Friday, November 24, 2006

For husbands only

Gentlemen, I have today found a secret way for us to unblock our prayers. Our tipster is the apostle Peter:
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.
1 Peter 3:7
I like it -- if I do this, nothing will hinder my prayers. What am I supposed to do here?

Looks like I'm to
  • be considerate as I live with my wife, and
  • treat her with respect
    • as the weaker partner and
    • as a fellow heir of the gift of life.
Be considerate: I think I know what that means. Treat her with respect: Ditto. I try.

As the weaker partner? Now there's a puzzle. In our case, I seem to be mostly in better health, but that's not the case with all couples. Some women are larger and in better shape than their husbands.

Does it mean in terms of temperament and activity level? I think some women are more active and assertive than their husbands. One possible answer comes from Sarah Sumner in her book Men and Women in the Church: that women are vulnerable in a way men are not -- sexually. A man can force himself on a woman in that way, but the reverse is just about impossible.

And she's a fellow-heir of the gift of life. Her ultimate significance is spiritual; she's a child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, just as I am, so she should get respect by virtue of her relationship to the King, the Lord.

Finally, what does that first part of the verse mean: "Husbands, in the same way..."? In the same way as what?

As Jesus! He is our example:
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
1 Peter 2:23
Even when insulted and made to suffer, Jesus entrusted himself to his father in heaven. That's our example, and if you've been married for any length of time, you've been on both the giving and receiving end of trouble. Am I right?

So what's the connection? When I don't respond rightly to trouble, it's because I'm not entrusting myself to the just judge.

What then do I need? I need faith, to trust myself to the just judge and not react. I need to remember to be considerate, to remember my wife's spiritual nature and significance, to respect her.

And then -- prayers will get through without hindrance. Yes!

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