Friday, July 11, 2008

Husband as "Head" Part Four - Prophet, Priest and King

I suspect some of you are wondering if I am ever going to get around to discussing what I think it means that the "husband is the head of the wife." I promise, that post is coming soon.

It seemed important to me to highlight why I think the current teaching (so overwhelmingly popular in certain segments of the Church) is incorrect and damaging.

So please allow me just one more post before getting to the heart (or the head) of the matter.

When I began thinking about all this I posted here about why I believe the teaching that the husband is "the priest of the home" is not biblical, noting that no scripture states such a thing. On the contrary, the Bible tells us that all those who are followers of Jesus Christ are a holy nation and a royal priesthood!

I received a few emails about that post. One recommended I read a particular book, one written for Christian husbands. The book, a popular one I'm sad to say, purports to give the biblical rationale for the husband as priest of the home. I was familiar with the book. I read it a few years ago when it was given me to pass on to someone in my congregation. Since it sat on my desk for a couple of weeks before I saw the person it was intended for, I took a look inside.

The author is a popular speaker and writer who, along with his wife, travels nationally with the sponsorship of a large Christian organization. The two of them give seminars on marriage--and much of what they say is sound and could be helpful. Nonetheless, a little error takes on a life of its own and can do great harm. The book made me angry. So angry in fact, that after reading for about half an hour I threw it across the room. I'm a pretty mild person, most days.

Why was I so upset?

The book, in my view, borders on idolatry. The author tells his readers three things. One, the husband is the priest of the home. Two, the husband is the prophet of the home. And three, the husband is the king of the home.

Prophet, priest and King--those are considered "offices" of Jesus Christ!
However, said the book's author, since Ephesians 5: 23 states that the husband is head of the wife as Christ is of the Church, abd the husband fulfills the same roles with his wife that Jesus does with the church, why, that means that the husband is prophet, priest and king. The book instructs the husband in great detail just how he is to fulfill those three roles in his home. I had read about ten pages in each section before becoming so disgusted I could not read any more--and the book went sailing across my office and hit a wall.

Why stop with prophet, priest, and king? Why those three things? Why not say the husband is savior, redeemer, sanctifier, and healer?

My husband is a man who loves God, who loves me, who loves his children (and now his grandchild), and who seeks to be a blessing and an encouragement to me. When I need help, he helps if he can. If I need direction, I can ask and he will give what advice or suggestions he can. He prays for me. He critiques my sermons if I ask him (and once in a while even when I don't). He protects me when the situation calls for it. Occasionally he pushes me (not physically, figuratively). I would not be preaching today if not for his persistent encouragment and umm, nagging. :-)

For all this and more, I am grateful to him and to God.

He does not presume that he, as a male, should speak for God in some way that I cannot do. While he is, in some ways, a priest in our home, he knows that I am as well. And as for being KING? Because Jesus is King and he, as the husband, fills the offices that Jesus fills? This book claims exactly that. NO WAY! That is idolatry.

Again, the follwers of Christ are all called a royal priesthood. All of us.

I will not put my husband in the place where only Christ should stand. That is a burden no man should, nor indeed could, bear. I am responsible for my own walk with God, and my own spiritual life. Can my husband help me? Yes, indeed he can. And I can help him as well.

19 comments:

Rich said...

I am enjoying this series and look forward to the "head" of the matter.

Ruth said...

Keep preaching it!!!

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

It is amazing how verses are cherry-picked and then expanded! And , I presume that this is from the "conservative" end of the spectrum which urges us to be "literal" in reading the Bible.

I get the willies when I hear a (radio) preacher use language that seems to presume that he speaks for God. Note that he is literal. Haven't heard a woman preacher do that. Come to think of it, I'm not sure that there are any women preachers on the radio. [When I've been driving across Wisconsin the last two years, I've noticed that there are at least 3 Christian radio networks.]

Singing Owl said...

Good gracious! I made you comment, Rich? Woo Hooo! ;-)

Singing Owl said...

PS, that is an interesting point. The only woman preacher I've heard on the radio is Joyce Meyer. And she is not a "pastoral" type preacher. I had never even thought of that...

Jeni said...

Taking on the role of "King" in the household, definitely have to agree with your words, that it is then "idolatry." Very good, very interesting posts on this subject you're writing about here. Just wish more people would read and take it to heart.

Eugene said...

I always hear this an never heard anyone say that is was not right. Dont know what I think but will read more, just came here today for first time doing search for different thing.

Kievas said...

Like PS, i have a problem with authors who pick a few Bible verses (usually switching among translations to better prove their points) and build a book on them. It's so easy to do, and usually so far off base.

truth said...

This post made me laugh. It reminded me of a time, back when I'd been a born-again Christian for several years. I was doing my best to be a "submissive wife."

I was going to share the story, but at the moment, I need to go make dinner. But man, how confused we can get when others try to beat into us their "ideas" of what scripture says.

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

I hope that "Truth" doesn't mean that somebody beat a certain christian truth into her.

But I do know a woman in our family whose second husband did something bad enough for her to seek counsel from clergy. Later she told me that she was told to be submissive, etc. She eventually moved her children out of the house so at least they could get away from the man.

Mary Beth said...

Late to this but it's fascinating! I'm thinking deeply on it.

Deb said...

I have to give my nickel's worth on this...

If one believes that marriage was created by God and ordained by God...
If one believes that men and women are created in the image of God and together express the fullness of the image of God...
If one believes that The Fall broke relationships between God and humanity, and within marriages and other relationships...
And if you believe that only Jesus is the way to restore relationships to their full, intended status...

Then you can not use these verses to "prove" headship. When marriages are restored to their pre-Fall state, there is no "ruler" - that was a condition caused by the Fall (Gen. 3) and one that was fully revoked at the Cross. [The Greek word means "source" BTW - not "head" as in "ruler" and it is a mis-translation. But I digress...]

And I could go on - but that's a paper for my Biblical Feminist Theology class! :)

d

A woman's POV said...

Interesting when you write "I will not put my husband in the place where only Christ should stand. That is a burden no man should, nor indeed could, bear. I am responsible for my own walk with God, and my own spiritual life."

I was wondering what happens when the wife is more spiritually mature- does that equal being unequally yoked since this time the man does not play the role of priest and prophet.

BTW I read a book that saved the man ought to be the saviour to his wife.

Jonathan said...

Hey. Just found this blog today. Looks interesting. I hear where you coming from in terms of arogant men who take the king priest prophet title to their heads and abuse it for their own selfish wants. But that said I dont think its bad for men to strive to lead their wifes like Jesus leads the church? Let me explain...
Me as a man needs to see what my role in life is to the most important human in my life... my wife... and I am supposed to take Jesus as my role model... That means
-I am a King - Not for my wife to serve me, not to assume any power over my wife (I actually believe queens have more power over their husbands then the kings would like to admit!!! :)), but so that I dont let others walk over me. Too many men accept the title of floor mat and Im sure my wife would rather be on the arm of some one who values their life. and if Im a child of God I have royalty in my blood... Dont we all have royalty in our blood because of HIM??? So I need to live letting the world know Im not going to sit down and die.
- I am a priest, now I am not saying that I want to assume the role of old testament priest, Eli and his sons come to mind and its not pretty. But I believe as a husband I must be willing to speak truth to my wife. I think too many relationships have unneccesary burden because of the lack of communication. I believe we need to bring Godly matters to light. Im not saying that Im never going to be weak and that Im the only one fulfilling a priestly role. But I need to assume my role! I also pray that my wife is strong for me in the times that I am weak!!!
- I am a servant to her every need
- I am a provider for her every need
- I am a lover of her soul
- I must be humble in all I do
- I must value my wife over my own life
- etc etc ... can carry on and on with the characters of Christ

I truly believe we as men have a lot to learn when it come to displaying the Godly character we should. I also believe a lot of men will then use the excuse of "Godly authority" to do the wrong thing. Never the less I dont think it wise to completely through out the leasons we can learn from trying to display the characters of Christ in our marriages. Remember that the KING of the universe, Creator of heaven and earth, Author of life and death came to earth and humbly gave everything, washed the feet of his disciples, poured out his life for the lives of others because HE loves us. I as a man will continue to search the Fathers heart and display the Character of the Savior and Redeemer of my soul!!

Thats my take on the topic and Im disappointed by Godly men who speak false truths into the lives of other men! If I could appologise for all the injustices I would!!! I will just continue to pray that God continues to raise up Goldy people who are on fire for HIM!!

Continue the good work and I pray you are richly blessed in all you do for our God!!!

Jonathan said...

By the way please excuse the spelling mistake. Was rushing! :)

SAMUEL EDOUARDO VITALE said...

Marriage is all about sacrifices and compromising, with both partners having an opinion before Christ. HOWEVER, there are distinct occasions where disagreement will occur, and it is then, that the wife must yield to the husband as the leader, for the final decision. This is supposing, of course, that the man is right with The Lord. The man is the head, the wife is not. The head is logical and rational. We all have roles to fulfill and play in marriage. We are all of the same value to Him, but we play different parts. Women came from men, not men from women. I don't have any problem understanding that. Be careful and aware. The Devil likes to influence this verse by promoting a rebellious woman, ever since the feminist movement was born in the 80's. If this verse was taken more literally and physically, there would be a lot less arguments and divorces. It is written in Genesis 3:16 : " The woman will want dominion over her husband, but this last one will have the rule. " This means by nature, women want to rule over men and be head. But God clearly states in that verse that it is not their role. Any women who lives by those verses will be greatly blessed.

SingingOwl said...

Jonathan, I agree with much you say here, and with your heart attitude.

Samuel, I could take to refute specific things you say that I think are incorrect, but if you wish to do so, I'd suggest you read the entire series. Yes, there are distinct occasions where disagreement will occur, of course. But I do not think that the answer is for the man to have "final say." It is, instead, time for both to seek the Lord's will, time for both to consider the other. What if, instead of a couple, it was a pair of best friends and close partners? What if one got to always make the decisions if they disagreed? Maybe the taller one, or the one with brown eyes, or whatever? How would the other feel? If two close friends and partners can work it out, PUTTING GOD and the other first, then couples can too. Seriously, how often does a situation occur when prayer, honest sould searching and compromise will not result in a solution? My husband and I have not encountered even one. Yes, woman came from man. And every man since has come from woman. Point being--we need each other. Genesis 3:16 literally says that the woman's "turning toward"--tesequah, will be to her husband. I think woman are far more prone to turn to a man when they should turn to God than they are to want to "rule." Not good exegesis of the Hebrew text, Sam. Read the verse again, and put it in context. It is the man who will desire to rule the woman. Not the other way around.

And the femenist movement was not born in the 80s. Your total lack of even basic historical perspective leads me to questions your assertions. Do a little research.

SingingOwl said...

Woman's POV, don't know if you are still reading here, but your question assumes that the husband fills the "role" of priest and prophet--something that I believe is quite incorrect. As for being "unequally yoked" that refers to a believer and an unbeliever. If the wife is more spiritually aware or mature than her husband, it will likely mean that God will help him catch up (if he desires to grow). Since I believe that the man and the woman are free to design their own marriage, with GOD as the head, this is not necessarily a big problem.

Mary said...

I heard it said once that a man was very proud in his office as head of the household.

While at church one Sunday, the priest preached about Ephesians Chapter 5.

Well, the husband heard none of it, except for verses 22-24 explaining how wives should "submit to their husbands; be subject to them for the husband is the head of his wife."

The husband was very happy and was anxious to get his wife home. As soon as they were in the house, he said to her, "You you heard what the priest said today, I rule the roost here; whatever I say goes and you have to do it; you are nothing and I am king and its the way its gonna be around here because its in the bible and there's nothing you can say or do about it."

"So, what do you say about that huh?"

His wife clapped her hands and said,
"Congratulations! You are now the King over me, who by your definition, is nothing, can do nothing nor say anything."

"Then I guess I'd have to say that you are now the sovereign King over absolutely nothing!" and she walked away.

This obviously is a joke, but there are some men who use false biblical teaching to control others. If the "other" happens to be their wife this is the perfect place to start.

I never could understand why males thought that Ephesians 5 ended at verse 24. Probably because verse 25 says, " Husbands LOVE YOUR WIVES even as Christ also loved the church, HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT.''