have. And I wish you could have known my friend Evangeline, who earned a master’s degree in her 60s and was editing the next volume of a Bible commentary the day she died after a 20-year fight with cancer. Weaker? I think not.

Thus a lot of commentators take the view that it’s merely about physical strength, considering that Peter was likely writing to an audience where husbands were manual laborers while wives ran the household. That’s somewhat sensible, at least if you’re thinking about heavy lifting, but most women can take just as much physical strain as men in other ways. I don’t know any men who want to take on the pain of childbirth, for instance. Even running a household is no job for a weakling; the Proverbs 31 woman has enough skills to rival any business executive. And domestic work is downright intimidating to lots of manly men I could name.

So I wonder if there’s more to it than that. Remember, the structure of the phrase is, “Show her honor as a weaker vessel.” The central word is honor, a term of value, worth, and respect. The illustrative word, vessel, is a term for pottery, often used as a metaphor for people since God is compared to a potter (see Romans 9:20-23).

What’s the connection between honor and pottery? We tend to think of weakness in terms of inferiority. But in pottery, the finer a vessel is, the more valuable it is. Anyone can make a bulky old piece of stoneware for everyday use, but a piece of fine china — a Grecian urn — a Ming vase — a Tiffany lamp — Waterford crystal — that’s the work of a master. You handle that with respect and care. You put it in a special place where people can admire it. You make sure nobody does anything to break it. In a word, you honor it.

Its weakness doesn’t mean it’s more dependent. It means it’s more valuable.

The point of the verse is not, “Remember that your wife is weak, like a piece of china.” It’s, “Treat your wife with honor, just as you would treat the fine work of a master craftsman.”

The idea that “weaker” should be understood as “inferior” is demolished once and for all when we see the last major modification:

It says heirs, not inferiors. The misquoted version above leaves out the entire second half of the verse. That’s suspicious. Once we see what the omitted part says, the game is up. The reason husbands should treat their wives with understanding and honor, according to the verse itself, is this:

“…since they are heirs with you of the grace of life…”

They are heirs with you. They’re not your inferiors or subordinates or dependents. They don’t need your protection or covering or authority to stand before God. They stand shoulder to shoulder with you as equal recipients of God’s grace. They get the same divine adoption as you. They get the same spiritual life as you. They get the same inheritance as you. According to the very same verse that’s been manhandled to say that women are inferior to men, women are equal to men.

The irony is spectacular. Like Proverbs 31, this verse is written to tell husbands to be uplifting and affirming to their wives, to treat them well, even to look up to them. (Yes, that Proverbs 31; see In Search of the Ideal Proverbs 31 Single Man.) Yet for inscrutable reasons, it’s used to put women down, used as a bludgeon of learned helplessness. Misusing and twisting the verse that badly is like interpreting “Give me liberty or give me death” as an affirmation of slavery.

Far from being a trivial point, this is tied to a husband’s spiritual well-being: Do this, says Peter, “so that your prayers may not be hindered.” To belittle your wife — to fail to be understanding, to see her as less than equal, to dishonor her, to teach her helplessness — puts a serious cramp in your spiritual life. “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,” says the psalmist, “the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). God takes a very dim view of it when we treat people inequitably.

Listen up, men: To treat your wife, or any woman, as though she is inferior to you in any way is to commit a grave and terrible sin. It maligns the very image of God. To put such sentiments in the mouth of God is to blaspheme. If you’ve ever thought or acted otherwise, now would be a very good time to repent. Repent for believing and propagating the unfair treatment of God’s image. Accept God’s view of His creation as valuable, honorable, precious. Treat your wife right — with understanding, honor, respect, and dignity.

Repentance brings us back to the Gospel. Beyond this verse, the context of the chapter is the Gospel itself: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Read the verse without seeing the context of the Gospel, and you might get legalism or chauvinism or misogyny. Focus on the Gospel, and suddenly you find the unbroken threads of love, grace, and mercy.

The Gospel is directly and deeply related to the way husbands treat their wives. God has chosen His people to be the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7). “This is a great mystery,” writes Paul regarding marriage, “but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). “I will betroth you to me forever,” God says through the prophets (Hosea 2:19). “For your Maker is your husband,” says Isaiah (54:5). “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5). “‘Return, faithless people,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I am your husband’” (Jeremiah 3:14).

That means we all are “weaker vessels.”

And that means the way that verse says husbands should treat their wives is the way our Bridegroom treats us– with understanding and honor and self-sacrifice.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

…but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong… (1 Corinthians 1:27)

Christ, our Bridegroom, takes weaker vessels and puts them in places of honor. God transforms vessels of wrath into vessels of mercy. God fills earthen vessels of weakness with His Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter if you’re weak or strong, Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free. We all stand side by side as joint heirs of the grace of life.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. …

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

(2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 16-18 NASB)


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Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Eric Pazdziora’s blog and is a fitting response to NLQ commenter, “Matt” whose views on women as “weaker vessels” are highlighted here.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum! Comments are also open below.

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

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  • Insightful!

    May I add that being “as a weaker vessel” is not a design flaw or put down by God.

    God knows that wives are vulnerable to our husbands in ways which apply to no other human being on earth….

    When he treats me as you have written (May your tribe increase!), it nourishes my spirit rather than sucking the life out of me (like the patriarchal paradigm we used to follow…)

  • Amy Ruth Blue

    nice spin on the Scripture. the Bible is definitely written by men, of old. so of course it is in no way a feminist text.
    but current men of today who are uncomfortable with that, can go to great pains to explain this away and somehow make it palatable.
    I say, just face it for what it is. rather than twist it to try and fit your beliefs.
    and anyway, if you are an American Christian, YOU are the one who is supposed to twist YOURSELF to fit the Bible, not the other way around.
    so maybe your real problem is with the Bible, and you should question it. rather than try and make it fit.

  • Hector Quiles

    Well done Eric…. I TOTALLY agree with this article. This is an article that every Christian men should read.

  • Amy, you have an excellent point about reading things in the context of the intentions of the original author and understanding the time period. While I thought this article was excellent, I wanted to add a little bit of history.

    At that time there were two types of “vessels,” literally, not figuratively. One was a clay vessel and it was used by the Jewish women in purifying the home for the Sabbath and the Feasts and Festivals. The other was a bronze vessel and it was used by the priests in the Temple. Obviously, the clay vessel is “the weaker vessel.”

    Paul is calling the men to HONOR their wives as this weaker vessel, who has been purifying their home, who understands so much spiritually, even though she did not go to study the Scriptures like they did. He is reminding them that their wives are equal heirs with them.

  • Amy: I agree. The thing is, though, when I questioned the Bible and looked at what it actually says (as per the Torrey quote), I discovered that the Patriarchalists were the ones putting an American spin on it and twisting it to make it say things it doesn’t. Contrast “Matt’s” comments linked above–“Yes, I am in control!”– with the actual words of the verse he claims to be quoting, “…live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman…”

    So it seems my problem is not with the Bible but with a demonstrably dubious misinterpretation of it. There’s no reason for me to twist myself to fit someone else’s twisting. I wish “Matt” would face the Bible for what it is, because then he might start showing honor to women!

    I appreciate your thoughts; thanks for commenting.

  • Daisy

    You all have been so scared you can’t believe the genuine work this young conservative man has done to explain this passage. He didn’t just see the word weak and flipped out. He saw each word of the text and used it to come up with a true wholesome interpretation. The Bible neverrrr commanded woman to have children non stop. That is legalism. Psalm 127 says that children are a blessing. Upsets me to know that some heartless religious husbands put you all through this unbiblical unloving inconsiderate treatment. Love Daisy

  • David

    Amy, I definitely agree. I don’t see how anyone can take the words of a few tribalist men that are long dead as final authority. I sure can’t (anymore).

  • Great post, Eric. I just published a somewhat similar bit on the hierarchy-based idea that women should not be like men, to the point that women are required to be nothing like God created them… and this seems ironic, to say the least. I was considering adding a link to your blog post in it.

  • That would be fine with me. Thanks for your kind words.

  • Thank you for this thoughtful article. I am so heartened to see men refuting the “masculine feel” blather that is definitely not Biblical. Kind of makes me want to dust off my WWJD bracelet: What Would Jael Do? I’m glad you’re helping me find a more peaceful alternative. :o)

  • madame

    Excellent post, Eric!

  • KH

    Excellent! Would be nice if Matt would be willing to read it, and it’s too bad that he probably won’t.

  • madame

    Good to see you around… 🙂
    I agree that wives are vulnerable to our husbands like we are to nobody else, and so are they to us. I wish there were more teaching on how to respect each other, without all that condescending “loving leadership” and “respectful submission” bunk. Just respect and love for the person you are closest to in life. Friendship.
    Mark Driscoll “tries”, but his teaching is soooooo deeply mired by his complementarian view, that he fails to realize how condescending and paternalistic his role for men is, and how childish and needy he makes women appear.
    I am strong in ways my husband isn’t. He is strong in ways I am not. We should learn to support each other using our God-given strenghts, which won’t be the exact same strengths any other married couple have..

    Anyway… rant over.

  • Lauren Q

    This is excellent. Purely excellent. I wish it could be published and included in every Logos Bible Software that’s sold!!!! Thank you for really breaking this down.

  • denelian

    the “…as the weaker vessel” reads, to me, that MEN should be doing this because *they* are the weaker vessel.

    i’m not criticizing men, or trying to fling mud, or anything like that. considering the time period and the miracle of pregnancy, it’s possible that this was the meaning.


  • Anon

    It’s very sweet of you to stand up for women. I find it hard to understand why a god would want to make either sex the ‘weaker vessel’. Why, when he could make them both have equal strength and lessen the possibility of one group being descriminated against or forced to become ‘dependent’ on the other . . . ? Lol 😉

  • Sarah

    Thank you for this wonderful article, Eric! I appreciate the thought and study that went into this article and how clear and well-written your message is.

  • Anielka

    I can see your point in much of this. and i like that you bring attention to the little words. However you still have the problem of learned helplessness. A fine peice of china Is more valuable but i cannot act as if it were not. You still get women who are treated carefuly and put away on shelves away from the world. But i think overall your interpretation is far superior and i wish more people thought of it that way.

  • Melanie

    I’ve been a single mom for most of my adult life and quite honestly I would love it for a man to honor me as the weaker vessel. Maybe then they would be nicer, more compassionate, more responsible. I would love it if some men saw themselves stronger than what they do. Maybe then they would be able to contribute to society and their families instead of leech off of them. What’s wrong with a man being stronger if he uses that strength to serve? I don’t feel inferior to someone who is stronger than me. I’m just a valueable as they are, we just have didn’t purposes. My eye’s are more vulnerable than my bones but I need them both.

  • Melanie

    Sorry about the typos in my post. Valuable not valueable….different not didn’t.

  • madame

    I can see your point, Melanie, it may sound nice to be honored as someone weaker, but as Eric pointed out, we women truly are not weaker and don’t need anyone trying to take our strength and power away.
    I agree that many men could use a lesson in responsibility, starting with being responsible for their children and going on to take on the responsibility of caring for a family along with their partners. I agree that there are many young men leaving the young women they impregnated alone to face what to do with a pregnancy they (the men) didn’t make any effort to avoid.
    I don’t feel inferior to someone who is stronger than I am, but if that person uses his strength to take away my strength and power, I have a serious problem. And that is what the whole “weaker vessel” doctrine does.

  • Momo

    I have a question. Does the pottery metaphor imply that women are more valuable? They’re more meticulously crafted than men were? I know the answer is no because we’re all made wonderfully, but how would you go about reconciling the difference in this specific part of the passage?

  • solitairecat64

    When I have doubts about teachings found in scripture I pray to God through Christ for understanding. Just recently I prayed for God to tell me why Peter says that women are weaker in 1 Peter 3:7. The word weaker is from the Greek word asthenés defined as (a) weak (physically, or morally), (b) infirm, sick. As you can well understand this is a very important issue for women because to be morally weak is a dangerous condition and to say that all women have this condition is significant. In the NASB Greek text the word translated as weaker is the Greek word poieo which is defined as “to make, or make out of something”. So what was Peter really saying in 1 Peter 3:7? It appears that he is saying women were created from the man not that she is weaker and this changes the meaning of the verse entirely. This improved translation brings this verse in line with other scriptures that show equality among all of the body of Christ. My prayers to God have been answered with this information which shines new light on the subject.

  • PC aMuck

    I’ve been a part of very conservative churches my entire 50 years on this earth and I’ve never heard this text preached or taught as women are inferior. I think you established some strawmen from some fringe group for this article.

  • Ray Gurunian

    Solitairecat64- You said that the NASB Greek text translated as weaker is the word ‘poieo’. I think you’ve made a mistake there. The word weaker is the comparitive form of the greek word ‘asthenes’, not ‘poieo’. The word’poieo’ is not even in this verse.

  • Ray Gurunian

    While I came across this article a few years after it was written, I’m glad that there is discussion of a text like this. I’ve been doing a good amount of serious study of 1 Peter, and I’ve had the opportunity to dwell on the ways that women are harmed by men. But I believe the problem is not the result of what this verse says. It’s the result of not applying this verse. Eric has tried to help us understand this passage, but there are serious problems in his interpretation that I believe need to be pointed out so that whoever reads this article will understand 1 Peter 3:7 better.
    [1] He states, “The Bible doesn’t say, ‘The women is a weaker vessel.’ It says, ‘Show her honor as a weaker vessel'”. Eric is incorrect in that while it does not use the words “The women is a weaker vessel”, 3:7 also does not say, “Show her honor as a weaker vessel”. The actual literal wording is “”you husbands, likewise, dwelling together (present participle) according to knowledge as with a weaker vessel to the female (or feminine), assigning (present participle) honor as even fellow heirs of grace of life…” “Weaker vessel” is not connected to the command to show honor. It’s connected to dwelling together according to knowledge.
    [2] Wives not women- He states that “it says wives, not women” and then, “Can it get any more obvious? File it under Reading Comprehension 101.
    The verse is about how one particular man (a husband) should treat one
    particular woman (his wife). ” I’m not sure that Eric recognizes that the word “wives”, which would be the greek word ‘gunaikes’, is not even in this verse. Eric’s statements about greek lead me to believe he does not actually know much about it. The word that actually is in v7 is ‘gunaikeios’ which Thayer’s lexicon says means “of or belonging to a woman, feminine, female”. It’s saying that husbands are to live together (with their wives) according to knowledge as with a weaker vessel, to the woman, female or feminine. That’s why the NASB says “since she is a woman.” Unlike what Eric says, Peter is talking about “women.”
    [3] His point about the word “as”- the author makes a big point about how it says “It says as, not is.” He then quotes Jesus saying, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” and “We’re not doves; rather, we’re like doves in one particular
    point for the purposes of an illustration. (Namely, we should be gentle
    and innocent in our dealings with others.)”. True, Peter is making a comparison. But when Jesus says “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” there is a reality behind what he says. He may not be saying you have wool and bleet, but he’s saying you are like actual sheep going out among actual wolves. You’re in danger and vulnerable from attackers. That’s reality.
    Going along with his mistranslation “show her honor as a weaker vessel”, why didn’t Peter just say “Show her honor”? How is it an honor to say we’re to treat her ‘as’ a “weaker vessel”?
    There’s a reality behind what Peter says, a woman “is” a weaker vessel. That’s not an insult or saying she’s inferior in quality or person. The word vessel is used of men and woman. And being weak in the NT isn’t saying you’re flawed or imperfect. Paul referred to himself being weak several times. And being stronger isn’t necessarily better.

    In what way is a woman weaker than a man? Peter doesn’t say. That’s for us to figure out from other passages. But one thing I’m convinced of is that if we took to heart what Peter actually says in all of this verse and appreciate what Scripture says in other places, like Genesis 2:18-24, and live out what Peter says, we wouldn’t have the problems Eric and others are concerned about. Women would be treated with honor and dignity and love.

  • Ray Gurunian

    From what I find a vessel is a neutral term. If you look up the verses where it’s used, it’s used of men, women, all of us. The apostle Paul (Acts 9:15) is called a “chosen instrument” or vessel of God’s. 1 Thess 4:4 the word is used of our bodies that are to be used in sanctification, not immorality. And 2 Cor 4:7 Paul said we have this treasure in earthen vessels. It doesn’t seem like a vessel is supposed to be something precious and valuable. If anything it may be that we’re fragile. Psalm 139 lets us know that God has handcrafted us all. I think the idea is that woman, like men, are crafted by God. The question to ask is what it means to be a ‘weaker’ vessel.

  • Ray Gurunian

    Also by the way, if we have a problem with being called a ‘vessel’ we may as well get inline behind Paul, because God called him one. Paul didn’t seem to take it as an insult. Why should we? He also didn’t have any problem saying he was weak. Why should we?

  • ionsparrow

    First, I’m wondering why Eric hasn’t responded to any of Ray’s posts, which rely not on snark and pandering (with the best intentions) but on an understanding and facility with the original language and context. Ray?

    Next, I wonder how Eric might parse “weak” as it’s used in 2 Timothy 3:6? ” . . . who capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions” to mean something strong, resilient, and smart.

    Finally, it’s nice of you, Eric, to stick up for us little ladies against the Word of God. But, thanks. We have the Spirit of God and our husbands to guide us into Truth.

    It always amazes me how our generation seems to place so much unwarranted confidence in our superior enlightenment over past generations. Not that no one from the past ever made mistakes. But give me an old sage rather than a preening millennial anytime.

  • Ray Gurunian

    ionsparrow- To my knowledge Eric hasn’t responded to my post. It looks like he hasn’t posted on this blog for the last couple of years. I don’t check this blog or get updates, so to be fair, maybe he hasn’t seen my comments. But I wish he would. He’s made statement that just aren’t backed up by facts and it would be good for him to reconsider his position in light of honest critique. Thanks for your encouragement.

  • susannunes

    The “weaker vessel” notion is so offensive. Women are not objects like “vessels” (look up the definition of a vessel to see just how utterly offensive it is), let alone “weaker.” Women are not stupid things whose sole purposes are to be sex toys, incubators and servants for men,

  • susannunes

    Of course these churches believe women are inferior. Calling women “vessels,” let alone “weaker,” is as misogynist as it gets. Men can do anything they want, but women are just nothing but subhuman property of men.

  • susannunes

    The definition of a vessel, apart from a ship is this: a hollow container, especially one used to hold liquid, such as a bowl or cask. Now you tell me with a straight face this is not offensive to half of the human race. Women are just things for men to stick their d***s into and pop out “their” babies. Disgusting. Trying to think the intent of that passage is anything approaching honoring women is devious. Women in biblical times, and up until the mid-19th century, were regarded as property of men without any rights whatsoever.

  • susannunes

    You better hit the dictionary to know what it is meant by “vessel.” Women are not weaker, meaning stupider, than men.

  • susannunes

    Big whoop if men are on average bigger than women. It certainly doesn’t convey brain power. They die younger and are more vulnerable to diseases than women. They aren’t actually stronger let alone they are not smarter.

  • PC aMuck

    That comment just reveals you know nothing about the context of that passage or those terms. Those words weren’t written with your 2016 western worldview in mind.

  • susannunes

    A woman is not a vessel, let alone a “weaker vessel.” A woman is not an object whose sole purpose is to be a sex toy and incubator for a man.

  • guest

    Um…. I have.
    While it may not be preached that “the Bible says women are inferior, look here, they are weaker vessels=lesser beings”, this passage, along with some other Pauline exhortations to women and men, is used to put women in a secondary, subordinate position.

  • Momo

    I think you’re reading a metaphor where one doesn’t exist. There’s more than enough biblical evidence proving that God sees women as far more than baby incubators. The laws of the old testament that seem to give men a lot of leeway to rape, divorce, and punish women only appear that way to us from our point-of-view. For the time of ancient Israel, those laws were progressively in favor of women. Requiring men to prove their wives’ adultery before divorcing them? That’s unheard of in the ancient world in that area. And punishing women if their adultery is indeed proven? Believe it or not, this stuff is as feminist as God can force Israel to be without pushing them too far, too fast. There are plenty of biblical examples about divorce, polygamy, and more that are allowed in God’s Law simply because Israel can’t bring herself to go the extent required to reflect God’s original intention for women and men. Because of our sinful, selfish natures, we don’t accept change very fast, especially when that change forces us to give up our privilege. God was patient with Israel because He knew their hearts couldn’t handle His standards. We still can’t handle it. Why do you think Jesus had to come and save us from our inability to save ourselves?

  • BJ Bennett

    Women are weaker. They break easier. They break the marriage covenant 5 to 1 over men. They have thus far proven incapable of handling the freedoms of modern western society and have pendulumized from the most powerful connecting force of culture to having become the Destroyer’s chief agents of demolition. Have many suffered from the selfishness of men? Yes – for many generations. But there were always gentlemen (raised by pure-hearted mothers) who served as sheepdogs against the wolves. Today, no one stands against the she-wolves, and they are ripping us asunder. They howl and howl, “Our Power is Here, Our Prey is anyone who stands in the way of our new freedoms, God’s Spirit Empowers our Independence, God Blesses us with Freedom, God Made a Way for divorce in cases just like mine (his wandering eyes = adultery, his words, looks and attitude = abuse)”. Their desire is for men – for men to be their devoted puppets until they get bored. The finest china built has broken itself into wooden control sticks used by the Puppeteer in Chief. The Prowling Lion, the Deceiver of Old has built the world’s most fearsome army of destruction out of the very ones to whom the Creator entrusted with life’s most creative connecting powers. It’s insidious. It’s perverted. It must be ecstatic glee for The Destroyer as he gets to parade these deep ironies in front of the Creator.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Nope. Peddle your Red Pill paranoia elsewhere. Not allowed on this site since it is a recovery from toxic patriarchy site. Share that shit elsewhere.

    Thanks for necroing a four year old post.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    …and thank you for contributing to

  • Allison the Great

    I’m betting that you’re lowly and stunted in some way that prevents you from being successful. Or you’re just mad that your mom took too long to microwave your pizza rolls and bring them down to your smelly basement lair.

    In all seriousness though, as long as you don’t do anything to improve on your shitty personality and you don’t stop thinking females somehow owe you obedience or whatever, nobody’s ever going to like your sorry ass.

  • Joanne Desrochers

    well done.. a real encouragement. .thanks

  • Vashra Araeshkigal

    Respectfully, while you can jump enough hoops to make the “as” apply to the men in English, there is no grammatical way to do so in the original Koine Greek. That language has gendered verbs, and it is entirely possible to tell specifically to whom the word being translated into “as” applies.

    As another example, related to the status of women, if you take the original Koine Greek of Eph 5:20-23 — the infamous line most manly-men use to browbeat their women into submission, you will see that the only time a verb shows up that could possibly be translated to mean anything like submit, that verb is written in Greek in the *masculine* plural. Therefore, grammatically, Eph 5:22 could be ordering men – exclusively – to submit to women….or it could be ordering men and women to submit to each *other* (which is the only one that makes logical sense in the context of the rest of the passage)….but there is absolutely no grammatical way it could actually be telling women as an exclusive group to submit to men. THAT would require a *feminine* verb structure.

  • Hi ionsparrow!

    1. I don’t get any notifications of comments on this blog. They kindly reprinted an article I published elsewhere, but as Ray correctly theorized, I’m not made aware of anyone commenting on it, and thus haven’t had reason to check it for a very long time (till a friend reposted it today). I’ll reply to his comment above.

    2. That would be making a false equivalency between two different statements. A “weaker vessel” may be a metaphor for a more valuable vessel than one for common household use; a “weaker person” is not. In 2 Timothy 3:6, Paul points out that some individual women may be “weak,” just as 1 Corinthians 8:11 says that an individual *brother* may be weak. It would be extremely silly to interpret that to mean *all* women, or all men, are weak in that sense. A fair counter-question might be— if Peter had meant to say “all women are weaker than all men,” why didn’t he simply say just that?

    3. You say “We have the Spirit of God *and our husbands* to guide us into Truth.” I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic, or if you’re purposely contradicting the Scriptures by elevating a human’s role to what Jesus says only the Holy Spirit does (John 16:13). Either way, that’s one of my many objections to the false doctrine of Patriarchy/QF.

    4. I’m far too old to be a “millennial.” Fortunately, I’m not bothered by anyone’s snark or pandering.


  • Hi Ray,

    Thanks for your comment, and sorry that I didn’t see it sooner. I haven’t been around this blog to check on comments for a long time; this is just a reprint of an article from my own blog and I haven’t been notified of any replies.

    You’re right that biblical Greek is not my area of expertise, which is why I never claimed it is; the article deconstructs a false teaching based on a distorted quotation from the English that was used to introduce misogyny into a text that doesn’t require it. For what it’s worth, though, here’s how I’d reply to your critique:

    1. It seems that you’re making a point based on the word order of the transliterated Greek sentence? That is not how sentence structure is determined in Greek; unlike English, modifiers work by affixes rather than word order, so it means nothing grammatically that “weaker vessel” is next to “according to knowledge”. The majority of reputable English translations treat “as a weaker vessel” as a modifier of “show her honor.” “According to knowledge as a weaker vessel” seems like a non-sequitur. (That said, if there’s any actual Greek scholars in the neighborhood I’d be glad of clarification!) Even if your reading is the grammatically correct one, though, I don’t see that it affects the overall point I’m making in the article. There is no way around the words “show her honor”; honor entails that the honoree is at very least your equal, likely even your superior; in fact it concludes they are “fellow heirs.” Thus (which is my point here) the text itself is opposed to the idea that women are inferior.

    2. In fact there is an error in my paragraph above about “wives”; I was informed by a Greek scholar who read the article that the word γυναικεῖος serves to mean either “wives” or “women” depending on context. We could imagine a similar usage in English: if a speaker said “Guys, be faithful to your women” we would correctly assume he meant “each individual man be faithful to your own wife,” not “all men in general to all women in general.” I’ve revised the paragraph on my blog but haven’t been able to fix it here. The revised version says:

    First, it says your wives, not all women. The misquoted verse is used to make a point about how we should view all women. But it’s not about that at all. In Greek, context determines whether the word γυναικεῖος refers to women in general or wives in particular, and in the context of 1 Peter 3, there’s no question at all– the whole chapter to this point is about marriage. Every major English translation goes ahead and translates it that way: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives…” Even in the misquoted version it’s obvious. File it under Reading Comprehension 101: The verse is about how one particular man (a husband) should treat one particular woman (his wife).

    3. “Why didn’t Peter just say “Show her honor”?” Well, in your point 1 above, you just argued that he did! But the obvious answer either way is that he simply chose to use a figure of speech to illustrate his point, as all language users do. Why didn’t Jesus just say “Be wise, yet harmless”? The serpents and the doves make the same point more colorful and thus more memorable. Thus I’d argue a wife “is” a weaker vessel only in the way that a wise person “is” a serpent or an innocent person “is” a dove or an early riser “is” a bird who catches a worm. That’s how metaphors and similes work in every language. I explained this in the article: a “weaker” vessel is one that is more valuable, and thus deserving more honor and special treatment, than a common heavy vessel for ordinary use. She doesn’t have to be literally made of clay for the metaphor to be true, and thus she doesn’t have to be literally “weaker” in any sense either. This doesn’t make it a falsehood; it makes it a figure of speech.

    “In what way is a woman weaker than a man? Peter doesn’t say.” Probably because she isn’t. Or at least, not in any way that men aren’t equally weak.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I do appreciate the pushback!

  • Hi Ray— Sorry that I wasn’t aware of your comment before today! See a belated response above.