When Husbands Stop Answers To Prayer
Peter has been instructing wives in the responsibility of holy living at home – encouraging their love for the Lord and their husbands to give them the courage to submit themselves willingly (1 Peter 3:1-6). Now he addresses the husbands. Despite the strength that many men possess, they are urged to treat their wives with gentleness and respect. However much a man may be involved with his work, when he comes home, he is to think about his wife's needs, and to consider what makes her happy. Women are not servants for men's needs and pleasure; they are equal partners in the marriage, and Christian spouses are equal inheritors of God's gift of life (Galatians 3:28).
In some societies Peter’s words seem anticultural. The concept of wives being weaker than men is thought offensive. But it is a practical reality that the biological differences mean that men are physically stronger. How does God intend that they harness that power? By restraining themselves from using that energy destructively to enforce or threaten to enforce their will on their wife, and to build up the woman by gentle affirmation in love. Such gentleness was the hallmark of Jesus’ interaction with women (Luke 8:2-11), and is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23).
Do married couples understand that when they are out of relationship with each other, they also have an impaired relationship with God? The careless selfishness or arrogant bullying of a husband reduces his prayers to meaningless words, which God may not answer. God intends that a husband should provide the necessary spiritual nurture for his wife; it should be his priority to ensure that she stays firmly on track for heaven. In the domestic context, he is her primary pastor.
Of course, many couples do not intend to get into an uncaring relationship – some have never learned from their own parents how to relate, and some start well but drift away from loving each other. So, Peter's instruction is helpful to many who need to re-examine their marriages. While loving submission is the responsibility of the wife, consideration and respect is the obligation of the husband. So too is the leadership of the prayer life in the marriage. Where Christian couples have departed from this pattern they need to repent and return. Those who are being obedient now need to watch lest they drift. And those whose spouses are unbelievers should play their part well and trust the rest to God (1 Peter 3:1-2).
© Dr Paul Adams