The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church. The headship of the Christian husband is fundamentally a spiritual headship. Satan assaults the husband in order to cast him down from his God-given position.
In this article we liken the Christian husband to the strong man in Mark 3:27. “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods except he will first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house.” We liken Satan’s assault to the attempt to bind the strong man and spoil his house.
Christian husbands are involved in a struggle to keep the home and family from being spoiled by Satan. This is a difficult struggle, and we want to give encouragement and point to the way of victory for the godly husband.
The husband is the head of the whole family and not just of the wife. But in a particular way he is the head of the wife so that the wife functions through him and he through the wife. They work together as an intimate unity so that they are no longer two but one. They must be one in purpose; they must be one in goal; they must be one in love. The only possibility of that is that they are one in the Lord.
God made Adam first. Adam’s being created first was not just happenstance, but was part of God’s creational purpose with respect to mankind. The man would be created first so that his headship would be unmistakably clear. It is the spiritual headship that we want to consider particularly. We must notice that the headship of the husband is a headship of love. We need continually to remind ourselves of that truth. One of the besetting sins of fathers and husbands is that they think themselves to be lords in their own right.
Ephesians 5 gives us to understand the spiritual character of headship. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the saviour of the body” (vs. 23). We have here a most wonderful and exalted model of the headship of the man over the wife. The husband is not the head in the absolute sense of the word, nor in the dictatorial sense of the word, but as Christ is the head of the church.
The headship and leadership of love must characterize the husband and the father in the home. He must lead, that is, he goes before, and the others come after him. He must lead in all the affairs of the home and family, especially in the spiritual affairs.
The wise husband will not, because he is the head, say at the breakfast table in the morning, “Wife, today you do this, you do that. Children you do this, you do that.” And then off he goes to his employment. When the husband comes home late in the evening he expects that all of his commands be carried out. “After all,” he may reason, “I am the head, and the others must listen to me”. That man would be a very foolish man. Soon his home, his family, his marriage relationship would begin to crumble. That would be like a man who was a very able craftsman in his work, and for many years he carried out his craft, and for many years his pro duct sold well. The man began to reason, “Since I am such a skillful craftsman and my product sells well, I think I will expand my business and hire for myself helpers, secretaries, and clerks and they will carry out my business for me while I continue to carry on with my craft.” The man then would say to all of his hired people, “Now I am going to continue to labor with my craft in conjunction with the business. I want you to do this and I want you to do that, and you must all remember that I am the head.” Then the craftsman would become preoccupied with his craft again. Soon this man would find that his business was beginning to flounder, because he had the wrong conception of headship. He would soon find that his business was becoming less and less productive. Soon he would be on the verge of bankruptcy, because he was not a wise head of the business. He had failed to understand that headship implies leadership, it implies instruction, it implies working along with. Now if this man were a wise man and would come to his senses he would see that he would have to take time to work in the business as the head of that business if it were to prosper as he had supposed. He would have to coordinate the business. He would have to work out problems on a personal basis with his employees. He would have to instruct, lead, guide, and encourage. If he were unwilling to do this, then the end would be the failure of the business.
Now that example we can apply to the headship in the home and family. The husband cannot be as the foolish craftsman who says, “You do this and you do that, and I am going to occupy myself with my particular work and calling in the life of the home and family, that is, to bring in the necessary financial support for the continuation of the home.” The husband will soon find that problems creep up here and there. There is going to be tension and disunity on the part of the wife and on the part of the children, and there will not be a unified direction in the home. But the home will be splintered in direction and in purpose. The responsibility for this lies upon the husband. He is the head of the wife, the head of the home. Husbands must be wise men of God to understand their calling before God out of the scripture, and to conduct themselves in a way that is in harmony with the will of God.
The apostle Peter gives instruction with respect to the headship of the husband. “Likewise ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (I Peter 3:7). Peter sets forth the relationship of the man to the woman as a spiritual unity. If a man does not dwell together with his wife as head, the implication is that their prayers will be hindered, because there will be tension and disunity in the home. The husband therefore is instructed to dwell with his wife. That means, first of all, that he is going to be in the home. There is a difference, however, between just being in the home and dwelling in the home. It is possible that the man be in the home, but that he be entirely preoccupied with other things, such as his work or with sports or with a hobby, that he simply exists in the home without really dwelling there.
Satan tries to entangle the husband in activities outside the home so that he finally binds the strong man. The devil, however, is not so foolish as to attack the strong man head on, but rather he lays a snare for the strong man. Satan approaches the strong man by pointing to his calling before God. He says, “Hath not God said that it is the husband’s calling to provide for the needs of the home and family?” And the man must answer, “Yes, that is our calling.” The devil continues, “Hath not God said that a man must labor diligently?” And the strong man must answer, “Yes, that is what the Word of God says. The man must labor diligently, he must give a good days work for a good days wages.” The devil then says, “Is not the man who works diligently and gives himself entirely to his job the man who gets somewhere in this world?” Satan, you see, has begun to entrap the strong man with a distortion of the strong man’s calling before the Lord. Make no mistake about it, the man of God has a duty before God to labor diligently and honestly. But the devil inserts a faulty premise when he sets before the strong man the model man of the world, and not the model man of the scripture. The model man of the world is out to gain financial success. He wants the honor of men, the honor of his employer, the honor of those around about him and under him, but he is not interested in the honor of God. The strong man of the scripture is a man who provides well, not only for the material needs of his family, but also the spiritual needs.
The model man of the world—Oh yes, he is going to go places. He will be the man who usually gets the promotions and the raises, but after he has gained all of these things you will find that often times his marriage is in shambles, his children have gone astray, and he is a very miserable man.
The strong man of the scripture is the man who keeps the physical-earthly requirements in balance with the spiritual requirements. He will be the man who has his priorities ordered properly. He will be a faithful, dependable, and loyal employee, but he will also have the wisdom to say, “No.” When more and more responsibility is laid upon him he will have the spiritual foresight to see that if he sets himself upon that course something will suffer. What suffers is always his spiritual life in connection with his wife and his family.
In our day spiritually strong men have to be on guard. They have to be instructed out of the word of God, and have to be impressed with the seriousness of being the spiritual head of the home. They have to understand that they cannot stand in their own strength, but hear God’s word which says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:10-11). When the strong man is assailed by Satan he will be able to say, “It is written in the word of God, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” He will put Satan to flight by seeking first the things of Gods kingdom and of His glory. He will show in his whole life that the things that are above are more important to him than the world with all its riches.
The struggle to which we are called is a difficult struggle. Satan is a formidable opponent. If we underestimate the enemy or fight half-heartedly we are in danger of being overcome. Think of Lot. Lot, no doubt, thought of himself as a strong man. As Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom he may have said, “I can keep the proper perspective, I can resist the temptations.” But Lot went out of Sodom a broken and wretched man. His family was shattered. His wife was destroyed and his children went lost in their generations.
What an awesome responsibility we have as husbands and fathers. Each of us must grieve as we see how far short we come from glorifying God as we ought. We must repent from our foolish ways. To repent means to turn around and to reorder our lives according to the Word of God. In the way of daily repentance and struggle against our many sins God will bless us. Finally my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.