The Bible calls wives “the weaker vessel” in a sentence to instruct husbands. Many people, including me, have discussed what the text means, going deep into New Testament Greek in some cases. Today, let us ditch the Greek for now, and look at the plain meaning of the text.
To get this plain meaning, see what is ordered in this sentence:
“…Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the_wife, as unto the weaker vessel … – 1 Peter 3:7″
The applications of the text, the way to use it, the actions that are ordered in the passage, is about:
a) treating them “likewise” as the prior orders given to wives. (Those orders include submission and respecting the husband, so men doing likewise means they should return the favor.)
b) dwelling with wives according to knowledge
c) giving her honor.
Whatever weaker vessel means, it is plainly, by the closest command to it, either a reason to honor women (wives), or no reason to dishonor them.
If anyone uses it to bring women down, instead of advocating for honoring them, he is taking the passage out of context – wife, the Bible says your husband should honor you.