The Husband’s Call to Love Is A Call to Rule

Are men never commanded to lead their wives in the Bible? This is the recent conclusion that Cane Caldo has come to.  Cane Caldo has been a warrior against Christian feminism for many years. But recently he has come to the belief that he fell into a trap in response to Christian feminist arguments on this subject and that he now realizes he was “fundamentally wrong” in telling men that the Bible calls them to lead their wives.

In his article entitled “CoE V: I Am Not Called to “Lead” in the Bible” Caldo states:

“Our age’s focus on a husband’s leadership is a clever redirect away from the Biblical command for wives to submit and obey. Every instance of Biblical instruction to husbands and wives say the same thing: Wives submit to and obey your husbands. Husbands love and care for your wives. That’s the instruction in 1 Peter 3, Titus 2, Ephesians 5, and Colossians 3; in every instance where the Christian home life is addressed

I’ve written many posts and comments about a husband leading his wife, and I was fundamentally wrong. Over the years it has come to be that the liberal progressives proclaim the right thing for the wrong reasons and the traditionalists fight back with nonsense, and I fell into it also. Christian Feminists (both overt and those undeclared and unwitting) are quick to point out that it is a wife’s duty to obey and not a husbands right to force her to submit. Traditionalists have tried to fight this by demanding husbands lead better, and by stealing the glory of obedient women for themselves; such as when a man says his wife follows him because of his good leadership.

And all of it–the progressive tactics and the traditionalist response–is meant to tangle us up so that a wife’s temptation to rebel and abandon is never the topic of discussion; so that no one says, “Wives, obey your husbands.”

 

Building on what Caldo said here, Darlock on his blog wrote in his article “Headship Sleight of Hand” the following comments:

“When I first read this it was obvious that Cane is right.  But I initially struggled to put all of the pieces together.  Scripture says the husband is the head of the wife.  We can then deduce from this that if he is the head, then he has an obligation to lead.  The Bible doesn’t state that husbands have this obligation, the husband’s stated obligation is to love his wife, and the wife’s stated obligation is to submit to her husband.  But leaders clearly have an obligation to lead.  The specific nature of this obligation is another question, but the basic deduction is solid.  However, modern Christians don’t stop there.  Next they turn the deduction around and run it backwards:

If the husband leads, he will be the head.

The reversed deduction is then substituted for the plain meaning of Scripture.  This is a masterful sleight of hand. From here, submission is likewise reworked:

If the husband leads well, the wife will submit.”

 

Darlock then displays a nice graphic which basically shows this progression:

The husband is the head; the wife is to submit to him becomes leaders have an obligation to lead.

Leaders have an obligation to lead becomes if the husband leads, he will be the head.

If the husbands leads he will be head becomes if the husband leads well, the wife will submit.

I Understand Where Caldo and Darlock Are Coming From

Let me first say that while Caldo, Darlock and I would have some disagreements in various areas we are all three would agree on the need to fight against the scourge of feminism and specifically Christian feminism in the churches.  In this regard I consider both these men brothers in arms and I have respect for their work.

And I can see where they are coming from on this topic.  Darlock painted the Christian feminist twisting of headship perfectly and showed how they arrive at their false conclusion that a wife only needs to submit to her husband if he leads well.

Caldo also was absolutely right when he about a husband’s call to love his wife being unconditional where he states “Likewise, a husband cannot be thwarted from loving his wife. Even if she does not obey him that is no bar to his God-given ability to love and care her despite her wickedness. If he loves and cares for her, and she refuses to obey he is clean. He did not fail to lead.”

Amen Caldo, Amen.

The Call to Love is a Call to Rule

Caldo points out that in every instance of the Scriptures where the husband wife relationship is addressed (1 Peter 3, Titus 2, Ephesians 5, and Colossians 3) that we find the formula of “Wives submit to and obey your husbands. Husbands love and care for your wives”.  And again, he is right in this regard.

But what he and Darlock are failing to see is what kind of love husbands are called to?

Each and every time the Bible calls husbands to love their wives it uses the word “Agape” in the Greek.  This is a love which originates in the will is not based on emotion or affection as “Phileo” love is.  Men are not supposed to base their love for their wife on their affection for her at any given moment, but on the basis that God has given them a duty to their love their wives.

But this agape love that a husband is called to have toward his wife is not just any agape love.  It is NOT the same type of agape love that we are to have toward our fellow church members, or even our children.  It is specifically defined for us in Ephesians chapter 5:25 when the Apostle Paul writes “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church…”.

The key word in that sentence is the tiny word “AS”.  This tells us what kind of agape love husbands are to have toward their wives.  The model for the love of a husband toward his wife is found in looking at how Christ loves his Church.

So, in this critical passage of the Scriptures Paul goes on to show us what is entailed in the agape love a husband toward his wife:

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”

Ephesians 5:25-29 (KJV)

So here are key attributes of how Christ loves his Church that are given to husbands as a model in how God requires them to love their wives in Ephesians chapter 5:

  1. The call to love one’s wife is a call to sacrifice one’s self for one’s wife.
  2. The call to love one’s wife is a call to wash one’s wife, to wash her spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God.
  3. The call to love one’s wife is a call to provide for(nourish) her physical needs.
  4. The call to love one’s wife is a call to protect(cherish) her.

It must be pointed out that the first two attributes in this list are tightly coupled together as the last two items in this list are tightly coupled together.

Christian feminists love that husbands are called to “give themselves up” for their wives as Christ did his Church.  Myriads of Christian feminist books and blogs have built false doctrines around the phrase “and gave himself for it”.  Basically, they twist this phrase into saying Christian men should give up any desires or ambitions they have in a life long quest to make their wives happy.

But what they fail to do is realize that God describes WHY Christ gave himself up.  It was to wash the spiritual blemishes, spots and wrinkles of his wife, the Church, to make her holy, not happy.

In fact, in the book of Acts we find out more about why Christ “gave himself up” for the Church”:

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

Acts 20:28 (KJV)

Christ did not “gave himself up” to appease or make happy his bride, the Church, but rather to purchase her with his own blood so he could then wash her and make her the glorious bride he intended her to be to him.

Now one of the mistakes that Caldeo makes that a lot of people make on both sides of this issue is that he confines the definition of the role a husband to “where the Christian home life is addressed”.  That is an exegetical mistake.  When Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands to love their wives “as Christ also loved the church” this tells we can look to any part of the Scriptures where Christ is interacting with his church or churches to understand how a husband’s love and interactions are to be with his wife.

To that end let’s now look to the book of Revelation.  Here we find Christ rebuking and threatening to discipline(chasten) six of his seven churches for disobedience in various areas.  At the conclusion of his rebukes and threats to chasten his churches he makes the following statement:

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” – Revelation 3:19 (KJV)

This passage is directed to his churches.  This is a depiction of Christ’s love for his Bride.  Therefore, it is absolutely correct to say that the call for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved his Church is a call for husbands to rebuke and discipline their wives.  Christ was literally washing his wife with the Word of God in the previous passages in Revelation just as he implores men to love their wives by washing them with the Word in Ephesians 5:26-27.

This washing with the Word, this rebuking and chastening of one’s wife as Christ did is his Church is in fact a call to rule one’s wife.  Only a person in a ruler can discipline someone or attempt to modify their behavior by imposing punishments for bad behavior.

The Bible even says that a man is to be “one that ruleth well his own house”:

“4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)… 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.”

I Timothy 3:4-5 & 11 (KJV)

This passage above clearly states that God expects men to rule well their own homes and if a man cannot rule well his own house how can he rule the church of God?  The wives are mentioned separately below.  Some have wrongly inferred that only because the children are mentioned in the first part that wives are free of a husband’s rule and he has no responsibility to rule over them.  This would make absolutely no sense.  Are wives not part of a husband’s home? Are there people in the church that are not under the rulership of church elders? Such an interpretation is absurd to say the least.

Therefore, we can rightly conclude based on Ephesians 5:25-27, I Timothy 3:4-5 & 11 and Revelation 3:19 that the husband’s call to love his wife which is recognized by both Caldo and Darlock is also a call to rule one’s wife.

What is the Difference Between a Leader and A Ruler?

In my original version of this article I only used the word “leader” because I was trying to use the language Caledo and others were using.  But I have explained on this blog many times that there are different types of leaders.

There are leaders who people voluntarily follow who have no authority or disciplinary power over those they lead.   Then there are leaders who have authority over others and with that authority comes disciplinary powers.   A leader with authority and disciplinary powers over those under them is a ruler.

Another way to convey this truth is that while all rulers are leaders, not all leaders are rulers.

A ruler does not simply offer guidance, but they actually institute rules for those under their authority and use discipline for the breaking of those rules.  In some cases rulers actually own those under their authority as well and this is how the Bible presents the husband wife relationship where the husband is called the “baal” or master/owner of the wife throughout the Old Testament.   See my article “Is Christian marriage a master – servant relationship?” for more on this subject.

Conclusion

I want to return to Darlock’s process of where he thinks Christian feminism has added to God’s Word:

This first statement is absolutely Biblically true:

The husband is the head; the wife is to submit to him becomes leaders have an obligation to lead.

The husband is the head of the wife and the wife is to submit to him.  It is both IMPLIED in the husband being the head of his wife and EXPLICIT in a husband’s call to love his wife as Christ loves his Church, to wash her with the Word of God and chasten her that he is called to rule her.

But Darlock’s next statements is where feminism adds to the Word of God:

Leaders have an obligation to lead becomes if the husband leads, he will be the head.

If the husbands leads he will be head becomes if the husband leads well, the wife will submit.

Christian husbands absolutely have an obligation to lead their wives as Christ lead’s his Church.  However, those Christians who say a husband’s headship is contingent on his follow through of his duty to lead are in direct contradiction to what the Scriptures say about the basis for a husband’s headship.  The husband is the head of his wife whether he is rules as Christ does his church or utterly fails to model Christ’s leadership of his church.   This is the explicit teaching of the Word of God:

 “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” – I Peter 3:1-2 (KJV)

So, unless a husband tells his wife to sin (Acts 5:29) she must obey him in ALL he commands her to do. The passage above leaves no gray area.  And no, it is not just talking about submission to non-Christian husbands who are disobedient. Later in this same conversation the Apostle Peter says the following of this kind of submission from wives toward their husbands:

“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: 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.” – I Peter 3:5-6 (KJV)

Was Abraham a believer? You bet he was.  So, this means whether a woman’s husband is a believer or non-believer even if he is living a life that is disobedient to the Word of God and even if he utterly failing to love his wife and lead his wife as Christ does his church wives ARE TO SUBMIT.  Period.