In our last post, “What does it mean for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church”, I showed that God calls on us as husbands to sacrifice ourselves as Christ did for his Church. I also gave some examples of how a husband should be willing to sacrifice himself for his wife.
I don’t claim that the examples I gave are an exhaustive list of ways a husband can sacrifice himself for his wife. However, our egalitarian Christian friends who reject the Biblical teachings of male headship over women attempt to use this Biblical command that husbands are to sacrifice themselves for their wives in order to convince men that they must give up their faith.
Give up their faith?
Our egalitarian friends might say “who said anything about giving up their faith? We are Christians too after all. We are not asking Christian men and women to give up their belief in Jesus Christ or the Gospel, we just asking them to give up their belief in an outdated Patriarchal system.”
First of all let me point out that that contrary to what many egalitarians and non-Christians teach, there are actually many devout Christian women of all ages who believe in male headship. They don’t all believe this because it is what their parents did, or how they were taught in church. They believe because of their own heart felt convictions after reading many passages in the Bible.
While the Gospel is one of the most important doctrines in Christianity, it is not the ONLY important doctrine in the Bible. The doctrines of the Trinity (that nature of God), Creation, the Church, and also of marriage and parenting are very important doctrines.
The totality of these doctrines, forms the essence of our faith. For Christians who believe that the Bible not only contains the Word of God – but it is the very Word of God, we cannot take scissors out and cut out all the sections of the Bible that clearly show God’s design, and command of male headship over woman.
Egalitarianism’s rejection of Biblical Inerrancy
Many Christians and non-Christians do not understand the concept of progressive revelation. When I say “progressive” I don’t mean “liberal”. “Progressive” refers to the fact that God revealed his law in stages. His moral law never changes but there were temporary civil, sacrificial and cleanliness laws he had for his people before Israel became a nation and after Israel became a nation.
The New Testament tells us that when God gave us the New Covenant of Grace under Christ, the Old Covenant God made with Israel as a nation was made obsolete. But that does not mean there is not much moral law in the Old Testament that is carried forward into the New Testament. Over 350 verses in the New Testament are quotes from the Old Testament. So while we are no longer under the civil, sacrificial or cleanliness laws of the Old Testament, God carried forward his moral law in the New Testament. This is not “cherry picky” this proper Biblical hermeneutics.
What that means for our egalitarian friends is – they can throw all kinds of obscure Old Testament civil, sacrificial or cleanliness laws at those of who still follow and accept God’s design of male headship. But it won’t work, because we understand that we are only under God’s unchanging moral. Part of his unchanged moral law is the headship of man over woman that is not only brought forward under the new law of Christ, but it is elaborated on and expanded upon.
This brings us to the New Testament itself – often times egalitarians attempt to point to the lack of specific language about the roles of husbands and wives in the Gospels. They say Jesus did not teach gender roles. What they miss is the fact that Jesus gave his Apostles authority to write his Word and his commands. He told them that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven.
So when the Apostles Paul and Peter wrote very specifically on male headship, it was as if Jesus Christ himself said it in the Gospels. This is why egalitarianism’s very foundation is built on the rejection of Biblical inerrancy. Once you reject Biblical inerrancy, you can then makeup any version of Christianity you want or any version of the Gospel you want because you decide what parts of the Bible you will listen to, and which ones you will not.
True sacrificial love for your wife and following Christ are not contradictory things
As a Christian husband you must understand that while God calls you to sacrifice yourself for your wife, he never calls you to sacrifice you faith for her or anyone else.
Christ said this in the Gospels:
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37 KJV
This principle teaches us that we cannot put anyone, not even our wife, before our faith.
So as Christian husbands, our relationship with our wife sits firmly between our call to sacrifice ourselves for her needs and our call to put Christ and his commands before the wishes and desires of our wife.
So we know that if anyone – our friends, a counselor, other Christians or even our wife calls us to sacrifice something that we believe is inherent to our faith then we know it is not a true sacrifice but rather them calling us to reject our faith.
Two guiding principles for knowing when to sacrifice yourself for your wife and when to sacrifice for your faith
Principle 1 – Christ always comes first
With the principle that Christ and his commands come first – then anything our wife (or anyone else for that matter) asks us to do whether in our marriage or outside of marriage, must pass the test of God’s Word.
Principle 2 – You are called to be the head of your wife, as Christ is the head of the Church
The principle of male headship is found from the Old Testament to the New Testament and the best example is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:23-24 KJV
10 ways to know whether you are sacrificing your faith for your wife
With our two guiding principles, following Christ’s commands, and following his specific command that men are to be the head of their home we now apply this to our decision making process with how we handle various issues in our marriage.
Are you going against your own judgement in setting your family budget in order to please your wife?
Have you gone into debt against your own judgement in order to not upset your wife?
Do you allow your wife to spend money without any oversight or accountability in order to not upset her?
Are you going against your own judgement in how to discipline your children in order to please your wife?
Are you setting rules, or not setting rules for your children against your own judgement in order to please your wife?
Are you allowing your wife to speak disrespectfully to you – especially in front of your children or other people?
Are you allowing your wife to contradict your application of the Scriptures, your teachings to your children, your rules for their behavior with your children?
Are you allowing your wife to routinely deny your sexual advances without legitimate medical or psychological issues? Or do you allow your wife to be a “gatekeeper” where she determines where, when and how sex will occur?
Are you allowing your wife to put her career ahead of her duty to you as her husband, her children and her home?
If your wife is a stay at home mom, are you overlooking laziness on her part? Does your wife spend her days watching TV, on the phone all day with family or friends, going shopping, or surfing the web while neglecting her home by failing to cook, clean, do laundry and properly care for her children? Do you overlook all this in order to avoid confronting her or upsetting her?
If you answered yes to any of these questions…
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are sacrificing your God ordered headship and your faith in order to appease your wife or appease those around you in our modern American culture that has rejected God’s law and his design for marriage.
You have chosen appeasement to man over obedience to God.
The sacrifice most men today don’t want to make
Many good Christian men today, have chosen to sacrifice what they know is right – that God has called them to lead their homes, in order to maintain peace in their home. They know if they take any kind of leadership in their homes their wife will buck it, perhaps deny sex to them, or in a worst case scenario their wife will threaten to divorce them and take their children.
You can choose to change, you can choose to lead
“…stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – I Corinthians 16:13 KJV
You can choose Christian man, to be the man that God intended you to be.
What to do once you have made the decision to lead
Christian husband – I am not in any way saying here that you should go home, march in and tell your wife off for all the ways she may have done things that are mentioned in the questions above.
The very first thing you need to do is pray. You then need to examine yourself. Look at ways you may have sinned against your wife.
Look over these posts I wrote about knowing your wife, and honoring your wife. If you are asking your wife to follow your leadership, then you ought to be willing to follow God’s leadership – which says you need to know your wife, and honor your wife.
When you speak to her, do so in a respectful way. Confess any wrongs you may have done toward her. Tell her that after prayerful consideration and reading the Scriptures, God has shown you that you have not been the head of the home that he has called you to be.
You can then explain to your wife about what you taking the leadership of your home will look like, and the changes that will affect her.
Realize it might take some adjusting for her, and if she accepts this with a good attitude give her that grace.
What if she refuses to accept your decision to lead your home?
However, you must be prepared for the very real possibility that even if you approach your wife in a gentle and respectful manner about this issue of leadership, she may reject what you are going to do. Let’s face it in choosing to obey God’s order that you lead your home, you have decided to go against the norms of our culture and take whatever will be thrown at you for following your faith.
In a follow up post I will address how to handle if your wife refuses to accept your decision to lead your home. But let me say this ahead of time, you need to lead whether she chooses to follow or not.