Still head of the home?

The question that many have pondered is this: If a man fails in his responsibility and function to provide for his family and perhaps his wife begins to do so, is he still the head of the home? Or if he fails to be the priest and spiritual leader of his home and his wife takes up that responsibility, is he still the head of the home? And what should be the wife’s response towards this?

 

It is common Christian knowledge that the institution of marriage is one founded and ordained by God, and it is by His principles and His principles alone that the family can function and function properly.

It is also common knowledge that the man in the family is anointed and appointed as the head of the home, it is his position, by divine order, he did nothing to deserve it or did he in any way work for it, just the way God may call a person as a minister of the gospel in the office of a Pastor or Evangelist, without works (Heb 5:4), so also the male man is called as the head of the home (Eph 5:23, Col 3:18-20). The home referring to the family, which comprises of a husband and a wife and may comprise of children.

However to be called to a position, does not always means the person carries out the function or responsibilities attached to the position. Saul was positioned as king but along the line, he failed in functioning according to the responsibilities of king (2 cor 5:2). One of the functions of the head of the home is to be a channel of God’s provision and protection, it is so spiritually and in many places a norm culturally. Being the bread winner has been for men over the centuries a source of identity and a badge of honour, and rightly so.

The question that many have pondered is this: If a man fails in his responsibility and function to provide for his family and perhaps his wife begins to do so, is he still the head of the home? Or if he fails to be the priest and spiritual leader of his home and his wife takes up that responsibility, is he still the head of the home? And what should be the wife’s response towards this?

There are a number of thoughts, which would help us come to a scriptural understanding and a renewed mind concerning this issue:

  1. A proper understanding of Position and Function
  2. A proper understanding of Ordination or Appointment
  3. A proper understanding of the deeper symbolism of marriage: Christ and the Church

 

Position and Function

Every position comes with responsibilities and functions, this is true in every sphere of life and also true in the sphere of marriage, as stated one of the male man’s function as seen from scriptures is to be a channel of God’s provision and protection to his family, as also stated people often fail in their positions and do not meet up to their responsibilities. We learn a lesson from the life of David and Saul, even though Saul in many way’s had failed in his functions as king and deviated to vain pursuits, David still never attacked the person or position of Saul, so much that even cutting a piece of his garment pricked David’s conscience.

And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.”(1 sam:24:5,6)

You see, though a person fails in his function, as long as he is still in position, the respect and honour due to anyone in such a position is to be given him. This is why Paul quickly apologized for his words on discovering he was speaking to the high priest (Acts 23:2-5), not because what he said was a lie but because he was not permitted to speak such words to such a man in such a position.

We must recognize, that the man is anointed to be the head and leader of the home and the woman is anointed to be a helpmeet for him. This translates in giving a spouse the honour, respect, love due him/her even when they are not living up to their own responsibilities. This same principle applies to the respect and honour due a government or leadership even when they are not performing their duties.

Many a times we have seen mothers and wives bear the responsibilities meant for the husband or even for both of them, they do this for the sake of the children, for the love in their hearts, for various reasons and they are worthy of double honour, we see valiant women in the bible who did what their husbands failed to do: Zipporah (Exo 4:24-26), Abigail (1 Sam 25:18,23) etc. But irregardless of how much of the functions or responsibilities a woman does, it dosen’t make her the father or head of the home, just as irregardless of how much of the woman’s responsibilities a man does it dosent make him the mother of the home. Each spouse has his/her own position and respective functions, should one be failing in his/her responsibilities, it behooves on the other to help (Ecc 4:9-10).

They arise many situations in different dysfunctional families that this write up can not in detail point out all, but let it be said that the wisdom of God is the guide, this also does not mean a woman should obey her husband against godliness or scriptural sound counsel, I don’t consider it wisdom giving a wanton spendthrift husband money, which may be meant for meals, house rent, children school fees or for running the family. David avoided Saul, even when Saul clearly wanted him to come, but yet all his actions were filled with grace and regard for the king who wanted to kill him.

 

The issue of Ordination

Some of these thoughts are not popular and may even go counter mainstream ideas, but we judge by scriptures, not the changing cultures of our world. When it comes to the issue of marriage and family, as stated earlier, God claims originator and ruler (Gen 2:18), in His wisdom He appointed or ordained the male man as head of the home, now the issue is this: it takes the same level of power or a higher level of power that appointed to un-appoint, if God ordained the male man as head of the home, it will take God or a higher power to un-ordain the male man.

The point is God in his wisdom ordained it so, society in it’s advancement and development can not undo it, even the male man can not delegate this position or his wife take over that position. God made it so and gave no room for alterations. This truth is a truth for Christians in particular, as far as an unbeliever may be concerned it might be the height of foolishness.

1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

But these instructions are just as crazy as love your enemies and pray for those who despitefully use you, just as unpopular as turning the other cheek and walking an extra mile.

 

The relation of marriage and Christ

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Eph 5:21-23

You see, marriage here on earth is designed by God to be one big sample, prophecy and model of the ultimate eternal marriage, the marriage supper of the lamb, the marriage between Christ and the church (Rev 19:7).

God in scriptures show us the manner in which he loves us: “as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride”(Isa 62:5)

Scriptures show us, that the deeper mystery of marriage here on earth is actually a symbolism between Christ and the church. Christ loves us as a husband ought to love his wife, and we submit to Christ as a wife ought to submit to her husband.

A good question to point out in our discussion, according to scriptures one of the responsibilities of a man is to love his wife, and one of the wife’s responsibilities is to submit herself to her husband. If for any reason the woman stops being submissive, respectful or starts acting in a difficult manner, is the man therefore permitted to stop loving her?

The answer is no! it’s an unconditional love, irrespective of works, just as Christ unconditionally loves the church, so that neither her failures or successes can separate her from the love of her husband, just like nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:35-40).

In the same vein, it’s an unconditional respect, the wife in the midst of an unloving husband should keep honouring, submitting and respecting her husband and that in and unto the Lord.

One more illustration from this point. They are times when we pray and God in His wisdom may not answer our prayer, or answer it the way we expect, do we at such times stop being faithful, honouring or obedient to our God? No! according to the words of the three Hebrew men “even if our God does not deliver us, we will not serve thy gods”, Faith is not always proven by what we get, sometimes it is by what we loose. We do not stop being faithful to Christ even when it seems He didn’t answer our prayer or fulfill His word, likewise even when a spouse does not meet up to his/her function or responsibility, you do not stop being faithful, submissive or loving.

 

The Wife’s response

Some practical scriptural responses for a wife in such a situation:

  1. Like David neither attack the person or the position of the man, you must learn to separate the intrinsic worth and beauty in a person from the outward failures or deficiencies is in their acts or lack of it.
  2. The continual giving of respect and honour as is due to the head of the home
  3. A persistence in non-compromise: either to follow his bad example or be led in manners unworthy of a believer
  4. The undying task of continual prayers and intercession
  5. The keeping of the family together, as much as you can: this might be financially, spiritually, materially or otherwise.
  6. Precise confrontation: neither attacking the person or position but confronting him on his failing responsibilities. It is not wise to ignore such deterioration in the family life, and if need be the involvement of respected mentors, counselors, more matured couples or friends (N.B: It is not usually a good idea putting such matters to your own family members, whose well intended intervention may seem to the man a gang up against him)
  7. The spirit of encouragement: Even when we are down in failures or sin, Christ doesn’t chide us, His conviction lead’s to repentance and His forgiveness leads us up. Likewise every spouse must learn to encourage the other spouse, irregardless of how small the effort and insignificant the reward, this is a truth wife’s must learn in particular; men in general tend to blossom under praise and encouragement (especially from their wives) and wither under criticism or nagging. Encourage effort, not just performance.
  8. Faithfulness, even if that means weeks, months or even years before a change comes. God never leads us where He doesn’t go or let us face what we cannot bear.
  9. A focus on God & His purpose for you: Many a times, women because of the challenges in their homes loose focus on the bigger pictures God may be showing them, they get so engrossed in their family, their prayers are wrapped around only their kindred, they forget to be a blessing to those God brings their way, they ignore the challenges set up for which they can be a solution, and they draw closer to God only as a means to meet their aim of a ‘happy home’, it’s just another subtle form of selfishness. You must maintain your focus on God and love Him for who He is and continue in His revealed will for you, even in the midst of the family crisis. It is good to note that your joy comes from God, not a spouse, and no person even a spouse should hold the place of God in your life.

This is not an exhaustive list and for many couples, the wisdom for salvation for their own peculiar situations will be different, it is important to keep abreast with the leading of God’s Spirit for the individuals and their peculiar situation.

I realize these responses seem counter intuitive and even foolish, but I uphold it for two reasons: 1. this is to be the exact response of the husband to a wife who fails in her own responsibilities. And more importantly 2. I have seen nothing in scripture that dissuades but rather encourages these responses.

 

The saving wife

Scriptures continuously point out how much power the woman has over her husband, not power born of position like her husband’s, but power born out of influence, so much so that the scriptures point that she may save her husband (1 cor 7:16), and how he may be won over to the obedience of the word without preaching but by ‘watching your daily life, so full of reverence, and so blameless’ (1 Pet 3:1,2 WNT).

I believe every Christian woman has within her, the wisdom, energy and power to steer her home to its promise land, she is anointed to be a helpmeet for even the seemingly most “unhelpable“ man if she is married to him and she can birth wonders in the midst of chaos. She must however learn how to wield and yield this influence, because she yields it for his good (She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. Prov 31:12). And for the Christian woman that influence starts from what brother Peter calls a ‘the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit’ (1 pet 3:4).

DISCLAIMERS

  • I am quick to agree with those who on reading this article point out that it is impossible to live by this, indeed it’s impossible. It’s impossible to love a person who hates you, it’s impossible to pray for those who despitefully use you, it’s impossible to bless those who curse you, just another impossible day in Christ, right?. It’s impossible for a wife to submit, respect and reverence a husband who doesn’t care, who doesn’t provide nor cares to, who fails in all his responsibilities, it’s impossible. It’s impossible for a husband to love a wife who nags, who is disrespectful, who never submits, who chatters away secrets and lets the house droop, it’s impossible. Yes with man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. This article is not to drive you in your humanity to accomplish these noble ideals, but to cause you to understand and place your trust in God and on His energy, for this is only accomplishable by His life, the life at work in every believer. Not by power or might but by His Spirit.
  • This write up is in no way an excuse for men to become lazy or dodgers towards their responsibilities, scripture points out in 1 Tim 5:8: But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Any man who begins to imagine to lapse in his responsibilities, may need to be born again, again.
  • This write up simply answers the question, is he still the head of the home? And what should be the scriptural response to such a situation?
  • It is also an encouragement to Christian single ladies who desire to marry, since the choice to accept a proposal falls on you, don’t be blinded by vanities, choose one who you can trust to lead you and the family in the way of the Lord, in the way you should go.

 

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