Headless Families, Headless Church

Headless_Horseman_(9404828919)It seems to me that professing Christians here in the West are trusting God less and less. We say we trust Him, then declare that the largest part of the Bible is myth or that parts of it aren’t relevant to our culture today. That we’re angry at Him for what He’s done or what He didn’t do.

I think there’s a reason for this waywardness.

We as a society have moved away from the husband as the head of the home. In too many homes, the husband is either a yes-man for feminism or a patriarchal dictator. Neither of those represents the kind of marital partnership—with the husband as the head, loving his wife selflessly and the two of them entering into mutual submission even as she recognizes his responsibility as the head—which the Bible describes.

I guess the popular term for the marriages today that don’t follow the Biblical model is egalitarian. So, with partners who are equal, there’s no head.

No surprise, then, that Christians haven’t learned to bow to the headship of Christ.

Instead we want to dictate to Him how things should be. God shouldn’t be wrathful. Everyone should go to heaven. Everybody who’s sick should be healed. In fact, why not do away with child abuse and sex trafficking and drug addiction and murder. And wars! Wars should have been dealt with a long time ago. If I were God . . .

The thing is, people who describe this miraculous place that they believe they could create are describing the way God originally made the world. He didn’t bring sin into the mix. Adam did. Then Cain introduced murder, and things went downhill from that point on.

So it’s a little baffling that people today think they can do a better job of healing the ills of humankind than God has done, He being perfect and all. Us being sinners, finite, fallible, mortal.

Nevertheless, we feel it’s perfectly right for us to shake our fists at God and tell Him how mad we are at Him for . . . oh, I don’t know. You name it. Pretty much anything that we don’t like, we blame on God.

I suspect God does far more than we know but far less than we blame Him for. Someone we love gets cancer or dies, we break our leg or get in a car accident or lose our job or . . . What’s the first thing out of our mouths more often than not? Why, God?

But did we think to thank God for our health or for that of our friends? Did we think to tell Him how grateful we are that He put this or that loved one into our lives? Have we thanked Him for protection from accident or injury, day after day after day? Do we tell Him how awesome He is to have provided us with a job, with food, with clothing?

God is so merciful and kind. He is forbearing in His treatment of us. Sort of like how He was with Israel on their march through the wilderness to the promised land. It wasn’t until they got there and refused to enter that God said, You don’t want to enter? Fine! You won’t enter.

YIKES! It’s actually scary when God gives us what we want. It’s so much better when He gives us what He wants to give us.

But we don’t understand that because we’re a generation out from husbands/fathers being the heads of their families. It’s from a home in which the dad takes responsibility for his family and for sacrificially loving his wife that all of us (the dads included) learn that God is the head who takes responsibility for His children who He loves sacrificially. He wants to give to us, to protect us, to provide for us. But more than anything, He wants to form us into the image of His beloved Son.

Sometimes that process of forming us means He will nudge us by withholding a blessing. Sometimes that process of forming us means He will answer prayer in miraculous ways, over and over again. God is the One who knows what we need, what will move us closer to Him, what will give us the opportunity to trust Him more.

Take Joni Eareckson Tada, for example, who has trusted God for forty-eight years of quadriplegia. In the process, He’s molded her into a person who reflects His glory, who offers Him praise, who points others to the Savior. She can say what few others can—that God is with her through twenty-four/seven suffering. For her, the end of suffering will be the day she enters God’s presence. And while she freely admits she’s looking forward to the day she can dance, she lives now without the whining and complaining and angry fist-shakes at God that mark so many of the rest of us.

As you’d expect, Joni didn’t arrive at her confident faith overnight. She wrestled with God, but ultimately she bowed in submission to Him who is head of His bride, the Church.

As a result, as Philippians says, Joni has proved to be blameless and innocent, a child of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom she appears as a light in the world.

She and her husband Ken—to whom she joyously submits, as he self-sacrificially loves her.

Actually heads are good things. We all need our heads, including the heads of our families and the Head of the Church.


  1. Excellent Rebecca.
    The following was a comment I left at Lisa Robinson’s place a while back.

    “Lisa, I pretty much agree with you. (as shocking as that may be). I firmly believe that if Christian men were to actually understand and take seriously Paul’s command for husbands to view their first earthly responsibility and joy, as cherishing, protecting, providing for and just plain loving their wives as they have themselves been loved by Jesus, most of the most serious problems with most woman would take care of themselves. I largely blame men for the woeful state of marriage in the western church. We can’t claim to be in charge and then blame you when stuff ain’t workin.

    There is such a thing as an intractably “contentious” woman who cannot be subdued by ANY amount of even godly love, but I don’t think they’re as common as some others may think they are.”


    • Greg, I think it’s unfortunate that you introduced the contentious woman into this argument. Obviously we’re talking about the Biblical standard. When it breaks down, it might be because of a contentious woman, but I suspect it is almost always because of an absent husband or a domineering one.

      That’s the whole thing about that position of responsibility—largely it means when things go wrong, the buck stops with the one who is heading up the whole thing!

      Husbands would be wise to stop talking about contentious women or women who don’t submit, and pay more attention to self-sacrificial love. Honestly, I find it hard to imagine a woman whose husband is willing to lay down his life for her or pick up his socks for her or change the TP roll or turn off the TV and talk—I find it hard to imagine a woman with that kind of husband being contentious. What’s she going to say, Put those socks back on the floor; that’s my job. Yeah, right! 😉



      • That’s what I said Rebecca. Almost exactly 🙂


        • And I think it’s unfortunate that you introduced the contentious woman into this argument.



          • Ok. I just wanted you to know I was agreeing with you. I was only recognizing the biblical reality of such a woman so as to avoid the possible charge of imbalance. I’m sorry if I did something wrong.


  2. […] on from Becky‘s impossible vision for a happy marriage, we reach even more fertile NOM […]


  3. The problem I have with headship is that it assumes itself to be a ‘one thing works for everybody’ approach. Firstly, we don’t live in a Christian utopia. Even in Christian households, there is rampant domestic violence. I saw one story about a woman who went to her church for help and they made her apologize to the congregation for her failed marriage before they permitted her to separate from (but not divorce) her abusive husband only with a clear reconciliation plan in progress. That’s not love, it’s legalism. She’s better off without without her head so long as he cannot restrain his temper. Secondly, there are all sorts of families, not just nuclear, but families with members in prison or having passed away, step-relatives, extended families under one roof, how exactly does it work when you have the wrong sort of family? And I know of a lot of ladies that don’t buy into the theology of it either, they just find whatever works for their family and stick with it; and for some of them egalitarianism fixes problems that headship causes.


    • Rebecca is talking about the designs and commands of almighty God. That these are rarely heeded in a society like today’s, even in an apostate church which is not much different than the society, is the point.

      Who you know and what they or you think is NOT the point. Legalistic, equally apostate, chauvinistic, hyper patriarchal churches, while loathsome and tragic, are also not the point.

      The designs and commands of almighty God, which are almost completely disregarded today in one direction or another, ARE the point.

      Cultural degeneration does not excuse people from those designs and commands.

      For the record. If there is ever an abusive husband, you can come and get me and I will be first in line to get the lady outta there.


    • Jamie, domestic violence is an abuse of the concept of headship. The husband and wife might both be Christians, but that isn’t a Christian household. The violent party needs help and the victim needs protection.

      The husband’s role is to love his wife sacrificially as Christ loved the Church. So even though we don’t live in a Christian utopia, it doesn’t excuse men for not loving their wives as God has called them to. And a church that doesn’t apply Biblical standards in their council, such as the one you heard about, sounds more like a cult than a true church committed to obeying God’s word. As you said, their treatment of that woman is legalism, and it’s not what Scripture calls for at all.

      You’re right that in all likelihood no two husbands and wives will work out this headship issue in exactly the same way. For instance, a man can do all the cooking and still be the head of his family. This really is about responsibility, not about following some preconceived, cultural gender role.

      I mentioned Joni Eareckson Tada whose husband Ken does, well, pretty much everything, though I suppose they might hire someone to help with the laundry and cleaning. I don’t know that for sure. But it’s clear Joni doesn’t hold down the “typical” (not sure those exist any more) jobs of the wife. Ken is not less the head of his home for serving his wife. In fact, he’s more the head because he’s doing what Christ did when he stooped and washed the feet of His disciples.

      You’re right that our households today aren’t very neat and tidy. I don’t think a lot of Old Testament homes were either. Jacob, who lived for 20 years with his in-laws, had two wives and two concubines with twelve children. We get a little peek into the workings of his household and see lying, jealousy, competition, manipulation, selfishness . . . not so different from what goes on today.

      God knows our tangled, muddled lives, and it is within the context of who we are that God brings us order: Husband’s love your wives and don’t be embittered against them. Wives be subject to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord. And all of you, be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.

      The fact that there are women who “don’t buy into the theology of it” proves my point—we have simply decided we don’t need a head and we’ll do what we jolly well want to do. And that cuts us off from what God intended for us, but in our homes and in the Church.



  4. […] of marriage and the role husbands are to play which I spelled out in my article article “Headless Families, Headless Church.” As she read my depiction of the Biblical role of husbands as the self-sacrificing head who mutually […]


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