Thursday, July 10, 2008

Husband as Head Part Three-- So the Husband Gets the Blame?

Does God hold the man responsible in some way that a woman will not have to face? As the "head" will he stand before God on behalf of his family? After all, doesn't "head" mean "leader?"

I just did an online search using the words headship, husband, marriage, and wife. The result was a bit overwhelming, but I checked out several web pages. Except for some sites that I would consider radical, the opinions and statements about what "the Bible teaches" tended to sound very similar. Most were kind in tone (not all!) and instructed the reader that the woman is not inferior to the man. She is equal in being and unequal in function. The man, I was assured repeatedly, must lead by example, must exercise "godly headship" and should, if he is smart, consider his wife's opinion. His headship is a matter of position, not of ability or intelligence or worth. The word "role" or "roles" was used a great deal. I also read about "God's order for marriage" or other similar terms.

Depending on the opinion of the writer, the way we are to interpret just what the husband's or wife's role is varied sharply. Some said the wife should submit in everything. After all, Paul said 'in everything" in Eph. 5. Others said that the wife must obey unless the husband is instructing her to sin. No one described just who got to decide what was sinful and what was not.

There was a lot of extrapolation about just how the husband is to lead and just how the wife is to follow, with a lot of extra teaching tossed in (without any Bible backing whatsoever).

Here is a quote that I find similar to "the man is the priest of the home,"meaning it sounds spiritual and religious but there is no biblical basis. I wish I could say it was extreme, or unusual, but I have heard it, or similar statements, many times.


"The husband should consider the input of his wife. However, the final decision rests with the husband. Relief, ladies - God holds him responsible as head of the family, not you!"

First off, the Bible does not say the husband is the head of the family. The Bible also does not say that if he is smart he will get input from his wife, but he gets to decide, and if he he blows it she can say, "Not my problem, sweetie pie." Ah, the writer even used the word 'relief."

This constant place as leader is a burden no man should bear. This is also a burden no woman can always avoid. More about that later, but I can hardly imagine a teaching more likely to appeal to our selfish natures than to say to one, "You are always in charge" and to the other, "You never have to be responsible."

I've already noted in a previous post that God did not ask Adam what Eve had done. God asked Adam, and then God asked Eve. Adam was responsible for his own sin, not Eve's (Genesis 3:11-13). In the example of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10), Peter did not say, "Sapphira, since your husband was exercising his divinely ordained role as leader, he is responsible, not you." She did not protest, "But Peter, Ananias had final say!"

Another example (I Samuel 5) is Abigail. She was married to a greedy, wicked, fool. But when her husband makes a dreadful decision Abigail does not sit back smugly and say, "Not my problem. God can deal with him." She got up and she got busy and she did something about it. In the process she averted disaster. How very unsubmissive of her! Yet David blesses her in the name of the Lord.

I am using this as an example of one teaching that results from a misunderstanding of Ephesians 5:21-25. There are many more. Some of these teachings are relatively benign, but the level and degree of "man is the leader and woman is the follower" can become quite extreme. I could give you links, but I won't.

More later.


LoieJ said...

Very interesting and perceptive. Yes, we must compare all the verses.

I Thank God that I was never steeped in the deceptive teaching that says that the man must take all the blame, all the credit, and make all the decisions.

Theresa Coleman said...

Authority and responsibility always come at a price.

No matter what, a person is always responsible for their own salvation. (male, female, slave, freedman, gentile or Jew (ooo... that might be Biblical!))

There is no get out of jail free card -- there is no passing the buck on that one.

Diane M. Roth said...

this is getting more and more interesting. I remember learning about the "husband as head/leader" idea in college, but I didn't get so deeply into it, and I didn't get married, then, either.

I wonder what all this does with single women?

much2ponder said...

I remember reading books about this and my earliest months as a Christian I was taught the husband was the head of the house and should have the last say in decision making. I thought I had a breakthrough when I was able to step back and let him do that and it really was kind of a relief. I felt that I was being good wife according to this misguided teaching and I thought I was treating him with abundant respect. I have since learned it is not really meant that way and that I am to take my equal responsibility in decision making. To tell you the truth, he doesn't really like making all the decisions.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting series of views on the Bible are probably more "lax' than yours, so the issue has not been a big one for me. Still, I look forward to hearing more!