reason for living

The headship of men

What do we mean by the terms masculinity and femininity?

This article has been brought to the web site from a rather ancient word processing file and, at present, is not fully reformatted for web viewing.  Consequently its appearance is somewhat clumsy in places; in fact, to be candid, frank and honest, its formatting is actually a bit of a mess.  Little by little, it will improve ...

Table of Contents

The entire article is contained within one web page and consequently the following links all refer to sections within this page.

Introduction & preamble

Within the world that God has created there is a right order of relationship.  This particular article discusses the role that men, and particularly married men, have to perform in order to maintain harmonious and stable relationships.

This article is aimed first and foremost at men.  No doubt some women will read it, and I hope that they will find it useful and interesting.  Nonetheless, for reasons that will, I hope, become clear in the article, I believe that it is men who need to act, that it is men who are failing in their God-given role and that the healing of men and women begins with, and depends upon, the healing of men.  Indeed I believe that the healing of women is impossible unless and until men are healed.  Primarily therefore, it is men who I call to action although I hope very, very much that women will pray for them to stir and will give them every encouragement to do so. 

The concept of right order

God has created a divine order.  This is not something that is superimposed onto the rest of creation but rather it is in inherent within creation.  In other words, this order exists because God created what he did.  This concept can be illustrated by considering a house.

The right order of a house is foundation followed by walls followed by roof, and this order is not imposed after the house is formed but rather it exists because a house was formed.  If the order of was any different you wouldn't have a house at all — it is simply not possible to build a house by putting the foundations on top of the roof.  Now although there is a right order to the house, this order does not convey, impose, or suggest any relative merit or value.  Each part of the house is equally important and a deficiency in any part will detract from the whole.  It might be that the walls have been constructed particularly well while the foundation and roof are just of ordinary and normal construction.  In such a case this built-in superiority of the walls is particular to the walls and independent of the roof and foundations but nonetheless no benefit will come of it unless the roof and foundations have been constructed to support and protect the walls.  Indeed, without the support and protection of the foundation and roof, the walls will quickly become a heap of rubble.  From this analogy we can see that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and that whilst there is a right-order to the building, it is quite meaningless to claim that any component is more important, or has greater status or value, than any other component.  I believe that understanding this concept of right-order is very important if Christians are to live as the Lord God wishes us to, so let us summarise it:

  • There is a right-order to creation. 
  • This right order exists because the creation is what it is; the order is inherent and not imposed from outside. 
  • Right-order in creation does not of itself confer, impose or imply any order of status or importance or value on any part of the creation.

Now this right-order applies to men and women, and if men and women are to function together as God would want them to they need to work within the order that he has created.  The order revealed in the Bible is men followed by women.  Just as with the example of the house, the order of men followed by women does not mean that either gender is more important or valuable than the other, only that there is a proper way for them to be combined and that it is when they are properly combined that they will work best together to achieve what God intended.  It follows that whenever men and women are combined in some other way then they will not work well together and they will not fulfil their creation objectives just as a house cannot fulfil its reason for existing if the foundations are built above the roof.  It is important to realise that because the order is inherent and not imposed, there is no question of choosing a different order.  If the walls of the house do not stand on the foundations then there is no longer a house; What you would have is not an alternative form of house but only a chaotic pile of useless rubble.  When men and women relate to one another as the architect intended then harmonious and effective relationships can exist; relationships in which men and women grow to be and to enjoy the things they were created for.  When men and women do not build their relationships according to according to the original design then they cannot ever become what they are supposed to become and they will forever be dissatisfied, unfulfilled and discontented; there will not be harmony or freedom.

The concept of right order in creation is not limited to the relationship between men and women; it also exists between parents and their children, between mankind in general and the other animals and between God and mankind.  God also seems to have provided for there to be right-order between certain institutions or offices and the people as a whole although it is very possible that these are not inherent in creation but were imposed after the fall.  The right-order between men and women is given in Genesis 3:16 and in passages such as Colossians 3:18.  Some have commented that Genesis 3:16 shows that the authority of man over women is a consequence of the fall, being a punishment imposed on woman for her part in the fall.  Even if this were true, it would make no practical difference for Christians today, however the text could be interpreted to mean that the husband was henceforth going to abuse the authority that he had already been given.  Additionally it is hard to restrict the authority of husband over wife to the period after the fall when the woman was created, before the fall, as a helper for man.  So, there is a right-order to the relationships between men and women; but how should this be expressed in day-to-day living?

What headship isn't

Before attempting to explain how headship and right-order should be applied in our day-to-day lives, I think it necessary to correct a few popular but wrong and unhelpful ideas:

headship is a matter of responsibility and accountability

The person who is the “head” in any given situation is the person who is responsible for the “body”.  The “head's” superiors will hold the “head” accountable for what happens to the “body”.  It is this accountability that confers authority upon the “head” since no one can be held responsible for what they have no authority or capacity to control.  It is very important to realize that the responsibility and accountability are part and parcel of the position of “head”.  They are inherent to the headship just as the headship is inherent within creation.  In particular this means that they cannot be avoided or transferred and they are not diminished by delegation.  God will call every “head” to account for their use of the position (see footnote 1). 

the head is not always the leader

A person exercising headship does not have to be the person who leads each individual programme.  The man in charge of a scout patrol is still the head even though he might allow one of the boys to lead the patrol on a particular expedition.  However, the man is no less responsible for what happens to the patrol on that mission than he would be if he were leading the mission himself; he remains the head and retains the responibilities of headship even though he is not the leader.  Such an arrangement is not something to be avoided:  Under some circumstance it might be better headship to relinquish the leadership since by delegating the leadership of the mission he is allowing the boys to grow up and develop their own gifts and skills.  Furthermore, the head of a group or family is not automatically the most competent person of the group or family in all matters.  Sometimes it will be better headship to give the leadership of a specific task to the person who best understands that task or who is best equipped to lead in that situation.

the head does not need to make all of the decisions

A person exercising headship does not need to make all the decisions.  Just as mentioned above, it can be better headship to allow others to make decisions.  It would be pretty silly for a man to make, for example, the decision about what car to buy if his wife happens to be a automotive journalist, test driver and qualified automotive mechanic.  However, regardless of who makes the decision, the head retains full responsibility and accountability for what happens to the body.  This has two important implications for a married couple or family:  First the husband should take care to ensure that in each situation where a decision is needed, the choice is delegated to whichever person in the family is most competent in that area of knowledge.  Second, the other members of the family should not resent the head of the household challenging them concerning their competence or ability since the head of household is ultimately responsible for the consequences of the delegated decision.

headship does not imply perfection or superiority

Headship is not a qualification to be boasted of; it is not granted to men in recognition of their particular talents, abilities, holiness or sinlessness.  Men carry the headship for the same reason that they have a penis and a hairy chin, and that is simply because they are men and that is the way that God created the world.  Men should aim to be perfect “just as your father in heaven is perfect” but the headship was given to them in their fallen, broken state.

Headship of men over women

While the headship of husbands over their wives is stated quite bluntly within the scripture, the headship of men in general over women in general is a more hazy area and this is partly because of the number of different relationships that are possible between a man and a woman:— friends, father-daughter, mother-son, employer-employee and so on.  Despite the possibility of abuse I do believe that it is is possible to make certain clear statements:

Headship within the family unit

Within the family unit children are subject to their parents and the wife is subject to her husband; this means that the husband is the head of the family.  Any unmarried daughters are therefore automatically subject to a man, namely their father.  It could be claimed that daughters living away from the parental home are exempt but, although I certainly could not demonstrate it from scripture or any other authority, this idea does not sit easily with me: First, except in very special circumstances, I find it hard to accept that God would want any individual to live and develop in isolation from the family unit (footnote 2).  Second, it seems to me that in general the unmarried state is a state of incompleteness; if it is not good for man to be alone and if woman is created to help man then neither can be fulfilled unless they are combined.  Third, the most common reasons that a woman might want to live outside parental jurisdiction are all reasons that exist because of the fall:- reasons such as parental abuse, tension between the parents or divorce, a rebellious nature on the part of the daughter and so on.  It is true that some women leave home in order to study or work but leaving home does not of itself have any bearing on parental jurisdiction.  One person can be subject to another without them living in close proximity.  Even in the case of study or work however the motive is often a fallen motive — perhaps to become self-secure, to make one's own (ie self-focused) way in life.  For all these reasons, then, I would hesitate to limit a father's authority over his unmarried daughters.

There are, I think, other reasons for believing that women are under the headship of men.  In no particular order these reasons are:

Conflict where the division of authority is unclear
If a husband is always to be the head of his wife then she must be subject to him in all situations.  It is not therefore possible for the wife to rule over her husband except with his consent.  Complications could arise if the wife were head of an organisation of which her husband was only an ordinary member.  This is not to say that a wife cannot hold senior positions but only to say that she holds those positions with her husband's consent and is still subject to her husband; in practice it might be impossible for these two responsibilities to be reconciled.
The order of creation
Adam was created first (Genesis 2, 2 Timothy 2:13).  At a glance this does not appear to be a particularly strong argument since man is created after the other animals and still given authority over them; however Paul, the Apostle, seems to consider that there is some significance in this.  It might be that he was simply thinking of woman's role relative to man, as descriobed next:
The purpose of woman
Woman was created as a helper for man (Genesis 2:18) and the therefore implication is that she should take her lead from him.  Again this could be limited to the relationship between husband and wife.
The dealings of God
Throughout scripture, God deals mainly with men.  It might be claimed that this is simply because the societies of the time were male dominated and that therefore only the men's experiences were recorded and thus no inferences can be drawn from the fact that God deals primarily with men.  On the other hand it could also, and I think more sensibly, be claimed that the societies were male dominated because God intended it that way and dealt with the people accordingly.  Furthermore there is only limited biblical support for the idea that God would prefer men and women to share the leadership role.  In particular, Jesus — who rarely seemed too bothered about upsetting the local order — did not call any women into his band of disciples.  Women certainly travelled with him and he definitely did not despise them, but he does not seem to have promoted women to any leadership position.  Additionally, although Jesus rebukes women for their sins, he nowhere lashes them verbally as he does men.  When he gives instructions it is always concerning “brothers”, never “sisters”.  God, it seems, deals primarily with men and leaves it for men to deal with women.  (footnote 3)
The family order
Women are assumed to be under their father's authority until married and under their husband's authority thereafter; only women who have outlived their husbands are considered independent (footnote 4).  As above, it could be claimed that the society was male dominated and that this is a consequence of the fall rather than being inherent in God's creation order; however, as previously mentioned the large family unit and the married state both seem to me to be part of God's creation plan.  Accordingly I believe that within families it is not the order itself that is corrupted but rather that the implementation of an order divinely given has been corrupted.
The church order
Twice in his letters, the apostle Paul prohibits a woman within the church from teaching or having authority over a man (footnote 5).  Not only does he prohibit it, but he declares it to be “disgraceful” suggesting that his objection goes rather deeper than some local and temporary situation.  Additionally, throughout their letters Paul and James address themselves primarily and specifically to the “brothers” (footnote 6) and their consistency in this matter makes it hard to believe that this is nothing more than a convenient form of writing.  Paul's instructions regarding officers of the congregations presuppose that these positions will be held by men (footnote 7). 

The limitations of a man's headship

Even assuming that it is agreed that all women are subject to the headship of men, we do need to be very clear that there are severe limitations to such subjection and headship.  First, all women are not subject to all men: A wife is subject to her husband.  An unmarried daughter is subject to her father for as long as he lives; she is not subject to her elder brothers or her uncles or grandfathers.  It might be that following the death of a father, a brother or other close male relative assumes the headship of the family since somebody has to be in charge.  Under such circumstances it is possible that the daughter becomes subject to her brother and the mother might become subject to her son.  Even in such a case the authority that son wields is not the same as the authority that the father had because his mother is not his wife and his sisters are not his daughters!  It follows therefore that many men, such as those who are unmarried and whose fathers are still exercising headship, will probably have authority over and headship over no women at all.  Furthermore, some of these men will in fact be under headship themselves. 

Headship of husbands over wives

That men are to be the head of the domestic unit is explicitly stated in scripture though, as mentioned in an earlier section, the reasons are disputed.  What Christians need to resolve is how that headship should be used in each individual marriage.

Men are not complete without women, and vice versa (Genesis 2:18), given firstly because "it is not good for the man to be alone" and secondly, since the woman was created to help man it is impossible for her to fulfil her creation ordinance without a man.  Therefore each partner needs, and is dependent on, the other.

Though there is mutual dependence, men and women are not dependent on one another for exactly the same things.  Indeed it is simply not possible for the dependencies to be identical unless man and woman are identical, and if man and woman were identical then there would only be one gender!

Headship not yet blossomed

If there is a right-order involving headship and subjection then all men who do not yet exercise headship should be in training so that when they are given the responsibility of headship they will be capable of exercising it to the glory of God.  A man who only starts thinking about his responsibilities as head after he is married has already neglected his duties and has acted irresponsibly.  It is hardly fair to ask a woman to submit to a man who has done nothing to make himself worthy of the honour and who has no idea as to how he will lovingly exercise his newly gained authority.  Women should neither covet the headship of men nor make it difficult for them to exercise it.  Where headship is part of a divine right-order then God is glorified by a woman's willing submission just as much as he is glorified a by a man's responsible use of headship.  It is also unloving for women to make a man's headship more troublesome than it might be.

Masculinity and Femininity

At the risk of seeming to be grossly simplistic, the major problem with the world today is that men refuse to be masculine.  However, it is often said that the problem is that men are masculine too often and are feminine too infrequently.  So what is masculinity, and what is femininity?  The popular notion of masculinity is that it encompasses strength, aggression, inventiveness, analytical ability, a fondness for things and gadgets, a desire to control.  The popular notion of femininity is that it encompasses intuitiveness, compassion, tenderness, a desire for peace, a greater interest in people than in things .  .  .  Now both of these definitions are so well entrenched that it will probably be considered foolishly heretical to challenge them but since they are extremely wrong definitions they must be challenged and, I hope, corrected. 

What's wrong with the popular definitions?

Let us look first at the list of masculine attributes.  The first thing to note is that there is no mention of any moral qualities nor any reference to God.  Such omissions might be acceptable in the pagan world that, contrary to reason and evidence, considers the bad joke of evolution (footnote 8) more believable than divine creation.  Christians, however, believe in a creator God and should hardly be satisfied with a definition of masculinity that excludes the ultimate source of masculinity!  A similar problem is apparent in the list of feminine attributes; there are no moral statements and no reference to God!

biblical masculinity and femininity

Rather than considering a mortal definition of masculinity and femininity, let us go directly to the creator and see how he defines them:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them
Genesis 1:27

Now the very least we can take from this verse is that man is made in the image of God.  It could be argued from the above verse that woman was not made in the image of God.  However, even if this verse could textually be limited in that way, we would need to remember that the whole point of creating woman was that Adam needed something like himself for companionship because none of the other animals was adequate.  Now if the woman is to be good for man then it seems reasonable to assume that she would be created sharing his values and ideals and at least some of his attributes.  A woman who didn't have at least this much in common with man would be a very poor companion indeed; we all know how hard it is to get on with someone who reviles what we hold dear or who has a completely different set of interests.  It is also possible that woman was created with extra qualities that she did not share with man but the creation accounts do not give us any hint of this.  The more popular understanding of this passage (though popularity is no measure of correctness) is that the word man refers to the human species and thus includes both genders.  According to this understanding there is no doubt that both men and women are made in the image of God.  In any case, regardless of how which of these two interpretations we adopt, we must conclude that, to a greater or lesser extent, man and woman are both made in the image of God.

Now, for this to be meaningful information we need to know what God's image is; in other words what are God's attributes? A short and incomplete list will suffice for the purposes of this discussion.  God is creative, loving (patient, kind, humble, truthful, protective, trusting, hopeful, perseverant (footnote 9)), generous, righteous, honest, protective, forgiving, compassionate, hardworking, a fearsome warrior, interested in people, expressive, interested in things ...  Now, if man is made in the image of God he must share these qualities and desire to use them as God does and if woman is made in the image of God then she also must possess these qualities and desire to use them as God does.  In short, men and women are created, by God, with the same qualities, desires and motivations.  The next thing to note carefully is that many of these qualities are not ones that are popularly associated with masculinity and therefore, since God will always be proved true, our classical definition of masculinity must be wrong.

What we find is that our definition of masculinity is hopelessly deficient — a man will be most fully masculine when he is everything that God created him to be.  A man who possess great powers of endurance or a highly analytical mind but who is unable to express his emotions is simply not fully masculine.  Likewise a man who is dishonest is simply a coward and an infant; he hasn't yet grown up.  A man cannot be fully masculine while he is lacking the virtues, attributes, desires and qualities that his creator, intended and desired him to have.  In the same way a woman cannot be fully feminine until she has all the virtues, attributes, desires and qualities that she was created and intended to have. 

Now, just in case you haven't noticed, let me bring to your attention that so far our definitions of masculine and feminine are identical!  If masculine and feminine are not defined by these attributes then what does define masculine and feminine, because we all know that they are not exactly the same thing? 

Perhaps more than anything else, a person is defined by their relationships with and to other people and, most of all, by their relationship with God.  A woman becomes truly feminine through her submissive response to a man.  A man becomes truly masculine through his submission to God.  It is the not the qualities that each possesses that defines their masculinity or femininity but rather how those qualities are used and applied by them in their relationships with other people, particularly the opposite gender, and with God. 

There is another important point that is worth stressing here.  Namely that we do not have a situation where women are supposed to be submissive and men are not but, rather, a situation where men and women are both supposed to be submissive:  Women are supposed to be submissive to men and men are supposed to be submissive to God.

some contemporary differences between men and women

You might ask why it is that men and women behave so differently in society?  Why do they appear to have such different motivations? The answer is that since the fall we have been creating and living in societies where God is not king.  When men are not in submission to God they cannot be truly masculine.  When men are not truly masculine women cannot be truly feminine because there are no fully masculine men for them to submit to.  The differences we observe in men and women arise because they were created to find fulfilment by different routes and so in a fallen society they are trying to fill different gaps.  From a woman's life is missing a mature man, fully developed in his masculinity, so she struggles to adapt herself to the next best thing — an under developed, immature man.  For his part, man has disconnected himself from God and is desperately trying to find something that will fill the massive hole that is thus left in his personality.  Of course there is nothing even close to being big enough but certain things such as power, wealth, conquests, prestige and monuments can have a vague resemblance when a man is desperate.  Woman finds herself attempting to respond to a man who is only a fraction of what she was intended to respond to while man drifts around the world aware that something is seriously lacking but unable to identify what it is, and even less able to find it.

Let us now review a couple of the qualities that are often claimed to be particularly enhanced in one gender or the other.

intuition and objective analysis
These two “qualities” are often discussed as if they were somehow exclusive or at least unrelated.  I believe that they are almost the same thing.  Intuition is not magic.  When we know something intuitively it is because we have received some recognisable information and, without being aware of it happening, we have processed it to arrive at a conclusion.  Before we can analyse anything we have to have the raw data to process.  Now note the similarities: In both cases we need information and in both cases that information is processed.  The difference is that in one case the data acquisition and processing has taken place subconsciously while in the other it was a conscious process.  The difference between men and women is not that they intrinsically have different abilities in these two skills but rather that in their everyday lives they are occupied in different activities with different priorities and motivations and consequently they have learned to recognise and swiftly process different types of information.  A woman will know intuitively when her baby is hungry because she has learned, through conscious and subconscious observation, that when the baby is hungry it makes certain subtle noises or gestures.  A man will tell intuitively that the spark plugs on his car need replacing because in the same way he has learned to recognise the noises that the car makes and the manner in which it responds to his use of the controls.  There is no created obstacle to men and women learning about the same things because it is merely our society that has imposed the segregation.  Objective analysis is possibly found more commonly in men, but surely this is also easily explained: Analysis requires practice if it is to be honed into a useful skill; in recent western society men (in general) have had far more opportunity to exercise their analytical abilities than have women and so it is hardly surprising that men (in general) should be found to be better at it.  Once again the difference can be explained by our social structure and we do not therefore need to explain it as a function of creation or of biology. 
dealing with practical problems
Men, totally detached from their source of identity, respond in a variety of ways: They might become aggressive, passive, indecisive, hasty, irresponsible, introspective, superficial and isolated.  Nearly all are scared of being perceived to be inadequate and this makes them become incapable of expressing real feelings and emotions to one another or to women.  The society that men create as they attempt to find fulfilment for themselves only reinforces these behaviour patterns and increases the emotional and occupational gap between men and women.  Detached as they are from the source of real and worthwhile values, men quickly lose sight of love, mercy, compassion and substitute their own more easily reckoned values such as profit, income and conquests ...  As man detaches himself from the real, unchanging values of the universe, woman finds that she has less and less to respond to and so she too cannot be fulfilled.  She might attempt to take the role that her man has abdicated or she might attempt to emulate him in his worthless and trivial pursuits.  Either way she is on an impossible quest because she was created to submit to a man who is himself in submission to God and therefore until she finds a man who is in submission to God she will also be adrift.  It is of course possible for a woman to submit to an imperfect man and in many cases this is what happens.  In some respects, a woman in such a relationship is perhaps better off than the man but nonetheless a relationship that comes with only a sliver of expressed emotions and scarcely sufficient attention to develop the least of her God-given talents must rank a very poor second to what she was created to participate in.  For woman to be healed, man must first be healed. 

Proper use of headship

Men should care for, instruct, cherish, protect, delight in, listen to, respond to, love and learn from women. 

Much has been said about the supposed differences between male and female perception of and response to situations — the so called masculine and feminine qualities.  While these differences are certainly observable I am very hesitant to claim that a particular trait is allocated by the creator according to the gender of the created person.  To me, it seems far more likely that most of these discernible differences are a result of the fall and subsequent social conditioning.  As Christians believing in the perfection of creation and the catastrophe of the fall we must be careful not to unconsciously accept the findings of social science that have been coloured by evolutionary theory.  We have much more reliable explanations. 

Woman is given to help man; but given to help him do what?  She is to help him in his work.  So, what is his work?  The work that he is created to do is to look after the earth and the plants and animals that it contains (footnote 10).  Furthermore we might claim that by doing this work man is to glorify God.  We might also claim that part of man's work is to love God and enjoy him.  How then can, and should, woman help man to do these things?  If woman is a helper then she certainly does not replace man in his function.  Man cannot sit back and merely issue a list of daily tasks.  Woman is given as a co-worker not as a substitute.  Women are also given gifts just as liberally as are men.  If man is to glorify God then he needs to ensure that woman is given the opportunity to use her gifts to the glory of God.  It seem to me that the headship of man, the co-worker status of women, the gifts of woman and the creation ordinance of work can best be resolved if man's role is to guide and direct woman in the use of her gifts in order that the women might fulfil her created role and so glorify God.  This is similar to a conductor who guides and directs an orchestra so that what results is harmonious, melodious, and perfect.  Each instrument (each representing one of the woman's gifts) is equally important and produces the best result when it is used in conjunction with the others according to some musical score.  In this way the conductor serves the orchestra and together they bring forth what is beautiful, edifying and good.  From this analogy of conductor and orchestra another suggestion can be drawn: If the final result is to be pleasing, it might be necessary for the conductor to renounce the use of some of his own talents.  If the conductor insists on playing all the instruments as well as directing the orchestra then there will be two consequences: First, the sound will be atrocious, and second, the orchestra (representing the woman) will be redundant and unfulfilled.  The fact that the conductor directs and guides the orchestra does not prevent him from taking suggestions and ideas from the orchestra.  Although it might be his job to decide what music the orchestra should play, it is also his job to ensure that the orchestra plays the music that it plays best; and the music the orchestra plays best is likely to be that which the orchestra has the strongest desire to play.  Of course the analogy of conductor and orchestra is not sufficient to describe the relationship between a man and a woman.  It does not perhaps suggest sufficiently strongly the aspects of mutual care and of learning together.  Nonetheless, this idea of the "head" emptying himself for the "body" is entirely biblical.  Jesus, who is the head of the body of Christ, made himself nothing in order that the body might become something.  The head is glorified when the body fulfils its creation purpose.  God pours himself out for us.  The love that Christians are called to exhibit is self sacrificial love; the love that puts self into second place.  The man uses his skills, talents, power and authority to bring the very best out of his woman and thereby to ensure that her talents and skills are fully developed to the glory of God. 

So what does headship entail?  I would include: authority, responsibility, accountability, love, care. 

Headship in a fallen world

The fact that the world is fallen and that we are fallen men and women does not in any way limit the application of headship but it does make it many times harder to achieve harmony.  Fallen or not, the original right-order of creation still exists and, if we can reuse the example of the house, even though there may be some structural damage, the foundation, walls and roof still have to do their respective jobs as best they can.  No component can do any other component's job now any more than it could when it was created perfect; a roof with holes is still a roof and a cracked foundation cannot become either walls or roof.  Men who sin and make mistakes still have the headship, and women who sin and make mistakes are still obliged to submit to that headship; in this fallen world, each will now perform imperfectly but they must still try.  As men are to be the head, the initiative must lie with them in resolving the difficulties as they occur.  For this immense maturity will be required — maturity that frequently will not yet have developed, for if it had many of the problems would not have occurred in the first place.  Men who want to be exercise their headship successfully in a fallen world should therefore be prepared to:

  • Admit to their mistakes readily.
  • Communicate fully with their wives, who are after all given to help them and in most cases are eagerly desiring to do so.
  • Apologise when necessary.
  • Ask for forgiveness frequently.
  • Pray long and hard.
  • Be prepared to give their wife scope to develop her gifts, skills and talents — remembering that her talents will likely be greater than his in some matters!

Women too will no doubt find much use for confession, apology, forgiveness and prayer.  If you, as a woman, want to be married to a real man, then pray for him to become one and believe that God wants him to grow-up even more than you do!


An appeal to men

Our women — sisters, daughters and wives — have been given by God and each and every one of them is beautiful in his sight.  Their fulfilment depends to some extent on us.  They need mature men just as we need mature women.  How many of us will decide to become real men?  How many of us will admit that what we most need is to become masculine?  Our women are waiting, God is waiting; in so many cases it is we who are holding back.  Are we big enough to admit that we are scared? Are we big enough to admit that half the time we don't know what we ought to be doing or where we are going?  Are we big enough to admit that we have been extremely selfish, greedy and hurtful?  Are we big enough to want to change?  Our women have amazing resilience and courage and on the whole they are ready and willing to forgive us, support us and help us to take our rightful position so that they can take theirs.  Are we big enough to ask for and receive their forgiveness and help, their observations, advice and prayers?  Perhaps even harder, are we prepared to support one another, to learn to communicate our emotions, mistakes, difficulties and failures to one another?  Are we prepared to stop competing against one another and learn to love one another as God loves us (refresh your memory with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8)?  Are we prepared to take our prayer life seriously enough to allow God to deal with our nasty, childish, corrupted interiors?  Or will we, through our cowardice, condemn ourselves and our women to yet more confusion, chaos and misery?  The choice is ours.  We are not expecting to build a better world (God has already described how the end must come) but let us at least build some better lives in a fallen world.  Let Christian men arise and be truly masculine, shining brightly with the glory of God in this dark world.  We were created to be in the image of God, let us take what is rightfully ours — let us take our headship and exercise it as we were intended to do so; our Lord God and our women are waiting for us to do so.

Appendix: Church leaders

This is a true saying: If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work.  A church leader must be without fault; he must have only one wife, be sober, self-controlled, and orderly; he must welcome strangers into his home; he must be able to teach; he must not be a drunkard or a violent man, but gentle and peaceful; he must not love money; he must be able to manage his own family well and make his children obey him with all respect.  For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of the family of God? He must be mature in the faith, so that he will not swell up with pride and be condemned, as the Devil was.  He should be a man who is respected outside the church, so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the Devil's trap.  Church helpers must also have a good character and be sincere; they must not drink too much wine or be greedy for money; they should hold to the revealed truth of the faith with a clear conscience.  They should be tested first, and then, if they pass the test, they are to serve.  Their wives also must be of good character and must not gossip; they must be sober and honest in everything.  A church helper must have only one wife, and be able to manage his children and family well.  Those helpers who do their work well win for themselves a good standing and are able to speak boldly about their faith in Christ Jesus.

Paul's first letter to Timothy; chapter 3, verses 1 to 13 (Good News Bible)

These thirteen verses describe the sort of people that church leaders and helpers should be.  In the first section, concerning church leaders, no less than 16 criteria are stated explicitly and several more are implied.  A person who does not fulfil all of these criteria should not be accepted as a church leader except in exceptional circumstances.  The explicit criteria you can very easily read for yourself - let us look now at the implicit criteria:

Implication 1.  Church leaders should be men: Given because (1) the instructions are given to the male gender throughout; (2) mention is given of one wife, but not of one husband; (3) managing the family is the responsibility of the man, not of the woman. 

Implication 2.  Church leaders should be, or have been, married: Given because they are supposed to have learned how to manage their own family and children before they attempt to manage the family of God, and marriage is the proper framework for the family.  It is possible that exceptions are allowed to this rule since Paul was apparently not married (footnote 12).  However, it is possible that Paul had been married before his apostolic life began; it is also possible that he had some other experience that was an equally good training; finally it is possible that his somewhat specialised function within the church and his uncommon conversion experience, he was either exempt from this requirement or better equipped direct from heaven. 

Implication 3.  Church leaders need to have been married long enough, and through sufficient testing, to have learned how to manage the family and to discipline errant children effectively.  The domestic family provides prospective church leaders with a training ground from which they might graduate to leading the church family.  Some may graduate faster or younger than others - but none can graduate until they have taken the course!

Implication 4.  Church leaders need to have some sort of vocation, activity or position outside the church.  This activity, vocation or position must exist and be known in the community in which the church is based: Given because a man cannot be respected by people outside the church unless he is very well known by the general population outside the church.  Thus while it is possible for teachers to travel from area to area and commence their teaching activity as soon as they arrive, a church leader should become established in the secular community before attempting to lead the local church. 

Implication 5.  Church leaders should be able to demonstrate their thorough understanding of the doctrines of the Christian faith by the way they live their lives on a day by day basis - this is in addition to the more intellectual grasp that is needed for teaching and instructing others. 

Appendix: Obedience

See these other documents:

Authority Authority and related matters.
Submission of Christian wives to their husbands. Many people consider submission to be demeaning and degrading and a sign of weakness.  In reality submission is a choice that only a strong person can make ... while all around them weak and pathetic people vocally despise a virtue they haven't even understood.

In summary: From the studies outlined in the two documents referred to above, I conclude that (1) wives should obey their husbands, (2) that husbands should obey God and (3) that the failure of husbands to obey God does not give reason for wives to disobey their husbands. 

Appendix: Women in the church

This is yet another controversial area within the body of Christ.  Let us therefore work, as usual, with the relevant texts.

"...As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.  They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.  If they want to enquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a women to speak in the church.  Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.  If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.  " 1 Corinthians 14, verses 33 to 38 (NIV)

In this passage, Paul does not say that it is “inconvenient” or “disruptive” for a woman to speak in the church but instead declares that it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the Church; this is very strong language and suggests that his objection is not based on some local and temporary situation but rather that he is aware of some more fundamental reason why women should be silent.

Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the women is man, and the head of Christ is God.  .....  For this reason, and because of the angels, the women ought to have a sign of authority on her head.  In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.  ...

1 Corinthians 11:3-16.  (NIV)

In this passage we find a similar appeal to some standard that is outside the local and temporary situation.  According to this passage, man reflects the glory of God and woman reflects the glory of man.  Notice also the throw-away reference to the angels. 


1.  Need to marshal Biblical support for these concepts.  Adam was held accountable for Eve's transgression.    Whole families in OT times were destroyed for the transgression of the head of the household. 
2.  It is difficult to think of any vocation or form of study that would be left that could not better be undertaken within the family unit.  Certainly all forms of commerce would be unnecessary since exchange of food would be on the basis of availability and need and in an unfallen world there would be no shortage.  Wealth creation would be an idea utterly devoid of meaning and all of its associated activities would be not only pointless but thoroughly tedious.  There might be some limited manufacturing but not on the scale we currently have since our current manufacturing and construction schemes are driven largely by the desire to create wealth or defend power.  Agriculture in its present, hunger-motivated, intensive form would be unnecessary but agriculture might exist instead as a form of creation - as happens with a gardener.  Medicine, if it existed at all, would have less scope than today: partly because physical death would not be something to be feared, and partly because many of our diseases and ailments are the result of greed, cold, hunger and conflict or are self inflicted through the production and use of toxic materials or the destruction of important components of our environment.  Education would not have an economic motive but would be a life-long day-by-day experience.  Politics in the contemporary form has no place in a world governed by love.  The management of assets would be simply to care for everything and everybody without seeking to possess or destroy what others enjoyed.
3.  Need mention of the fact that Adam was held accountable for Eve's transgression. 
4.  Check the validity of this statement.
5.  1 Corinthians 14:33-38.  1 Timothy 2:11,12.
6.  On the whole, Peter, John and Jude address their readers as "Dear friends", though John occasionally uses the term "Dear Children".  John does however give instructions specifically to the "brothers" but never to sisters.  Indeed the only instructions that Jesus, or any of the apostles, address particularly to women are those instructions that cannot be addressed to men because they are instructions for wives.
7.  1 Timothy 3
8.  For more detailed discussion of evolution refer to printed publications such as "Bone of Contention" by Sylvia Baker.  Also there are many books and web-based documents that discuss the merits and weaknesses of the various evolutionary hypotheses.  It is fair to say that there is bad science on both sides of the debate and also it is important to note that scientists use the term evolution in two very different ways.  The bottom line, however, is that the evolutionists do not have any coherent or credible explanation of how complex forms of life could evolve from less complex forms of life.  They can scoff at and belittle Christian concepts of creation until kingdom come if they like, but when The King does come he, Jesus Christ through whom and for whom the universe was created, will politely point out that throughout all of their years of scoffing, they never got even remotely close to proving their own case.
9.  1 Corinthians 13 verses 4 to 7 contain a definition of love.  We know that these attributes belong to God because in verse 8 of chapter 4 of John's first letter (1 Jn 4:8), John tells us "God is love".  In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 we can therefore replace every occurrence of the word "love" with the word "God" and every "it" with "He" and thus get a partial definition of God; viz: God is patient, God is kind, He does not envy, He does not boast, .  .  . 
10.  Genesis 1:26-28.  Genesis 2:15
11.  The original text of this footnote has been removed as it was no longer relevent.
12.    In 1 Corinthians 9:5 the implication is that Paul and Barnabas did not have wives with them.  Another commentator has, however, pointed out that Paul's comment "I cast my vote against them" in Acts 26:10 might indicate that he was a member of the Sanhedrin and it was, according to this other commentator, a prerequisite of Sanhedrin membership that a man be married.  Regardless of Sanhedrin rules, it is possible that Paul might have been married at some time in his life. 

Related articles that you might like to read:

Authority and related matters.
Submission of Christian wives to their husbands.
Many people consider submission to be demeaning and degrading and a sign of weakness.  In reality submission is a choice that only a strong person can make ... while all around them weak and pathetic people vocally despise a virtue they haven't even understood.
Should a wife unconditionally obey her husband?
Is wifely obedience an archaic and demeaning folly or is it divine wisdom?  What should a good Christian woman do when her husband makes unreasonable demands?
Living a lie.  A call to repentance.
Some people claim to be Christians but they tell lies, break promises and are generally dishonest.  These people are in BIG trouble.
Gay priests
Can a homosexual man or lesbian woman hold the priesthood?
Obedience, a Christian view
Do you feel that God just isn't listening to you?  Maybe you aren't listening to him either!
What does God want me to do?  Knowing the will of God.
Feeling lost and unsure what to do?  Well, by all means, ask God for direction, but take care not to overlook the obvious ...
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