Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Charlotte Mason introduced me to the idea of "innate authority." In her observation of parents, she felt that some were either overbearing or negligent because they didn't understand that they have God-given, innate authority, and that a child may fight that authority but cannot overrule it.

In modern evangelical circles, many seem to have lost the idea of "innate authority" in relation to the husband's leadership in our homes. One may hear conversation assuming that a wife should let her husband lead, or that God has commanded men to lead, or that a husband can choose whether or not to lead. These assumptions find no basis in Scripture.

One scripture that alludes to a husband's leadership in the home is found in Ephesians 5. The passage reads:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (verses 22-24, ESV)

The command is to wives: submit to your own husband as to the Lord. The presupposition: the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church. His leadership is a God-given, innate position. He may do it purposefully or oppressively or negligently, but he is the only one doing it. The first example of man's accountability to God for his leadership is in Genesis, when God came into the garden after man's fall. He called Adam to give an account first. In addition, God holds Adam responsible for bringing sin into the world (Romans 5:12).

In the physical analogy, the head is the head. The neck or the heart or the arm doesn't "let" the head be the head. Each member of the physical body submits to the instructions and leadership of the head. If the body cannot or will not do what the head requires, there is some kind of dysfunction and disability.

Christ is the head of the church. Whether we totally understand the details of how this manifests itself, according to the passage in Ephesians, the true believers in Christ will submit themselves to Jesus Christ, obeying his will.

This is a wife's example. One's husband is her head. When did that happen? When she took vows before God and witnesses to be his wife. Maybe an individual woman excluded that from her marriage vows, but before God that is part of the essence of being a wife. Submission to her husband is part of her submission to God.

If a woman thinks that her husband can turn his leadership on and off, she will fall into some habits of dysfunction. She will assume that she can discern when he is leading, and when he is not. She may feel that there is a vacuum of leadership, a void that someone must fill. However, if she assumes that he is leading, she will be looking for the ways that he is leading. Once she has discerned the direction that he is leading the family, she will either respond critically, even rebelliously, or she will be submissive and supportive. Sometimes she will like the way he's leading. Sometimes she will not.

In responding a husband's leadership, a woman cannot always be "happy" with all the decisions he makes. Examine yourself:
*Am I unhappy just because I'm not getting my own way?
*Am I unhappy because he's following God and I don't like the sometimes difficult consequences of that decision?
*Am I unhappy because my husband is disobeying God, and I fear the repercussions of God's chastening?

If a wife is displeased and angry because she is not getting her own way, she needs to repent of pride and arrogance--of being self-centered--and ask for God's help to be more loving.

If a wife is fearful and upset because of the consequences of her husband's taking a strong position of integrity? Remember Job's wife? She must repent and love God more than she loves her own ease and convenience.

Is a wife discouraged and grieved because her husband is in clear disobedience to the word of God? Consider the following scripture:
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.(I Peter 3:1-6, ESV)

If your husband is disobeying the Lord, reflect on this passage prayerfully, asking God for wisdom to know how to respond and for the gentleness and tranquility of spirit that He Himself values so highly.

Sisters, let us take courage in knowing that we have the power of the resurrected Christ to empower us to be victorious in Him.

Dear Father, help us to see how our husbands are leading, to respect the manly leaders you have made them, to encourage them to be godly leaders, and to trust you even in the painful times.


Mrs C said...

Thank you for sharing. It really can be a taboo subject, even amongst christian women. I am 27 and my husband is 30 and this is how we try to live as we are trying to live by the word. in my family women are dominant and in his (non christian)family not only is there dominance but there is a jezebel spirit at work and it is frightful! They ALL think we're mad because i do not 'control' him and it can be a real issue - for no obvious reason. I think the 'powers that be' do not like Godly order and do not loike christians who follow Christ and try* live out the word! Thanks fotr the reminder and the encouragment. I;m a new follower of your blog and I enjoy the wisom of your writings :)Lisa

Tammie said...

Dear Lisa,

May God grant you grace and strength and the lovely qualities of spirit that please him--even in the midst of such opposition. May he give you the love to overcome evil with good.

Love and Prayers,

Mrs C said...

Thanks Tammie :)
It's lovely having you over at Hephzibah x