9 Reasons for God’s Design of Marriage: The Husband as the Chosen Leader
This post is my feeble attempt to answer the question of why would God chose the husband to lead his wife in marriage. I, in some respects, am concerned about writing on this topic. For one, I reiterate I am not an expert on the Bible. Also, our culture, especially in the United States, has made every attempt in the last 50 years to move away from a husband’s authority over their wife, and rightfully so due to the abuses of some husbands and men in roles of authority.
With the women’s movement, equality has been a motto and a goal in the western world. I don’t disagree with equality. Although, I believe it is important that we understand the basis of marriage’s order of leadership that the Bible presents. Also, I believe we need to understand why it was important to God to create it this way.
As we explore this model of the husband as the “head” or leader of the couple, I bet that you will begin to see that you can resonate with it.
So, come with me as we take a journey to understand why a husband was meant to lead his wife.
Verses about husbands leading their wives
The Bible has several verses that talk about this idea of the husband being the leader of a marriage:
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3
“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Ephesians 5:23
“For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” 1 Peter 3:5-6
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:3-5
“If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14:35
As I searched for these verses, I found others that allude to this concept of the husband as the head. I thought 5 was enough to show that this concept is not just talked about one time in the Bible. It seems to be spread throughout the New Testament, provides more coherence, and helps show that this topic is important in the Bible.
What is the meaning behind these Scriptures?
Let’s explore this idea a little closer.
What does the Bible mean here?
I think that is what we are wondering. It is hard to accept that the Bible would say that the husband is to be over the wife. However, if we read closer we will see that the husband being “LORD” is not at all what this is referring to.
The Bible makes it clear that there is a legitimate need for a leader in the marriage relationship. However, it also makes it clear that this is not supposed to be oppressive or abusive.
LET ME BE CLEAR!! God desires for the marriage relationship to be as equal and respectful as possible!
Here is where I want to move this conversation. First, I want to define what a leader is. Second, define what a leader does. Then, I would like to show how this would look in a Biblical model of marriage where the husband is the leader. Finally, I would like to add in the Biblical references and other references to smooth out the edges to give a full view of why this is important. I may be repeating myself from previous posts, but if you can bear with me, repetition helps to improve memory retention. YAY!!
Definitions of a Leader
DEFINITION OF LEADER
(from a google search) (I know it is not an actual dictionary, but it will do!):
The person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.
The principal player in a music group.
DEFINITION OF LEADERSHIP
(from a google search, again)
The action of leading a group of people or an organization.
DEFINITION OF LEAD OR TO LEAD
(from a google search, again)
Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward. (VERB)
Be a route or means of access to a particular place or in a particular direction. (VERB)
The initiative in an action; an example for others to follow. (NOUN)
What a Leader Does
Okay! If we were to take these definitions and assume that the Biblical model of marriage for a husband is to be the leader in the marriage the following is what we would see:
The husband would be the person who “leads or commands” the marriage. He would be the “principal player” in the marriage. He would act by “leading” his wife and children. He would “cause” them “to go with” him “by holding them by the hand…while moving forward.”
WOW!! SOUNDS NICE NOW!!
He would also “be a route or means of access to a particular place or in a particular direction. He would also be the initiator; “an example for others to follow.”
Did that sound horrible? I didn’t even use any Bible verses. I know that it started out sounding a little militaristic and arrogant and dominating, but the end of it sounded pretty reassuring, loving, and something I would like for myself.
We, men, have become passive in our leadership. We look to our wives for answers. We are not leading in a way that causes others to WANT TO FOLLOW US.
If I can be frank, we don’t need to just lead, command, order, and get our way. We need to “lead by example” for the betterment of others. How do you like the sound of that ladies? Sounds nice hopefully! Men? Probably sounds overwhelming. You are probably not even sure you could live up to this definition of a husband as the leader.
Referencing Scripture and Rounding it Out
Okay, are you ready to add some Scripture?
First, I will point out that God created Adam (man) first. (Genesis 2:7) Why is that significant? We can only speculate, but I believe it is. This could be a much longer post if I focused on that, but I just want to point out that this is probably significant because ORDER seems to matter to God as you can see throughout the Bible. There are many examples where God demonstrates that he is a God of order, hierarchy, and processes. Dive deeper into the process and order of how he went about creating things. Look at the detailed and orderly process of building the temple and setting up the leadership of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Let’s mostly focus on Adam being a leader, the first one Scripture mentions. If a leader is “an example for others to follow,” then they go or move first. There are other places in the Bible where God eludes to this leadership. Most leaders in the Bible, if not all, were men (Noah, Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, Joshua, Joseph, and greatest of all Jesus, to name a few). I believe God has a purpose for everything He does. So, logically, it is assumed there is a purpose for God placing men in these roles.
God choosing men to lead their families seems to be clear as shown above. His track record shows that he chose men to lead their families. In the New Testament, when Jesus fed the masses, it only mentions the number of men specifically, but not the number of women and children present. Due to the prominence of the mention of men in leadership roles in their families, it also seems reasonable to say God made them the leader in the marriage. Please hear me say this one thing though. The focus on men being a leader in this article has nothing to do with the importance of women. If you asked me, women are way more important than men, but that is a topic for another article.
Here is a verse describing the details of how a man should lead his wife: Ephesians 5:23, 25-30 “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “
This demonstrates a different view of leadership than our culture has expressed. It somewhat lines up with the definitions above. From a Biblical view, the husband as the leader is not supposed to be arrogant, demanding, and oppressive. They are supposed to be loving, like Christ loved, GIVING THEMSELVES UP FOR HER.
In Genesis 2:24, the Scripture says that “a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife.” Here the husband is the one who is mentioned as taking action. It is a responsibility. He initiates the relationship and the union with his wife. He leaves his family and goes with her. He has to sacrifice the safety of his family and the possibility of rejection. Not saying wives don’t sacrifice. I am just pointing out the responsibility that husbands have. Are you going to force your wife to lead?
When I think of a Godly husband, I think of a military commander. They are to run into battle, leading their troops as the first in and the last out. By doing that, they motivate and encourage their troops. THEY TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE. Can you see it? Wives, I know sometimes you wonder why your husband does not show this type of initiative. That’s really all you are asking for. Not domination, but the willingness to step forward and help even when you don’t ask them, just to make life easier for you. Well, hopefully, I will be getting through to some of these husbands. Husbands, this is when I say, I want 110% commitment! I hope I don’t lose you by saying that, but if that makes you mad, I would encourage you to go process this with someone.
Bear the burden!
Nevertheless, this is the vision of what a husband is supposed to be. It’s a big task and an unbearable job, but it needs to be done. It’s crushing, but it needs to be done. Why am I saying it is unbearable? Because the responsibility of the family is a huge weight to carry. That’s why a lot of wives are unhappy, depressed, and feeling bitter. They are the ones having to carry the weight because they feel like they are the ones making all the decisions and having to tell everyone, even their husbands what to do. (Husbands, if you are not one of those that are taking the backseat, then disregard the above).
However, it is likely you are, because I see even some of the best husbands unknowingly putting the burden of leading and initiating on their wives. It is usually due to presumed roles that were never clearly defined. If you as a couple sat down and clearly stated that the wife would make all the decisions and tell everyone exactly what they should be doing, then you can disregard my comments.
All this establishes that husbands were created in such a way that they have the capability to lead the family lovingly. Don’t abandon your responsibility and honor. It’s an honor to follow God’s will for your life. God made the husband the leader. He gave men this position and expected men to take the burden and responsibility on their shoulders. Someone has to do it, and men were told to do it.
I will add one more verse for good measure. God commands husbands to do the following: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7
I don’t know if you read the ending of that verse or not, but it literally says, “so that your prayers may not be hindered.” Did you know your prayers could be hindered? That’s a big deal! I want all my prayers to work and be answered. If we are to heed this warning, it should lead all husbands to be running to find out what God’s intent for husbands is. It seems he is saying here, that husbands need to follow through on God’s design for them so they will get their prayers answered. I will just leave this here for you to chew on.
GOD DID NOT INTEND HUSBANDS TO RULE, OPPRESS, AND GET THEIR WAY!
He intended for husbands to sacrifice and carry the burden and responsibility of keeping the family alive, serving God, and doing His will.
What was God’s instruction to men? His instructions were to love God, their wives, and others, teach their children about God, and do God’s will (name the animals and follow God’s commands). Do husbands fail? YES! Over and Over!
Wives, I don’t know why God did not choose you to lead the family. I know a lot of wives that do lead their families. However, many wives that do lead their families tell me they wish their husbands would lead and step up. They have said they are tired of making all the decisions and the pressure on them is too great, thus what I stated above.
I wonder if you resonate? It’s possibly one of the reasons God tapped husbands to do that job. Maybe husbands were created with that extra something to be able to bear that burden. That does not mean that women aren’t special as I already said previously(ie, child-bearing, ability to nurture, intuition, and empathy are strengths for most women that most men don’t do well). God knows that men would never survive pregnancy, let alone, giving birth. Hence what we call a “man-cold.”
There is so much more that can be said. I have to stop at some point though. I am sure some people will disagree, and I could probably add more scripture and fodder to help back up my points.
Let’s finish by saying the following: If the Bible is God’s Word, God clearly places husbands as the loving, sacrificial leader of the family. Yet, our culture fights that concept due to the thought that the Bible means husband leadership is oppressive. I just wanted to show you that this is not supposed to be the case.
True Biblical leadership is full of love, care, responsibility, ownership, and sacrifice, despite what you have seen from imperfect examples.
Men, we have to do better!
Women, what I would ask of you is an unbearable task for you or anyone. I wonder if you would allow the right order to take place and allow your husband the chance to do it right. Is it possible that at that point the institution of marriage could be restored? I do believe many of you are already trying to do that. Men need to step up and do their part too. I place the blame squarely on every single one of us. Let’s all work together to change our culture into one of true Godly love.
NEXT POST IN THIS SERIES: 9 Reasons for God’s Design of Marriage: The Wife as Helper and Encourager – Part 1
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