Are women not leaders in the church because they are weaker?


Hello, brother in Christ!

I am currently stuck with understanding the application of I Peter 3:7. When we were having a Bible Study on the roles of women in the church, some cited I Peter 3:7, specifically highlighting the part that says "women are weaker vessels" as one of the reasons why God chose men, not women, as leaders of the church.

This struck me odd because as I studied this verse further, the main purpose for which it was given a command is for men to treat their wives properly. Before this, I read your answer asking about this verse ( What does it mean for a husband to not honor his wife?) where you said that women should be taken care of like a delicate piece of pottery as opposed to something of sturdier composition such as a jar made of metal. Though not wholly contrary, this has been used conveniently to repeatedly tell women that they were not granted a leadership role because they are perhaps inferior in some, if not all, ways to men.

I am very concerned about this interpretation because, for some, this has become their main argument for women's role in the church. Don't get me wrong; I disagree with women taking leadership roles. Other verses in the Bible support the fact that women should not lead in the church, especially in the presence of eligible, able men. My main gripe is the usage of I Peter 3:7 when talking about women's role in the church.

I believe this verse should be handled with more and correct nuance, and although that can be an issue of skill for the preacher, I think that this shouldn't be the main argument when tackling women's roles. Interpreting the verse in such a way takes away its primary purpose. Second, people tend to follow it up with statements of how certain female qualities don't qualify them to be leaders, to the point where some people use this verse even as a basis for choosing leaders outside of the church, such as in government and corporate positions. This kind of interpretation of the verse breeds misogyny in people's minds by constantly thinking that women are inferior.

After researching the differences between male and female leadership, they support the idea that males are more suited to lead in the church. However, such a mentality shouldn't be encouraged elsewhere and should manifest in other areas of our way of thinking. This kind of reasoning in the church is more discouraging than enlightening, especially if one is to lead such a topic to inform women of their roles and empower them to perform them. Instead of highlighting such weakness, shouldn't we consider what women are good at? For example, having a maternal instinct allows them to cater more to the members' emotional needs as they are more intuitive than men. Or they are better at multi-tasking or processing language and then connecting them to the various roles they can take on in the church that are not in the leadership role.

Second, I would like to focus on the word "weak" in that verse. In what ways are women weak? I think this is another reason why this verse is misapplied is that "weak" here is misinterpreted. I would like to hear your take on what weak means here. Does this mean physical weakness? Mental weakness? Financial weakness? Social weakness? Some people use this to invalidate women's concerns in the church.

Lastly, this is a false implication of God's purpose and intent because while I agree that the verse states that women are more fragile than men, it doesn't make the implication of God's intent for choosing men for the reason that they are "stronger vessels." Interpreting the verse in that way - that God uses strength to choose people contradicts other verses where God says he chooses the weak, the oppressed, and the less intelligent. There are many cases in the Bible where God didn't select the stronger candidate. Jesus chose some sinners to be his apostles. In the Old Testament, Moses was chosen even though he was not a good speaker. In I Samuel, it is stated that God doesn't use physical stature or appearance to select someone, so it doesn't make sense to conclude then that God chose men because they are "stronger" than women.

While I understand that our main aim shouldn't be to please men (or women) and their ears, I want to deliver this idea sternly but with a more scriptural and logical foundation that doesn't sound denigrating, if possible.

Thank you.


It looks like you are so focused on a word that you completely missed the point made in I Peter 3:7. You also missed what I had stated about the verse in What does it mean for a husband to not honor his wife?

"Thus, the concept in I Peter 3:7 is that husbands are to treat their wives in a way that demonstrates the value they see in their wives. Peter states that a wife should be treated as "a weaker vessel." By that, he refers to a delicate piece of pottery, such as a piece of fine china. You don't handle a piece of expensive china like you treat a clay flower pot. Thus, a husband is to treat his wife is a way that shows the importance and value she has in his life. Secondly, he is to give her respect because she is an equal partner in salvation. She should be treated minimally the same as every other Christian is treated."

Peter doesn't say women are weaker. "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (I Peter 3:7 NKJV). The word "as" serves a critical role in this statement. Honor is to be given to the wife just as honor is given to a delicate piece of fine china (the weaker vessel). She is also to be given honor as a fellow heir of heaven. This verse is a command to husband regarding how they must treat their wives.

Leadership roles are not discussed in I Peter 3:7 — not in the family and definitely not in the church. To use this verse to argue that a woman is less suited in some way does injustice to what Peter said.


Hello Brother.

Actually, I came up with the question because I agree with the article you wrote (which I quoted in my question). Other Christians are misusing this verse to make women seem inferior. I didn’t know how I would respond to their faulty interpretation, and I needed your help in that regard.

Regardless, thanks so much for the quick response!


I will admit that I was confused as to where you were taking your stand when I read your letter. I even asked someone else to read the question, and he was also unsure, but he thought you were arguing against the position I mentioned in my article. I'm glad we cleared that up and somehow managed to help you simultaneously.


No problem. I understand. I appreciate your kind consideration, brother.

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