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 choose the husband to lead the 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 in some respects.
With the women’s movement, equality has been a moto 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.
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 and provides more coherence and helps show that this topic is important in the Bible.
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 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 that sounds 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.
If I can be frank, we don’t need to just lead, command, order, and get our way. This is “leading 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 leading.
Referencing Scripture and Rounding it Out
Okay, are you ready to add some Scripture (I think I am combining the scripture with how this looks biblically. OH WELL)?
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.
Let’s first focus on Adam being a leader and the first in Scripture. If a leader is “an example for others to follow,” then they go 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).
God choosing men to lead their families seems to be clear. Based on this idea, it also seems reasonable to say God made them the leader in the marriage.
Here is a verse on what that looks like: 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 is a different view of leadership than our culture has expressed. The husband as the leader, from a Biblical view, is not supposed to be arrogant, demanding, and oppressive. They are supposed to be loving, like Christ loved, GIVING THEMSELVES UP FOR HER.
Sacrifice! 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.
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.
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.
GOD DID NOT INTEND HUSBANDS TO RULE, OPPRESS, AND GET THEIR WAY!
He intended for husbands to sacrifice and carry the burden and responsibility for keeping the family alive, serving God, and doing His will.
What was God’s instruction to men: 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.
I wonder if you resonate? Maybe that is why 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 (ie, child-bearing, ability to nurture, intuition, and empathy are strengths for most women that most men don’t do well).
How do I conclude this post? There is so much more that can be said.
I have to stop at some point. I am sure some people will disagree and I could probably add more scripture and fodder to help back up my point.
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 want to show you that this is not the case.
Biblical leadership is full of love, care, responsibility, ownership, and sacrifice.
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 the men do it right, then will the institution of marriage be restored? I do believe many of you are already trying to do that. Men need to step up and do their part.
I hope that this has been helpful. If you have any further questions or need help, please call me and set up an appointment or check out some of my other BLOG POSTS.
NEXT POST IN THIS SERIES: 9 Reasons for God’s Design of Marriage: The Wife as Helper and Encourager – Part 1
Want to read the rest of the blog series? START HERE
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