Part 3 of the Biblical Manhood Series:
Men are called to be leaders in their homes. In Ephesians 5:23, Paul writes “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body…(ESV)”. Way back when God created Adam, He created Eve as Adam’s helper. It does not mean, again, that women take a lesser role to men, rather it means that men and women have different and distinct roles. Often times however, our culture (church and secular) gets in a bad mood about this. I do not mean either gender is more important or less important, I only mean to say that God has created men with a specific purpose and role and He has created women with a specific purpose and role. For further reading and a helpful article on Complementariansim, go to this article by Mary Kassian: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/9/04/complementarianism-for-dummies/
What does the role of men as leaders mean? As I stated in my previous blog, here, men are created to be workers and have families. But what are the ways in which they lead? Leadership has become quite a big phenomena in society today. Everywhere we turn, it seems success is determined by the level of leadership we can attain. If we lead well, our businesses will do well. If we lead well, our communities will be safer and better. If we lead well, our churches will be more successful. While leadership is important, and we should spend time developing leaders who lead well, we have all but made leadership the new discipleship. In the church, we have replaced making disciples with making leaders. Again, I affirm the need to make leaders. I affirm the importance of developing leaders in the same way that I affirm the importance of developing evangelists, or developing teachers, or developing people to be hospitable. Leadership must be within the context of a biblical worldview, understanding the gift of leadership and thus cultivating an environment more concerned with developing disciples rather than focusing in on one gift of many. Paul affirms this in Romans 12:4-8 (ESV):
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our service; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (emphasis added)
In the complementarian view, there is not only this completeness in the home with the male and female, but in the church as well. Both the home and the church are God’s communities of His people. In the church, the larger family, the gifts given to the saints are given as equal in worth and dignity, but different in role. Each one contributes and makes the complete picture of the church. But what about the home? What about the gifts of the different roles in the home?
The different roles in the home are primarily male and female. The male should first have the role of husband, and then as the Lord gives them children, he will become father. If the child is a male, then he will be a son. A son is not a daughter because he is not female. I am saddened to see gender confusion in our culture. People of all walks have affirmed the parenting technique to allow the child to choose what is good for himself or herself. For instance, if the son wants to act like a daughter, they believe that he is just expressing himself and they do not want to confuse or damage him. If he wants to act like a daughter even though he is a son, that is fine.
Notice I said they. They do that. They as in secular culture, and even secularized church cultures. I think the Bible teaches something different. Proverbs 22:6a says, “train up a child…”. The ability for a son to learn how to live and what is good is not to be given over to the son, rather is primarily the responsibility of the parents. Proverbs 22:6 is a command to parents to teach and to train their children in the ways that they should go. This verse also implies that there is a right way and a wrong way for a child to be trained up. For instance, it is wrong to allow the son to act like a daughter because he is male. Males are sons. Sons become men. If we, in the earliest and most formative years of a persons life, allow them to make patterns and have systems that are contrary to their very DNA, we are rejecting God’s perfect design of and distinction between male and female.
As God’s people, we cannot mix our message. The affirmation of gender roles is important and crucial if we are to have marriages saved, homes restored, and men who are truly godly men. So, what does a godly man do? A godly man leads his home into godliness. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25-30 about how men are to lead their wives into godliness:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
Paul first writes about love. Men, as the leaders in your home, love your wife. Love her in the same way that Christ loved the church, which is sacrificial, denying of yourself, even betraying yourself for her and her needs. Jesus betrayed Himself for the church. Men, love your wives with this intensity.
Paul then writes about sanctification. Sanctification is the process of being made holy. As we have taken our position of holy in Christ, we are to then work out our salvation, or put our holiness into practice. Men, as leaders in your home, sanctify your wife. We know that this cannot happen apart from the inner working of the Holy Spirit, and is primarily the grace of God that leads us into sanctification. But, just like a preacher who may lead someone into salvation, by the working of the Holy Spirit, so men are to lead their wives, by the power of the Spirit, into sanctification. Paul says by washing her with the water of the Word. This is the level of theology. Methods may vary. For instance, in my home, we have a family time of reading the Bible and prayer each night right before we put our daughter to bed. But more specifically, for me with my wife, I take opportunity as it arises to point her into godliness (and she lovingly and graciously does the same for me). Others have a set time of devotion and bible study together. The method is different, but the theology is the same. At whatever level of method you do this, it must be done. It is a God-given responsibility to husbands to lead their wives into godliness. This does not, however, mean that women cannot read the Bible and understand and have a close relationship with their Savior. It only is to say, that God’s intended order and purpose for the home is to have the husband lovingly, gently, and consistently lead his wife into godliness.
These two spiritual leadership principles cannot be separated. This is what Paul means in v. 29, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it”. Men loving (cherishing) their wives means that they will sanctify their wives, and as they sanctify (nourish) their wives, they will begin to have a deeper and more meaningful love for their wives. Cherishing fuels nourishing, and nourishing fuels more cherishing!
Men are also to lead their children. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” God’s intended purpose for the father is to discipline and to train his children to be God fearing, obedient to the Lord, and worshipers of God.
Often, I see mothers having to be the primary discipliners in the home because the father has checked out. There is a stereotype in secular culture about dads being lazy, incompetent, and fun, but nothing more. Dad’s should be fun, but the goal for dads is not to win their children’s affection by letting them do things mommy wouldn’t let them do. Fathers are the primary disciplinarian in the home. I do not mean that mothers cannot and should not discipline, rather fathers ought to take the lead with their children and with their wives to carry out discipline. Discipline is both positive and negative. It is reinforcement of good. But it is also a correction and reproof of bad. Fathers, we must master both. And, fathers, we must discipline lovingly and truthfully. If our discipline is full of truth, but disconnected from our love for our children, we will no doubt experience rebellion in our children. If our discipline is full of love and no truth, we will wrongly lead our children into something other than a true godly life. Discipline that is given with both love and truth is one that aims at the heart, and understands that behavior stems from the sinfulness of the heart, even in young children.
Training is also an important part of the fathers leadership to his children. It is important to understand what we are training our children in. Fathers are to train their children in the instruction of the Lord. I want my children to know how valuable it is to follow and obey Jesus. I want them to see that their daddy treasures Christ in his heart, and they see that when I walk in obedience to God. Training is mentoring as an example and in teaching. As we live our lives, we model what is to live for Jesus. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Fathers, this is the number one task in training. Model Christ in such a way that if your children do not model after you, they will be in rebellion after Jesus. But training also involves teaching and instruction. Moses makes this connection in Deuteronomy 4:9, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…”. Moses says to train your children, both by living the example and setting the things of God on your own hearts, but also by making them known to your children and grandchildren. Fathers, there is nothing more loving you can do than to equip your children in the Word of God. This is accomplished by both disciplining and training your children.
Men, your role is to be the leader in your home. Lead your families spiritually. Lead your wives by loving them as Christ loves His bride, the church. Also lead your wives by sanctifying them, washing them with the water that is the Word of God. Lead your children by disciplining them, both when their hearts cause them to disobey and when God leads them to do good. Also, lead your children by training them. Equip them in the Word of God. Read theology, read church history, and read the Bible with them. Model what it means to be a Christ follower to them. Point them to Christ by living for Christ. As men lovingly lead, serve, and train in their homes, women and children will more lovingly and readily willing to follow. This is God’s plan and order for us.
Other important resources to help in the category of leading your wife and leading your children:
Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make us Holy More Than to Make us Happy by Gary Thomas
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Post written by: Aaron Hale