It is not good that Ray Rice abused his spouse. It is not good that the authorities seemed to look the other way. It is not good that the Baltimore Ravens and National Football League half-heartedly pursued justice. However, according to sacred scripture, it is ultimately good that this tragedy happened, and I believe I can point out one way in which our society has been improved by this wicked incident.
Today, more people than yesterday, would subscribe to the following principle penned by the Apostle Peter:
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. (1 Peter 3:7)
Peter understands the wife to be equal to her husband. She, like her husband, is an individual created in the image of God. She, like her husband, is a person who is a naturally wicked rebel. She, like her husband, is someone for whom Christ died. She, like her husband, is an equal recipient of grace, and just like her husband she is also a co-heir of Jesus Christ. Peter, just like the Apostle Paul, stood against the wicked pagan culture of his day that gave more value to men than women. In Christ Jesus, there is no greater appraisal given to Jews than to Greeks. There is no higher value given to freemen than to slaves. And in comparison to men, women hold no lesser status. Today, our society gets this.
Peter understands the wife to be worthy of immense honor. Sure, in other passages of Scripture, the wife is commanded to honor her husband, but here the husband is commanded to honor his wife. The husband is to elevate, admire, and serve his spouse. She is less his possession and more his cherished prize. She is a grace he does not deserve, and he should worship the ground she stands on. At least today, the degrading message given by the rap and hip hop community is muted by those heralding the value and honor of women.
Peter understands the wife to be the weaker vessel. While the wife is oft times more intelligent, more gifted, more qualified, more consistent, and more successful, she is less strong. And as the weaker vessel, she is not to be treated with pity, but with the utmost of care. She is to be treated like the finest of china or most costly of crystal. The husband is to exercise great brute strength in carefully protecting and honoring his wife. Strong nations are to protect those who are weaker. Strong parents are to safeguard those children provided them by the Lord. And strong men are to use their physical strength, not to keep women in their place, but to improve, promote, elevate, and prosper the women committed to their care. And today, our culture — including the most ardent feminist — agrees. In America, it appears “survival of the fittest” is really not believable.
Peter understands that God is everywhere watching, and he communes not with those who would abuse their wives. Jesus said it was better for a man to be thrown in the sea with a rock about his neck than for such a person to harm a little one. Paul pronounced an eternal curse against false ministers who would harm their flock. Kings and political leaders who led their people astray were consistently condemned. And husbands who abused their wives were promised a deaf ear from the Lord. God opposed abusive men; such individuals were ethically abhorrent; and this same moral outrage is shared by our modern culture today. Philosophers and ethicists deny the moral validity of the Scripture, but when they least expect it, their rational dependency upon God’s moral code comes seeping out of their mouths. They deny the truth of God’s Word, but not consistently.
Therefore, in our prayers today, let us pray for Janay and Ray Rice. He will need help confessing and forsaking his sin. She will need help forgiving the man who harmed and humiliated her so. Both of these individuals need the soothing balm of Jesus Christ. Perhaps, their souls and their marriage will be saved.
And in our prayers today, let us pray for our own marriages. May God help us as men to lead the way in our sacred unions. May we be incredibly strong, masculine fighters who die for our wives and children. May we serve and honor our spouses. May we love them like Christ loved the church and be violently defensive of our spouse’s honor. And may we be equally tender towards these precious weaker vessels placed under our loving care.
And in our prayers today, let us thank God that even his enemies are promoting his wisdom. At least in America today, most in our culture are recognizing the vast differences between men and women. While men and women are equal, they are not identical.