No, I am not still in Williams but this little parable I want to share took place in Williams so will pretend I wrote it there.
After my teaching on forgiveness and forbearance Saturday night, Ryan, one of the elders of the fellowship we were visiting, brought a lesson Sunday morning from 1Peter 3:7. In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be the weaker vessel, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of life. If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard.
After some good words on the last phrase about our prayer life being impacted by the way we honor our wives, or how understanding we are of her needs, he used some visual aids to help us understand what the point of the statement “she may be the weaker vessel” might be.
First, he took a very solid looking beer stein out of his bag and plopped it down on the coffee table. It was a big mug, heavy and tough enough to take almost any kind of abuse from the one drinking from it. He told us it was not that valuable and so wasn’t too worried about it breaking.
Then he removed a very fragile tea-cup from the cloth he had carefully wrapped it in. It was a beautiful little cup, with delicate etching and a thin line of gold around the lip. It was exquisite. As he unwrapped it and carefully set it on the table next to the beer stein, he talked about how he would never treat these two cups the same way because the tiny tea-cup was a weaker vessel and needed to be treated much differently than the big stein.
The room was full of adults as well as many children and the point was easily grasped by all. Our wives are to be honored and treated as the gift they are to us. We are never to treat them roughly as if they were “one of the guys”. We are to give them affection, understanding, protection, covering and love.
It is not they are weaklings, but that they are weaker in physical strength and more delicate in emotion. Of course I am not suggesting women do not have more strength in lots of areas than their male counterparts, any male who has attended a birth knows better and a wife and mother’s ability to handle 10 things at once while caring for 3-4 babies is obviously a strength men know nothing about.
Please don’t allow the enemy to steal the point being made here by getting caught up in all the arguments about gender roles and differing giftings. I think I can make most of them with anyone, but that is not the point.
This God delegated husband role of caring for and living with our wives in honor and understanding is because we are their covering and their protector and like that delicate little cup they are to be treated and cared for differently then we might one of the guys we hunt with. We are not to break our wives hearts, destroy her destiny or abuse her in any way. She is deserving of our very best. That I think, is Peter’s point, and what Ryan was teaching us.
What happened next is what made the parable so poignant for all who were in the room, especially me. Ryan handed that little cup to me, asked me to go to the kitchen, fill it with something Linda would like and serve it to her. I gladly gave her this little gift with gratitude and affection because I could easily remember times when I had not protected her, honored her or gave her the understanding she was due as my “weaker vessel”. During that short walk to deliver that beautiful little cup I recalled the time I had so dishonored her and broken her with my carelessness and unfaithfulness. It was very moving for me.
Then it happened. The thin little cup was unintentionally knocked to the floor and everyone in the room heard the tinkle of the delicate cup as it smashed to the floor and broke into dozens of irreplaceable pieces. No one missed the graphic illustration of why as husbands, we are to treat our wives with such care and covering. They are “delicate and irreplaceable” and easily destroyed by careless and thoughtless actions on the part of their husbands.
The silence in the room was palpable and as the tears flowed down my cheeks, I thanked my Father for His great grace that has allowed me more opportunities to honor my “weaker vessel” and with understanding bring her into her destiny.
Husbands, be very, very careful with your words. Don’t be controlling or attempt to manipulate her behavior. There is no excuse ever for abuse of any kind and of course be faithful in every way. She is not your “beer stein” to be treated anyway you choose. She is your “tea-cup,” designed by the Father, to be loved and cared for with understanding and honor.