Friday, April 10, 2009

How to be Master of the House

Many pastors today proclaim from their pulpits that wives are taking over the leadership role God has assigned to husbands. Is their charge valid?

First, what is the directive to husbands? Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.

Where is leadership in this directive? There isn’t any. It is all about love and sacrifice.

So where does the headship idea come from? We have to look at the directive to the wives. (Doesn’t this seem backward?) To the wives, Paul says “Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church and he is the savior of the body.

So it is the word “head” that Christian leaders translate into "authority" or "leader." But does the context support this definition? If Paul meant that husbands are to rule their wives, wouldn’t he have said so? If they are to make the final decisions, wouldn’t he have said that? Instead, he tells husbands to give themselves up for their wives. How? Like Christ did for the church.

This is not just once in a while. This is daily, hourly, moment by moment, no matter what. It is such sacrifice of self and such caring for and focusing on the needs of the other, that if I were a man, I would not be insisting on the “right” to this headship.

And it is this sacrificial headship that wives are to submit to. Wives are to submit as to Christ, in other words, to a person who acts like Christ. There is no way a wife can submit to a self-serving, and/or demanding husband as she would submit to Christ. It is impossible. A woman who submits to such a man is submitting as to Satan. The marriage would no longer symbolize Christ and the church.

So if a man’s “headship” is to love self-sacrificially, are Christian wives taking over their husbands’ role? I have to concur, yes they are. In the majority of cases, it is the wives who put themselves last, who put husband and children first. It is wives who focus on their husband’s desires and try to fulfill them, who lose sleep to care for their family, whether child or husband. It is Christian wives who sacrifice their own desires and goals to help their husbands reach theirs. And wives continue to work when they come home from work, or after the husband comes home from work, while the husband uses that time to relax or play. Wives have taken the leadership role by becoming the loving, sacrificing servants that husbands are commanded to be.

If husbands really want to be Master of the House and take back their God-decreed role of “headship,” they need to put their wives first, and themselves last. Then, and only then, will they be the leaders and masters of their homes.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" Please visit


  1. I will like to comment that leadership is still mutual I was agreeing with you , but remember that head transalted kephale into greek carries other meanings that of source, completitor , the word or term headship is not Biblical. I completely disagree with the last parts, even if the man puts the wives frst they are not masters of the home, God is first and then both husband and wife share leadership since there is no "boss" since kephlae does not carrry the meaning. It sounds like you were egalitarian at the beginning of the post and suddenly you turned complementarian. And in other of yoru posts you say that to take leaderhsip or guide into teh word head is still usurping power over the wife but yet in this post you are doing it! I wish you coudl explain this because I really love all of your posts but this really scared me that you suddenly switched sides and confused, not husband or wife whatever they do become sole masters of the home.

  2. Anonymous,
    I apologize for the confusion. I have not switched sides. What I wrote was a
    "devil's advocate" piece. If men think "headship" is having authority over their wives and being master of the house, and they think that is so important, I am urging them to look at what "head" really means according to the word and the context. Being the head means they are to lay down their lives, their preferences, their selfish desires, their rights and their privileges every minute of every day. THAT is how they are to be master. In other words, it is not being master at all--at least not the way they would like to think.

    Sometimes people are so used to the way things are and the way they think things ought to be, that they are blind to the truth. I write things in a backward way at times to try to take the blinders off. How can they reconcile sacrificially laying down their will, their rights, for their wives, and at the same time claim authority, demanding things their way, is love? The two are opposites. Even Jesus, who has all authority and all the rights, laid it down for our sakes. (Phil 2)

    Perhaps pointing out a few quotes from the piece will help. "So if a man’s “headship” is to love self-sacrificially, are Christian wives taking over their husbands’ role?...In the majority of cases, it is the wives who put themselves last, who put husband and children first....Wives have taken the leadership role by becoming the loving, sacrificing servants that husbands are commanded to be."

    I'm pointing out that wives tend to carry the leadership, biblical, "master of the house" role via sacrificial living. Biblically, head, which comps call "master of the house" does not mean boss. If anything, it means "leader in sacrifice" or "chief sacrificial lamb." If men want to be master of the house, they must do the opposite of that "boss" or "authority" title. Instead of imposing their will on their wives, it is in laying down their rights that they gain that "authority" they crave. It is then that they become true equals with their wives, laying down their rights, being counselor, mentor and guide for their children, as wives have been doing for years. Making decisions together based on Jesus's leadership and what is good for the whole family, not only what is good for the husband. I'm pointing out that when men seek true biblical "authority" it may not be palatable to them, because there is no self agrandizement, no privilege, entitlement or elitism with it.

    I hope I've cleared up the confusion. Let me know if that still doesn't add up for you with what I've said elsewhere.

  3. Dear Waneta, thank you for your quick answer, yes it cleared a lot, like I said this shocked me because of your other posts. Most of it is clear now. Still there will never be that authority or master of the house since there is no boss, both of them husband and wife carry this responsibility , but I agree that they should change their ways, but still even terms like leader or chief sacrificial lamb like you said could corrupt them, cause all of these titles or names like you mentioned in your other posts, like leader or guide still leave the woman as only a follower. I think we should only use the word kephale so to make it quite CLEAR that it causes no confusion, since the word is so engraved in our minds with the whole “authority “ meaning, if we use kehpale I think the picture that we welcome to our minds will be different . Again the kephale metaphor is used from husband to wife , since the family is both their responsibility, like in another post when we women are strongly commanded as in the greek word oikodespotes, to their houses which carries a Great powerful meaning that really leaves you with your mouth open when you read this word! and then hear the compl talk about the husband…
    If both sacrifice everything they can both be leaders and I do believe the one who sacrifices most will be most honored in the house at least by the children, but I believe it should be 50/50 always just so the other later does not claim any thing like I did all the sacrifice I am the leader or this and that for some people even do it afterwards!, so just to avoid that reproach from any partner. And it is so beautiful to see mom and dad working together sacrificing both their time , energy and everything for their whole families that way both are respected by each other and by their children and this really brings happiness to the whole family for what he or she brings or sacrifices and I believe it brings great joy to the Lord to see this mutual sacrifice. I agree with you, I just wished all those terms are taken from referring to a man, sometimes it can be used for them to exalt themselves, may be I am overreacting but I just don’t want that hierarchy or believing only one does this and that so that is why I am a bit sensitive to the terminology . But thank you for clearing things up , again I really enjoy your posts!
    Sincerely ,Andrea