True Manhood 101: Biblical Headship
The Man of God as the Man of the Home
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. – Ephesians 5: 23
In Europe almost all the disorders of society are born around the domestic hearth and not far from the nuptial bed. It is there that men come to feel the scorn for natural ties and legitimate pleasures and develop a taste for disorder, restlessness of spirit, and instability of desires. Shaken by the tumultuous passions which have often troubled his own house, the European finds it hard to submit to the authority of the state’s legislators. When the American returns from the turmoil of politics to the bosom of the family, he immediately finds a perfect picture of order and peace. There all his pleasures are simple and natural and his joys innocent and quiet, and as the regularity of life brings him happiness, he easily forms the habit of regulating his opinions as well as his tastes. – Alexis d’Tocqueville, observation of a French visitor to America c. 1835.
Husbands… Mission Impossible?
Despite the TV show and popular movies by that name, the real Mission Impossible of life is the one commanded of husbands in Scripture. God holds husbands accountable for creating a Picture of Jesus Christ to and for their wives.
What does that mean?
It means a very high calling is in store for every husband. Not only does a man face the necessities of making provision and protection for his wife and family…he is faced with the fact that God the Father expects of every husband behavior that causes his wife to see Jesus Christ in his work, words and actions, despite his sinful and fallen nature.
The wife, on the other hand, is responsible to help her husband Picture Christ. She is, as St. Paul says, to reverence her husband. No man can achieve real headship… godly headship without the care, love and cooperation of his wife.
Did you ever notice when a known Christian enters a room, the ribald jokes and compromised conversations lower their tone or change their subject? When a Christian is right about that for which he or she stands on a subject, there can be a recoiling in others, causing people to move away (uncomfortable) or apologize for their opposition. In other words, God makes godliness and its wise counsels … a power to be reckoned with… and a power to be trusted! It fulfills a Picture of Christ and His Church, as the primary calling of married life. Without Christ at the center of Christian manhood, we end up with a less-than-empowered way of living that compels little respect, and leaves the heart of the man himself, unresponsive to the calling of the Lord
For example, Herod feared (reverenced) John the Baptist:
For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and a holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
Godliness with wisdom brings to others a humility before the one who is godly. God puts such “fear” (reverence not fright) there. That is the reverence, referenced. However, for it to be there, honored and instilled by God, it must be just, charitable, and trustworthy in addition to being skillful, wise and godly. In other words, the wife can trust her husband because he does act toward her in a godly –trustworthy, charitable, discerning, teaching, protecting, providing, careful - manner.
God invests power and presence in His people … when they uphold the Picture in their lives. God loves defending and advancing His Son’s position among people in society.
There are several key points in the Picture accorded to the husband’s calling.
He is to be the head of the wife AS CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH. This is a direct comparison. It is the ONLY basis for the husband’s headship… His headship must reflect the kind of headship exercised by Christ.
The man is responsible for redeeming (temporally – in time and space) the fallen creation and doing so in Christ. All too many men historically have not wanted, or in the alternative, have not learned “headship” to mean responsible leadership against sin and for righteousness.
Headship is a Trust relationship…one to be carefully nurtured in the wife. So much is this the case that God (I Peter 3) warns us as men that OUR prayer life and walk with the Lord will be temporarily “hindered” if we do no treat our wives with honor and love. Tragically, many men love wives whom they have never learned to honor. The irony can lead to a confusion in both spouses who question the care of one another.
I Timothy 2 tells us that Headship (the concept is described but the term is not actually used) is a “servant’s debt” to God… and to our wives. Too often, headship is put in terms of “Superiority”, “Strength” and “Authority”. But, in this passage, headship is described as a debt owed Christ; a calling lost in the Garden of Eden by Adam, and now one that must be reverenced so as to bring glory to the Lord in our lives.
Example: Boaz in the book of Ruth is an example of how “headship” is “played out” in the drama of life. It also represents what can happen when a man wants to redeem others as a function of godly manhood and finally, as a husband.
Granted, the book presents his marriage at the end. But, everything he did in the book demonstrated the quality of character one looks for in “headship”. Remember, “Headship” represents Christ and submits to His Word, the Bible. That is the ONLY reason headship exists in the Bible.
Boaz represents that very ethic, undertaken in very difficult circumstances.
Israel had just passed through a long period of famine, economically speaking. That is, in fact, what had driven Naomi’s husband to take the family to Moab. What that meant to Israelites was most of the people in the economy were forced to capitalize themselves through labor intensive means.
Unskilled labor, debtors, widows and orphans would be hit hardest. Naomi’s condition included three of those four categories. She had no male family members left to protect or provide for her. Her family had been through famine in Israel, gone to Moab, lost husband and sons to circumstance, and faced severe famine there too. That’s the all-time prescription for poverty.
In other words, years of debilitating economic conditions. Now she had to face famine conditions as an elderly widow and all she could do was work with her hands in order to provide for herself.
In God’s providence, the love of a family member, Ruth the Moabitess, became her provision.
There is a very telling clue at the beginning of the book which helps us here. Boaz is well prepared to picture what St. Paul calls a husband to be as “savior of the body.”
Because he picks up on that very same behavior in Ruth. However, this is not mere admiration on his part. He finds ways to specially HELP her to help Naomi.
A husband is the one individual in whom a wife finds her comfort and protection. He is to her physical, moral, and spiritual strength. She is called the “weaker vessel”, not because she is “weak” but because she NEEDS his strength and guidance to keep her and build her strength further.
Boaz was such a person…and he fell in love – at a distance – with Ruth.
You probably know the rest.
In this narrative, there are several important clues concerning the decision making of Boaz… (The actions and character of one spouse redound to the advantage of BOTH. In other words, the Union of two – husband and wife - working out an economy in the home and marriage, is far more powerful than either of them individually, if the Union is godly.
Also, we can say that one of the keys to marriage is the sanctifying influence of spouse toward spouse. The Bible calls such a relationship “clean”. They “clean” one another… in a wholesome, loving, careful, and skillful manner. The husband bears the responsibility to lead a woman properly so she grows in grace toward her Lord Jesus, by learning from her husband’s example and leading.
Naomi was one such woman. It is apparent she had been married to a good man. Based on the kinds of counsels, willingness, and skill in giving advice to Ruth which we see throughout the book, we see she had endeared herself to Ruth… and recognized a good man FOR Ruth in Boaz.
Boaz: Husband to be
Boaz was prepared for marriage as ever there was a man prepared. As a result, he could recognize what the real character was in Ruth. It is clear from the book, he had inquired about her prior to meeting her. He became a “savior” to both Naomi and Ruth as he understood and helped them through the circumstances they faced.
This provides a commentary on a host of practices by husbands. A responsibility of every husband is to bring temporal “salvation” to his wife. That is the picture God wants. Boaz provides what is necessary for her well-being and safety, as much as lies within him to do so, in all issues (again, spiritual leadership, direction in life, rule and service in the home and relationship, physical care, sexual faithfulness and constancy, financial provision).
We will begin with the Book of Ruth… and certainly extend the “Picture” of Headship throughout the Bible.
Join us! Use the contact form below or call 262-675-0669