I’ve been tossing around a different reading of 1 Peter 3:7.  Traditionally 1 Peter 3:7 gets read something as if it says something along the lines as this: “Don’t be a jerk, husbands, or God won’t listen to your prayers.”

Here’s the text:

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

While I kinda like the idea of husbands getting warned that unkind or dishonoring behavior towards their wives will result in….something….my guess is that most husbands who would treat their wives in an unkind way are also not thinking too much about whether or not God is going to hear their prayers later.   (Heck, maybe I’m wrong on that.)  But it has occurred to me that there is another way to read this, which I’ve found particularly elegant if it turns out to be true, and because it appeals to me so much, I thought I would blog it:

This verse prefaces the concept of “your prayers not being hindered” with a concept of equality — “heirs with you of the grace of life.”  Yes, I know this verse seems to strike against any such equality by calling women “weaker,” but, at least when it comes to spiritual and eternal things it puts women on equal footing with men, as co-heirs of the grace of eternal life.

So could it be possible that the apostle is not warning that failing to live with one’s wife in an “understanding way” will result in a hindering of the HUSBAND’S prayers, but rather a hindering of the prayers of them both, together, as a team of co-heirs?   After all, two people praying in unity together is preferable to one person’s prayers alone, and marital disharmony could definitely result in a breakdown of unified prayer between the two spouses.

I can think of reasons it’s probably not the most likely reading of this text…but I still like it.  The “your” in “your prayers not being hindered” is plural in the Greek, which could be due to the fact that the apostle is addressing plural husbands, but at least it’s not an “each of you” singular “your” which would rule my interpretation out.

At any rate, even if it is just referring to the husband’s prayers not being hindered, perhaps it is not simply some mystical hindering where God no longer listens to the man, but again, the hindering of not having his coheir helping him with his prayer life.  Just an experimental thought for the day.

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