There has been a good deal of discussion about headship in the Christian world. What does it mean that Christ is the head of the church? And in similar fashion what by extension does it mean that the husband is the head of the wife? Some still advocate that head as used in scripture indicates source. While this has been soundly de-bunked feminists and anti-nomians still do not accept that head concerns authority. But what is the most distasteful is that this headship in scripture requires them to submit to their head. As much as feminists of all stripes try to suppress the truth of scripture, one inescapable theme is that husbands are to be the head of the wife in marriage. There is no command for husbands to subjugate their wives, or to domineer over them, but the order of authority is accomplished by a wife submitting to her own husband. His headship is in practice not enforced by the husband exerting force, but by the wife willingly submitting to husband. Peter characterizes her submission as that to a slave to his master,(1 Peter 2-3) Christ to the Father and even calling him Lord. Paul says that she is to submit to him as to the Lord. (Eph 5:22)
A common phrase herd in Christianity today is “Jesus is my Lord and Savior”. This is a good and proper phrase if it is understood to mean what the words indicate. Lord is another name for ruler, king, sovereign and master. Jesus is Lord means that he rules the universe with power and authority. He has all authority in heaven and earth. His law is law, regardless whether his creation acknowledges it or not. He is the judge, the jury and the prosecution. There is no court of higher appeal, no challenging the charges and no escaping His justice. He is Lord of all of it. This is what it means that He is Lord. But He is also savior and this is good news, the gospel, that he defends His elect by taking their guilt, verdict of conviction and sentence upon Himself and gives to His elect His own righteousness and innocence. But He does not stop there; He adopts His elect into His family. The Collection of the elect makes up His bride and become sons of the Father.
As the husband of the church and the Lord of the individual elect Christ Jesus rules with authority and grace, but with the non-elect He rules with authority and justice. Some are ruled with love others with wrath. The bride gets the grace those who refuse to submit to His rule wrath.
When Peter and Paul tell wives to submit as to Christ or calling her husband Lord the stakes are high. If she defies her husband she is defying Christ’s appointed authority, if she submits to her husband as an earthly lord she is really submitting to Christ as Lord. She does not submit to her husband as savior from her sin, but as God’s appointed her protector, provider and ruler. Yes ruler! (Gen 3:16, 1 Tim 3:5, Heb 13:7)
Jesus tells this parable about authority and delegation of authority in Luke 20:9-18 .
“A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others”
This incident is set up when the scribes and the elders ask Jesus …
“Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” Luke 20:2
After the parable Jesus describes the ominous repercussion of not honoring that authority:
‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone’? Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Luke 20:17-18
When a wife does not honor the husband, she is like the vine-dressers who will not honor the owner/Lord by refusing the appointed servants and even the owner’s son. The servants of the owner had no authority over the vine-dressers except that which was given to them to exercise by the owner/Lord. A husband has no authority over his wife except that which the Lord gives to him. To hold him in contempt is like killing the heir. (Matt 5: 21-22) The world has largely denied the authority of the husband, but then it has largely denied the authority of the Lord.
That is the real problem. Wives are following the teaching of Peter and Paul in that they treat the lordship of their husband like they do the Lord of heaven and Earth. They submit to neither when it does not suit their fancy. It is criminal that wives would treat Christ with as much contempt as they do their husbands, but that is what evangelicalism has done. They are living a life-view of authority much like the British monarchy, the Queen/King does not rule, they only serve as window dressing, The queen waves in parades and the prince visits foreign lands not as a ruler, but as an good-will ambassador and figure head.
Christendom has fragged the officers of the home and set up a system where husbands submit to their wives. (“Happy wife..happy life”, “She would submit if only he led”, “If he loved her like Jesus she would follow” … etc. ) It is commonplace to hear pastors and christian radio vilify the authority of the home and encourage women to civilize, train sanctify their heads. On the rare occasion when wifely submission is taught, it is in my experience proceeded with the statement “submission is not …” and always the word doormat is included. Why start where the Bible does not go? Because the Bible teaches submission of the wife and headship husband. In telling wives that submission is not in all things, contrary to Eph 5:24, or in all circumstances, and especially if he is not obeying the Word (1 Peter 3:1), they are creating so many subjective qualifications to render the scriptures of no effect. The wife is encouraged to rule the household and yet, they still they tell men to be the figure head, just like the British royal family position with no authority. In a way, the husband is just like Christ to the modern church. He bears an honorary title and is really cool when He does what she wants Him to do for her!