Coffee Cup or China?

Jul 31, 2017

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Hey Brother,
As men, we are often told to be strong, brave, and tough. “Women and children first!” because we are expected to be resilient enough to survive. We are expected to sacrifice ourselves for the weaker women and children. That level of sacrifice, the strong giving themselves up for the weak, is something to be praised, something to aspire to.

However, masculinity sometimes takes an ugly turn and it becomes a display of strength to show superiority, rather than a demonstration of sacrificial love. Even Christian men are often guilty of this. In I Peter 3:7 it says concerning our wives, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel.”

How often have you heard the phrase “weaker vessel” used in a negative context? I know I’ve heard verses like this used far too often as justification for supposed male superiority. Our culture doesn’t like weakness. So anything weak is considered less valuable.

But let’s take another look at that verse. What’s stated right before?  It says, “giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel.”  Wait a second…we should give honor to something that is weaker? That flies in the face of a lot of our culture. We don’t honor the weaker football player, we don’t honor a car with weak crash ratings, we don’t honor the Olympic weightlifter that comes in last place.

Perhaps a better word than “weaker” in our day and age would be “delicate.” There are many things that we as a culture appreciate that are delicate. A work of art is delicate, and we hang it in a museum for all to see. Even “manly” things can be delicate. None of us setting up a man cave would let our son swing a baseball bat around our new big screen television. No one that just finished restoring a classic sports car would leave it outside in a hail storm. These are all delicate things that we protect and pamper because they are valuable.

So our wives being the weaker vessels means they are more like fine china. No one takes their wedding china and throws it in the cupboard with the pots and pans. No, they put the china in a special spot to keep it safe. Sometimes they even display it almost as if it was a work of art — something to be prized, cherished, and pampered.

When we are dating and trying to woo our wives, we go above and beyond to make them feel special and valued. They are our fine china that we cherish and protect. However, once we’ve been married for a while (and especially once kids come into the picture) we often start treating our wives like dented coffee mugs. Sure, we love our coffee mugs. I have a favorite one that I use every day. But do I cherish my coffee mug? Do I honor my coffee mug? Nope, it gets thrown into the sink with every other common dish and utensil. Sometimes I even forget to wash it!
Our wives are not coffee mugs. Women are not weaker in the sense that they are less valuable. They are “weaker” like fine china, or that big screen you just put up in your man cave, or the classic car in your garage. They are to be honored and cherished.

If masculinity is strength, then remember that true strength is demonstrated in meekness.  That’s why we are called as men to love our wives “even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).  And no one sacrifices themselves for a coffee mug.

Kristopher Galuska

Family Radio Staff

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