Ephesians 5:20-25 – giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit fin everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…
A couple of weeks back, I wrote about a culture of fatherlessness and it got me thinking about men, leadership, and the Kingdom of God. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write about what it looks like when men lead in their marriages, their homes, their public life.
A quick word to the ladies, undoubtedly many women have unfortunately married abusive, dictatorial, manipulative, domineering or other non-Christ like husbands. As you read that first paragraph there was probably a deep anger in your belly and bile rising in your throat. If I could ask you to set that aside till the end of these next couple of posts and ask yourself the question if you would really oppose the model of male leadership I am going to propose.
Others might misunderstand, assume or believe that the mere idea of male leadership is sexist so I wanted to first look at what that actually means.
I think a perfectly good place to start is what Male Leadership is not. Paul in talking about marriage brings up the dirty word. You know the “S” word. Not that one, the other one … submission.
Pastor Michael Fletcher of Manna Church in Fayetteville, NC defines submission as used in this context like this: “Submission is taking all that I have, my gifts, wisdom, cautions, knowledge, and expressing them to my husband/wife for the purpose of his/her ultimate success.” I love this definition for a variety of reasons, but one is that it is not about one person’s dominance, but it is mutual sharing for the others person’s benefit.
An often-left out part of this passage during discussions and marriages is the part where Paul tells us to submit one to another. Michael’s definition hits that on the head. It is about both the husband and wife laying down their strengths to benefit their spouse. Male leadership is not about dominance, but about leading in such a way that benefits your wife and children.
Wives, Paul tells your husbands that it is their responsibility to give themselves up for you, to die (quite literally, if necessary). So I will make you a deal. If you think the submission thing sucks, lets trade places. Husbands, remember your responsibility is to lead like Christ leads the church and give yourself up for her. I know that this is impossible, but we are in process and day-by-day you should be moving in the direction of being more Christ like in your leadership.
Gents, when we examine the life of Christ we do not see a wussified or effeminate man who wears skinny jeans, who bows to the whims of people (spouse included), nor do we see a man who shames, belittles, or crushes those who follow him. We see a man of strength, honor, gentleness and love in perfect balance and harmony.
The number one quality of men, who lead, is submission to the Holy Spirit. To be honest the only way to lead is to listen to the Spirit because we are men and we are human. There will be times in your marriage where strength is needed and times when gentleness is needed and other times you will need to be a protector, yet other times when you will need to empathetic and we all have the propensity to fall into habit, self-dependence, or familiarity.