Headship in concept and practice

I’m not sure if I have had a post before on this, but I’ve talked about it before.

Headship in concept

As we’ve discussed before, the structure of authority in the Bible for husbands and wives is modeled off Christ and the Church (Eph 5). This is the headship-submission model for the husband and wives (Eph 5, Col 3, Tit 3, 1 Peter 3, 1 Cor 11).

Egalitarians are wrong from the conceptual level. The husband and wife are one in Christ, but in Christ there is also the distinction of the head (Christ) and body (Church). Each Christian is given roles and responsibilities according to their own spiritual gifts and mission of God for them (1 Cor 12). Likewise, within the context of marriage, the husband is the head and the wife is the body.

Headship in practice

In practice, the husband has the role and responsibility of headship. That is that he is entrusted by God to be the head of the marriage. Patriarchal marriage mirrors many other structures of authority.

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Authority brings order to marriage and various relationships, and proper use of authority and proper submission to it paints a beautiful picture of the cross.

The standard Biblical model is that husbands love and honor their wives and have them be a help to them where needed. She can keep an eye out for his blind spots, bring up things to him, and give input into any possible decision. A wise husband may also delegate some authority to his wife if she has gifts or talents in certain areas that she is better in than him. This is the model that my marriage follows and is the orthodox view.

Headship “egalitarianism”

On the other hand, a husband may choose to give half his kingdom to his wife. This is Biblical in that authority can be delegated (e.g. Jesus sends out the 70 with authority, God delegates ‘all authority in heaven and earth’ to Jesus after His resurrection). A husband may choose to delegate half of his authority to his wife.

I believe this to be extremely unwise, but a husband can still choose to do it. God will still hold the husband accountable for his headship, even if he chooses to be egalitarian in practice.

In other words, any wrongdoing that a wife does with her newfound authority will fall upon the husband because he chose to delegate his authority in this manner. Conceptual (and thus practical) egalitarian husbands, even though they are wrong, will also still be held accountable for how their wife uses her authority that he ignorantly but willingly delegated her.

Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

John 13:12 So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Jesus does not denigrate authority, give up authority, or cancel authority. Instead He calls us to use authority through leading by example to use it to love and serve others.

A husband who understands he has the role and responsibility of headship but chooses to run his marriage in an egalitarian manner by delegating half his authority to his wife is within his Biblical privilege*. If any Christian man wants to run his marriage a certain way he can, but he will also bear the consequences of that decision both earthly and at judgement day.

But I would council otherwise to all Christian men**.

*: A wife cannot choose to have an “egalitarian marriage.” The husband has headship and therefore the authority to determine what type of marriage he wants to run. If a wife wants an egalitarian marriage, she should find a husband that wants to delegate her half of his authority. I haven’t seen a marriage where a husband or wife want this type of marriage who have not have had significant cultural blinders of authority.

**: I have never seen a positive result of egalitarian marriage in practice. Not saying it doesn’t exist (as it could), but it seems to be exceedingly rare at the very least. Orthodox marriages have their own problems for sure, but I have seen many godly examples.

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6 Responses to Headship in concept and practice

  1. Derek Ramsey says:

    While I may disagree with some of the assumptions that go into this argument, this is well-argued and logical. I appreciate the nuance.

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