1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
This verse has caused a good bit of controversy in recent years, as feminists have bristled at women being called “weaker.” However, it’s a simple fact of physiology that in general men have more muscle strength than women. With individual variations, there are certainly some women who are considerably stronger than some men, just as there are some women who are considerably taller than some men. However, this isn’t talking about psychological strength, tolerance for pain, or any of a number of other factors. The thing is, this verse also stresses equality of value, saying “heirs with you,” when that was a pretty rare thing back then. When we get hung up on measures of equality we quickly forget equality of value, and everything becomes a mess. The problem comes when people confuse equality with uniformity. We are of equal value, but we are certainly not the same! The last line of this verse means nothing to secular people, but it is of great importance to anyone of faith. The marital relationship is the closest we can have on this earth, even exceeding that of parent and child, though many refuse to believe that. It is of extreme importance, not only because it was the first social contract God established (Genesis 2:18, 24) but because it is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5:25-33) It is the most logical thing in the world that when we are at odds with our spouse we have trouble praying! One of the tragedies of Church history is that John Wesley, mightily used of God as he was, had a very poor relationship with his wife. That’s very ironic when he had a magnificent mother, but it’s possible the two are connected. If he was always comparing his wife to his mother in his mind, it’s no wonder the marital relationship suffered. God deals with us individually, but He also deals with couples as units. We will not grow as God intends as long as we are wrongly related to our spouse.
I could write on this for hours, since I have been greatly blessed in my own marriage and I do marriage counseling frequently. That said, I have certainly experienced my prayers being hindered when I was at odds with my wife. As I always tell couples, I am convinced that marriage is the biggest job of anyone’s life, but it also carries the greatest rewards. Spiritually speaking, I couldn’t begin to count the number of times my wife has spurred me on to greater depth in my relationship with God, providing insight and revelation. Just as Peter says, I am physically stronger than she is, but there are areas in which she runs rings around me. Our relationship is better than the average for any country, I would think, but especially in Japan it is quite unusual, and many people have expressed admiration and envy. I am to use that impact to draw people not simply to us but to Christ. The difficulty is that because we aren’t Japanese, people see us as “other,” perhaps to be admired but not necessarily to be emulated. The Holy Spirit can get through that wall, so I need to pray that He would do so, and seek to be available for however He would use me.
Father, thank You for Your overwhelming grace. When I look back over my life I am in awe of what You have done, and what You have not done that I deserved. Help me demonstrate my gratitude with full obedience, so that I may be a useful tool in Your hands, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!