This article on spiritual headship is geared to all of our dear sisters in Christ. Hi! Some of you have had the joy of seeing and experiencing true spiritual headship at work in the home. It may be a father, a husband or another brother in Christ who has provided the same, exhibited the same… sharing Christ with you and your household, leading you in the way of the Lord, ardently protecting you from the old evil foe and the seductiveness of this world.
If this is the case and there is true spiritual headship in place, well then you have every reason to give thanks to God for such a great blessing. The alternative is not a good one. A spiritually headless home is like a headless chicken. Sure it will appear to be alive momentarily and will run around directionless and meaningless for a while, but death is an eventual certainty.
Now, I know that I need not tell you dear ladies that there is no such thing as the perfect man [I’ll pause here while you recount your experiences which only underline this point]. Let us be reminded of the fact that all whom the Lord God called to serve as leaders over His Old Testament church were not perfect either. They sinned. They made mistakes. They “dropped the ball” many times. And then you have the twelve who Christ called to be His disciples… those who would go on to be the very apostles of His church. They were by no means perfect. And yet, you cannot get around the fact that they were divinely placed in those positions. And the same holds true today for the pastors of our churches and the husbands and fathers of our households. They are divinely ordained vocations. Our perfect God has called imperfect men to lead, feed, guide, protect and defend His beloved but likewise imperfect people.
Dear sisters, if you have a husband or father who is struggling with the whole aspect of spiritual headship in the home, then pray for them, pray with them, encourage them, let them know how much their headship means to you and how you want to support them in this effort. Give them suggestions how they can take their spiritual headship “to the next level,” not wanting to move too fast or too quickly. Encourage them to talk with other brothers who are strong or stronger when it comes to spiritual headship. Encourage them to talk with your pastor for guidance and advice.
I cannot tell you how much it means to me that I have a wife and children who support me in my role as spiritual head of our family. Their love and encouragement is a real blessing as is the forgiveness they show to me, convey to me, all the times and situations where I have “dropped the ball.”
Ladies, this is not about men “lording over” women and children. It is not about establishing and running a mini dictatorship. It is, instead, all about love. It is all about sacrifice. It is all about godly men giving their all for the spiritual and physical well-being of their wives and families. THAT is the headship we are talking about here.
St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians makes the wonderfully direct connection between the spiritual headship of husbands to the headship of Christ over His body, the Church:
“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.” (Ephesians 5:25-30, ESV)
I have already addressed in previous articles how many of you ladies have had to take on the role of spiritual headship of your household out of necessity. Thank you for that. Thank you for filling the void. Thank you for not allowing your family to go “spiritually headless.” I know it is tough. I have the joy of shepherding quite a few dear sisters who are in this situation. And it is tough because you are doing an “alien” work. It is the work which should be done by a man. Not that you are incapable of doing it. It is just that God has called men to do it. It is THEIR responsibility.
Let me also speak briefly to those women who have improperly taken on and have claimed spiritual headship over their husbands… spiritual headship over their household. Shame on you! Repent. Cease and desist. If you do not, you face God’s righteous wrath. You WILL be held accountable for going against what the Lord our God has ordained, what He has commanded and arranged for His people. As chauvinistic and dictatorial masculine ways have no place in God’s church, neither does feminism. As I said earlier, this is not a case of what a person (be they man or woman) is capable of doing. It is about what God has called them to do! It is all about “Thus saith the Lord.” Needless to say, it is very much a first commandment issue.
Well, that is not exactly how I planned to end this latest installment, but it’ll do. May the Lord bless you all as you humbly seek to carry out His will in the various vocations to which He has called you… all to His glory! Amen.
The Rev. Mark H. Hein
Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church