12 Ways to Honor your wife

The Bible tells us as Christian men to honor our wives. But how do we honor her? It what ways and for what reasons do we honor her? In this next post in my series “How to be a godly husband”, we will explore what the Bible means when it tells us to honor our wives.

In my last post, “10 Ways to know and talk to your wife”, we explored the first half of I Peter 3:7. In this post we will explore the last half I Peter 3:7 and tie it all together for us as husbands.

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” – I Peter 3:7 (KJV)

What do the words “honor” and “weaker vessel” mean?

The English word “honor” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word Time” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

   “a valuing by which the price is fixed

of the price itself

of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold

honour which belongs or is shown to one

of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds

deference, reverence”

The English word “weaker” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word “Asthenes” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

   “weak, infirm, feeble”

The English word “vessel” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word “Skeuos” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

“a vessel

an implement

in the plural

household utensils, domestic gear

the tackle and armament of vessels, used specifically of sails and ropes

metaph.

a man of quality, a chosen instrument

in a bad sense, an assistant in accomplishing an evil deed

“Vessel” was a common Greek metaphor for “body” since Greeks thought of souls living temporarily in bodies.”

In the case of I Peter 3, “honor” has to do with a husband honoring his wife’s position as “the weaker vessel”. This is actually the most literal rendering “weaker vessel”. Some translations have tried to change it a bit and they will usually add a foot note at the bottom of the page “lit “weaker vessel”.

Why we honor our wives

In a previous post “Why does the Bible call woman the weaker vessel?” I stated this:

“What God is saying is this – “Men I want you to recognize that your wife is not as strong as you, both emotionally and physically. You need to be considerate of those qualities, and appreciate those qualities for the many ways they help her to be a good wife and mother. Don’t belittle her for being weaker or more fragile than you, but instead honor her position as your wife and the mother of your children.”

I stand by that understanding, and I believe that we are called to honor our wife’s position as our wife and as the mother of our children. In other words, we honor her position as the help meet to man for which she was designed by God.

We honor the position, not necessarily the person

There are two types of honor or respect Biblically speaking. One is an honor based on position, the other is an honor that is earned, based on what a person actually does with their position.

The Bible tells us to “Honour thy father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2), when we honor our parents, we honor their position as our parents, not necessarily their person. It is the same way with a husband or wife, a wife is called respect her husband’s position, even if his person is not respectable. (Ephesians 5:33). Finally a husband is called to honor or respect his wife’s position, even if her person is not worthy of that respect.

For most of us, while our parents may have been imperfect, they not only deserve to be honored for their “position” as our parents, but they also deserve to be honored for their “performance” as our parents.

I have a close Christian friend, whose mother whored around with different men his whole life, and on top of that she was a drug addict. He has had to walk that fine line his whole life, of honoring his mother’s position, while have nothing but distain for her person because of the horrible things she has done. His mother has not earned any respect, but he must always honor her position as his mother.

The Bible recognizes that many husbands might face this dilemma of having to honor a wife that does not seek to model the role of a Biblical wife and mother:

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” – Proverbs 12:4(KJV)

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” – Proverbs 14:1(KJV)

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.” – Proverbs 11:22(KJV)

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”  – Proverbs 21:9(KJV)

So as husbands we all hope that we find a virtuous woman who wants to model God’s design for a wife and mother, but even if we don’t have such a wife we must honor her position as our wife and the mother of our children, while we may not honor her particular behavior as a wife and mother.

Praise is a primary way that we honor our wives

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her… She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Proverbs 31:10-11 & 26-31 (KJV)

Praise is one way that we can honor our wives. But praise unlike honor, is not unconditional. Notice in Proverbs 31 that the wife’s works are what make her worthy of praise. We honor our wives for what they do right, not for what they do not do or what they do that violates God’s Word.

12 Ways to Honor your wife

1. Praise her faith

Praise her living out her faith and teaching it teaching your children about God, tell her how much you appreciate her example and instilling her faith in your children.

2. Praise her use of her talents

If she teaches a woman’s Sunday school class, or runs a Christian woman’s blog, or writes books for Christian women, if she uses her talents for the Lord, remember to praise her.

3. Praise her submission

Praise your wife for her submission to your headship, especially when it is hard to do. You might have to make a decision as the head of your home that she disagrees with, but when she recognizes your authority to so, and follows you even when disagrees – don’t forgot to show your appreciation for that. Don’t take that for granite.

4. Praise her wisdom

Praise your wife for her wisdom, when she give you advice that really helps you make a good decision and praise her when she gave you advice that you didn’t follow, but later you found to be right.

5. Praise her cooking

Praise her for every meal she makes, even if it does not taste good, praise the effort.

6. Praise her care of your home

Praise her, and notice when she cleans the house, even if it is done imperfectly.

7. Praise her organization

Praise her for how she looks out for your family, to make sure everyone has the right clothes and the house is stocked correctly.

8. Praise her efforts to make herself beautiful

Praise her whenever she fixes herself up, when she puts on makeup and nice clothes, never forget to praise her for this. Tell her she is beautiful.

9. Praise her efforts to be sexy for you

Praise her when she dresses sexy for you, or when she puts on lingerie, never take that for granted.

10. Honor her for respecting the importance of sex in your marriage

Praise her when she initiates sex and show her your gratitude. Recognize her when you know she acted selflessly and had sex with you even when she was not in the mood.

11. Make your children respect her position

Respect your wife’s position as your children’s mother and authority. Don’t let your children undermine your wife’s authority, and unless they tell you something immoral or sinful she has done (something abusive or wrong) you need to back her.

12. Protect her reputation whenever possible

If you need to confront your wife about something she has done wrong, try to do this in private. There are some exceptions where confronting her behavior in front of others is appropriate. For instance if your wife disrespects you in front of your children, it is appropriate to call her out on this in front of them so they will understand that type of behavior is not acceptable.

What honoring your wife does NOT mean

Some feminist Christians have tried to take the phrase from I Peter 3:7 – “and as being heirs together of the grace of life” to say that since we are equal heirs of the grace of life, that God sees men and women as equal in all ways and there are in fact no gender roles, and Peter is telling husbands to honor their wife as their equal partner in marriage. In fact the NIV actually changed “weaker vessel” to “weaker partner” in an attempt to appease feminist Christians with the idea that marriage is an equal partnership.

Such an interpretation does not match even the language of this passage, let alone the witness of the entire Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. The literal phrase “weaker vessel” actually displays the inequality of man and woman, not their equality.

Never once in all the Scriptures does the Bible present marriage as an equal partnership, and partner is never used when speaking of a husband and wife relationship. The wife is called a companion of her husband, but never a partner. A companion in the Scripture is not necessarily an equal, but one who goes along aside someone. A master traveling with his servant, would consider his servant a “traveling companion”.

Christian feminists, and even non-Christians teach, that unless women are equal partners in marriage, and have equal social status in all areas of life, that they are being treated as less than human. In their view a person’s humanity is synonymous with their rights, if they have less rights in any area for any reason, then these people are being dehumanized in their view.

The Bible does not recognize such a definition of humanity. We are all human, not because of what rights we possess, but because God created man in his image, and he created woman in man’s image. That is why we are special (both men and women), that is why despite all our inequalities (both physical, and in our roles) we are still equal in our value as human beings.

The consequences of not honoring our wives

Just as there are consequences for not honoring our parents, there are also consequences for not honoring our wives.

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” – I Peter 3:7 (KJV)

God tells us that if we do not know our wives (talk with our wives) and honor our wives as the weaker vessel, he will not hear our prayers as husbands. God takes it very seriously when a man does not grant his wife the honor that her position is due.

9 thoughts on “12 Ways to Honor your wife

  1. A question on praise – How exactly do you give praise? How is it different than a compliment? I know there is a big difference but I haven’t quite grasped the difference. Let’s use this as an example:

    Wife cooks a wonderful meal. A compliment would be “That was delicious you’re a good cook”. How would praise be different in this instance?

  2. Roy,

    I think compliments are praise. Telling her how good the meal was is praise enough. Other times you might praise her would maybe be when others around and you say how great a cook your wife is.

  3. Jenn,

    The Bible calls woman “the weaker vessel”, her emotions and physicality are one. Who usually cries easier? a woman or a man? Which sex is more often able to compartmentalize their emotions? women or men? A woman’s emotions are tied to every part of her being by the design of God. It makes women much better at empathy than men in most cases. It is what makes women better at caring for children and sick people.

  4. I get funney looks when I dress up or wear something sexy. I tend to get picked on for asking for sex and usually my advances were rejected, so I just stopped. Now he’s asking me to initiate more and wondering why I don’t dress up anymore. Im getting mixed messages here, some how im dirty for asking for sex but on top of that im a bad person for not asking? Why is it a blow to his ego if I ask for sex and if im not asking for sex? What are the rules, I need rules. Rules I can follow.

  5. Victoria,

    Ok so obviously you are talking about non-vaginal sex based on your other comments about your problems with vaginismus. But I am glad to hear you still desire to have some kind of sex with him using other means during this time – that is a great attitude.

    You know we men always joke “women are fickle”, but the truth is some men can be “fickle” as well and it sounds like your husband might be one of those guys.

    For some men one day they have on their “modest hat” and will tease you for where something sexy. By the way modest, Biblically speaking does not mean “non-sexy”, it literally means “appropriate to the occasion”. For instance it would be completely appropriate for you to wear a bikini to the beach, but not appropriate for you to wear a bikini to church or your kids piano recital.

    But then another day he will have on his “sexy hat” and want you to wear something sexy.

    Here is my answer to fickle men – its the same answer I have to fickle women. Don’t play the game. Be straight up, be respectful but tell your husband how he has teased you and how it makes you feel. He cannot have his cake and eat it too. Either he wants you to dress sexy or not.

    On the initiating sex front, whether he likes that or not – that is your biblical RIGHT to initiate sex with him. If he needs to review I Corinthians 7 the let him do that. As his wife you have every right to bring these grievances to him about his fickleness, just remember you always need to couch it in a respectful manner.

    So here are your “Rules to follow” that you asked for:
    Yes as your husband and authority he has a say over how you dress. But he needs to make up his mind.
    You have the God given right to initiate sex with him anytime you want, and unless for legitimate mental or physical reasons he cannot, then he must grant your request. He has no right to shame you about this.

  6. Thanks for the thought provoking post. I found you in an online search, am a fellow blogger, and also hold to biblical inerrancy. I was also raised So Baptist. I agree with you that this topic in enormously important.

    Having said that, I am quite troubled by your statement: “…The literal phrase “weaker vessel” actually displays the inequality of man and woman, not their equality. Never once in all the Scriptures does the Bible present marriage as an equal partnership…”
    And equally troubling: “…God created man in his image, and he created woman in man’s image. ”

    Gen 1:27 states that God created both male and female in His image. Gen 2:23-24 states God’s ideal for marriage – unity in diversity in “one flesh.” Jesus affirms this understanding in Matt 19:4-9 and elsewhere. Apostolic teaching says that inequalities such as Jew vs gentile, slave vs free, and male vs female are done away with in Jesus (Gal 3:27-28.) By way of contrast, I would add that the Quran explicitly states that God has made men superior to women (Surah 4:34.) This has led to a great deal of abuse in Islamic Cultures. I contend that there is no such statement in the Judeo-Christian scriptures.

    In all my years of following Jesus I have never heard any fellow follower make the case from scripture that God created male and female unequal. I must admit I am deeply troubled that this is being taught here as a biblical position. Could you please explain why you hold to this in light of Gen 1?

    Thanks – Grace and peace to you.

  7. Art & Life,

    Your Statement:

    “In all my years of following Jesus I have never heard any fellow follower make the case from scripture that God created male and female unequal. I must admit I am deeply troubled that this is being taught here as a biblical position. Could you please explain why you hold to this in light of Gen 1?”

    I realize it might be shocking for you to hear another believer make the case from Scripture that God created male and female unequal. But it is very clear from Scripture that he did.
    See I Corinthians 11:7(KJV):

    “7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”

    While man and woman are both equal in their humanity(as Eve receives her humanity from Adam) the Bible shows us that the male and female vessels were not created equally in God’s image. Man is the image and glory of God – woman is not. Woman is the glory of man.

    I also take you back to Genesis 1:27(KJV):

    “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

    I want you to notice two key words in that verse – “him” and “them”. No one is arguing that God created “them” – meaning both male and female human beings. But he only made one type of human being in his image and that is was the male human being. Does that mean I think men should think they are better than women because they were born men? Of course not. We are each born in the vessel that God gave us. But each of us has a different role to play depending on what vessel we were born in.

    So the truth is that men should not look down on woman because they were born with the weaker vessel and women should not be envious or try to compete with men because they were born in the vessel which is made in the direct image of God.

    See this article I wrote a while back on this subject:
    https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2015/01/22/is-god-more-like-man-more-like-woman-or-a-combination-of-the-two/

    Your Statement:

    “Apostolic teaching says that inequalities such as Jew vs gentile, slave vs free, and male vs female are done away with in Jesus (Gal 3:27-28.)”

    Let’s look at Galatians 3:27-28(KJV):

    “27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
    28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Paul is not talking here about social equality between persons or physical equality between genders. He is talking about spiritual equality.

    The same Apostle Paul that wrote this passage about also wrote these passages that do not remove social inequalities but rather enforce them:

    “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” – I Peter 2:18 (NIV)

    “9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” – Titus 2:9-10 (NIV)

    “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” – Colossians 4:1 (NIV)

    “22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” – Ephesians 5:22-24 (NIV)

    “34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” – I Corinthians 14:34-35 (NIV)

    The point is that in these passages Paul does not show a Christian faith that is seeking social or gender equality – but one that has spiritual equality. He very much leaves the social inequalities of rich and poor, free and slave and male and female very much intact. Now we did away with slavery was that bad? Of course not. Slavery was an allowance in the Bible under certain circumstances but it was not command(and it was never racially based as American slavery was). See my post on slavery for more detail https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2015/07/10/why-christians-shouldnt-be-ashamed-of-slavery-in-the-bible/

    But the inequality of man and woman was not simply an allowance as slavery was – it was by the very design of God. It is a commanded in this world. God meant for the relationship of man and woman to model the relation of Christ and his church or God and his people. When we seek to make women completely socially equal to men we are in essence trying to make man equal with God. We are breaking the model he made when he designed the two genders.

    I hope this explains my position better and that you will look at these Scripture passages closer and with an open heart.

  8. To biblicalgenderroles – That does help me understand your position. However, I believe you are overlooking a few textual details on the topic. (Please excuse the caps for emphasis.) First regarding the Genesis account:
    If we start in 1:26 we see, “Then God said, ’Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let THEM have dominion…

    This clarifies the next verse, 27, which says, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

    Then in verse 28 we see God giving THEM dominion over the creation, just as He said He would in verse 26.

    Then, preceding the verse you cite in chapter 5, we see more clarification that both male and female bear the image of God: “This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, He made Him in the likeness of God. Male and female He created THEM, and He blessed THEM and NAMED THEM MAN when they were created.”

    This explicitly tells us that we are not to interpret “man” as you say we should, (as the man “Adam.”) It tells us God “named them Man when they were created.”

    This should settle the issue unless there is somewhere else in the scriptures that explicitly say woman was not created in the image of God and is unequal to man. There is no such verse. However, as I have shown, we do have apostolic teaching reinforcing the equal nature of male and female as co-heirs as New Covenant children of God in the Messiah (Gal 3: 27 – 4:7.)

    The closest we come to a declaration that women do not bear God’s image is 1 Cor 11:7, “…(man) is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.”
    If there were ever a shining opportunity for Paul to say that women were created in the image of man, this was it. But he doesn’t say it. Therefore, what you are teaching is going beyond what the scriptures teach.

    Regarding Gal 3:27-29, you say this is speaking of “spiritual equality.” That’s good enough for me, (even though, again, the scriptures do not use this term.) Our flesh and our worldly “social” cultures have been corrupted by sin. If, by the Spirit, God has broken down divisions and declared us ONE, then that is the true reality whether or not worldly cultures follow suit.

    In fact, the entire book of Philemon shows Paul exhorting a slave owner to receive back one of “his” slaves as a brother, and no longer as a slave. Even though, socially and culturally, owning slaves was perfectly legal and acceptable. In the gospels we also see Jesus repeatedly treating women as equals to men, because this is the true reality – male and female bear the image of God, and as such are ONE, and are CO-HEIRS is Messiah. Also, it should be understood that the simple fact that authority and submission roles are assigned by God does not in any way support your teaching. Unless you are prepared to argue that children are not of equal value to their parents, or that the Word made flesh is not equal to the Father in the Triune Godhead.

    What you are teaching erects a barrier for seekers who might otherwise consider the truth claims of the Bible. I urge you to reconsider your position and publicly make corrections according to what the scriptures actually say.

    Grace and peace.

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