Males as head of household

One of the things that my secular friends have difficulty understanding is the Biblical model of marriage. They think it’s bizarre that my husband and I order our marriage with him as the head of our household.

I wrote about this after reading a disdainful treatment of such marriages in The New York Times. You can read what I wrote here.

In the comments, someone asked “What does it mean for a wife to submit to her husband?”

It’s a great question and yet I’m flummoxed as to how to respond. I figure some of you are much better at explaining these things than I am so I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on what it means, what it looks like or if anyone’s written anything really good on the matter.


Males as head of household — 149 Comments

  1. Let’s not have another 300 posts because we can’t resist “John’s” off topic bait,
    (because that’s all it is: bait and off topic). ;(

  2. Helen,
    Oh, thank goodness someone said it! Let’s just hope everyone listens to you.
    It’s kind of weird discussing the gender of the Trinity on a Confessional Lutheran site.

  3. Okay,
    Question for a Greek knowing person. Hupatasso almost seems like a military term.
    As in a Sgt. reports to his Captain & follows his lead & orders. That type of dynamic.

    Yes, no, maybe so?

  4. @John #89

    >> I happen to think that the notion of the husband being the “head of the household” is a product of the culture in which Christianity developed. It is one of those things that people – in this case, men – have added to what we otherwise might learn from Scripture about God’s intentions for marriage.

    Do you concede the possibility that the dominant (or mass) culture of today might produce notions that subtract from what might be learnt?

  5. @helen #90

    > But I have been told by men, in an “all male voters” church, that they had to agree with the Pastor and his half dozen or they weren’t welcome.

    Helen, I trust that you stepped up and were (and I mean this as a compliment) a “man” about it and promptly called out how unsatisfactory, weak, spineless and faithless that response was, from those lay “men”.

  6. @helen #90

    > What has the “feminism” you quoted got to do with that?

    I don’t know the individuals, but the generic and fair response is that those were effeminized men who had no ability to stand up to the [possibly abusive?] pastor and council.

  7. I was going to avoid jumping into this discussion but Heatbroken’s question convinced me to jump in.
    Let me start with a literal translation of Ephesians 5:22 “Wives to your own husbands as to Christ”. You might notice something strange. The word submit does not appear. That is because it is not part of the actual text. It is a word added in to make translation easier. It actually appears in the previous verse. So to try and understand v. 22 apart from v. 21 is to do violence from the apparent intent of the authors (Paul and the Holy Spirit), despite the fact that almost every English translation has a subject divide between the two verses.

    V. 21 says “Submitting to each other from fear of Christ”. In other words this submission is indeed mutual. That does not for a second mean that they are the same. We submit differently but we both submit. Women submit by giving up their authority and men submit by giving up their life.

    Now some say men are supposed to be as Christ and Christ did not submit to the Church. Reread the passion accounts. While Christ is doing as the Father wills, He is actually submitting to the Church. It is not an accident that it is the temple authorities who lead the crucifixion charge. They are performing their last sacrificial function and the lamb goes willingly, that is He submits to them. They represent the Church in the OT age.

    But surely Christ does not submit to the Church today? You better hope He does. Every time your Pastor proclaims the forgiveness of sins that is Christ submitting. He by His word says that the Pastor has the authority to make that proclamation. However, to see how it is submission, you have to look at the individual level. Going to the cross is Christ submitting Himself to sinners. Every time you sin, Christ is submitting Himself to you. Praise be to God, if it were not true your sin would remain yours. Christ’s activity in this world is one of constant submission until sin ends. Submitting is allowing someone else’s will to replace your own. When we sin our will replaces God’s will. When we are forgiven Christ submits Himself to our will by accepting punishment for our sins. I know this is not the normal language we use, but men are required to love as Christ loved, and Christ submitted before He died.

    Having said all of that this to some extent ends up being semantics. Women submit by placing their will under their husbands. Men submit by sacrificing their wills to their wives’ needs. Don’t like the word submit feel free to us a different one. The idea remains the same. Christians live lives of service and that service starts with our spouse.

    What does this mean practically? In a perfect world, anytime a decision is uncertain, the man makes it, and his primary criteria is what is good for his wife. When a man is uncertain what to do he asks what is good for my wife. When a woman is uncertain what to do she asks her husband. Try it. It works. Let me give you an example. My wife and I after having two natural born children decided to foster and see if God blessed us with children to adopt. In the summer of 2002 my mother-in-law died. On the trip back we discussed how God had apparently decided not to give us more children since we were planning to move to seminary in June, 2003, and my wife was in no emotional shape to take additional children in. We agreed that we would stop fostering at this point or at least only do short term placements and not ones that might end in adoption. When we returned home we had a message on our machine about two children who needed placement and would likely be available for adoption. My wife said yes and I said no. As in any marriage now the negotiation begins. However, the nature of a Christian marriage defines the nature of the negotiation. She spent no time trying to convince me that I would be happier with two more kids. She knew that had nothing to do with my response. She tried to convince my that it would be good for her. She knew that once I believed that that my answer would change. She also trusted that if I did not believe that, then the right answer is to say no. So we ended up with our two youngest children (Anna and Jackson) who are like all children a joy and a challenge. The final decision was mine. My criteria was what was best for my wife (and for my older children).

    One more practical point. I teach these verses during pre-marital counseling. In addition to the basic ideas above, I also stress the first words of v. 22 and v. 25, wives and husbands. Wives read the first three verses and do not need to spend much time on the rest. Husbands read the part addressed to you and do not spend too much time worrying about what wives are supposed to do. A husband should never say you are supposed to submit he should just sacrifice. A wife should never say you are supposed to sacrifice she should just submit. If both do this well marriage is a joy. Since both will fail often we rely on Christ’s forgiveness.

    A cultural point. As a 43 year old man I have rarely heard a proper teaching of this in the church and never outside the conservative Christian circles. On the rare occasions I have heard pastors address the issue the focus has clearly been on the men’s need to sacrifice and the women’s need to submit is rarely or never mentioned (and by the way if it is a men’s group that is how it should be) In my opinion, this reflects a culture which denigrates both men and women by eviscerating men and encouraging women to be men. A simple challenge to all. The next few times you watch TV or go to the movies count how many male characters you would want your sons to grow up to be vs. the total number of men portrayed. If you can get higher than 10% you are watching Nick at Nite or Little House on the Prairie.

    A theological point. While John’s conclusions are wrong and possibly dangerous, it is clear that God before the incarnation did not have a gender, for the simple reason that He had no body. Further, gender does play a very significant role in understanding the image of God. A careful reading of Genesis 1 shows that God did not make Adam in His image, but rather made Adam and Eve in His image. God is love, a love that predates creation because it is central to the triune nature of God (God the Father loves God the Son who love God the Holy Spirit, etc.). And so man was created to love, a love between those who are separate and yet equal. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father, yet they are one God. Adam is not Eve and Eve is not Adam and yet without both of them it is not good and therefore not in the image of God.

    Well, way too much ground covered in a post that is way too long.

    In Christ,

    Pastor Joynt

  8. @Pastor Michael Joynt #108

    >> It is not an accident that it is the temple authorities who lead the crucifixion charge. They are performing their last sacrificial function and the lamb goes willingly, that is He submits to them. They represent the Church in the OT age.

    The temple authorities “represent the Church in the OT age”, and so the Church sacrificed the Lamb, and therefore the Lamb submitted to the Church

    Kyrie Eleison

    “Wives to your own husbands as to Christ”

    We might notice something strange. The words “and husbands to your own wives” do not appear.

  9. @Pastor Michael Joynt #108
    …it is clear that God before the incarnation did not have a gender, for the simple reason that He had no body…

    Very good, overall, but I find this a little puzzling, since we confess “the [eternal] Father, maker of heaven and earth…” “and the Son, begotten of His Father before all worlds”

    [I asked once (I know all the good Lutheran questions better than the answers) “How is this done?” and was reminded that God (Triune) is outside of time.

    Would you care to add to that?

  10. “…it is clear that God before the incarnation did not have a gender, for the simple reason that He had no body.”

    Are you sure you want to head down that path? For if God acquired gender only in his incarnation, then arguably Christ saved only males, and Miss Helen is out of luck!

    What does Scaer have to say about your position? 🙂

    An interesting read is:

  11. Pastor Michael Joynt :
    Sure it appears. In v. 25.


    I believe I appreciate what you are trying to protect, but this nonetheless a logical/grammatical shortfall. The grammar/context of “submitting one to another” in 21 cannot mean “submitting all to all.” It is a grammatical impossibility. “Love,” in vs 25 is not defined by Paul as submission, but as “giving,” “sanctifying,” “washing,” and “presenting,” “nourishing,” and cherishing,” all words implying a power or stewardship. None of these words imply “obedience” to the wife. Paul’s comparison of the wife to the “body” of the man, and his entreaty regarding “no one hating his own flesh,” only affirms the role of authority and Paul’s intent to teach the men not to use it to the detriment of their beloved, but for the sake of her good.

    The use of “as to the Lord,” in vs. 22 and the techincal term “kephale,” along with the structure of Ephesians 5-6 bears this out further as a matter of the 4th commandment built into creation: “Submit to each other…wives to husbands…children to parents…slaves to masters.”

    1 Peter 3, Colossians 3 and Romans 13, to name only a few, teach the same thing. Colossians 3 clearly includes the word “upotassw,” “submit,” with regard to wives, where as in vs 19 Paul also explains his mean of the word “love” in much simpler terms for the husband: it is gentleness in his headship: “do not be harsh.” Colossians also follows the “wives to husbands…children to parents…slaves to masters” structure.

    All of this congeals with Paul’s use of the term “kephale” to describe God, Christ, man and woman, including his Trinitarian economics in 1 Corthinians 11. Meanwhile, woman is never called man’s “kephale,” nor are husbands ever told to “submit” to their wives. The texts are very complete on this.

    As Joe pointed out earlier, the real problem is a cultural one: *our* culture’s. But we shall never fix the abuse of unfaithfulness with truth by removing the truth. We must recover the purity of the truth.


  12. Helen :
    @Pastor Michael Joynt #108
    …it is clear that God before the incarnation did not have a gender, for the simple reason that He had no body…


    This will probably cause us some trouble until we define how we are using the term “gender.” If by “gender,” we mean “sex,” that he was “a male human,” then what is said above is true. However, if by “gender” we understood him to say that neither Father nor Son were masculine in their eternal attributes, then I’m afraid the assertions will need to back this up with a good deal of Scripture, for it is an entirely innovational point. Aside from the terms “Father” and “Son,” the Scriptures are replete with the masculine supernature of all three persons of the Trinity, at least, as compared to the femininity of humanity as a whole when placed beside them.

    The thought that our gender is nothing “more” than our body is a thought that only a feminized American philosophy could claim. It is with such thoughts that we now see people who believe that by changing their bodies via surgery they have become a different gender. Contrary to this, your body is not your gender, but God’s created expression of your gender, for you, as a part of the greater body of humanity.


    Under the totally dominant headship of Christ, (thanks be to God!)

  13. Pastor Michael Joynt :
    I was going to avoid jumping into this discussion but Heatbroken’s question convinced me to jump in.
    Let me start with a literal translation of Ephesians 5:22 “Wives to your own husbands as to Christ”. You might notice something strange. The word submit does not appear. That is because it is not part of the actual text. It is a word added in to make translation easier. It actually appears in the previous verse. So to try and understand v. 22 apart from v. 21 is to do violence from the apparent intent of the authors (Paul and the Holy Spirit), despite the fact that almost every English translation has a subject divide between the two verses.
    V. 21 says “Submitting to each other from fear of Christ”. In other words this submission is indeed mutual. That does not for a second mean that they are the same. We submit differently but we both submit. Women submit by giving up their authority and men submit by giving up their life.

    1. I believe you are straining the construction of the text by melding the two together in meaning and intent. Paul indeed uses the Hypostasso from 21 and incorporates that concept into verse 22 but not the ‘ mutual submission’. For in v’21 he is speaking of fellow Christians in the context of the Church in prayer and praise and in v’22 he strikes off on the subject of the Order of Creation and the relation of husband and wife, which is not mutual submission. For Paul in v’22 and following says Husbands and masters are not to submit to others but the other way round.
    2. Lenski on this passage, following the Greek, says:

      Does the participle continue the thought and close the paragraph (R.V.), or does it begin the new paragraph? The thought does not continue our utterance in singing and playing with thanksgiving to God. Paul counts on the intelligence of his readers to see that. He writes a durative participle that is just like the three that precede so that we shall connect this last participle with the present paragraph and not with the next. If he had intended to make a break at v.21, it would have been the simplest thing in the world to write an imperative. Moreover, in what follows (v.22-6:9) we, indeed, have subjection but no reciprocal, no mutual subjection. Wives are to be subject to husbands, children to parents, slaves to masters, but not the reverse, and husbands and masters are not to be subject to other persons in the family. The whole of v.22 to 6:0 deals with the family, is thus distinct, mentions the classes concerned, and thus cannot be introduced by v.21.

      Those who think that the contrary is the case labor to construe the participle. To call it a nominative absolute is to state that it cannot be construed. To let it mean: “while subjecting yourselves to each other, the wives to their own husbands,” is unwarranted because the wives are to subject themselves to their husbands and not as we are to subject ourselves to the rest of us.”

  14. Rev Fisk,
    In your post, in #115, there’s a paragraph, that speaks of Peter, Colosians, and Romans. That actually touches on what Mollie was looking for & seemed to be requesting, in her post in #42. By the dialogue above, I think that we’ve hammered the “obey/submit” point home.
    I still would like to know more about what you mentioned in #115 & per Mollie’s request in #42.
    What are the dynamics, details, and actions of a husband to his wife in Scripture?

    PS, thanks so much for the Greek, it’s like having a 2nd Greek Teusday! Hope you enjoyed your time in England. Miss it there terribly. Cheers!

  15. @Rev. Don Kirchner #114

    Thank you, Rev. Kirchner, for posting the link to that great article! I found another article last night on Logia that also speaks to the order of creation and women; which at first I was of the thought that it is off topic from this discussion, but have since changed my mind and believe it needs to the base of this topic in order for us all to be on the same page, as with the article you posted.

    Kiley Campbell

  16. As Domestic Violence/Abuse has been mentioned several times on this thread, here are some details, w/in the LCMS pertaining to it. Mostly women & children, but never forget, it does happen to men too. But be it a man, the wife has no, no Biblical stand for the doing. At times, a husband can twist what verses have been listed, to allow & endevor him to do so.

    Domestic Violence

    See also, Resolution 6-06, calling for a task force at the 2007 Convention.

    Sadly, the need exists, mostly for women, but also for men, to know the LCMS stance & what is to be done.
    Ya know, I can’t help but think, that wives must subject & obey, as is good, right & true, but, both spouses are called to yield to the authorities placed over them, those in Government & Law, that is where misuse & the twisting of these verses come into play at times. A few, use them, to exclude them, from the authorities placed over them.
    Important to know, I should think. As it does, sadly, at times pertain to what we all are discussing here.

    What thoughts on this?

  17. If you check the apparatus on Ephesians 5:22, you see that only a few of the manuscripts omit “submit”. The Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament omits the verb mainly (as I understand it) because it really likes manuscript B (Vaticanus). But virtually all manuscripts include upotassesthosan or upotassesthe.

    For laymen who did not follow that: There is very strong grounds for saying that the word “submit” belongs solidly in v. 22, and need not be “imported” from v. 21.

  18. Rev. Eckert,
    The only Greek I know, is what I look up or learn on Greek Tuesdays. Could you please define upotassesthosan & upotassesthe? Spellings vary, who has a Greek keyboard? Plus, most laity don’t know Greek.
    I can only speak for me, I want to learn the terms, not just follow synopsis. Much to important, in this subject.
    I can’t read Greek or Hebrew (Yiddish doesn’t count).

  19. @Dutch #121

    the men that twist verses to then be used to abuse their family is 1) acting in the stead and command of Satan, and 2) are ignorant to what Scripture says concerning themselves and their wives.


  20. Dutch,

    Yes, I enjoy Greek Tuesdays also. Rev Fisk is quite the mensch.

    upotassesthosan is a middle present imperative, third person plural. Middle voice means that the verb is done upon the doer themselves or for their own advantage. A third person imperative could be translated something like, “let them submit themselves,” as in, “Let the wives submit themselves.”

    upotassesthe is also a middle present imperative, 2nd person plural. The second person makes it so that Paul is talking directly to the wives: “Wives, submit yourselves.”

    Not a lot of difference in the meaning of the verbs. The root meaning of the verb includes the ideas of placing yourself in subjection under, or to subordinate yourself, or even simply to obey. This does not necessarily imply inferiority of the party who subordinates himself. A “superior officer” is not necessarily superior, except in position.

    This may be helpful. I tried to throw a lot of information at you, and whatever is helpful may stick. Whatever does not, feel free to ignore.

  21. Rev Eckert,
    It’s all helpful!!!! I love reminders for grammar rules!!!

    I tested out of Fresh/Soph english at University. However, even if you & I remember our grammar rules, some don’t. I many not know Greek, but explaining grammar rules to my better half (or our boys, as this they are learning now) may has well be Greek. Insert cliche’ here. As in it is all…to me.

    For the benefit of all, could you please explain, third person imperative & middle present imperative, 3rd or 2nd person plural?

  22. Kiley,
    Oh, I know, I’ve seen it first hand. Here is the thing though. Is DV, or could it constitute desertion? That is the kicker in this. We have only two reasons, for divorce. Desertion & adultery, sadly, are now subjective.

    If a couple, goes into a Pastor’s Office, claiming either, what generally occurs, is they are fobbed off, on a Christian Counselor. That counselor, is going to say & advise, certain things. Rightly so, if they truely are a Christian Counselor. Most Pastors, do not have in their rolodex, a reccomended one, & w/my family’s knowledge of L.S.S. doesn’t bode well w/me, my family, or having discussed this my friend Terri.

    Our family, fellowship, Congregation, Synod & Denom, need to be the most proactive in this. Over at Forest Boar, the question was posed, a while ago.

    For my part, I’ve seen this done, long ago, when I was a kid. Adultry & desertion were openly obvious, & easy to prove. Calls were made to the Pastor, District, and to St. Louis. Police reports, and placement of those kids, were documented. But still, the man was allowed & still encouraged to become a Stephen minister, and then admitted to Sem, and then ordained, & shepherd’s 2 congregations. Most, have not forgiven, let alone forgotten. For many a reason, not just the obvious. I can state, as I know the family & the man & his children,
    I am the only one, w/in that family that has chosen to forgive, in spite & dispite, the everlasting consequences & accountablity of the situation he physically, maritally, & parentally, deserted.
    I still love & care for him, as I did when I was small, as is right. I know the weight of those who cannot or do not, boy do I ever!

    But, if one such as this, can be ordained, with the wealth of documented & verbal evidence, how easy is it for mere laity to excuse themselves to do so?

  23. Dutch :
    Rev Fisk,
    In your post, in #115, there’s a paragraph, that speaks of Peter, Colosians, and Romans. That actually touches on what Mollie was looking for & seemed to be requesting, in her post in #42. By the dialogue above, I think that we’ve hammered the “obey/submit” point home.
    I still would like to know more about what you mentioned in #115 & per Mollie’s request in #42.
    What are the dynamics, details, and actions of a husband to his wife in Scripture?
    PS, thanks so much for the Greek, it’s like having a 2nd Greek Teusday! Hope you enjoyed your time in England. Miss it there terribly. Cheers!


    If you’re looking for another word or phrase to express what the sum of the Biblical exhortations are saying to men/women, I would say the best modern concept is one of “leadership” and “following.” (This is not totally unbiblical, as “following” is what Ruth’s says she will do to Naomi based upon her marriage to Naomi’s son.) But if we understood the role of the husband as head as one of “leading” the family, and the role of wife as “helping him lead by 1. following him 2. leading the children when he’s not there,” I don’t think we’d have the polarizing issue of domestic violence be part of the conversation so often.

    But I really do think it’s sad that we want to blame the Truth for the violence, rather than blame the wickedness of our flesh which corrupts all good things for selfish ends. If we take Genesis 3:16 seriously, we should expect godless men to be tyrants in their headship, and we should similarly see woman to hate her role and think that the man’s duty to thistles and thorns and sweat are somehow better. By saying “we should expect” this doesn’t mean we should accept it, encourage it or laud it. It just means we shouldn’t be surprised when we find this sinfulness in the world since it is part of the very curse we all bear. To this, we are given to speak Law and Gospel, Truth and Forgiveness. “Men, don’t be a tyrant. That is not Christ.” That is the point of Eph5, Col3 and 1Pet3


  24. Um, sure.

    3rd person plural is a group of people or things that you are not a part of and they are not someone you’re talking to. Examples: They, women, wives, bunnies in cups, small bits of fluff.

    2nd person plural is a group (most likely people) that you are talking to. “You” (in the plural), or in the south, “y’all” or “all y’alls” or the like.

    Imperative in general is a command or request or instruction given to someone else to do something. Usually, this is done in the 2nd person, since it’s easier to tell someone to do something when you’re talking to them. “Hey Dutch, please pass me the salt!” “Stop tickling me!” “Submit to your husbands.” In these, the understand subject is “you,” which is second person.

    Third person imperative is less natural. It is best translated with the help of the word “let” – “Let the wives submit.”

    I think I explained the middle voice above, so I won’t repeat that.

    I hope this is all both accurate and helpful.

  25. Oh, Pastor Fisk. I didn’t mean to explain DV. I was really only asking of you, as you so lovingly & well done, described a husband’s role!!! DV, is a separate entity altogther!
    I was a most blest kid, my Dad & the men I knew, taught by action this of which we speak. But all to sadly, many a girl, & more so a little boy, did not have, nor encounter this when small. My better half didn’t & I know many a man who didn’t have or see what I did. My own Dad, left at 16+ because of being beaten & bloodied. He learned from his Mum, my Grandpa, was not a nice man, forbade his wife from attending Church, as it was a waste of HIS time, but my Grandma, none the less, sent her son’s to the LC, down the block, w/a nickle. It’s all she could spare w/o his knowledge. A week or two after his departing (I was 2) my other Grandparents, picked her up & brought her to LCMS Church.
    Ya know the prayer list/requests in the bulletin? My Grandma, had an entire closet full of blank cards, she sent weekly, based on that list. That is where my Dad & his brothers learned. She didn’t learn that from the Pulpit, she knew it was right to do.

    I know the man who was my Dad, many do & miss him 11 years in, many know my Godfather, his brother. She in spite & despite the situation in her marriage, didn’t hinder her one moment w/training & teaching her sons. Sadly, if you look at the posts above, is it any stretch, to see how these verses can be twisted? I said above, that submission can be as easy as breathing. And it can, I know my Mum & Dad well. But, it can also lead to many a sin, & at times, a death, for those who view this as Law & not Gospel.
    See Corinthians 13, it’s been read at every wedding I’ve attended. We know it, but to we truely teach & practically apply it to our little boys & men? Not so much.
    Were it the case, there would be little, not none, but little need for what I posted in #128.

    Details, details, details. This is easy for me to teach my boys. I had the best & brightest of Godly men to learn from, my husband didn’t, & many sadly do not.

  26. Rev. Eckert,
    OH THANK YOU!!!! Now the 11 year old, (who hasn’t gotten this stuff yet) knows what Pastor’s mean when they say what they say.
    Daddy & older brother are hunting, & I can & do teach grammar. However, when it comes to Pastor’s speaking, grammar takes a somewhat different tone.

    Thanks bunches, the rain in Spain has fallen mainly on the plain!

  27. Okay, for a bit of jocularity….
    any stories from respect Wedding Day’s, anyone would like to share?
    Me? Think the longest song available besides Don McClean’s American Pie, trying to light a memorial candle (not unity but memorial) w/a veil, and finding & fitting dresses w/only one girl not pregnant or just given birth.
    Did I forget to mention a great grand meringue of a dress?

    Love to hear other stories…it isn’t all the roles, we can think & speak on our memories of ceremony.
    Ug, if I knew then what I know now, what I wouldn’t do different….

  28. Will a topic on women’s suffrage follow up on this discussion? Anyone see the two pages on women’s suffrage in Christian News? Were those paragraphs composed by the ACELC group and was this a subject discussed in Kansas City?

  29. @Rev. Joel A. Brodos #134

    I’d like to be proven wrong but even conservative confessional pastors typically do not consider this to be an issue, or if they do, they consider it closed and won’t talk about it except to try to marginalize anyone who questions the current thinking. This is one reason I am not usually very shocked at the rejection and deprecation of good confessional pastors by actual liberals on other issues – because our own confessionals reject out of hand what was only rejected by radicals sixty or so years ago.

    Some issues have been clarified over the decades, I suppose, where attitudes were a little too strict or harsh in the past. But overturning the order of creation within the body of the church was serious enough to have required very new Scriptural insights (essentially addenda to the confessions) where none are offered.

    I am wondering if what happened in 1969 was simply overshadowed by all of the events of the early 1970s, and almost lost to history. Could the issue we are discussing be the real victory of Seminex?

    Honestly, there’s nothing about consistent male headship (in both the natural or adopted family and the church family) that is any more radical or counter-cultural than many of our other beliefs.

  30. M,
    As the daughter of a suffragette, do please feel free. What was done when I wore diapers, may not be believed,supported, or bought by me. Trust me, sticky wicket at home, but important to look at & revisit.
    Have at it, I say!!!!

  31. @Dutch #137

    Thanks Dutch.

    The usual justification for our practice is that the voters don’t have any authority anyway; they only decide the color of the carpet (but could one object to purple carpet in the sanctuary on a spiritual or doctrinal basis?).

    If the voters don’t have any authority, where’s the venue for congregants who care about the church to hash things out? How do we achieve balance when an important decision cannot or should not be made by the pastor?

    So, the only way to talk about things is where it doesn’t matter (in informal discussions that don’t make any difference — the essence of vanity). The only way to criticize is more or less in secret == gossip. No authority / no responsibility. Healthy? Sure. Send the wife and kids off to church and go play golf; you have to go on the road all week after all to crank the big bucks, so you deserve it.

  32. @mbw #136

    Leave it to me to marginalize myself by questioning current thinking! I’ve gotten to be pretty good at it.

    There is more than one way to marginalize one’s self. I prefer the way of being rejected rather than the kind of “confessionalism” which resorts to punditry, tactics, and politics, hoping to use strategies when it seems inexpedient to confess the truth.

    Exempla gratia: My favorite is taking issue with the LSB with all of its milllion copies sold. 🙂

    1) Do you believe that hymnals should be the sung confession of the church?
    2) Do you believe that the LCMS should have a doctrinally pure hymnal?
    3) Do you believe that the LSB is doctrinally pure?

    Could I marginalize myself any better than asking questions like that? 🙂

  33. @Rev. Joel A. Brondos #139

    1. Yes
    2. Yes
    3. Not entirely. But it’s the book we’ve got and it’s better than “praise songs” (except when it isn’t). 🙁

    [Yesterday we sang something out of LSB that I think would fall under, “when you pray, use not vain repetition as the heathen do…”
    Two lines, multiple times… most of the congregation stopped gradually and let the choir go where they would.]

  34. M,
    I kind of always thought it was the Church Council, that decides & who’s votes really count. The Council & the Pastor, set the direction of a Congregation.

    Or am I naive?

  35. One would think (like me) that the voters, i.e. all members, would decide things in the Left Kingdom. For administrative purposes, this would be best. I think enough would cringe at micromanging leaders, and I do not believe that to be leadership anyway. Carpet and paint colors, food at potlucks, really… Let people use their gifts and be a valued part of the Body.

    Now, the head must be the head. Here is where pastor and council come in. For good order, a few talented people, who will hopefully spend their time, will look into more complex subjects and craft some policy. We don’t need a hydra with too many heads crating too many visions. ANd if they seem to be taking a less than desirable path or are proving not up to the taks, please by all means, vote in new leadership.

    The real trick is the pastoral role. We are a church, and unless we do Christ-like and church-like things, then what’s the point? Let’s become the Boys scouts, Elks (or dare I say it) the Masons. THE primary role of the pastor is to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments. Through their good stewardship, all can learn and become equiped to conduct ourselves in God pleasing manners. We need to give them the respect due so that tehy can pronounce truth. Something can be left to the voteers, but some areas are beholden to Scripture and are non-negotiable. We do best to submit to the authority they speak of in Christ. And it is Christ’s authority, not any one person’s.

    Here is where TCN upends sturcture, authority and accountability. I do not believe in having overly powerful councils that determine everything, so that only voters can dicide is who to vote onto council, and maybe the budget (state law requirements). The laity becomes disenfranchised, lacking ownership and making it harder to foster discipleship. And then when TCN talks about the council being a BoD, which only sets a rough target (vision/goal) and boundry limits (don’t do anything illegal to get there), that abdicates/transfers a very large part of the governing to the pastor only. Some may be talented in leadership and administration. Some just are not. And I find the danger than Luther did, when in his day bishops would buy there office and neglected preaching. I think TCN focuses too much on the person (and process), and too little on the Word.

    That is a lot to unpackage.

  36. @Jason #142

    Jason, your vision of the voters (as essentially women and children taking care of food at potluck) is part of the problem I am citing. This is not how Walther saw it, and the burden of proof is on those who have changed it. You talk of disenfranchised laity and you don’t seem to see that a voter assembly such as you describe and seem to accept is exactly that, and has led to even worse (TCN).

    @Dutch #141

    Dutch, I would argue that the voters have to approve what the church council proposes. And, the voters can propose things, themselves. The church council does not replace the voters any more than the executive branch replaces the congress.

  37. Is it possible that a distinction could be made (or rather should be made) in that this headship should not be exercised for personal benefit? There are some tricky distinctions there, but it makes it a question of shepherding, protective authority, rather than coercive power.

  38. @Dutch #3
    I can’t find the exact source, but Martin Luther told men that good husbands didn’t abandon wives to all household chores but should help with the diapers and such.

    As to Mollie’s question:
    In any organization, there can be only one responsible person. “Head” (tellingly), “Chief”, “President”, this person is the one on whose shoulders the duty falls. As anyone in the military will tell you, if anything goes wrong in a squad it’s the Lieutenant’s fault. Doesn’t matter if he knew about it at the time, or had anything to do with it at all – it’s still his problem to deal with and he will be held responsible for it in the end. The same holds true for all human organizations; business, government, and – for that matter – the Boy Scouts (being a Scoutmaster myself). Sometimes the penalty for failure can be quite severe, as evidenced by the ancient practice of sacrificing kings during famines and other natural disasters. “Headship” therefore is not just “I’m the boss”, it’s “the buck stops here.”

    Now quite often the responsible person is given certain perks by the rest of the organization in order to convince him/her to accept the job, and it is quite true that the higher the post and the more responsibility involved the better the perks. One can also throw in the (sinful) human desire for power. However, in general, people accept such posts because they realize that doing so is the only way to assure that anything gets done. If I start a business, I want to make the money and have the pleasure of doing the thing around which the business operates (engineering, medicine, selling tea, whatever). I would accept the responsibility of caring for my employees in order to gain the pleasure of running the business.

    One can only speculate as to all of the reasons for why God specified the husband as the head of the household, but I suspect that most of these have their basis in human biology and psychology (as do – I believe – many of God’s orders for human society) . Despite modern feminist ideology, men and woman are not the same. This isn’t to say that one is inherently “better than” or “subservient to” the other, and certainly Paul’s statement that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28) holds with regard to salvation.

    But one must remember the doctrine of vocations as well. Women by their nature must carry, bear, and nurse infants; the option is simply not open to males. Keeping in mind the “Bell Curve” nature of everything having to do with humans (and indeed life in general) women tend to be more understanding and patient, more open to compromise, and more tolerant of minor irritations than men – all traits that are adventitious when dealing with children. To borrow from C. S. Lewis, men and women stand at the door of the house; women look inwards and worry about children and the day-to-day workings of the family. There is a reason why most nurses are women.

    Men, on the other hand, look outwards. They are designed physically and emotionally to provide for (e.g. hunt for) and protect their families. Whereas children run to Mom for comfort, they look to Dad for safety. Men are generally better at supplying discipline, in part because they look more toward future well-being whereas women look more toward the immediate. (Of course it also depends on exactly how large the child is). Men will face extreme danger in order to protect their families, even death. (It is an unfortunate reality that if a child must lose a parent, it is preferable to not lose Mom. It is also true that – given human reproductive biology – males are far more disposable than females).

    So, I suspect that the headship of the family devolves to men for two reasons: First, because if there are children, the wife and mother is quite occupied with her primary responsibility of taking care of them and the household. Secondly, it is the husband’s nature to accept the risk that comes with the responsibility.

  39. @revfisk #57
    Very well said.
    It’s interesting to contemplate the parallels between husband – wife and Christ – the Church. It’s no accident that this terminology is used throughout the New Testament. The Church is feminine. It comforts its believers, spiritually feeds and houses them, and nurses them through bad times. Christ is the Church’s husband – He provides it (and us) with food and drink, protects us and provides security, and disciplines us when necessary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.