The following is an excerpt from Dr. John’s book, BIBLICAL HEADSHIP: Making Sense Of Submission To Authority. Follow this link to obtain your copy of BIBLICAL HEADSHIP today.
Huge segments of society are rejecting the traditionally held biblical values of marriage and family. But social change does not alter biblical truth. Thus, the governing order within a family is best achieved when that biblical order is established and maintained.
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22 NASB). When two people get married, an institution is formed: the institution of marriage. The same type of subjection or submission we show to the Lord should become the order of the family. “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians 5:23–25 NASB).
The idea of subjection or submission has become a stumbling block for many women. Subjection carries a negative connotation—one of helplessness, hopelessness, and weakness. These notions are far removed from the biblical idea of submission. Submission in marriage implies consensual deference and calculated consent. Husbands are not to subject their wives to hopelessness. Rather, they are to give deference in accordance with God’s ordinance and are liable for breakdowns in family administration.
Therefore the husband’s role should exemplify servant-leadership, not overbearing dictatorship. His role is to be a compassionate, loving, and strengthening one. Scripture plainly teaches this role as headship, a concept that comes into perspective both in the family and in the church. In the family, it relates to government in the home. The word headship implies that the head occupies the position that is highest or uppermost in authority. Thus, the husband is the principal authority in the marriage relationship, just as Christ is the principal or highest authority in the church.
We understand that within other administrative systems, men are not necessarily in positions of authority over women. This is especially so within the social order. Indeed, women have pointed that out quite clearly, not only with words but with actions as well. Such action has been necessary. Men were not created to rule over women. That is not what Scripture teaches. Men and women are to be co-laborers and co-heirs. We were created by God to have dominion together. He created both male and female and gave them dominion. So men and women are to share dominion.
A woman never loses her right to exercise the authority she carries in creation. Even after marriage, dominion means the right to rule. God never takes it back. Every human being has a right to exercise a measure of dominion. By yielding that responsibility to her husband, a woman chooses to be obedient to God, preserving divine order within the home.
When a woman carries a position of authority in the workplace, she doesn’t need her husband’s permission to accomplish her work. In instances of ministry, such as taking authority over demonic spirits, or moving in the gifts of the Spirit, she does not require a husband’s seal of approval. Women have the full weight of their divinely imparted authority in every instance. God never changes that.
In marriage, however, God has established an order. Two become one. They are joined for a purpose—several purposes, actually—and in order to accomplish those purposes, there has to be order. This is always true, whether an organization is a business, a team, a ministry, or a family. Structure is necessary.
Every institution needs a constitution of some kind, a governing agreement that defines order. We find such agreements in organizations and in churches. Biblically, such an agreement must also govern the home. And biblically, the husband is the head. Thus, in the affairs of that family, the ultimate responsibility lies with the husband. As the principal authority, his role is to see that the will of God is done on earth within his family.
In a democracy, the rule of a majority of the people ensures that the will of man is done. But when government comes out of the social order and into the marriage, the rules change. Christian marriage is God-ordained. It is the only family structure God has instituted. God established the husband as the principal authority in the home and placed the weight of responsibility squarely on his shoulders.
Responsibility requires authority, and authority requires accountability. When authority is uncertain, responsibilities fail to be accomplished properly. When responsibilities are not met, accountability demands an answer. When there is confusion, people blame each other. But by establishing an order or governing structure within the family, God is providing a protection rather than a restriction. When these principles are not understood, the governmental structure of the home is abused. Authority is challenged and lost. When a man uses his authority simply to impose his own will rather than God’s purpose, he is out of order. When he forces his will on his wife and children, he becomes a tyrant and not a servant, an oppressor rather than a trusted leader.
All government in the kingdom of God is made effective through servant-leadership, not through domination and control. Servant-leadership seeks to make sure that the will of God is done, and the best interests of those under authority are the priority. So, in order to truly be a godly leader in the home, a person has to be like Jesus. To enjoy godly governing in the home, a husband must embrace this truth.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25 NKJV). Christian husbands must be self-sacrificing, lovingly regarding others within their families as joint heirs. Sacrificial living implies a willingness to submit to godly oversight, understanding it is for divine order. Wives defer to husbands. Husbands defer to God and other godly authorities delegated over their lives. Husbands are obliged to love their wives in the same manner Christ loves the church. There is an order of accountability that functions in accord with authority.
That, however, is not how people tend to perceive headship. People generally see headship more as positional, rather than relational authority. They view it either as having control or being under someone’s control. Everyone in the family is expected to do exactly what the head dictates without question or appeal, regardless of whether or not it is God’s will. But positional authority alone is insufficient to establish peaceful order or contentment in a home. Marriage is a partnership, a collaboration between two people of equal value and importance to God, with one— the husband—delegated to carry the greater responsibility. This requires servant-leadership, whereby the positional leader holds his authority relationally. This authority must consistently give deference to God and God’s delegated authorities.
The scriptural command for husbands to love their wives is agape—sacrificial, self-giving love. It is not friendship or companionship or even sexual intimacy, though such expressions are also an intrinsic part of marriage. Wives are to be devoted, that is, to reverence or esteem their husbands. These instructions provide balance in marriage. Women love easily but bestow honor cautiously. Men desire respect and usually find that deference—giving agape—is a challenge. Respect is earned; love is given. Agape cannot be earned because it is the full expression of being like Jesus and bringing God’s will into manifested experience.
Husbands have a responsibility to hear from God and know His will for their families. That will is wrapped in agape. Husbands are responsible for the righteous development of their children, even though wives manage the greater part of relational, emotional, cultural, and spiritual development. Husbands are accountable to God for that training. “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NASB).
When children are compelled to live in a chaotic home atmosphere, one laced with harshness and unbridled reproach, both mother and children are alienated. Parental disagreements should not press children to take sides, to be stricken with fear, or to endure outbursts of anger that end in physical or emotional abuse. They should be nurtured by both parents and set up for success.
Children have natural aptitudes and tendencies that God has placed in them. These are present to align them with God’s purpose for their lives. Fathers and mothers need to work together to help them achieve that purpose, to help them find God’s purpose and flow into it.
Headship in a family is not an elected office. People don’t get married, have children, and then hold an election for family president. God determined, before the world was created, that the husband would be responsible and accountable for the family. Thus, the husband is to be the head of the family unit. This same principle of headship is established in the church and in the kingdom of God.
What you just read is an excerpt from Dr. John’s book, BIBLICAL HEADSHIP: Making Sense Of Submission To Authority. Follow this link to obtain your copy of BIBLICAL HEADSHIP today.