Certain passages in 1 Peter are sometimes used to support the idea of hierarchy in Christian marriage, but a closer look reveals that this letter is one of the strongest biblical commentaries on the injustice of such a model. In today’s post, Heather Celoria lays out a convincing argument that “In the same way” that all believers are being urged to submit to governmental authority, wives are being encouraged to suffer in an unjust hierarchical institution for the sake of Christ.
I have recently arrived at a new place in my approach to the subject of women in ministry. While I am not proud of my very tardy arrival to this position, I am grateful to be here.
The apostle Peter helped me on this journey. In 1 Peter 3:7 he shares a principle that is applicable beyond its immediate context of marriage. 1 Peter 3:7 says “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect (honor NASB) as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
As Rebecca Merrill Groothuis points out, the phrase “the weaker partner” here speaks of the social standing of women in the culture of that day. Peter is pointing out that knowing how women are viewed by society, men should respond by intentionally “showing them honor”. The Greek word for “honor” means, “a valuing by which the price is fixed”(Thayers).
I believe God is telling husbands (and by extension, men in general) to recognize the injustice society has perpetrated upon women by devaluing them. And then to actively counter that reality by honoring women in a way that demonstrates the high value we place on them as “equal heirs” in the kingdom.
Peter underlines the vitality of such treatment by warning that failing to do this will actually be a hindrance to the effectiveness of our prayers. Our active resistance against these misguided cultural values has spiritual implications.
I believe we fall short of this call to “honor” if we fail to publicly champion women who are being treated as “inferior” by the society (or the ministries) around us.
From my observations of myself and others, I believe Christians group into five general positions on this subject.