Recently I happened across a blog post, "You Are Not Drafting My Daughter Into the Military!" by Mr. Larry Ball. I noticed it was both emotional and incorporated Scripture references—something that I wish would happen more often.

But…something else caught my eye: "The female is called the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7)."

I've heard women called "the weaker vessel" many a time, but it's always left me uncomfortable. I'd looked it up before, confirming the discomfort, but I could never remember why that statement made me uncomfortable. I do believe men and women are different (though not quite to the degree that complementarians tend to take it, since that ignores parts of Scripture).

So I hopped on over to I Peter 3:7 and got smacked in the face with why the "women = weaker vessel" thing is bull, even in the King James.

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.

See it?

Let me point it out more directly for you.

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.

The little word as means I Peter 3:7 does not say that women = "the weaker vessel".

It actually can't mean that. Equivalence and definition is grammatically impossible, with that construction.

See, the word as has many uses, but they're all related to parallelism—comparison or simultaneous action. And that's consistent with how the the original Greek (hōs) is used throughout Scripture (e.g. Matthew 7:29, Matthew 10:16, I Corinthians 3:1, I Corinthians 7:17).

Comparisons illustrate, via analogies. Comparisons don't actually define anything; they are approximations at best (which is consistent with how hōs is used in the book of Acts [e.g. Acts 13:18, Acts 19:34]). That's why they're called comparisons rather than definitions.

There are cases where comparisons can indicate an indirect form of equivalence, but those have specific sentence structure and phrasing that's grammatically incompatible with the word as.

So that "giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel" is an analogy. Not a definition.

Men are to treat their wives as if they are easier to break than they themselves are.

Men are to treat their wives as if they are easier to break than they themselves are.

So that common claim (that I Peter 3:7 says "women = 'the weaker vessel'") actually contains two core flaws:

  1. The verse gives a comparison, not a definition.
  2. The verse is describing how men are to treat their wives, not women in general.

That means basic linguistics and logic have to be violated to make I Peter 3:7 the foundation of the argument "Women shouldn't fight because they're 'the weaker vessel'."

I'm not saying I think women should be drafted—but I've yet to hear an argument why we shouldn't that doesn't warp Scripture or cherry-pick from history. (Full disclosure: I'd likely be exempt from any draft, in the very least from my documented allergy to grass, never mind other health issues, so this is very much an academic exercise, for me.)

What are your views on women in the military or as related to a military draft? Do you have better arguments for or against either?