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Monday, July 24, 2006

The Role of a Husband – Part 1

Okay, guys, it’s time to look at God’s idea of what a husband should be. If you read the role of the wife, you were reading someone else’s mail. Shame! Set it all aside and let’s examine what the Bible says about the role of a husband. (Ladies, you’re peeking, aren’t you! None of that!)

The basis of the role of the husband is found in the initial creation of the human being. God made Adam. God made Adam first (1 Tim. 2:13). Now, while this may give a feeling of superiority, make no mistake. The position is not one of superiority, but of responsibility. Look at the first sin.

You all know the story. Eve was tempted by the serpent and “ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6). Now, we can all see that Eve started this, but who does God hold responsible? It is Adam who gets the first inquiry from God (Gen. 3:9-12). It was Adam that bears, to this day, the responsibility for bringing sin into the world (Rom. 5:12-14). Paul says that “Eve was deceived”, which implies that Adam was not. So it is that God has ordained that “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman” (1 Cor. 11:3). God gives men authority and holds men responsible.

First Principles

This would, to me, seem painfully obvious, but it appears from experience that it is not as obvious as I would think. Let us examine for just a moment the biblical definition of marriage.

“A man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

Perhaps it’s too cliché, but the obvious factors are “leave and cleave”. Step 1: Leave. There is a separation that occurs in marriage, a cutting of apron strings. A man is, by the very definition of marriage, to leave his parents. Now, we have a phrase for the guy who does not do this. We call him “a momma’s boy”. One would think that, between the natural ego of a male to be independent, and the sheer embarrassment of this title, this is would be a certainty. What we find, unfortunately, is guys who “stay home” when they marry. Dad is their support. Mom is their comfort. Any issue between husband and wife is often taken home first. But the definition of marriage is “leave and cleave”. Leave home, family, mother and father, and cleave to the wife. “Cleave” is an interesting word. It has the concept of glue at its root. There is to be a solid, unbreakable bond between man and woman that replaces that bond that was just broken with Mom and Dad. In this, then, “the two shall become one”.

Jesus puts another light on the very same topic. When He quotes this verse, He is responding to the question of divorce. Jesus says, “What God has joined together let no man separate.” It would appear, from Jesus’ words, that this unique “leave and cleave” is a product of God’s work. Therefore, marriage occurs from the basis of “God has joined together”, which ought to give it far more seriousness than too many afford it.

It is, in fact, from this framework that God calls husbands to be what He wants. They are to love, to understand, to be the “head” from the basis that the two have become one, joined together by God.

What is “Headship”?

Headship is not the same as lordship. In 1 Peter 5, Peter speaks to the elders, the “shepherds of the flock”. He tells them they are “over” the flock. As such, they are responsible and have the appropriate authority. However, he specifically tells them not to lord it over the flock (1 Peter 5:3). Instead, they are to be examples. Thus, headship is leadership by example. We find the same concept in 2 Cor. 1:24, when Paul the Apostle says, “Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy.” Co-workers – that’s the concept. Husbands are to be the heads that do the dirty work, not the lords of the castle.

It is important to note in our retreat from “lordship” to “headship” that we don’t pass too quickly from “leadership”. Biblically, it is the husband’s duty to God to be the leader of the house. By all means, any wise leader takes into account the wishes, desires, and ideas of others, and certainly those of his wife would be high on his concerns, but ultimately husbands are responsible to God and must, therefore, be the “tie-breakers”, the deciding factor. They must place their comfort on the line if need be and lead with integrity, even when the going gets tough.


von said...

You write;

Headship is not the same as lordship.

How do you reconcile this with I Peter 3?

1Pe 3:5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
1Pe 3:6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Stan said...

On two counts. First, I don't find anywhere in Scripture that it tells the husband, "You are the Lord of your wife." Second, what I do find is this: "For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist" (1 Cor 8:6).

Now, I wrote the series predicated on a very important approach. Commands given to wives are not given to husbands, and vice versa. In other words, "Husbands, look at what God is commanding you to do, not at what your wife is commanded to do" (and vice versa). Husbands are commanded to be the head (although we have only one Lord) and to love their wives and to provide for the family and to live in an understanding way and ... well, you get the idea, but nowhere are they commanded "Lord it over your wife."

In the example you cited, it was not Abraham who called himself her lord. It was Sara who called him lord. Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. So wives would see husbands as lord, while husbands are not so commanded. I'm thinking of the perception of "lord" here. I'm thinking of the same concept Peter mentioned to elders who were to lead without being domineering ("lord it over") (1 Peter 5:3).

von said...


So husbands are not to 'act as lords' over their wives, but wives are to 'treat their husbands as lords' in reflection of their relationship with Christ.

Cool, I cal live with that.

It is similar to the way that I treat I Cor 7:3-5.

Much of the problem here is the way that the word 'lord' has devolved, particularly in the sense of the responsibilities involved, the mutual obligations of servant to lord and back again.

von said...

“A man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

Is this the actual quote? It seems to be missing the first word, 'Therefore'.

I ask because of my post here:

Stan said...

Yes, it's a quote. Of course, the whole quote would look something like this:

"Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.' Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.' Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.' For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed" (Gen 2:15-25).

But the whole story wasn't my particular point. Your post didn't reference the "therefore" and I wasn't writing more than the basic definition, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

von said...

I meant that Gen 2:24 seems to have its first word missing in your quote.

I had like totally forgotten that you had commented on that post.

My point is that 'a man shall leave...' may sound more like a command then the original quote of 'therefore a man shall...'.

And my point on the other post is... it's not a command.

But as it turns out, you knew that :)