My years in Men’s Ministry prior to planting Cross Community Church made it painfully clear that there is great confusion within the Body of Christ regarding biblical headship. Today I would like to make a few distinctions to begin to dispel that uncertainty.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)
First, let me make it crystal clear what headship is not: it is not justification for men to control, demean, and enslave their wives in the name of religion. Sadly, many men in the church mistakenly believe this to be true and yank countless Scriptures roughly out of context to support their misguided thinking. Kent Hughes has something to say about this.
God’s Word in the hands of a religious fool can do immense harm. I have seen “couch potatoes” who order their wives and children around like the grand sultan of Morocco—adulterous misogynists with the domestic ethics of “Jabba the Hut” who cow their wives around with Bible verses about submission—insecure men whose wives do not dare go to the grocery without permission, who even tell their wives how to dress. But the fact that evil, disordered men have perverted God’s word is no reason to throw it out.
Now to you men who thought you were off the hook because you have not tried to control, demean, or enslave your wife, listen up! A life of passivity is not the sacrificial living you are called to as the head of your home. Expecting your wife to take the lead, to be responsible for the upbringing of your children, and to be the model of Christian commitment in the home is a gutless abandonment of the biblical responsibility set forth in Scripture. Many wives have shared with me in great distress that their husbands are in no way demanding or demeaning; they are simply disconnected. They refuse to take on the responsibility biblical manhood requires. Rarely will they make decisions, provide direction, or even be open to discuss the matter. They live more for the weekend and themselves than they do for their Savior and their families.
What they fail to see is the true Head and how He demonstrated headship. He is forever to be our model. Jesus gave Himself to make the church holy, radiant, and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27), to the point of sacrificing Himself on the cross for her. The man who is living a self-centered, self-focused, and self-absorbed life is not living the life he has been called to and the life Jesus lived for him. Jesus made it clear that “holy headship” was more about the body than it was about the Head. Sacrificial living is the foundation upon which holy headship is to be built.
To be the head is to be in authority. Yet the right to exercise that authority exists to the degree that it reflects the King and the advancement of His kingdom. Headship authority exists to further the agenda of Christ, not our own, and it is demonstrated in the way we lay down our lives for the good of our home and everyone in it. With authority comes the issue of submission. To understand headship we must understand that everyone is to submit to Christ first and foremost.
When it comes to the submission of the wife, this is to be done only as the Word of God instructs and approves.
Headship is holy when it demonstrates the character of Christ to encourage and equip everyone in the home to love, honor, and glorify God, love each other, and experience the blessings that naturally flow inside of this kind of environment.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!