In the previous post on How servant leadership is twisted I discussed the way in which the Church continues to choose culture over Christ. In one of Donal’s posts a couple weeks ago I explained the futility of basing leadership on the “evaluation” of those under you in the context of headship:
1. The main problem is that Christian women “say” they want Christian men to lead.
2. But when Christian men lead *AND* do something [that women] don’t like then they whine and complain and bash on the doors.
3a. Unfortunately, most Christian men instead of standing the ground cave to the demands. These Christian men become “nice” and “unattractive.”
3b. For the ones who don’t cave they get called jerks, assholes, and the like. Leading how women dislike and get angry about is not necessarily sin in most cases (rather preference). Although many Christian women SAY that it is sin because it goes against what they think and their feelings. Hence, Christian men get confused and suckered into “feelings are the truth” rather than focused on “learning how to lead even in difficult situations when no one is going to be feeling great.”
4. Knowing that there is absolutely no way a man can please a woman 100% of the time and agree with her, there’s no reason men should strive for that in the first place. [Nor is it Biblical] Hence, a “truce” is a false sense of interaction cause it would supposedly be between two equals which is not the case at all.
5. Thus, it follows that Christian women who want a “truce” need to learn to submit and stop whining and complaining when men lead the way they don’t want as long as it’s not a sin.
6. Put up or shut up.
Men need to lead based on their desire to please God through His Scriptures. It is difficult to adhere to the Scriptures when all evidence to the contrary is right in front of you: unhappiness, discontent, and the like. It is hard to choose Christ over culture until you get used to it. Then it becomes second nature.
I’ve mostly talked about behavioral cycles in the negative, but they also work positively. So I want to discuss it from the perspective of a wife.
A wife who does not nag her husband but submits to his headship and respects him will often find that she is treated extremely well and asked about her opinion on every topic that comes up when her husband needs to make a decision. This is the best of both worlds for her. She gets to have input on decision making; however, since it is her husband making the decisions she is also shielded from the responsibility of those decisions.
This is why 1 Peter 3 works because it encourages a positive behavioral cycle through behavior: submission and respect without nagging.
1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right [b]without being frightened by any fear.
The reason why Scriptures don’t work “immediately” is husbands evaluate by past history. If a wife has nagged, disrespected, and rebelled against the husband’s headship for 5 or even 10 to 20 years do you think that a wife respecting him once will change his mind about her past behavior and begin to trust her? Fat chance
Indeed, the vast majority of people will not believe someone has truly changed until they can see the sustained evidence of habit in their life. Habits take at least 3 if not 6 weeks to develop and implement consistently. For a wife that has nagged and disrespected and rebelled for long periods of time it may take 6 weeks or even a longer period such as 6 months or a year or longer to regain the trust of the husband. The deficit in the trust bank account is large.
This is inevitably why most wives “fail.” They adhere to the Scriptures for a time. They do what is right and the husband may respond negatively. They get discouraged seeing the husband continues to respond negatively to them and give up after a week or two. Some may do it for months and nothing changes.
Some wives *think* that they are obeying the Word by praying for him to change and doing things so that their husband changes. This is false theology. The Scriptures, even the Lord’s prayer, are about personal transformation through the power of Christ which affects those around us. We don’t pray for others to change as this is the hubris of pride… we pray that we change so that God’s power may work through us to change others. God can and does soften (or harden) hearts, but He doesn’t change others as that imposes on free will. Pray that God soften your husband’s heart, and that He may give you the grace and mercy to do what is right in all circumstances to regain his trust.
Back to the example, most wives don’t understand is that the husband is responding negatively because their relationship is bankrupt of trust. It is in the negative. He can still remember all of the times that he started responding positively but she responded negatively to him. His bank account is -1000 dollars or however amount of times that she has negatively responded to him. So he doesn’t want to trust anymore and ends up defaulting to a negative response.
The lack of trust in this case is Scriptural. Remember the parable of the talents?
Matthew 25:19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your [c]master.’
[… skipping the two talents for brevity]
24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 27 Then you ought to have put my money [d]in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 28 Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30 Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Trust is about following through on your roles and responsibilities. A wife that has been rebellious and disrespectul is akin to the unfaithful servant. She is not trusted by her husband for good reason. She has been unfaithful in her roles and responsibilities and is afraid. The Scripture speaks to that on multiple occasions:
- Matthew 25:25 And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.
- 1 Peter 3:6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right [b]without being frightened by any fear.
- 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
The love we’re talking about here is no feeling. Hence, the fear that is present is a logical and appropriate reaction to doing wrong. Love in the Scriptures is always referenced to doing. If you do what is right… if you love (by doing what is right)… then you have no reason to be afraid. The only reason you have to be afraid is if you do what is wrong.
This takes the power of God. It takes sustained effort of the wife, through the negative bank account, to get back into the positive. A wife has to be willing to be distrusted through the negative bank account of her own making to prove that she is worthy to be trusted again.
Some may say there is an apparent contradiction. We’re supposed to live by desire and not performance right? Why then is this example one of a performance to prove worthiness rather than of desire? In reality, the desire must be there first to please God. Out of that desire springs good works. While God judges the heart and out of the heart comes good or evil, humans cannot know the heart. Thus, as Christians Jesus tells us to rightly judge works according to their good or evil fruit.
Matthew 7:15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will [k]know them by their fruits. [l]Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will [m]know them by their fruits.
The fact that it is the good deeds which changes people’s hearts does not blunt the power of the gospel. (See Titus 3:3-8 and Eph 2:8-10). Also,
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus says that we are known as His disciples through our love, which is our works that show we love each other. However, it is first and foremost our desire to please the Father and Jesus that leads us to walk into His commands. Thus, desire leads to good works.
The the hard part is that if the wife does respond negatively it seems to her that it undoes everything she has done prior. While it seems this way, it is simply another chance in which you can show you have changed through the power of Christ. This is where apologies are needed, and the actions to turn in the other direction must be proven by walking out. True repentance. Walk the walk. Intentions mean nothing.
A wife that has not proved that she has changed through the power of Christ will talk the talk but default back to not walking the walk. She will revert to her previous behavior, and her husband rightly judges her by her fruit. She is deemed a hypocrite by him and distrusted more. This is why 1 Peter 3 calls wives are called to walk the walk and to win without words.
Now, this is true of both husbands and wives in different ways. For the wife it is in respect, submission, and not nagging, having sex and being physically attractive for him. For husband it is in embracing headship that aims to please God and taking care of himself first so he can love her as himself. If you remember back to Ephesians 5, the way Christ loves the Church is analogized that a husband should love his wife as he loves himself.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects her husband.
This is the failure of headship that aims to please the wife. It deemphasizes the husband and puts more emphasis on the wife. If a husband puts his wife above himself he puts her on a pedastal. This sets her up as a false idol to him. Rather, the method is first to love himself completely just as Christ loves us, and then to love his wife as himself. In this a husband loves himself completely as Christ loves him, and he also loves his wife completely as Christ.
If there is dysfunction in a relationship, the trust must be rebuilt from ground zero factoring in that there is probably a negative trust balance in the relationship. This will take time of sustained desire to please God through which good works are manifest to rebuild trust. While we as Christians are required to forgive others if they ask, that doesn’t mean trust is rebuilt instantly. As the body of Christ we are told to call out where others are in sin. Likewise, changing behavior usually doesn’t happen instantly although it can in some cases through the manifest power of God. In most cases, a bankrupted trust account will take time to build back up. This is the importance of being good and faithful even through difficult circumstances. You start to build that trust that brings the good will.
As Christians we are called to be proactive. If we see a problem we don’t wait for someone else to fix it. Instead, whether we are the ones under authority or the one in authority we must be willing to take action to love others. This is especially true in an intimate relationship such as marriage that is supposed to reflect Christ and the Church. It takes consistent faithfulness to rebuild broken trust.