Headship? Me? Maybe not …

February 20, 2012

in Headship/Submission

Headship, me? © Gabe Palmer | Dreamstime.com

Headship and submission – one of the most hotly debated topics in the Church, at least in the States. I think we have received more hate e-mail over this than masturbation or birth control. That might be why I have rarely mentioned it here. However, with my bride putting me to shame, I need to step up.

The task is to convince men God really did call them to be the head, and that the term “mutual submission” is bogus. Of course, I will fail at both of those with many, but, oh well. I have good friends who are all about mutual submission and egalitarian marriage, so I’ve heard all the arguments. Feel free to try to educate me in the comments, but don’t take it personally if I’ve already heard it.

I think some men abdicated their place as head because they have seen a twisted, perverted, unbiblical form of headship and wanted nothing to do with it. It was like “If that is what God wants, I don’t want any part of God.” Our gut reaction was right, in that what some called headship was so far from what God said you could not start there and get to what God intended. Abuse, even beatings “in the name of love”, controlling, manipulating, breaking a woman’s spirit, and so on and so forth. Even the “gentle” versions of these things are ugly and repugnant to any sane man; who would want to be like that?

So, we threw out the baby with the bath water. We ripped out the plumbing, burned down the house, and denied either the baby or the place it had been washed ever existed. We dismissed headship as something from the Old Testament, or a gross misinterpretation of the New Testament based on “bad translations”. We looked for different interpretations for key words in headship passages and built whole new theologies on those(see note below); we stuck to our new thinking even when the authors of those interpretations made it clear we had misunderstood them. We made up new forms of marriage by picking and choosing passages and taking them completely out of context. As a result, many are living something that is unbiblical. 

Feel beat up yet? Sorry, I feel strongly about this. However, I understand why it happened, and how good, thinking people have been led astray. This issue matters a great deal to some, and sadly, a few of them have put what they want the truth to be ahead of what God says. I doubt they see it that way, but it happens. I had a discussion with an author of a book on this issue who stood fast on her belief even when my bride showed her proof her hinge-pin argument was bogus because the person she attributed it to had denied he meant what she and others said he meant.(again, see note below) 

For the next few days I will toss out some thoughts on this issue. I don’t expect to change the mind of anyone who has already fought this battle a few times, but maybe I can cause some doubt about the claim the Bible does not promote headship in marriage. I’ll do my best, and leave it to God and each of you to do what’s best with it.

Note: If you are going to use the Greek word kephale with me, would you please first read at least the first of the two articles below?

The Meaning Source “Does Not Exist” 
The Meaning Of kephale (“Head”): An Evaluation Of New Evidence, Real And Alleged

This is a seven part series: 

Headship? Me? Maybe not … Why men shy away from being the head.
Submit to each other? Wait, how does that work? Does it work?
Submit! But only if you want to? It’s a choice?
Who submits to whom, and why? God has a plan here, really.
Being the head What it means, and how it’s to be done.
Sexual submission New we’re talking … or not.
How we do headship and submission How it works in our message.

Submit! But only if you want to? http://bit.ly/Aso1lH

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I hardly see articles written by Christian men that focus on the biblical mandate to "LOVE" their wives and when I do come across such articles they are so twisted and low-key focused on a husband's "authority" and not really emphasizing the duty to love. In short, it's about the husband's rights. Real Christian men are not even concerned with this false sense of entitlement, but rather they are loving their wives as Christ loves the church. Real men with do what they have to do for their families without worrying about getting anything in return. Unfortunately, this number of real Christian men is very low.

John Delcamp
John Delcamp

A big problem is either that we don't understand "headship" or we do but we don't want the HUG responsibilities of being the head. Being the head means that we MUST receive the input of our spouse but it also means we become totally responsible for the final decision. I believe satan has duked men into giving up their responsibilities and enticed women into either desiring those responsibilities or being required to take them because men have failed to do so. Such manipulation by satan is usually successful because as we fail to get seek truth from God's word.


Tim & Kathy Keller speak well to this subject, noting that both spouses are called to play the "Jesus role" in marriage - the husband plays Jesus as the sacrificial servant-leader and the wife plays Jesus as submitting to the Father. And, interesting to note, both spouse's natural inclinations are to run away/distort those roles because they are contrary to our nature. Apart from His continuing grace, we can never live them out well.


I commend you heartily for speaking the truth. You do it in love but you do it without apology. The Body needs more such men. Many, many thanks. (My wife thanks you too!)

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

John Delcamp - I agree - doing it right is a lot of responsibility and not nearly as "fun" as being a dictator! And reflexiveness of why a couple does not follow God's plan, the result is never good. We do it our way, and then wonder why there are so many divorces!

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