Called to Spiritual Headship (1 Cor 11:2-16)
I. Exegetical Observations
A. The problem of gender roles in Corinth
The role of women is currently a societal battleground. The evil one takes the ideas of secular society and seeks to influence the Church. As a result, the Church tends to “catch the world’s diseases” when she is willing to adopt the spirit of this age. Paul answers the gender problem in Corinth by affirming that the principle of subordination and authority pervades the whole universe. Woman’s subordination to man reflects that greater general truth about God’s order in the universe. Christ submitted to the Father in order to redeem us; and we submit to Christ to be saved from certain doom. If women do not submit to their husbands, society will be disrupted and destroyed (MacArthur, Commentary on 1 Cor.).
The women in the church of Corinth were seeking to abolish sexual distinctions; Paul grounds his reproof in the order of creation (Jamieson, Fauset, and Brown, 1 Cor.).
Neo-pagan reasoning concerning gender roles placed the Corinthians in need of instruction by the Apostle Paul. Paul says I would have you know (11:3). This is a solemn expression concerning God’s pattern of headship. When Paul says, “of every man,” it is clear that he does not refer to Christians only but to all men. The fact that non-Christians do not know these things and do not even want to know them does not do away with the truth of the statement. Paul makes all a question of creation. The woman must have a sign of authority on her head – the necessity of her subjection must appear at every moment. The women of Corinth raised unrest in the church because they violated the ordinance of God’s creation (Grosheide, 1 Cor.).
B. God’s divine order for gender is grounded in creation
Christ is our unseen Lord; thus men do not have a visual token of subjection to Christ put on their heads. For women it dishonors her head when she puts away the badge of subjection to her head. Her man is her true honor because in the institution of marriage, honor flows from her husband who is connected to Christ his Head. The woman is reflective glory as the moon is to the sun (15:41). In the divine order of creation, the woman shines as light derived from man. Not that under grace she does not come in individual contact with God, but even here much of her knowledge is mediately given through man on whom she is naturally dependent (“let them ask their own husbands at home,” 14:35). Woman’s original being is taken out of man – as it were there is a veil or medium placed between her and God in the acknowledgement of this subordination to man in the order of creation. Man is made immediately by God (from the dust of the earth); thus no veil (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown).
“And God is the Head of Christ” (11:3). Christ’s subordination to God the Father is evident in the Son’s work as Agent in creation and redemption. If women reject the created order it brings degradation, not liberation. The wife’s glory is derived from her husband. Woman is the divinely made ally of man to assist him in fulfilling his role as steward of creation; thus she is glory of man in her complementary role. For a woman to step outside her role would bring disrepute upon the wisdom of God in His perfect design of the created order. God’s order includes relations within the Trinity – 11:3 (David K. Lowery, Bible Knowledge Commentary).
Between Christ and man, and between man and woman there is a community life, or bond; one in the bond is strong, and the other dependent. Even under the gospel economy the woman preserves her subordinate role to her husband. A man in Christ has no other Head but Christ. When the Christian man uplifts his radiant brow in worship, it is the insignia that he is the king of nature and he has no other Lord in the universe than his invisible Lord of all. The woman’s covering declares her dependence. The woman’s physical constitution is a revelation of her Creator’s will concerning her (Godet, 1 Cor.).
Paul states that the order of authority and administration is the divine structure of things. Man is the glory of God because he is subject to and representative of God’s authority. Paul argues for man’s exercise of authority over the woman due to the order of creation, the purpose of creation (she was created for man’s sake), and the source of the woman’s creation (v. 8, 9). The women in Corinth had their heads uncovered in church – as part of his argument, Paul cites that the angels are sensitive to our conduct (W. Harold Mare, NIV Commentary).
C. Gender differences are drawn from a contrast in created glory
In his own home the father is like a king – he reflects the glory of God because control is in his hands. When a man covers his head, he brings down that preeminence in which God has placed him. [In matters of worship] if he puts himself under the authority of others – he does damage to the honor of Christ. He is under Christ’s authority; he exercises his own authority in the oversight of his family. The glory of Christ is reflected in [executing a] well-constituted order of marriage (Calvin’s Commentary).
Man as the origin of the woman’s being is thus the explanation of her being. The creation distinction is to be manifested in the woman being sharply visibly differentiated from the man. Paul’s point is that nature (in terms of natural propriety) expects a woman to be covered – to be uncovered is an unnatural act. Paul makes v. 8 the explanation of v. 7 – man was made solely for God’s service; woman was made to be a helper to man. She is the glory of man because she finds her fulfillment in serving him; this is her creation role (C. K. Barrett, 1 Cor.).
Sexual distinction is not done away with in Christ because it has a creation origin. Paul’s argument in 11:6, “Let her be shorn!” is based on the following logic concerning the woman’s rebellion – if she flings away her covering while praying or prophesying, let her also fling away the covering provided by nature (i.e. her hair). Man is not to wear a head covering since he is by original constitution God’s image and glory – he is the glory of God because he reflects the Creator’s will and power (A. T. Robertson, 1 Cor.).
Order and subordination pervade the whole universe – it is essential to its being. When the order is disturbed, ruin results. Concerning the image of God, the chief distinction between the sexes is that the man is the image of God’s authority; he is invested with dominion. The woman is equally the image of God, but the dominion that Adam bore, as God’s representative, was a dominion invested with authority over the earth. Man as the glory of God is especially the divine majesty manifested. The woman is the glory of man because she is subordinate to man and not appointed to reflect the glory of God as Ruler. She is the glory of man because she reveals what there is of majesty about him (Charles Hodge, 1 & II Cor.).
Whatever Paul’s understanding of “image of God” (Grk., eikou theou) in Gen 1:27, the essential point for his argument is the contrast he sees in glory (Grk., doza) between man and woman; it is on account of this contrast that the different regulations regarding head coverings are based (M. D. Hooker, “Authority on Her Head,” NTS, 10:410-416, 1963, 64).
The man, by virtue of his manner of creation (created immediately from the dust to rule over the works of God’s hands), is the glory and image of God. Woman is the image of God and the glory of man. In this context, the word glory is not the essential glory of God – the word glory in 11:3-15 means to honor and magnify one’s head. Man’s creation says of God -- what a wonderful order of creature God could create from the dust as His final creation, and the very crown of creation (Ps 8). Woman’s creation says of God what a beautiful being He could make from a man (Grosheide, 1 Cor.).
Man uniquely bears God’s image as ruler within the sphere of dominion and authority; in that sense he is created to be the glory of God. Woman was made to manifest man’s authority and will; just as man was made to manifest God’s authority and will. The woman is man’s vice regent and the man is God’s vice regent. In this gospel age believing men and women have equal access to God; and they will have equal glory in heaven; but in the current age the creation order is in force – woman is the image of God but not directly the glory of God. Her role, as a helpmate corresponding to him, is to submit to the direction of the man to whom God gave divine dominion. The woman’s head covering (Grk., exsousia -- “her authority,” 11:10) was her right to pray in public because it represents her subordination to man’s authority (MacArthur).
C. Angels watch over God’s created order including His plan for gender
Man images God’s authority on earth. The woman has her origin and purpose of life in the man. Her head covering is a sign of the man’s authority. Female insubordination offends angels who, under God, do the work of guarding the created universe; they know no insubordination (11:10). Every reason Paul gives for the woman’s head covering is taken from permanent facts – these permanent facts last as long as the present earthly economy (S. Lewis Johnson Jr., Wycliffe Commentary).
Woman’s subordination keeps from offending angels who are the most submissive of all creatures. Angels would be greatly offended by woman’s insubordination because it would violate the very creation order, which they guard. Paul’s exhaustive argument for the submissiveness of women is taken completely from permanent facts: 1.) The relations within the Godhead (v. 3); 2.) The divine design of male and female as shown in their contrasting glory (v. 7); 3.) The order of creation; man’s creation first, and man’s body the source of woman’s creation (v. 8); 4.) The role of the woman taken from the purpose of her creation (v. 9);5.) The intimate interest of angels in the order of creation (v. 10); 6.) The characteristics of natural physiology (vv. 13-15) (MacArthur).
Angels see how ruinous it would be if women sought to occupy a higher place than what they were entitled and appointed to. Angels would regard this as presumption (Calvin).
Concerning the holy angels, to some extent authority for the created order has devolved upon them, and we would therefore expect angels to be concerned with seeing that the ordering of things established at the creation is maintained. It is not surprising to find angels present as the guardians of the natural order, and indeed we might expect to find them concerned in particular in seeing that the worship of God is conducted in a fitting manner (M. D. Hooker, NTS).
A. Men answering the call to spiritual headship
As men we must know our identity; that in Christ we are the glory of God.
The perpetuation of God’s blueprint for society depends upon two institutions that are intended to systematically teach the truth of God, the knowledge of God, and will of God. These two institutions are the family and the local church.
In both of these institutions, God has set up an order that is gender specific. Men are to be the spiritual leaders – they are to imitate Christ. We need to know the reasons why God has appointed men for this role (especially in our culture of rampant secular humanism and feminist/sexual politics).
God’s plan, according to Psalm 78:5-8, is that the fathers should teach their children the testimonies of God so that the next generation would come to know God and put their confidence in Him.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 is the foundational O.T. text which gives the command to fathers to diligently teach the things of God to their children. The command is incredibly comprehensive; for fathers are to teach their children in every imaginable setting, from mealtime, to bedtime, to the workplace, to recreation.
Fathers of course can only do this if they themselves are walking close to God. This is why the context for this command is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I am commanding you today; shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons. . . “(6:5-7a).
The father is not merely passing on religious information; he is sharing his own love of God with his children. Therefore what is caught by the children will be as important as what is taught to the children. In other words, the children will be able to easily see if their father truly loves God.
Here is where the genius of God’s plan shines forth in brilliance. Fathers ought to be able to say, “The greatest need of my children is to see my holiness and to see my walk with God – so my life will reflect the glory of God.”
The divine plan for passing on the knowledge of God to the next generation is centered upon a father’s bond with God, and a father’s bond with his children. The dad is the link that joins these two bonds (he is the divinely appointed instrument for passing on the knowledge of God to the next generation – Ps 78:7).
As little sinners grow up, they all begin with distorted thoughts of God. The Creator is far off and veiled in mystery – Should I be down right afraid of Him? Will He spoil my fun? Isn’t it safest to just keep some distance from Him, yet pray to Him to keep things going well? Do thoughts of God that are superstitious count as religious thoughts?
Believing dads are sent into this darkness to make the love, authority, and wisdom of God real to the child; to make God’s moral government personal, desirable, and rational. But fathers are to do so not merely by giving doctrinal lessons to their kids.
Fathers are literally called upon to reflect, or image God to their families. The husband and fatherreflects both the love and authority of God. This imaging is incredibly instructive to the family. It has the power to take the communicable attributes of God out of the realm of theory and into the realm of experience. Because he is both love and authority in the same person; the Christian dad is uniquely suited toimage the character of God to his family.
1 Corinthians 11:4, 7 affirms the spiritual headship of the man – “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.”
When a father occupies his role as spiritual head, he is a clear channel for the glory of God. Thus fathers are to exert constant spiritual influence within the relational space God has assigned to them.
But fathers can only pass on what they are receiving in their own spirits – if God the Father is not the object of a dad’s love and devotion; then he will not be able to image the relational aspects of true worship.
Gospel-centered Christian living is essential in order for the man to keep taking delight in God. As Jerry Bridges says, “Since we sin everyday, we must preach the Gospel to ourselves each day.” Through ongoing repentance the godly man is in a continual process of having his affections conformed to God’s truth.
Cross-centered living helps prepare a man to occupy his teaching role. When dads attempt to managetheir personal depravity by approaches other than the Gospel (i.e. moralism, legalism, or escapism); they will not have a consuming passion for God’s glory. A man needs to be living upon Christ in order to promote the glory of Christ.
Without a passion for God’s glory, the father’s two edged sword of tender love and authoritative truth will be more of a “decoration” than a spiritual weapon. In other words he must be in the habit of using the sword of God’s truth on himself if he is to be prepared to use it upon others.
But now more about the man’s unique role as spiritual head and imager of God -- Jeremiah 9:23, 24 declares that a man’s boast must be that he knows God. All other “boasts” are nothing more than vanity and arrogance born of the pride of life.
Man’s glory is his knowledge of God. Believing husbands and fathers occupy an integral role inimaging the glory that comes from the knowledge of God. This truth should shape the entire value system of a man – so much so that the man ought to regard it to be a high privilege to have such a key role in the divine chain of honor.
It is a truth lost upon our feminized secular culture of disrespect that the man is God’s appointed instrument for conducting honor and glory to his family members. This chain of honor is dependent upon a man knowing Christ his Head. It is God’s intent that glory, dignity, and honor (resulting from the knowledge of God) flow through the man.
Our challenge as men is to know the dimensions of this fragile conduit that conducts divine glory and honor; for nothing is easier than to have the flow of glory down the chain of honor interrupted by a man’s disobedience and neglect.
The greater a man’s passion to know God; the more he will be ready and willing to image God’s love, truth, and authority to his family. The man who seeks God as his life’s calling will embrace the vision to image God. When dads drift from God, their spiritual headship becomes more and more two dimensional; almost invisible.
By contrast when a man embraces his spiritual headship, he will avidly seek to communicate to his family the character of Christ. (Jesus lived a life of self-denial. He taught fidelity to principle; delayed gratification; maximum servanthood; self control; meekness; love for the brethren; righteous indignation; compassion; courage; willingness to suffer for righteousness sake; even die for the truth. Everything He did on earth perfectly imaged the character of His heavenly Father.)
The man who genuinely fears God will make imaging his heavenly Father his life work. So also, the woman who fears God will make the virtues of Proverbs 31 her life goal. She will embrace her support role as the glory of man (1 Cor 11:7b).
B. Facing the challenges that oppose our spiritual headship
As men we must know the lies we are delivered from and called upon to refute. Just as a man’s depravity is expressed in gender specific ways (domination, emotional and physical abuse, passivity, wantonness, lust, predation, laziness, violence, and greed); so also a woman’s depravity is expressed ingender specific ways.
A woman without the fear of God will tend to pull her children to herself through indulgence, pleasure, gratification, over nurturing, over protection, bestowal of unearned narcissistic privilege – often this is accompanied by possessiveness, control, and guilt.
When a son has had massive amounts of this soft side input, not balanced out by paternal godly, masculine input; it tends to unleash decay upon society (and it constructs a personal staircase to hell).
Sons who experience a narcissistic upbringing are often self-serving, listless, violent, sensual, reckless, disrespectful, and suspicious of all authority. The O.T. prophet Malachi warns that if the hearts of the children are not restored to the fathers; God will smite the land with a curse (Mal 4:6).
We know from Isaiah 24 that the threatened curse is manifested in the break down of society in which there is such a distortion of roles that moral order disappears. The implication we can draw from Malachi’s warning is that narcissistic sons who use their masculine strength for lust and selfishness will become the destroyers of society.
Historians have observed that feminine cultures (characterized by sensual indulgence) are inevitably conquered by masculine cultures (those characterized by order, self-discipline, and self-control). Without those masculine traits of self control, the sacrifices necessary to maintain liberty are absent; the will to remain free is lost.
There is an undeniable parallel in the spiritual realm. When the will to maintain male spiritual headship is lost; the generational knowledge of God breaks down. Matriarchal input rushes in to fill the gap left by the abdication of paternal responsibility. When a culture degrades spiritually; it does so in the direction of the matriarchal.
The price of the aforementioned spiritual declension is beyond calculation. Fathers must be vigilant to maintain the exercise of their spiritual headship. The cost of maintaining the chain of honor (and our knowledge of God) is ongoing repentance.
As we will see in a moment; when the chain of honor breaks down, forces of spiritual evil are unleashed. The evil one knows that God’s appointed conduit for the knowledge of God turns upon the spiritual headship of the father of a family.
We must be aware of the obstacles raised up against our headship. Consider the “boogie men” in our culture that have been paraded against patriarchal leadership. Male authority has been consistently demonized in college texts and classrooms. The numbing drumbeat of the feminist agenda is relentless; sexual politics seeks to lay society’s problems at the feet of male authority.
Neo-pagan models of spirituality abound – global and earth mother goddess religion is gaining public acceptance as a legitimate alternative to patriarchal Christianity. Needless to say these cultural forces bring additional pressure upon the male to back away from his spiritual headship (and to be ashamed if he holds to male authority).
Male self-loathing seems to be the knee jerk reaction to this avalanche of neo-pagan sexual politics; one might accurately say that male self-hate is the accepted form of “worship” within the earth mother cults.
The feminized male doesn’t trust himself to wield the sword of truth – his appointed role as imager of God’s truth/authority is neutralized when he defines his gender role by feminist humanist philosophy rather than the Word of God.
The powers of darkness have much to gain by promoting the lie that the fairer sex has been given the lion’s share of spirituality, ethics, discernment, and purity. It has always been true that when earth mother ideology waxes strong; male headship wanes and retreats.
Witness the fertility cults of Canaan during the Major Prophets that were assimilated into Jewish culture. As the patriarchy decayed; matriarchal earth mother idolatry flourished in Israel (Jer 44:17-19). Revival starts when fathers return to their role as spiritual heads.
The Deuteronomy mandate instructing fathers to diligently teach the knowledge of God is about learning to rely upon God. Saving faith takes hold of God Almighty as our true Source (the Lord as “Source Person,” see Paul F. M. Zahl, Who Will Deliver Us?). It is to Him that we look for supply, security, protection, provision, belonging, identity, and stability – He is our true home and dwelling place (Ps 90:1).
But it is even deeper; for confidence in God as Source reaches down to the ontological bottomland of our souls. The very personhood of the believer is bound up in God. The Lord is the source of his wellbeing; his son-ship; his wholeness; his completeness; and his ultimate affirmation of dignity and worth.
In a Christian family, the father’s life and teaching points to God as ultimate source. As such the earthly father’s spiritual headship involves imaging God as Source. A man’s role in the chain of honor is crucial; he will function as a trusted steward of divine things who (in his relational space as spiritual teacher) will image the Heavenly Father as Source Person.
Dad grants honor, dignity, acceptance, affirmation, and son-ship in a way that is different than mom. When dad grants it; it is within a context of knowing God who is majestic in His authority and who is the ultimate Source of truth and personal completeness.
This is the very reason why children have a father hunger so to speak. Fathers, within their relational space as family head, offer something mothers cannot; namely a picture of God as King and Source Person.
This is why it is so serious when fathers abdicate their spiritual headship. When they do so the chain of honor, which communicates the knowledge of God breaks down. When the mother, by default, assumes the role of source person; the chain of honor becomes perverted and distorted.
When gender roles are reversed; the powers of darkness seek to operate in an opportunistic fashion, which unleashes evil spiritual forces. Distorted gender roles distort God’s self-revelation. Children and marriages pay the price; and the true knowledge of God suffers.
Our sex-crazed culture is not just preoccupied with its readily available objects of lust. Pornography is also a worldview that necessarily rejects God’s plan for manhood and womanhood. As such, there are spiritual dimensions, which contribute to the consumption of pornography.
No doubt some would argue that “spiritual evil” is too strong a language for the effects of gender role reversal. But consider some of the reasons why woman in a matriarchal role of source person and earth mother goddess -- has been historically cultic, and intimately tied to pagan idolatry:
1.) The God-given role of spiritual head cannot be successfully assumed by a woman – devastation results when it is attempted. 2.) When the chain of honor is broken; earth mother “spirituality” aggravates this severed condition. 3.) Holy angels respect and recognize the gender roles God has created in His government of mankind. Demons seek to get a foothold by overturning God’s gender blueprint so that the knowledge of God is concealed and the glory of God dishonored. 4.) The historic queen mothers in ancient Israel sought to consolidate their control through the worship of a female deity. The queen mothers mass-produced images of the female body and set them up in the land – 2 Chr 15:16 (what a parallel today to see pornography mass-produced). 5.) The woman as source person tends to encourage the worship of sex and sensuality.
Unlike ancient Palestine, our culture has no formal worship which could be designated a fertility cult. Nevertheless sexual license and the female body are both worshipped in our culture with the media functioning as the willing priestess. The effects are devastating: sexual immorality; sexually transmitted disease; millions of babies aborted; teen pregnancy; a rise in homosexuality; rampant divorce.
When fathers relinquish their spiritual headship role; the knowledge of God is lost. Idolatry replaces it; nature abhors a vacuum. It’s time for fathers to rise up, stand in the gap, and assume their spiritual headship – a revival is needed. The call to image God to the next generation needs to be answered by the only ones who are able do it – Christian men.
As men we need to know what kind of spiritual training equips us to occupy our spiritual headship. Now let’s turn our attention to the obstacles that men face – the hurdles that stand in the way of their fulfillment of spiritual headship.
In Genesis three we are told that Adam’s penalty for sinning was not only death, but also a cursed world. He would have his stewardship mandate opposed at nearly every point. His efforts to subdue the earth would be resisted by thorn, thistle, mildew, beetle, worm, and blight. His efforts to supply leadership would even be resisted by his wife.
We could designate this particular resistance as Adam’s gender-specific wound. For Adam’s manhood was genuinely wounded by his sin. His dominion would no longer be effortless; but would be met by obstacles at every point.
We could compare Adam’s gender-specific wound to a broken scepter. The man appointed by God to be planetary king was, from then on, struggling with personal adequacy. We, as men, have inherited Adam’s condition; “his broken scepter.”
(Is it any wonder that we love to bring our insecurity and inadequacy to forms of recreation and amusement, which measure a man’s performance – i.e. forms of competition of every kind—from golf to paint ball competitions.)
We could accurately say that a huge percentage of our personal motivations stem from a desire to conceal our Adamic inadequacy and avoid the risk of exposing ourselves to personal failure.
Countless things can bring our inherent weakness to light. Every man fears being weighed in the scales and found wanting; being found inadequate in one or all of his roles. Consider the plethora of responsibilities that define what it means to be a man. Manhood is practically a balancing act in our over-scheduled culture.
He must be a provider, a protector, a leader, a lover, a friend, a man of principle, of generosity, of self-control. He must be physically fit, but not a fanatic. He must be transparent, but not gushy. He must be a leader; but not a tyrant. He must be an example; but not self-righteous. He must be non-compromising; but likeable.
Every one of us as men tend to define our manhood by what we do best; whether catching bass; closing deals; keeping friends; loving our kids; or cherishing and fulfilling our wife. We hesitate to step out on new ground and risk failing at new responsibilities.
For many believing men, the occupation of spiritual headship is just too daunting. They fear beingthe heavy. They are apprehensive; perhaps their efforts would be mocked, misunderstood, or unappreciated by wife and family. It’s just easier for them to abdicate their God-given calling. They don’t want theirbroken scepter to show.
Quite a number of things have to be aligned in a man’s life if he is to successfully image the knowledge and glory of God to his family. The conduit known as the chain of honor is fragile and must be diligently maintained if a man is to communicate the knowledge and honor of God to those he loves.
It is easy for a man to instantly feel like a hypocrite the moment he contemplates the exercise of his spiritual headship. He will have to work past his personal demons and gender wound fears. He will have to go on the offensive against his lusts; he’ll have to guard his calendar; he will have to turn a deaf ear to the shrill attacks that abound against patriarchal leadership. He will have to live upon Christ and the Gospel in order to overcome self-recrimination and thoughts of unworthiness for his task.
One of my favorite cartoons appeared in the Sunday comics. In Hagar the Horrible, Hagar’s wife and daughter are having a talk. The daughter tells her mom how unfair it is that men have all the power and privileges. The mother answers back that the gods have given women a secret weapon. The daughter, riveted with interest, eagerly asks, “What it is?” The mother answers, “Man’s guilt.” Then the mom proceeds to show how it works on Hagar her husband who is easily turned into a puddle of mush by her accusation and shaming. Then the punch line is priceless. The daughter asks, “What if the man is not guilty?” Mom says, “Nonsense, every man is guilty about something.”
What a commentary on human nature in its gender dynamics. Men are created by God to live out, and to discern, and to enforce principles on every imaginable plane. They are made to see things in black and white. No wonder Hagar’s wife said, “Every man is guilty about something.”
Men and women are wired differently – a man may have to shoot the enemy between the eyes. Men are wired to maintain integrity and fidelity to principle; even when it impacts relationships negatively.
But women in their primary calling are not designed by God to command armies and make decisions about life and death. Their traditional sphere is in the area of human connection; in nurturing the relationships that the family provides.
As a consequence we could say that women tend to run things through a “blender of emotion” and nurture – they are always asking, “How will this affect the relationship?” Consequently, ethical things are seen more in shades of grey and not quite as black and white as men see them. Women tend to be far less tortured than men over personal compromise, imprecision, and a lack of fidelity to principle.
It’s interesting that when Scripture describes female depravity at its worst; it tends to set forth the woman as having a defective conscience. This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong” (Prov 30:20).
It is also fascinating that the woman, in her depravity, is just as likely to attempt to control others with guilt even if her own conscience is shut down. Jezebel, the Bible’s most notorious female villain, attempted to “guilt trip” Jehu by comparing him to an historical figure named Zimri; a traitor who murdered his master (2 Ki 9:31).
(Jezebel attempted this “guilt-tripping” on Jehu who was anointed by God to exterminate the household of Ahab and Jezebel as well as all Baal worship in Israel.)
When men give their wives a higher position than Christ as their personal evaluator and ethical barometer, they step into the dangerous pit of making the wife’s moral judgment their standard. As soon as that step is taken, it greatly reduces their ability to image God’s moral authority. Role reversal neutralizes their ability to reflect God’s moral majesty. We can be protected from this by pleasing Christ first (2 Cor 5:9).
Generational matriarchies feed upon male emotional dependency. When males from one generation to the next see the female as source person; it leaves a wake of emotional castration and spiritual weakness. The one we seek to please first—above all others, will be our primary evaluator. This is an inviolate principle. We will be subordinate to the person whose approval and acceptance matters to us. We will be subordinate to them—whether it is the Lord; or one’s wife.
God is for our manhood more than we can possibly imagine. The development of godly masculinityis inseparable from a man’s personal holiness. A man’s sanctification is tied to his obedience and desire to model and image God (Eph 5:1-2).
When men abdicate this high calling; their progressive sanctification suffers. It takes courage to impart spiritual truth and one’s own spiritual life to those who know you best. They are familiar with our faults and character flaws.
We must keep a clear conscience in order to be able to answer our high calling as the glory of God. The evil one is always ready – he prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. He watches the serious Christian. He studies us to see if he can make a connection between a worldly temptation and an un-mortified lust in our soul. He knows that a defiled conscience will kill our courage to occupy our spiritual headship.
Spiritual leadership in the home is God’s mandate for every Christian husband and father. God’s plan, or blueprint if you will, places an immense privilege and obligation upon the believing man. The fulfillment of spiritual headship is the divinely appointed tool for passing on genuine faith to the next generation. Let us answer the upward call for sake of God’s glory, for our own soul’s sake, and for sake of our children’s faith.