When Male Headship Does Not Work (The Men Who Are Still Spoiled Boys)

The idea of roles, headship and submission in marriage is obviously filled with land mines. Many people have misused and misinterpreted these beautiful verses to make them say what they want to. We have visions of quiet wives who say nothing, men who dominate and abuse their families all based on Ephesians 5, completely missing the point of this passage.

In thinking about male headship, here are 5 reasons it does not work and how to work against these problems to create the picture described in Ephesians 5:

  1. Spiritually apathetic headship. This husband completely abdicates his role as the spiritual leader of his family. He often will not go to church with his wife and kids and if he does, he is very passive. Not getting involved, not praying with his wife or kids, not praying at dinner, not guiding his kids spiritually, not asking questions, not reading the Scripture to them. He lets that up to the church or his wife.
  2. Workaholic headship. This husband sees headship simply as providing for the needs of his family. While that is part of headship, there is more to it than making money so there is a roof over their head, clothes on their back and food on the table. This type of headship is disconnected from the family in some very important ways. 
  3. Dictorial headship. This husband uses headship as a way to control and get his way, all the time. It doesn’t matter how he gets his way and it doesn’t matter what happens because he has gotten his way. He just wants his way. Often, he will use Bible verses to get it. This husband will treat his wife and kids as slaves and orders them around. Often, this will lead to physical abuse, which is nowhere near what Paul had in mind when he called men to be the head of their house.
  4. Emotionally detached headship. This is the husband who is the head of the family in name only. He has nothing to do with his wife, kids. He does not lead them in any form. He simply sits by, dictating when he doesn’t like something, letting his wife take on his role and responsibility and basically do everything he is supposed to do. Emotionally, he does not know how to relate to his and kids. He does not know how to connect to his family, he is distant.
  5. Irresponsible headship. This is the husband who buys things without consulting his wife, makes decisions on his own and generally puts his family in financial, relational, physical and emotional danger because “He is the head of the house.” This husband sees headship as a club to get to do what he wants.

(Note, in case you didn’t figure out from my talk on Saturday, Revolution believes that God has called men to lead. This post was a response to why it often does not work in homes. Mainly because men are not men.)

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