Leadership in the Home – A Godly Man Provides


This post comes to us from Tim Challies who has graciously allowed me to bring you this new series here. Tim’s blog at www.challies.com is one of the most challenging and insightful you will find. I subscribe to Tim’s RSS feed and encourage you to check it out.

The husband is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the family’s needs are met. While financial needs are the most obvious component of this, they extend far beyond. Here are several ways in which God has called you, as a husband, to provide for your family.

Provide Financially. The husband is to lead in the area of finances. In most cases this means that you, the husband, will be the family’s breadwinner, freeing up your wife to pursue her vocation in the home as wife and mother. It will also mean that you will be ultimately responsible for financial decisions and management. It may be prudent to allow your wife to actually pay the bills and keep financial records, but you must still be involved in the family finances. Time and ability would undoubtedly fail me to provide from Scripture a cut-and-dry case for these rather contentious declarations, but I would point you toward Ephesians 5 (where a husband is told to nourish and cherish his bride—is not provision an important component of nourishment?) or to 1 Timothy 5:8 where we’re told that a man who does not provide for his own family is worse than an unbeliever. I would also point you toward common sense. Common sense should tell us that women are specially created and equipped to do the work involved in raising children and that men are specially equipped to do the work involved in provision. This does not mean that a husband does nothing around the house and a woman never earns a penny. It is simply a matter of priorities.

In an attempt to head off questions, let me say that in this series we are dealing with broad principles and there are times that the principles seem to fall short in specific circumstances. The world being what it is, there are always exceptions and sometimes tragic exceptions. When it comes to theology it is important that we begin broad and go narrow rather than begin narrow and go broad. The broad principle here is that the husband is called to be the provider. But, of course, there are times when this cannot happen. Perhaps a husband is injured or disabled or just plain unable to find work. In such cases the wife may be called upon to be the primary breadwinner. In some circumstances a man may need to defer this task to the church or the government. There may also be times when a wife has to take on provision while the husband is studying or preparing himself for another vocation. Even here, though, he does not need to hand over leadership to his wife or to anyone else. He can still lead in this area even if circumstances prevent him from actually providing through the labor of his hands.

I know people will also wonder whether I am saying that your wife absolutely cannot have a job. I would again point to the broad principle that God’s primary call for women is to be involved in managing the home and raising children. As long as her job does not keep her from fulfilling her other responsibilities (such as a woman who decides she cannot have children because she wishes to prioritize her career), then I don’t see anything in Scripture that forbids it. Ideally I think the husband would wish to be in a position where if his wife works it is because of choice and not some kind of financial necessity.

Provide Sexually. The godly husband desires to serve his wife and to honor God through sex (see 1 Corinthians 7:1-5). You need to know the importance of sex in your relationship with your wife and know the importance of sexual purity to your own heart. You need to see sex not as something that is merely physical, but as a means of grace within your marriage—an act of love that binds a husband to his wife and a wife to her husband in a unique way. Pursue your wife not only in the act but in all of life so that she is willing and eager to join with you in the consummation of the act. Eagerly and willingly provide for her needs in this way, thinking more of her than of yourself.

Provide Spiritually. It is the husband who must take initiative in leading his wife into deeper and deeper truths of the faith. You need to take the initiative in providing a church home where you can join together with other believers in fellowship and in worship. Take the lead in willingly and eagerly studying the Bible on your own and with your wife. Be willing to encourage her to come before God on her own. Whether your wife is a believer or not, you should live before her in such a way that you put no stumbling block in her path—nothing that would keep her from pursuing God.

Provide Yourself. The godly husband provides himself, which is to say that he provides focused, undistracted time and attention. I think this is an area of particular failing for men today. We are a distracted and busy people who have a difficult time prioritizing what ought to be prioritized. We believe that we are owed endless hours of entertainment—that it is our right to be entertained for hours every day—and we give ourselves to this pursuit. We also recklessly pursue stuff, power, position, prestige and any other number of idols. And often these will come at the expense of your wife or children. As husband you need to provide time for your wife. Some of this time may be spent watching television, but there must be times where you can just talk without distraction, without the need for entertainment. You must provide time for your children, to talk to them, to encourage them, to ask them questions and to answer their questions. Seek to take the lead in arranging regular date nights with your wife; go on “daddy-dates” with your kids as well, finding special things to do with each one of them (alone) on a regular basis (even if that event is no more special than an early-morning breakfast at Denny’s—something I’ve been doing with my kids recently. Kids are remarkably unpicky when it comes to time spent with dad). Help your wife arrange similar dates with the kids so she can spend that focused time with them as well.

I can’t deny as I type the final words of this series that it did not come together quite as I expected. There is probably too much “me” in it. Nevertheless, I do hope that it can prove beneficial to men, and especially young men. I hope they can see in it just a glimpse of the high calling they’ve been given as husbands and that they can find great joy and satisfaction in their task as leaders within their homes.

I found a few books helpful as I prepared these articles. Among them are:

The Complete Husband: A Practical Guide to Biblical Husbanding

The Exemplary Husband: A Biblical Perspective

Being a Christian Husband: A Biblical Perspective

Leadership in the Home – A Godly Man Protects


This post comes to us from Tim Challies who has graciously allowed me to bring you this new series here. Tim’s blog at www.challies.com is one of the most challenging and insightful you will find. I subscribe to Tim’s RSS feed and encourage you to check it out.

A husband is uniquely equipped to protect his family. There is more to protecting his family than simply being strong and taking the proverbial bullet in place of his wife or children. In this article I want to outline a few of the ways in which a husband is responsible for protection.

Protect Your Family
Protect your family physically. The godly husband is responsible for the physical security of his family. God has given men greater physical strength than women and has also given men a need or desire to be protectors. You are to use this God-given strength to protect your wife and to ensure that she feels secure. She must know that you will protect her even at the cost of your own life. You must be the first into battle, you must be the one who knows that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

John Piper expresses this calling well: “If there is a sound downstairs during the night and it might be a burglar, you don’t say to her: ‘This is an egalitarian marriage, so it’s your turn to go check it out. I went last time.’ And I mean that even if your wife has a black belt in karate. After you’ve tried, she may finish off the burglar with one good kick to the solar plexus. But you better be unconscious on the floor, or you’re no man. That’s written on your soul, brother, by God Almighty. Big or little, strong or weak, night or day, you go up against the enemy first. Woe to the husband—and woe to the nation—that send their women to fight their battles.”

You are to love your wife as Christ loved the church. “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). Christ loved the church to the fullest possible extent—to the laying down of his life. He considered his life nothing in comparison with the task God had appointed to him. As a godly husband, you are to imitate Christ in this.

But there is more to it than simply being the first down the stairs when there is a noise in the night. You must also be proactive, protecting your family from predators. You must be constantly aware, constantly on guard against danger your family may encounter. So, for example, you will need to take the lead in ensuring that your children are using the internet wisely, that you have criteria for protecting your children from predators online or offline, that they are not encountering things on television that their minds and hearts are not yet equipped to understand. You will guard and protect your children from sexual temptation or sexual expression while they are dating.

Protect your family emotionally. You do this by refusing to give in to the temptation to dominate your wife and children as an overlord instead of a servant. You must learn how to properly discipline your children so you guard their bodies and their hearts. You will need to learn how your wife is different from you emotionally so you can be tender and understanding toward her (see 1 Peter 3:7 and Colossians 3:21). You need to provide loving leadership that guides and protects with dignity and love.

Protect your family theologically. You do this by developing wisdom and discernment—by pursuing godliness. You need to act like the nobel Bereans of old who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). You must be careful not to introduce to them any false teaching, knowing that as a teacher, the most important teacher your family will have, you will be judged with a harsher judgment for any false doctrine you may recommend to them.

Protect Your Family from Themselves
The godly husband protects his wife and children by helping them flee sin so they do not suffer its painful consequences. You need to know and understand that sin, when it runs rampant, damages more than just the sinner. Seek to guard your family from their own sin. Protect your wife from the sin of the children and the children from the sin of your wife; protect the children from one another.

As a godly husband you may have to intervene in the way your wife disciplines the children, not allowing her to be harsh or even abusive toward the children. You must not allow your love for her or your fear of her to allow you to avoid costly or unpopular leadership. Use your strength and authority even to protect your wife from the children, not allowing them to threaten or abuse her with words, attitudes or fists.

Protect Your Family from Your Own Sin
One of the unmistakable lessons we learn from reading the Old Testament is that a nation can suffer because of the sin of its leader and that a family can suffer because of the sin of its father. When Achan sinned (Joshua 7) by keeping for himself some of the items plundered from Jericho that God had devoted for his own use, it was not only Achan who suffered the consequences. All of Israel was punished for a time through the disastrous battle of Ai which saw thirty-six soldiers fall as the Israelite army was routed. God revealed that one man had sin and eventually Achan’s whole family was put to death for the sin of the father. “They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. ” Think as well of the rebellion of Korah as described in Numbers 16. Korah rebelled against Moses’ leadership, saying that he was exalting himself beyond the rest of the people. God’s judgment was swift: “And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods.” In both cases, the husband and father sinned but the whole family suffered consequences.

A man cannot commit himself to sin without his whole family bearing consequences. In the response to a series I wrote on the effects of pornography I received email after tragic email, describing how a husband had sinned against his wife by turning to pornography. In every case the wife was defiled by her husband’s sin, hurt by it, devastated by it. Often even the children were affected as their parents became estranged from one another, pulled apart by the father’s commitment to his sin. Wife and children suffered because a husband was more committed to his sin than he was to his family.

A godly husband protects his family by turning from sin and pursuing holiness. Know that your sin goes far beyond your own life and impacts your children and your wife. Out of love for your wife and children, out of compassion for them, out of a desire to serve them, live a holy life. Flee sin, put it to death, and pursue holiness. In this way you will be protecting your family from your sin and from the effects of your sin. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give your family is a silent, hidden decision to refrain from pursuing sin. Your family would be better off if you’d skip the trip to Disney and commit yourself to holiness.

Protect Your Wife
The godly husband focuses special attention on protecting his wife. And what man doesn’t feel the need to protect his wife? There is something in the very make up of a man that compels him to protect her, to shelter her from the pain life can bring.

Protect your wife physically. As we have seen, a godly husband uses his strength to protect his wife from any physical harm. He puts himself in harm’s way rather than risking her harm. He does not allow himself to feel that he needs to turn his cheek to any kind of abuse of his wife, but reacts with strength even at the risk of his own harm. He will face his own harm, he will face his own death, to keep his wife from suffering at the hand of others.

Allow me a brief aside here. I think most husbands have come to terms with the idea that we need to be willing to die for our wives. There is something noble and chivalrous that compels us to admit this and to romanticize it. “Of course I’d die for my wife!” But I wonder, do you find it equally easy to live for your wife? If you do not live day-to-day honoring and blessing and serving your wife, what assurance would she have, what assurance would you have, that would also be willing to die for her? It seems to me that dying for her is the easy part. You can go down in a blaze of glory and have a great story written about you in the newspaper. But it is that long, daily commitment through fifty or sixty years of marriage that is the true proving ground. Don’t just die for your wife—live for her!

Protect your wife emotionally. The godly husband will protect his wife’s heart. One of the ways he does this is by becoming a student of her. He learns what she loves and learns what she hates; he learns what draws her heart to him and what turns her heart from him. He avoids anything that will damage or scar her heart. “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7).

Protect your wife sexually. This is a particular area of responsibility from a husband to a wife. The godly husband will not demand of his wife what she is unwilling or unable to give. He will not force her or badger her into sexual deeds that violate her body or violate her conscience. He seeks to protect her from any kind of sexual harm, including the false messages that can come from raunchy movies or from pornography. When writing about sexual purity I received emails from wives whose husbands introduced them to pornography, seeking to add it as a means of spicing up their love life. What a lack of love, to compound sin upon sin by drawing a wife’s heart after a husband’s own evil desires! As a godly husband you need to understand God’s purposes in sexuality and protect your wife from any violation of them. You need to understand from 1 Corinthians 7 that your desire in sex should be pursuing your wife’s desires rather than your own.

Protect your wife spiritually. Protect your wife spiritually, primarily by your commitment to pray for her, to hold her up before the throne of God. Commit yourself to praying for her every day and even many times a day. Pray for her constantly, repeatedly, unceasingly. Know that your prayers, as her leader, as her husband, must have special value before God. Tell her that you pray for her and ask her what you can pray for on her behalf. Commit yourself to this practice and look for the evidence of God’s response to your earnest supplications.

This series will conclude tomorrow with an article titled “A Godly Man Provides.”

Leadership in the Home – A Godly Man Leads


This post comes to us from Tim Challies who has graciously allowed me to bring you this new series here. Tim’s blog at www.challies.com is one of the most challenging and insightful you will find. I subscribe to Tim’s RSS feed and encourage you to check it out.

The godly husband is to lead his family. You are to lead your family. Though some may assume that this is a kind of leadership that depends on fear and dominance, the Bible teaches something very different. When speaking of male headship, the Bible gives us the ultimate example of ultimate leadership. “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). The husband is to be head of his wife in the same way that Christ is head of his church. And what kind of headship did Christ offer the church? Was it harsh or loving? Was it domineering or gentle? Was it proud or humble? Christ loved the church so much that he never did anything harsh to her, he never did anything unfitting, he never did anything angry or unjust. He loved the church so much that he counted it as more precious than his own life. He gave up his own life so that she might live. This, Christ himself, is the model for you as a godly husband. If you wish to lead your family in a way that is faithful to Scripture, you will study the way Christ loved the church and you will seek to imitate your Savior.

In this article I want to point out four ways in which you are called to lead: in leadership, in worship, as a father and as a husband. I will focus most attention on the final one of these.

Lead in Leadership
There are different areas or levels of leadership within the family structure. The wife leads areas of the family and older children may assume leadership in some areas. In a household that includes in-laws or non-family members there may be more levels of leadership even than that. But as husband you are the leader of leaders. You are responsible for overall direction, vision, leadership of the family. The buck stops with you. We see this, for example, in 1 Timothy 3:12 where we find among the qualifications for a deacon that he must manage his children and his household well. He manages well by leading well.

This is more a responsibility than it is a privilege (see Matthew 20:26-28). This is an opportunity for you to serve your family through godly, servant leadership and not an opportunity for you to lord it over your family as a ruthless tyrant. As the leader of the leaders you ensure that others are leading as they should, that they are leading only in the areas they should. You will find humble and dignified ways of ensuring that others are leading well and that they are doing what they should as they should.

Lead in Worship
The godly husband leads his family in worship. He ensures that the family members are worshiping and that they are worshiping in a way that is consistent with Scripture.

You need to lead in corporate worship. You need to take the lead in corporate worship, not only in ensuring that your family attends church but also in the choice of church. We experienced this in our own lives where Aileen and I, many years ago now, disagreed quite adamantly in whether to remain at the church we were currently attending or whether to attend a different one. Eventually I had to ask her to just trust me and to allow me to lead. She did so and I think God blessed us not just in my decision and in the fact that I was willing to make it, unpopular though it was, but also in the fact that Aileen was willing to trust me in this and to submit herself to my leadership. As it happens, time has shown the decision to be a wise one and God has blessed us richly. You need to lead your family in choosing a church, in attending that church and in worshiping at that church.

You need to lead in family worship. Corporate worship, while absolutely essential to the Christian faith, is not all the worship that is required for us to have a healthy faith. Christians have long emphasized the importance of regular (usually daily) family worship. This is a good practice to begin as soon as you get married. If you have not yet begun this practice, do so today! Family worship does not need to be long or intricate but should consist at least of the reading of Scripture and prayer. This is an ideal opportunity for a man to spend time reading the Bible to his family and to ensure that they understand and apply that Word. It is a great time to spend in prayer, teaching your children to pray, and praying together for common concerns.

Tip: Do not become overly reliant on children’s Bibles. Read to your family at meal times from the “grown-up Bible” (as my son used to call it). When the children are young, focus on reading narrative and, as they grow older, move into doctrine and wisdom literature. Read to emphasize comprehension, pausing to ask questions and test their understanding. When praying, pray your way through the church directory or through lists of extended family members. If you are a musical family (or perhaps even if you are not) sing together. Consider memorizing Scripture together. Make this meaningful time that is deliberately spent. Begin this while you are newly married and make it a habit you maintain.

You need to lead in personal worship. The godly husband knows the value of personal devotions. You must be committed to spending time one-on-one with God through the reading of the Word and prayer. If you are to be a godly leader in your home, you need to take the lead in this! I have many memories of my father sitting in his favorite chair with a Bible open on his lap, his eyes closed in prayer. I knew from a young age that he prioritized personal worship; I never had any doubts that this was an important part of his life and that I had to imitate him in this way.

A godly husband will do more than ensure he is spending his own time in the Word and in prayer. He will also seek to ensure that his wife is doing the same. This may mean helping her find the time, perhaps by giving her a few minutes in the evening while he bathes the kids or while he reads a story to them.

He will also help his children understand the need for reading and prayer and will take the lead in helping them begin to read the Word and pray. He may not be involved with this day-to-day but he will still be following-up with his children to ensure they have been learning from the Word and that they have been praying. He will speak with them about what they have been reading, helping them understand and apply it.

Tip: Ask your wife if she has time in her day to read the Bible and pray. If she does not, help her to find the time. Ask her what works well for her and do what you can to free her up from other responsibilities during those times.

Lead As a Father
The husband is the one who is ultimately responsible for his children. Too many men have abdicated this responsibility, assuming that the mother is the one who is primarily responsible for raising the kids. But no, it is you, the father, who must lead your children. It is not without importance that the Bible’s admonitions to raise godly children are directed not at wives but at husbands. Similarly, until recent times the majority of books on parenting were targeted not at mothers but at fathers. In the past people have understood what today we tend to ignore. Dad is primarily responsible for raising the children.

Of course this does not excuse mothers from being involved in raising their children. It does not in any way mean that mothers will be uninvolved in raising the children. Instead it simply shows that it is ultimately you who bear responsibility before God to ensure that children are raised in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). You must take the lead and bear the responsibility in teaching and training your children. In many cases you will delegate this to others—mothers, teachers, Sunday school teachers, and so on. But you are the one who leads and who is most answerable to God.

Lead as a Husband
The reality of male headship means that a husband is responsible for his wife’s well-being in a way she is not responsible for his. It falls upon you, for example, to take initiative in ensuring that your wife has sufficient opportunity to spend time in Scripture and prayer. It falls upon you to ensure that you live peaceably with your wife so that your prayers (not her prayers) may not be hindered by any discord between you (see 1 Peter 3:7). As leader, you bear the greater responsibility and the greater burden. Here are some specific ways you must lead your wife:

Lead with Love. The leadership of the godly husband is marked by love (Ephesians 5:25). Your wife, aware as she is of your sin, should never have reason to doubt that you love her, that you love your children, that you are committed to serving your bride in this unique role. You must be willing to forsake your own desires, your own comfort, your own rights in order to express love for your wife. Your leadership must be marked with the kind of love that marked Christ’s love for his church. That same love, that same desire for God’s glory, flows from Christ to the husband and into the family.

Lead with Gentleness. The godly husband leads his wife with meekness and gentleness. You need to be aware of your own sin and your own failings. You need to lead your wife gently, aware of her own struggles and weaknesses. Heed the word of God which says, “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).

Lead with Dignity. The godly husband does not mock or belittle his wife. You must not lead her through scorn or sarcasm or anger or punishment. Lead your wife with special delight and dignity, leading her differently than you would lead a child or an employee. Lead her with an awareness that you are a servant first, a leader second. Do nothing to puff yourself up with pride but everything to show your wife that you esteem her higher than yourself.

Lead with Confidence. This is a particular challenge today, of course, at a time when culture has conditioned us to thinking that men have no business being leaders over their wives. But the godly husband listens to Scripture above the world and leads his wife, confident that God calls him to do just this. Lead your wife with a humble confidence, even when you are called upon to make difficult or unpopular decisions. Lead with confidence that God is willing and able to bless you for your obedience.

So a husband is to lead with love, gentleness, dignity and confidence. Here now are some practical ways in which you are to lead and oversee your wife:

Oversee her ministry. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” As a husband concerned both for your wife and for the church, you will see that she is serving according to her gifts and that she is giving of her time to each of her areas of ministry, whether in the home or outside of it. You will see that she does not overextend herself or minister at the expense of her family. And you will encourage her as she discovers and exercises her spiritual gifts.

Oversee her relationships. Titus 2:3-5 has stern admonitions toward what seems to be a particular temptation to women. It teaches women how to use their abilities to encourage rather than discourage. As husband you will ensure that she knows the roles God has called her to primarily. You will help guard her against sinful relationships and help her balance and prioritize her many responsibilities. You will encourage her to develop relationships with women who she can befriend, mentor or be mentored by.

Oversee her decision-making. Colossians 1:9-10 provides a wonderful example of how to pray for wisdom and understanding on behalf of another person. As a godly husband you will pray for your wife, that she will make decisions that honor God. You will encourage her toward big and noble goals and you will help ensure that she is making decisions based on the best priorities.

You have heard it said, I’m sure, that nature abhors a vacuum. This is absolutely true when it comes to leadership. If you do not lead your family, someone else will; someone else will have to. But God has called you to lead, to lead with great joy and delight, to lead though it may be costly, and to lead with love. Lead your wife, lead your family, and do it all for the glory of God.

This series will continue tomorrow as we look at “A Godly Man Protects.”

Leadership in the Home – A Defence


This post comes to us from Tim Challies who has graciously allowed me to bring you this new series here. Tim’s blog at www.challies.com is one of the most challenging and insightful you will find. I subscribe to Tim’s RSS feed and encourage you to check it out.

Yesterday I began a series dealing with leadership in the home. Today I want to continue the series by providing a brief (and undoubtedly inadequate) defense of male headship.

Few Christian beliefs are less popular than that of male headship. As Christians we believe that God has called husbands to lead and wives to submit. This is an audacious claim in a society like ours that so values autonomy and independence. There may have been a time when such an idea came more naturally to people—a time when hierarchy and inequality in role were assumed. In that kind of social situation submission may have seemed more natural. But today, when we acknowledge that all men (and women) are created equal and when there are few things we value higher than a kind of absolute equality, submission seems like a relic of the ancient past. Leadership we like, submission we hate. Even Christians shy away from it.

And yet perhaps submission is not quite so foreign. The Bible is clear that submission is a duty we all share. If we look closely we find that society believes this as well and that it is necessary for any well-ordered society. After all, students are to obey their teachers; employees are to submit to the commands of their employers; soldiers receive orders from their superiors; all of us obey the police officer who stands in the middle of the busy intersection and holds up his hand in the “stop” position. We are accustomed to submitting to authority outside the home, but react with shock that such authority could exist within the home, between a husband and wife. We accept inequality in role in some contexts but not others.

Before we proceed with this series about the godly leader, we would do well to pause and to consider what the Bible says about male headship. There is much we could say, as evidenced by the vast quantity of very thick books dealing with the topic (most of which are written by Wayne Grudem or John Piper or Wayne Grudemand John Piper). I could, literally, write an entire series on this one point. But I am going to pursue it from only one angle. I will seek to show that the kind of headship prescribed by the Bible is inherent in God’s created order. In other words, the fact that husbands are to lead and wives are to submit to their husbands (not to all men—only to their husbands) is not merely the product of the fall of the human race into sin, but is a product of God’s creation. Even if sin had never entered the world, a husband would be expected to lead his wife and a wife would still be expected to submit to her husband. The headship of the husband is not rooted in a punishment, and perhaps even an unfair punishment in which woman was given the harsher penalty of having to submit. Instead, it is rooted in the very purpose and creation of mankind.

Strange though it may seem, submission is a good and beautiful and godly thing. The most perfect relationship in the world, the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, displays a perfect example of submission. The Son submits Himself to the Father. They are, to echo the Shorter Catechism, “the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” Yet the Father demonstrates headship. We speak of Jesus’ mission to the earth in two ways. We speak of Jesus being sent by the Father. And this is true. From eternity it was decided by the Father that man would have to be ransomed by a perfect substitute. The Father tasked the Son with this responsibility. But we also speak of the Son willingly giving up his life. This is equally true. The Son’s perfect submission to the Father’s will meant that a command of the Father was indistinguishable from a decision of the Son. Christ was perfectly willing to submit to His Father’s will. This relationship within the Trinity provides us many clues as to the nature of the relationship between husband and wife.

All of this to say that submission and headship are not bad things. They have existed eternally and have existed in the most perfect relationship. How can we then dare to say that they are somehow rooted in sin? If we understand this, we have a solid foundation for understanding how and why a husband must lead.

Here are ten proofs that headship and submission precede man’s fall into sin. Thus they are ten proofs that headship and submission are aspects of God’s natural order and not a consequence or necessary reaction to sin. (These follow the structure aptly outlined by Wayne Grudem in his thorough study on the subject, Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth).

The order of creation: Adam was created before Eve. This may seem to be weak grounds for an argument yet it was significant enough for Paul to mention in 1 Timothy 2:12-13 where he does not “permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man…For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Inherent in the order of creation, where Adam was formed before Eve, is the foundation for the order of human relationships.

The representation of the human race: It was Adam who had a special role in representing the human race. Though Eve was the first to be tempted to sin, it was Adam who was considered most responsible for their combined disobedience. In Corinthians we read that, “as in Adam all men die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Christ is the second Adam, not the second Eve as we might expect if the Bible held Adam and Eve as being equal in representation and headship.

The naming of woman: Adam was given the honor and responsibility of naming his wife. “She shall be called woman,” he said, “because she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23). Within the Scriptures we see that the person who names something is always the one who has authority over it. This parallels the account of creation where God named the night and the day, the expanse, the earth and the waters. By naming them he showed his authority. And in naming Eve, Adam proved his headship.

The naming of the human race: The human race is named after Adam, not Eve. Neither is it named after both Adam and Eve. God named the human race “man.” “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created” (Genesis 5:1-2). While in and of itself this does not provide a cut-and-dry case, it points again to the headship and leadership of the man in the created order.

The primary accountability: God held Adam primarily accountable for the Fall. While Adam and Eve hid from God, God called “to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:9). God did not call to both Adam and Eve, but called to Adam alone. Dr. Grudem draws an analogy of a parent who, upon entering a room where several children have been misbehaving, will summon the oldest and demand answers. It is the oldest who bears greatest responsibility. In the same way God summoned Adam and demanded an account of both his sin and that of his wife. Notice that Satan reversed this order, approaching Eve before Adam in an obvious (and successful) attempt to disrupt the God-given pattern.

The purpose of women: Eve was created as a helper for Adam, not Adam as a helper for Eve. While feminists have made much of the term “helper,” the fact remains that in any given situation, the person doing the helping necessarily places himself in a subordinate role to the person who needs help (like a secretary to her boss or a Vice President to a President). Yet helping does not remove accountability. While I may help my son with a paper route, the ultimate responsibility is still his. Eve’s role, from the beginning of creation, was to be a helper for Adam. This does not by any means indicate an inferiority, but a helper who was Adam’s equal in worth and dignity. She differed in ways that would complement Adam.

The conflict: A dire consequence of the Fall is the conflict it has introduced into the relationships of husbands and wives. In Genesis 3:16 God tells Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” This desire is to interfere with or distort the role of her husband. The roles God gave to the husband and wife have been distorted through the Fall. Eve would now rebel against the God-given authority of her husband and he would abuse the authority to rule poorly, forcefully, and even harshly.

The restoration: When creation is restored through the work of Christ we do not find an undoing of the marriage order. Were submission a consequence of the Fall we would expect Christ to “make all things new” in this area. Instead we find that Christ provides power to overcome the sinful impulses of a wife against her husband and the husband’s response of ruling harshly over her. But Christ does not remove the order of a husband being in authority over his wife.

The mystery: When the Apostle Paul wrote of a “mystery” he was describing something that was understood only faintly in the Old Testament but became clear in the New. In Ephesians 5:31-32 Paul shows that the ultimate purpose in marriage is to mirror the relationship between Christ and the church. “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Dr. Grudem says, “Although Adam and Eve did not know it, their relationship represented the relationship between Christ and the church. They were created to represent that relationship, and that is what all marriages are supposed to do. In that relationship, Adam represents Christ and Eve represents the church…”

The parallel with the Trinity: The triune nature of God provides the perfect example of submission. “The equality, differences, and unity between men and women reflects the equality, differences and unity of the Trinity.” We are blessed and honored to be able to represent that relationship in our marriages.

The ultimate reason a husband is to exercise headship over his wife may not have been clear to Adam and Eve. It was not clear to God’s people until after the writing of the New Testament. The ultimate reason the husband is to be head is that the marriage relationship is to mirror that of Christ and his church. Just as Christ is head of the church and we submit to him, in the same way man is the head of the family and the wife should submit to him. A husband is to lead in the same was as Christ: lovingly, tenderly and always seeking the greatest good for his wife. A wife is to mirror her relationship with Christ in her relationship with her husband. She is to trust him, be loyal to him and help him. This can only be done in a relationship of humble, loving, godly submission.

When men lovingly lead their wives and when women respond in joyful submission, we see a beautiful echo of the relationship of the Father to the Son and we model the love of the Son for his bride. Headship and submission may be unpopular and counter-cultural, but we can have confidence that they have been ordained before the foundations of the world and that they have been ordained for our good and so we can bring glory to our Creator. They have existed for all of eternity and will endure through all ages. Headship, leadership in the home, is both a privilege and a responsibility.


Tomorrow this series will continue with a discussion of how a man is to lead in the home. In the meantime, if you have questions, comments or concerns that don’t make sense to post here in the comments section, feel free to email me.

Leadership in the Home – Introduction


This post comes to us from Tim Challies who has graciously allowed me to bring you this new series here. Tim’s blog at www.challies.com is one of the most challenging and insightful you will find. I subscribe to Tim’s RSS feed and encourage you to check it out.

This is a series about leadership in the home. It is geared specifically to men and I hope it will be of some use to guys of any age though perhaps it will be most at home in the hands of young men—those who are newly married or those who are to be married in the near future. I hope it is also the kind of series that a wife can pass to her husband and say, “Honey! Read this and tell me what you think of it…” When the series is complete I will put it together into a PDF file to make it easier to share in that way.

This series of articles really grew out of a previous series I wrote, one that dealt with the effects of pornography. After I wrote that series I received email after email from women whose husbands had fallen into sexual sin. So often these women lamented not only the pain of finding out that their husbands were involved in sexual sin but also the fact that these men were showing terrible, sometimes non-existent, leadership in the home. Many of these wives longed for their husbands to fulfill their God-given role as men, as husbands, as leaders of their homes. To be frank, there are a lot of Christian men who have no conception of their God-given role as leaders.

A husband’s unique role consists of three tasks: leadership, protection and provision. In fact, these may be the only unique abilities a man brings to the marriage relationship (beyond the obvious biological role). If he abdicates on any of these things, either allowing them to disappear altogether or forcing his wife to take over, he is less of a man for it. And she has less of a husband.

Most Christian men believe that they are expected to be leaders within the home. I would argue that most men, Christian or not, believe this in their heart of hearts. But few husbands know what it really means to be this kind of a leader. Few know what it means to be a godly husband. In the second article of this series, I want to prove to you that God has called husbands to lead.

A man is to lead in his home and family. He is to be the leader, the head. Of course this is not a headship that brings with it power and prestige and might, but a headship that brings with it love and care and sacrifice. This is the leadership exemplified by Jesus Christ who, as Lord of all the universe, became a servant and suffered for the sake of those he loved. This will be the topic of our third article.

The husband is to protect his family. This goes beyond physical protection, though this is an aspect of his role, but extends also to emotional protection, spiritual protection, sexual protection. He is to protect his family from any of the ways in which Satan would seek to corrupt and harm. This will be the topic of our fourth article.

And finally, the husband is to provide. He is to be ultimately responsible for ensuring that his family’s physical and financial needs are being met, but he is to do more than this. He is to provide for them financially, physical, spiritually and more. This will be the subject of the final article.

I want to dedicate the rest of this introduction to looking at a few of the necessary character traits of a godly leader in the home. These are traits you must cultivate if you want to successfully lead your wife and children.

Humility. This is probably an obvious one—a good leader is a humble leader, one who has an awareness of his own sins and weaknesses and one who knows who and what he is before God. But here is something you may not expect. I want to share a quick and humbling fact: If you are a young husband (and maybe even if you have been married for a long time), you are probably an awful leader. You’re probably really, really bad at it—so bad that I feel sorry for your wife and so bad that you would, too, if you could step outside yourself for a moment. The task of leadership does not come easily or naturally and neither does good leadership. Despite this, I want to encourage you to press on. You need to lead anyway, but you need to do it with great humility, not just knowing your own propensity to sin but also knowing that you are untested and unskilled as a leader. You will learn to lead well as you lead, if you lead humbly.

Confidence. You need to have confidence that God really has called you to lead your family. This can be hard to believe in a culture like ours that screams sexism! as soon as it hears a man claim that he leads his wife. You will need to study Scripture to give yourself a firm foundation to understand that God has called you to lead and you will need to study Scripture to help you know how to be that kind of leader. You will lead well only if you are confident that God stands behind you, affirming you in your leadership. Your leadership is not your own, but has been delegated to you by the One who created you, who created your wife, and who brought you together. Lead, then, with a humble confidence.

Godliness. You will need to be a godly man if you are to lead your family well. Like leadership, godliness does not come naturally and it does not come easily. It is, to borrow an excellent description, a long obedience in the same direction. It does not come without wars, without battles, without scars. It certainly does not come without persistence and dedication. Lead your family with a humble, confident godliness.

Love. If you are to be a godly husband, you need to have love for your wife—a love that is far greater than the love you have for yourself. Sound easy? It isn’t! We naturally love ourselves so much more than the one we claim to love the most. You will need to have a great love for your wife and children and a greater love still for God. You must be willing to count yourself last. You must be willing to die for your wife but, harder still, to live for her. You need to be willing and equipped to lead your wife with a humble, confident, godly love.

How do you do that? Read on…


(We will keep posting Tim’s series here in coming days)