Why are we forcing men to adhere to our American definition of “headship” when some men are not natural born leaders? I am not saying that God has not called the husband to be the “head” of the home. What I am saying is that we have greatly misunderstood what “headship” means in the Bible and our narrow-minded American view is actually damaging Christian couples.
My husband and I are perfect examples of this. Luke is naturally more of a “manager” than a “leader.” He is gifted in keeping everyone and everything in order, under control, on time and in its place (which is annoying, but undoubtedly good for me). But, “managers” are not risk-takers and change is not their thing. They are typically very wise and often slow-moving.
“Leaders,” on the other hand, are risk-takers. They are gifted in stirring crowds and getting everyone up off their tushes and doing something beneficial. They often act on whims, are not typically organized, and are rarely concerned about time and order. I have always been a leader in this way; since I was a kid. I did not try to be. I just was.
The issue with traditional thinking in the Christian church is that we assume “husband-headship” is defined by our American understanding of “leader.” While this is ideal for some couples as there are certainly many in which the husband is the natural “leader” and the wife is the natural “manager;” one can see how this would be problematic in a home in which the husband is the natural “manager” and the wife is the natural “leader.”
In fact, the church offers almost no helpful literature on how to function as a Christian married couple in this case. Certainly many Christian men and women have figured it out after much trial and error, but how many have actually given up on marriage (since the divorce rate among Christians is exactly the same as it is among non-Christians) because they had no mentors to turn to?
If Luke and I were to go to the majority of Christian leaders, most would encourage Luke to “man-up” and me to “settle-down” – suppressing our natural giftings for a stale and misinterpreted doctrine. In fact, growing up in the church it is mostly assumed that the husband will be the “leader” of the family. But what does this mean when he is not the “leader” in the family?
This teaching has actually caused Luke and I a lot of pain as I have expected him to be someone he is not and he has expected me to be someone I am not. I have often compared him to the Christian guys who were orchestrating and leading Bible studies at church, waking their wives up with morning devotions, and singing “kumbaya” in their girl’s ear (Ok, maybe not the last one).
Likewise, Luke would jokingly compare me to the more laid-back girls at church who found great contentment keeping their homes ship-shape, managing their households, and generally maintaining calm (uneventful) atmospheres. We cannot help but be effected by American culture and American culture cannot help but be effected by the Christian Church.
I am pretty sure Luke would enjoy making organic candles, soaps, grape jam, and homemade beer (just so you know how manly he REALLY is). I am certain, I would be good for the rest of my life not to learn any of these things, but I would like to sit with the guys and debate theology for like five hours. Get it? Christian gender stereotypes are not only lame; they are not true!
American Christianity has told us that all Christian husbands are supposed to be “leaders” of the home, watch sports, and shoot stuff; while Christian wives are supposed be “managers” of the home, bake bread, and sort stuff and that this is so obviously God’s “clear design” for marriage. I would say that this is BULL-CRAP-HASHTAG-SorryNotSorry!!!
Although, can we just stop and give a major shout out to the gals who do bake bread? 🙂
My hope for the Christian church of America is that we will someday come off our high mountain of ridiculousness and GET REAL. My husband is more of a man than most Christian men because he demonstrates his “headship” in love, not by trying to change his personality, giftings, or calling from God.
I am not claiming to understand exactly what “male-headship” means because it is my view that marriage between a man and a woman is a beautiful mystery (like the godhead – not a clear design whatsoever); but I am pretty convinced that “male-headship” in the Bible does not reflect our American understanding of “leadership.”
If husband-headship means anything, it means being the first to love and die to self (AKA: the first to cave), as this is what Christ did for the Church (His Bride). If wife-submission means anything, it means to respond to her husband’s love by trusting him that he actually does want her best no matter how imperfect his efforts may seem. But, Christ did not expect “His Bride” to trust in Him until after He showed her pure selflessness and died on the cross.
Oh but wait, there is more. The Bible actually tells husbands to submit to their wives too, but never demands that wives “love” their husbands (Eph. 5:21-33). Surely we will not be such literalists that we will assume God does not expect wives to “love” their husbands back simply because the passage we all point to as “God’s clear marriage instructions” does not command wives to do so.
Guys, good news! You don’t have to change your personality, passions, giftings, or calling to be good Christian husbands. You just have to love your girl more than you love yourself (I know, not as easy as it sounds). Ladies (like me), you don’t have to change your personality, pretend you are not the “leader” in the home, try and “settle-down” or dampen your calling to be good Christian wives. You just have to learn to trust your hubby’s love for you (I know, not as easy as it sounds).
This is why it is SO important not to marry an idiot who is self-centered. If you are already married to a self-centered idiot, God does not expect you to blindly submit to his idiot-self-centered-whims. You are simply called to love him and pray to God your love changes him. If he is abusive, cheats on you, or has abandoned you (in any way) tell him to hit the road!
Let’s move forward Christian couples! Let’s stop pretending that the man is the “big-bad-leader” when we all know who usually is “boss.” This is not threatening. This shows that most husbands really do love their wives more than themselves! Let’s be honest, most men are naturally “the head” in the sense of loving first, laying down his life first, laying down his pride first, caving first, pursuing first – we all know that when a man loves a woman he will sleep out in the rain.
This my friend, is “Jesus love” – the sort of love that earns the right to to biblical headship. But let’s be honest, a man who is really walking in the true definition of “biblical headship” would never claim such a title (at least not aloud).
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