Headship is not Hierarchy

In my recent post, I made the statement that the phrase “he shall rule over you” was something new that came into the world because of the curse. I wrote, “There was no hint of hierarchy before the fall.” Since this has generated some consternation, and great concern that I might be turning liberal, I thought it wise to clarify a bit here.

To see clearly, perhaps Augustine’s division of the states of man might be helpful. If you recall, Augustine delineated four states of man, which were later repeated by Thomas Boston, neither one of them liberal.  First, before the fall, in his created state, man was able to sin and able to not sin. After the fall, unregenerate man was able to sin and not able to not sin. Regenerated man is able to sin and able to not sin. And glorified man is able to not sin and unable to sin.

Before the fall, before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve served God perfectly. They did not live for themselves; their desires were not to have power over each other, but they both lived as they were created – as one flesh, in perfect unbroken harmony. We can have no idea what this was like, since our state now is far different. If by “hierarchy” you mean that Adam ruled his wife and she submitted to his desires, I reject that. It has no basis in scripture.  If by hierarchy you mean an order of creation, that I happily accept, as Paul wrote

For Adam was first formed, then Eve. (1Ti 2:13 KJV)

This I wholeheartedly confess, believing the Bible to be the inerrant, infallible word of God. I am hesitant to try to apply this beyond how Paul applies this, however, since I have no idea what it looked like practically before the fall. I think it is reading to much into the text to say that this means that Adam ruled over his wife. Did Adam sit on the couch and say “Woman, beer me and shut those kids up!” I think not. He did not rule his wife. They both served God and one another perfectly, being without sin.  This is the only thing that I meant when I said, “There was no hint of hierarchy before the fall.”

After the fall is a world I can relate to. Men and women became idolaters and rebels. They were covenant breakers, serving themselves and their own lusts. The curse that came upon the relationship was that the desire of the woman would be “toward the man”, which I still interpret to mean that she would retain the longing for the one flesh relationship that she would be unable to have, because he would instead rule over her. This is different than before, and part of the curse, and not good.  She, in her unregenerate state, would respond to this rule in a variety of ways, depending on her personality. Despair, hopelessness, manipulation, domination – but it would be a life of slavery and degradation after the fall, which she would resist in various ways, because she would still be human. And she would still long for her husband.

I do not believe you can read anymore into the phrase, “to your husband, your desire”, than that. Nor do I believe you can read anymore into Genesis 4:7 than what is there, but I will address that in another post in another time. There is nothing in Genesis 3:16 that is prescriptive. It is simply a description of what life will be like now that men and women have sold themselves into the slavery of sin and death. They will now be governed by the rules of the kingdom of the devil, rather than the law of God. And this will be the case until the Seed of the Woman comes and crushes the head of the oppressor, which happened when Christ gave himself to the death of the cross.

Christ came to take away the curse, he delivered us from the bondage of sin and the power of the devil. This means that we no longer are to live by the rules of the kingdom of the devil. This is what Ephesians 5 is all about. The wife, instead of seeking her own things and her own desires, is to submit to her husband, as described here.

11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. (Pro 31:11-12 KJV)

She is not to chafe against him, work against him, or seek his harm, but to do him good. Remember that Christ’s work is to restore what we lost. The goal of marriage is the one flesh relationship, rather than the antagonistic and abusive relationship that characterized the kingdom of the devil. It isn’t about who makes the coffee, changes the diapers, or does the dishes. It’s about love and peace.

Paul also has in mind the marriage of believers. He is not at all talking about marriage to a wolf, who seeks to destroy and devour. He is talking about believers, united in faith to Jesus Christ, where there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism (chapter 4). The church is to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of love, and this is to be pictured most prominently in the home.

The husband’s job is not to rule over his wife, enforce the rules, or be the commander and king at home in his castle, for it is not his castle. The home belongs to Christ. He is not to usurp Christ’s role as the king of kings, but he is to emulate Christ in only one way, according to the text. He is to love her.

This fits beautifully with Jesus’ definition of authority in John 13:

John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
(Joh 13:1-5 KJV)

We cannot claim the smallest amount of authority that Jesus has. All authority has been given into his hands. And yet, he took the lowest place and washed his disciples’ feet. Wow.

Then look what he says,

12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (Joh 13:12-15 KJV)

So in answer to the question, “Do I believe that the husband has authority in the home?” My answer is “Yes. Certainly. There is no way around it. He is to wash his wife’s feet, serve her, do good to her, love her – even, as Paul says, give himself for her.

This is far different than the curse of Genesis 3:16. It turns it on its head. Instead of either the man or the woman serving themselves, their lusts, their goals and desires, both are to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and the husband is to take the lead in taking the lowest place in the home. That’s not me saying this. That’s Jesus Christ.

It is the husband ultimately responsible for the peace of the home. It is the husband that God will hold accountable for what has been entrusted to him. But he does not rule the home by power and control. He governs his home by service and love. You can see a woman controlled by power. She is downcast and the light is gone in her eyes. And you can see a woman who is loved by her husband. She is alive, fully human, confident, and joyfully doing whatever work God has called her to with spirit and life. Why do so many who claim the name of Christ believe that women are to be controlled by entitlement and power?

The husband isn’t the boss, the commander, the chief, the king. All of that belongs to Christ. Rather, the husband is the head, and she is the body. He is to nourish, cherish and love her as his body, because she is his body. That’s the point. To ask the question, “But isn’t he still in charge?” is to miss the point entirely. Do you think that she will turn into a harpy if you neglect to command her for a day? Whom did you marry? Is she not also an heir of eternal life and a firstborn son of God in Jesus Christ?

So for you husbands insisting that you are the head of your home, take it seriously. Go home, cook dinner, draw her a bath, do the dishes, put the kids to bed. Ask her what she is thinking. Talk about her dreams and fears. Assume she also is led by the Holy Spirit and trying to serve her Lord with a pure heart. Do all the modern equivalents of washing the feet.  This is what Jesus is talking about.

Remember that we are bought with a price, the precious blood of the lamb, and do not belong to ourselves. Husbands don’t belong to themselves, and wives don’t belong to themselves. All belong to Christ, and the husband is to take the lead in service and love.

Yes, I believe that the husband is the head of the home. But not like the president is head of the country. But like Jesus is the head of the church – flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. And he washes our feet, and took the lowest place. This is our example.

As for man in the glorified state, there will be no more sin. The last will be first and the first last. Those who served on earth will be served in heaven. Those who were served on earth will serve in heaven. The kingdom of heaven throws all that we think we know about power and authority on its head.

It’s time we took that seriously.

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83 Comments

Filed under Marriage

83 responses to “Headship is not Hierarchy

  1. Pingback: Genesis 3:16 | My Only Comfort

  2. Elizabeth

    Printing and presenting to my counselor. Excellent. Thank you!

  3. “and the husband is to take the lead in taking the lowest place in the home.” That is exactly right. A great follow up to your previous post. Thank you.

  4. Melissa

    “It is the husband ultimately responsible for the peace of the home. It is the husband that God will hold accountable for what has been entrusted to him.” Where does Scripture say that the husband has more accountability before God than the wife?

    • I’ll be interested to see Sam’s reply here, but I’ll add my two cents while he is asleep.

      I think that the teaching in Numbers 30 (the chapter on women’s vows) implies that husbands are ultimately responsible for the peace of the home.

      I have a chapter on Numbers 30 in my book “Not Under Bondage”

      I don’t think Numbers 30 clinches the idea all on its own. But I do think it supports what the Bible teaches elsewhere husbands bearing a heavier weight of responsibility for the peace in the home than wives (if I may phrase it that way… these things a tricky to talk about without falling off the fence one side or the other ).

      • You are right, they are tricky to talk about because every counseling situation is different and takes a great deal of wisdom. It is hard to answer abstract questions. But I think you answered wisely. Thank you.

    • I’m sorry for the delay. This week has been very hectic. Good question. I go back primarily to the second commandment, where God says, “…visiting the iniquities of the fathers unto the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me…”
      As well as Eph. 6:1 – “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath…”
      Although I believe that God holds mothers and wives responsible for their own sins, the sins of wicked men continue generation after generation, and cause their whole families to suffer. Even though God provides relief through divorce and the justice of the law, and even though God’s mercy abounds to a thousand generations, we all know that ongoing destruction from generation to generation that comes from abusive and destructive fathers, in a way that the mothers don’t quite carry.
      Don’t get me wrong. I know that mothers also sin, and I know that they have responsibilities to be faithful and godly as well. I also know that they good influences of a godly mother have repercussions for generations (Proverbs 1:8 and 6:20) – a godly mother is a tremendous blessing and sons are equally responsible to honor them as well as their fathers. But the husband is the head of the home – which, as I said, is not hierarchy, but love and peace. If the head is rotten, the whole body suffer, and
      I think this is what both Moses and Paul are saying.

  5. “She is not to chafe against him, work against him, or seek his harm, but to do him good.”

    Wow, I’m glad you went on to talk about how Paul was thinking of the marriage of two believers when he wrote Ephesians 5, because that sentence of yours, on its own, is a trigger for women who have suffered domestic abuse.

    A woman who is abused by her husband always resists the abuse, though often her resistance will be quiet, scarcely visible. Sometimes she resists only in her own mind but not overtly in her outward actions, because it’s too dangerous to show outward resistance. But when an abuser is oppressing a victim, the victim always ALWAYS resists. When there is oppression, resistance is ever present.

    The trouble with so many in the church is that they criticise the woman for “chafing against her husband, working against her husband”. This is a BIG problem Christian women face when they are being abused by their husbands.

    At A Cry For Justice, we teach that it is right and godly for a victim of abuse to resist the abuse. It is godly to expose heinous sin, to stand against it, to refuse to comply with it. Of course the abusive husband will complain “You are working against me!” But what his wife is working against is the husband’s sin and the works of the flesh and the devil which he has given himself over to.

  6. “The husband’s job is not to rule over his wife, enforce the rules, or be the commander and king at home in his castle, for it is not his castle. The home belongs to Christ. He is not to usurp Christ’s role as the king of kings, but he is to emulate Christ in only one way, according to the text. He is to love her. … So in answer to the question, “Do I believe that the husband has authority in the home?” My answer is “Yes. Certainly. There is no way around it. He is to wash his wife’s feet, serve her, do good to her, love her – even, as Paul says, give himself for her.”

    YES!

  7. Pingback: The change of Genesis 3:16, ESS, the colonial code of relationship, and a call to bystanders | A Cry For Justice

  8. Pingback: Hierarchy before the fall – GBFSV SPIRITUAL ABUSE VICTIMS' RECOVERY

  9. Rob

    Defining servant-headship as *nothing* but deeds of kindness risks missing out on a simple truth, which is that acts of leadership in themselves, when practised in a Christlike manner, can be acts of servanthood. Rightly done, they may serve the marriage, being the very offering that the wife values in a given situation. The wife also leads, and the husband does not seek to impose his decisions over and against his wife. However, modelled on Christ, the husband should, at times, be able to bring a particular gift of leadership appropriate to his calling and gifting as a man, which expresses something of the servant authority in Christ’s headship of the church.

  10. A question comes to me as I read about the state in which Adam and Eve were when first created. When scripture says “it was not good for man to be alone” and then uses “a helper meet for him”…. does that not insinuate some form of subordination right from the get go? Some form of “man above woman” feeling…. it is something my flesh has often been irked about, and I need a little light shed on it to set me straight if anyone is willing. Thanks!

    • Elizabeth, “a helper meet for him” — comes from the Hebrew word ‘ezer.’ The word ‘ezer’ is used in the OT very often to refer to God helping Israel. It is not a slavish relationship — God is not a slave to Israel! The woman is not an underling to the man like that. She is a complement to the man. Woman tends to have strengths and abilities that man tends not to have and she can help him thus. Man, likewise, tends to have strengths and abilities that woman tends not to have. They both benefit from each other … so long as one of them is not so given over to sin that they oppress the other.

      The term ‘meet for’ is KJV language for “suitable for.” The Hebrew has the sense of opposite, counterpart. It doesn’t suggest moral or intellectual inferiority. It simple speaks to how man, even before the Fall, had certain tendencies / strengths/ weaknesses so he needed woman to complement him.

      • Thank you, Barbara… I appreciate that a lot. I envision a puzzle – a two-piece puzzle (!)… where one fits in to the other and completes the whole. Without it, it was left wanting… with a “vacuum” needing to be filled. I can see this as neither piece being “over” the other… simply complementing, rounding each other out, filling in the differences. That has helped a lot. I have felt so stuck in that patriarchal belief system! Does this elementary explanation/comparison work?

      • Yes, I think that explanation works, Elizabeth

  11. Thank you. Very articulate and Christ-honoring.

  12. Alastair Roberts said this over at http://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/can-we-fix-bible-translation/

    “What Genesis 3:16 does is describe a twisting and distortion of the shape that male headship will take through the influence of sin, which makes it an oppressive lording over, rather than a serving, protecting, and empowering that is attentive to the wisdom and well-being of women and a commitment to self-sacrificially equipping, supporting, and honouring them in their own calling. What it [Genesis 3:16] doesn’t change is the fact that men naturally have a divinely created ‘priority’, albeit not of any kind that would make them women’s moral superiors. It is God’s will that this priority is recognized and honoured, that the power he has particularly given to men is exercised and developed, but that it be developed righteously for service of others, rather than dominance over them. Notions of natural egalitarianism seem to me to require a sort of naïve blank-slatism and wishful thinking, which simply fails to wrestle with the unavoidable consequences of our natural differences, even when they are worked out righteously.”

    Alastair’s comment was made on September 16, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

  13. L❤️VE! Great post. If only….

  14. Judy Pugel

    I spent 23 years in a marriage where my Christian husband believed my desire for him in Gen. 3:16 was a desire to dominate and control him. His application of headship was to authoritatively command and I was expected to obey and if I questioned it I was guilty of rebellion to God. I believed headship had to do more with loving service but there was no way I could convince my husband. So glad to have a biblical explanation and your previous post on Gen. 3:16 that gives the right interpretation. I’ve given it to my 26 year old daughter who doesn’t want to marry a Christian man because of what she experienced in our family. Thank for articulating for ordinary people so we can understand such an important principle that truly affects husbands and wives.

  15. Pingback: Headship is Not Hierarchy

  16. KayJay

    This is a balm for a weary soul. Thank you so much!

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  19. I am NO theologian…but I think the problem is that you have to read into the text pre-fall to come up with the conclusion that there is hierarchy there. It is not assumed nor stated outright. God gives an open door for debate pre-fall. Both sides of the argument want to score a WIN for their views. The fact remains that…pre-fall…it is not clear. We should all just leave it at that…but we just can’t. Can we? I have read this text over and over. To the naked, untrained eye, the average new believer with no other knowledge, just learning from the beginning how God created the earth….NO ONE would come away with the idea of hierarchy or perhaps even headship. I know we should not isolate scripture…we have to consider the whole counsel of God to correctly interpret scripture…but everyone has a leaning towards their idea going in. We can’t help it. I will not refute New Testament scripture to love and submit. That is quite clear. But I do not see “rule” or even the word “lead”. Please correct me if I’m wrong!!! I see LOVE and HONOR and UNDERSTAND as commands to man towards his wife. Wife…please submit to THAT! But wires get crossed in our sin. Your comments lean towards a “right to rule” mentality. Many men read these types of comments, and in their own sin, see a God given right to get their way at every turn with a woman in THEIR way. Just my experience. I respectfully challenge these ideas.

    • Seeing the Light

      Toiler, thank you so much for your comment. That is just exactly how I feel. I am so tired of people’s theologies messing everything up. So much is read into things everywhere. It seems like there is nowhere to go – no church anyway – where this is not happening. Is this what comes from pastors and preachers poring over scriptures for days and then taking an hour to preach on three verses. If it took God three verses to say it, why does it take these men an hour to talk about it. So much is being added and assumed. Indeed, as you said, to the naked, untrained eye (the pure eye), the idea of hierarchy and, I do think, headship, would not occur when reading pre-Fall passages. In fact, from the text and Adam’s words, I only see equality. There is no indication that Adam started making the decisions which part of the Garden of Eden to tend and that Eve was supposed to follow.

      You said, “I will not refute New Testament scripture to love and submit. That is quite clear. But I do not see “rule” or even the word “lead”. Please correct me if I’m wrong!!! I see LOVE and HONOR and UNDERSTAND as commands to man towards his wife. Wife…please submit to THAT!” Yes. I can’t find anywhere in the New Testament that says a husband is to lead his wife spiritually. Where in the world did anyone get the idea that husbands are more spiritual or closer to God or more in tune with His will and direction. In fact, I see in Acts 18 Priscilla and Aquila explaining the way of God more accurately to Apollos. I don’t see Aquila doing it alone while Priscilla listens and attends to the matters of hospitality. I don’t see Aquila doing it while Priscilla occasionally adds a little here and there all the while checking that Aquila is pleased or okay with her little additions. I see Priscilla and Aquila explaining things to him. The text presents a woman (whose name even comes first in this particular verse) and her husband explaining spiritual things to a man.

      I have written my comment with considerable frustration because I am under spiritual abuse right now, as well as other kinds of abuse. It is exhausting to live with such blasphemy daily – abuse performed in the name of God. The longer I walk with God, the more I believe the measure of a man’s true spiritual condition is closely linked to how he views women and how he treats women. (Not this one item alone, of course, but in the same way that we might look at other individual factors – like whether one practices homosexuality while saying and doing all the other “right” Christian things). With the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, it should be so obvious that all through the New Testament, God is telling people that authority is not to be grasped and insisted upon – even with fine-sounding spiritual words and exegesis. Anyone who thinks they might have authority or want it (and what kind of person insists on it? really?) needs to drop to the floor and start washing feet. That’s it. Not start washing feet so then they can insist on their rights and protect women from themselves and control them and insist on their obedience for their own good. Just start washing feet. Jesus did it. I know I can’t think of one person who tried to control me in the name of their rightful authority over me (and there are those in the church who have, not just my husband) who took up the towel and started washing my feet. Not one. Not even metaphorically. I believe there are many who will find out one day they have never even met Jesus Christ or understood the least thing about His Spirit. They have gone on about their right to have authority and be respected and obeyed, and He will send them out of His Presence. I apologize for the tone and strength of my remark but I must speak out because as much as I am defending myself and defending my children against oppression, I am also so weary and heavy in spirit having to experience such sin committed in the name of Jesus Christ. I believe it is blasphemy and idolatry.

  20. I confess order in the garden. Eternal submission of the son is heresy and won’t be tolerated here. Final warning

  21. You have a foundational misunderstanding of the gospel, of authority and peace. God did not bring peace with the law, but with love. Moses never brought peace. That came with Christ.
    Second,i pity you, that you cannot fathom two Christians serving God in harmony and love. It’s sad. I literally have no time to argue online. Thank you for your comments. Please read John’s first epistle. He says it better than I can

    • Dear Lyn87. I’m on to you. Your speech is abusive,which Scripture calls reviling. You are a narcissist, by incessantly demanding that I cease everything that I am doing and play your game. You are demeaning to women and anyone who treats them with respect.
      In other words,you are an abuser. All I can do with you is call you to repentance. I have erased your comments beyond this one,and will block any further comments. You have no power here. Good-bye.

    • Good-bye, Oscar. I have no time for enablers, either. My blog, my rules.

      • Well said, Sam Powell.

        The comments on this thread from Lyn87 and Oscar have demonstrated the language of abusers (revilers) and their enablers. We get comments like this submitted to A Cry For Justice. We rarely publish them. If we publish them, it is only to feature the comment in a stand-alone post to use it as a learning experience for our readers: we ask our readers to analyse the abusive language used by the commenter. This can be quite educational; it helps people become more astute at identifying the tactics which are used in verbal abuse.

        Sam, I respect your choice to publish these kinds of comments at first, and then warn, and then block the commenter if they continue in the same vein. This has meant that other readers of this blog have been given a teeny weeny picture of how hierarchical lording-it-over men often speak to their wives… and how they fight on and on no matter how courteously you have reasoned with them and asked them to desist. People who use verbal abuse like this do not give up the bone once they’ve got it in their teeth.

        Women married to such men are suffering rants and lectures from their husbands on a daily and hourly basis. This is part of the iniquity which Sam and I and others are wanting to expose and address.

        And yeah, we all know that sometimes the genders are reversed,,… so don’t think I deny that women can be abusers. I know that some women are abusers.

        Bless you Sam. And bless your wife and your church.

    • Seeing the Light

      Is it just me, or is anyone else finding this obsession with defining “wifely rebellion” a bit creepy? It’s really nobody’s business how well a wife fulfills whatever God calls her to but hers and God’s. It is certainly not her husband’s business to define it, or to judge it, or to discipline it. Where are all the calls to define “husbandly rebellion”? As in rebellion to what God calls a husband to be and to do in relationship to his wife. If that seems a bizarre question, that is because it is. This is just getting so weird.

      • It’s definitely creepy, which is why I don’t answer. It’s a loaded question without an answer.

      • Yes, I find the obsession with defining “wifely rebellion” a bit creepy.

        And I LOVE this question raised by Seeing the light:
        “Where are all the calls to define ‘husbandly rebellion’?”

        And if we wanted to get a definition of husbandly rebellion, or at least a description of the characteristic form it takes, we don’t have to look far.
        It’s in the New Testament.

        When husbands are harsh with their wives, they are in husbandly rebellion:
        Col. 3:19 “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”

        And when fathers embitter their children, they are in fatherly rebellion:
        Co. 3:21 “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. “

      • I agree with Seeing the Light … the whole ‘wifely rebellion’ topic is a bit creepy and off-color. Causes me to wonder why those making such a reference haven’t also used the term “husbandly rebellion”?? — what does that look like???

  22. Seeing the Light

    justacurmudgeonorg,

    In your comment, you say “Consider this:” in reference to your post on your blog. I have visited your blog and that post. Since you made your invitation here, I will respond here.

    I do not have much to say. I have two points to make. If I may quote you:

    “However, this has got to leave wives confused when they read Biblical exhortations to them that make no sense if they have husbands whose whole concept authority is washing her feet:
    Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24).
    I suppose they can submit to having their feet washed.”

    —–It might be helpful to not stop at Ephesians 5:24, but rather to continue on through the passage to verse 33, not skipping over verse 29, which aptly fits with the concept of husbands washing their wives’ feet.

    Secondly, and more importantly, the following part of your post truly astounded me. Again, I quote:

    “Or, what about their following the example of poor Sarah?
    For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (1 Peter 3:5.6)
    I suppose they can imagine poor Sarah watching Abraham coming with the basin and the water and thinking to herself, “I really don’t want my feet washed tonight,” but saying, “Yes, my lord, you may wash my feet.” ”

    —–Perhaps substituting some appropriately analogous names into this would shed some light on the issue. “I suppose they can imagine poor Peter watching Jesus coming with the basin and the water and thinking to himself, ‘I really don’t want my feet washed tonight,’ but saying, ‘Yes, my Lord, you may wash me feet.’ ”

    I am speechless. Incredible. Even your opposition illustrates Pastor Powell’s point far better than I could have done.

  23. Since I can’t reply anymore to Lyn87…I just wanted to say that I followed his link over to the Dalrock site…and all I can say is that it totally makes no woman want to go out an marry a Christian man.

    • Yeah. He’s a piece of work.

    • buckyinky

      You are mistaken at least in my case Toiler. On the contrary, my wife and I, both of us Christian and happily married to each other, share our reading of Dalrock’s site together regularly and have greatly benefited from his postings and, although to a lesser extent, some of the regular commenters at the website.

      Perhaps you might consider that at least your understanding of things in this respect is at least limited.

      • I couldn’t agree more than my understandings of many things are limited. I will humbly admit that. I’m glad your marriage is working for you and that your family is loved and thriving. Kudos to you!

  24. I submitted this comment a moment ago but put it into the wrong place in the thread. Sam can you please delete the one I just submitted, and leave this one? Thanks.

    Wow. this thread has become rather heated hasn’t it?
    It’s not surprising — this generally happens when someone blogs on the H word. (and that could be either Headship or Hierarchy…)

    I appreciate Sam Powell for telling Lyn87 “bye bye”. I hope you do the same to buckyinky.

    To JustACurmudgeon, I wish to note that I’ve seen your posts over at other blogs and I generally skip over them because I’ve observed that you don’t engage in reasoned dialogue with others, you simply enunciate the egal doctrines (which have been enunciated many times before, so you are not saying anything new). And the way you have spoke about “Mr Powell” here rather than addressed him directly, comes across to me as quite discourteous. This is Sam Powell’s blog. You didn’t even speak courteously to him, you just launched into informing his readers that he was dead wrong.
    Don’t Sam’s readers have enough intelligence and liberty to make up their own minds? Do they need you to teach them about egalitarian doctrine because they’ve never heard it before? Surely not.

    On whether order is present in the account of Creation and the Garden before the Fall, I would like to suggest that it might be there in suggestions, hints and whispers. And also in the the contrast and analogies between of what God did in days one, two and three and what he did in days four, five and six, and how days 1-3 bear some analogy to qualities that tend to be characteristic of men, and days 4-6 bear some analogy to qualities that tend to be characteristic of women; I’ve learned this from Alastair Roberts whose work inspires me to think deeply and curiously about these matters, rather than just decide which side of the fence I’m on and trenching my tent there.

    I also think that both comps and egals may have been putting too much emphasis on whether order (man as head) can or cannot be found in the Creation account before the Fall. If order can be seen before the Fall, it may not even be the clinching proof of complementarian beliefs. Let’s not assume that Genesis 1-2 has to be one of the primary battle fields on which the question must be decided.

    I very much respect the pain of the victims of abuse who are commenting here. They’ve suffered under the hierarchical doctrines which have been doing such harm to many women.

    I like the title to this post (Headship is not Hierarchy) because it says what headship is not. That is a message which needs to be articulated a lot, because “what headship is” has been hammered ad infinitum, not only by the complementarian camp, but also by the egal camp.

    At the same time, it think we do well to remember that the word ‘headship’ does not occur in the Bible. And the word ‘headship’ has become so freighted with polemic, it evokes such knee-jerk reactions, that it might be better if we can decrease our use of it. Maybe it would be better if we talked simply about ‘man as head’ (—”the husband is the head of the wife” is biblical language) and explored what ‘man as head’ may mean. That may help us move this discussion into more helpful directions.

    I’m hoping that we can gently, courteously, continue to participate in the enterprise of working out what ‘man is head’ means. I think the metaphor of foot-washing is good, and needs to be included, but I’m also thinking that the foot-washing metaphor is not enough.

    I’d like to see more exploration of what ‘man as head’ means and what it can look like when men show ethically good leadership: men leading in a way that sturdily rejects the oppression of women, men leading in ways which expose and reject the actions and beliefs of men who oppress women, and men leading in ways which will help protect women from being oppressed by men. Good leadership like that will also help protect sheep being oppressed by false shepherds.

    And my experience of Sam Powell is that he is one of the few men who is showing this kind of ethical leadership.

  25. jsolbakken

    A true leader goes whithersoever he listeth whether anyone follows or not.

  26. RP Christian, you said you found it frustrating that Sam would resort to crude caricatures to discredit the biblical marriage design.

    While Sam’s caricature (Wife: Beer me!) may have been a bit crude, I don’t think he was intending to discredit marriages where the husband is leading in a truly god-fearing way and the wife is willingly following. Sam was pointing out the toxic distortion of ‘headship’ — the wicked misuse of complementarian ideas to ‘justify’ a man lording it over his wife callously and cruelly.

    You also said, “To me this suggests that you haven’t actually spent time around many families that use the biblical headship/submission model. It also suggests you have a deep emotional investment in your position that colors you ability to fairly debate the issue.”

    This was pure speculation on your part. I think you have greatly misunderstood Sam. For all you know, Sam and his wife may use head/ submit model in their own marriage, and may have witnessed examples of other couples using it in a way which is truly godly and respectful of both husband and wife.

    I know for a fact that Sam has witnessed MANY instances of men distorting the idea of headship and turning it into something very toxic. Sam supports many of the wives who are victims of such men. Sam is speaking out against the wicked misuse of the idea of ‘man as head’. Please reconsider your view of Sam.

  27. Dear everyone, I put my thoughts in a blog. I’m a nobody, who is trying to serve the Lord, care for a chronically ill wife, pastor a real church with real people. I have dealt with abuse, child abuse, child sexual assault, domestic violence, cruelty and wickedness from men and women. I sit beside hospital beds, visits homes of the hurting, make dinner for my family, try to keep up with laundry, and give a kind and biblical word to those who struggle.
    Our church is filled with those with disease without cures, heartache from abuse, struggle from many, many things.
    If you found my blog a blessing, then I am glad. If you disagree, say a prayer for me and move on. If you have questions (legitimate) I will try to answer, but I don’t have a lot of time.
    So if I don’t respond, forgive me. My church staff is one. That’s me. My wife and my congregation are my priority, which I take very seriously.
    I will blog when I can. You don’t have to tell me every point that you think I got wrong. I’m not that important. Take what’s good. Ignore what you don’t agree with. Move on.
    But please don’t accuse me of “pandering to feminists” whatever that means; or neglecting my duty to my wife. It irritates me, but infuriates her, and it is not pleasing to the Lord to attack a man’s character because he wrote something on the internet that you don’t agree with.
    Barbara, thank you for your comments. I agree with all of them. If you are ever in California, stop by and say hello to my wife and me. We’d love to meet. Until then, we’ll stand up for the abused and oppressed from different continents and countries and thank God that his church truly is universal.

    • Seeing the Light

      God bless you, Pastor Powell. Thank you for speaking this from your heart. I am so glad to have found your blog. Thank you.

      • Echoing “Seeing the Light”.
        I was introduced to Pastor Powell’s preaching and exhortation from the Word of God via A CRY FOR JUSTICE blog. It has been a blessing for me to discover one of very few pastors who humbly reach out to the vulnerable at the risk of being misquoted or demeaned.
        I can’t help but pray for Rev Powell and the work that God has bestowed upon him. He is passionate about His love for the Lord and it is quite apparent at his defense of the true Gospel and his servant’s heart.

  28. Pingback: Hierarchy Equals Abuse? | See, there's this thing called biology...

  29. Sweet Pea

    Dear Pastor Powell,

    I lift you, your wife and congregation up in prayer. A prayer of encouragement, strength, and.fortitude. A special prayer of discernment for you-

    Thank you for being a champion of those who are abused and manipulated by the evil ones minions- which is sadly too often in God’s Name. Abusers love to twist religion to their own advantage- in doing so they are.completely disregarding the what the Gospels.actually say and mean. Anyone who demeans, oppresses and desires.to dominate others is in reality attempting to make an idol.of themself. This is type of behavior is quite frankly evil- and of Satan. Such persons need to be prayed for- but from a safe distance imho.. engaging them is for the most part draining and fruitless- they are for.the.most part blinded by pride and immune to.reason and counsel.

    In closing, the love of Christ and His true purpose of love and reconciliation is palpable in your writings.. I thank Jesus for strong but tender men like you. I am blessed to have good men like that in my life. And am actually married to.one.

    God bless you my brother in Christ,

  30. This verse says nothing about the subject at hand.

    • We aren’t Jewish. I have no time for this. The old covenant gave way to the new. You can read about how the gospel changed the old Covenant in my latest post.

    • Baal was not the word Sarai used. It was adonay. In Hosea 2 the gospel was announced. The relationship that God had as Baal would change to ‘ish, which Paul explains in Ephesians 5. The primary relationship between a man and his wife is gospel..’ish. God became our man,one flesh. Not Baal. Adonay is a term of respect,and does not indicate a man lording over his wife. This is the new covenant,which perfected and fulfilled the old.

  31. Please read my latest post.

  32. The Night Wind

    I found this site via a link from another site. We’ve written some about the group critical of this article, which has a large following on the Internet. They follow a philosophy called ‘Game’ and describe their conversion to this philosophy as ‘taking the Red Pill.’ We regard them as a cult; or at least a movement with very strong cultish tendencies. Although the movement was originally founded by Atheists, there’s been a concerted attempt to meld it with Christianity.

    The teachings of ‘Christian’ Game are really closer to Gnosticism than anything that the Church has ever taught. They hold that women are inferior to men, via ‘The Sin of Eve’ and teach that contemporary Churches have been ‘feminized’. They claim to be anti-Feminist, but adopt all of Feminism’s social theories and apply them to men. Essentially, it is a male-supremacist ideology. For example, their obsession with ‘rebellious wives’ stems from their belief that women are all inherently unfaithful—just an inversion of the Feminist doctrine that ‘all men are potential rapists.’

    Behaviors like physical and mental abuse of women, male sexual promiscuity, and female expendability are held up as virtues among their sect. They routinely claim that their beliefs are taught in the Bible.

    Hopefully, that helps clarify somewhat the nature of what you’re up against. There’s plenty of information about the Game/Red Pill/PUA movement on the Internet, if anyone wishes to research it further.

    • Thank you for the info, The Night Wind. I must confess to never hearing about the Game/Red Pill/PUA movement. Haven’t had time to research it fully but it sounds very “off” … if you know what I mean?

    • The Night Wind…as I understand, these red pill groups/personalities also troll blogs and make comments to stir up pain and strife?

      • The Night Wind

        Toiler:
        They do. If you remember the Men’s Rights Movement from a few years ago, they’ve almost totally co-opted that, and have a huge presence among the so-called ‘Alt-Right’. They regularly troll and attack other Christian blogs and also mainstream media blogs. But they don’t tolerate any dissent on their own sites.

        The blogger who wrote the article critical of Rev. Powell has also published articles with titles like “Why All Christians Must Learn Game” and some teach that Game is taught in the Bible and by the Church Fathers.

    • Thanks so much for that info, The Night Wind.

      It is cultish groups like that which folks at CBMW ought to be exposing and denouncing from the rooftops. But do we hear CBMW exposing them? Do CBMW even realise that men are teaching such iniquitous ideas and parading themselves as Christians? I doubt it.

      The Apostle Paul spoke about the mystery of iniquity and how we are not to be ignorant about it. I fear that most of evangelical Christianity has become as ignorant as kindergarten kids about the mystery of iniquity.

      Ps Jeff Crippen did a sermon series titled Wise as Serpents. which we featured on the blog A Cry For Justice. I believe that kind of teaching is much needed in the church.

      • The Night Wind

        Thank you, Barbara, and thank you for the link. There’s an unfortunate tendency in many Churches to dismiss groups like these as ‘crackpots’ to whom nobody listens—until they can no longer ignore them. The Gamers try to lure men away from traditional churches by saying that the Church has become ‘feminized’. The blogger who attacked Rev. Powell once (as a publicity stunt) called for a ‘National Day of Repentance’ for all priests and ministers to renounce this ‘feminization’. None of them did, of course, which ‘proved’ to his followers that the Church is in apostasy.

        On the same blog, following the Powell article, one of their followers published a Homily, which got a round of applause from the others. He wrote seven points which nicely sums their theological perspective:

        “1. Scripture never says that Man transgressed in the Garden; that he knowingly ate of the fruit.

        2. Scripture never says that woman was made in the Image of God

        3. Scripture was written to men for them to exhort, reprove, etc. themselves, wives, and children.

        4. Marriage is fundamentally about the man; just like it is with Christ and the Church; it is fundamentally about Christ.

        5. Men glorify God, women glorify men.

        6. The Church with steeple is history; it is dead and effectively over.

        7. The Church is now individual men, studying and meditating on God’s Word for themselves, and being sharpened by other men and the Holy Spirit, all to build up their individual families to withstand the coming persecution. The day of the traditional pastor is over.”

        This is a specimen of the kind of heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry that fills their writings and that they teach to unsuspecting men. You’re right; they deserve more attention from organized churches than they’re getting.

      • The Night Wind
        I take my hat off to you for having the — determination? tough skin? zeal to expose evil? — to read and then relay to us what is on that blog where the male supremacists (the Game/Red Pill/PUA guys) have twisted scripture into a doctrine of demons.

  33. “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. (1Ti 2:1 KJV)”

    I recommend you correct the reference from verse 1 to verse 13. It might be helpful to someone.

  34. Pingback: A Few of My Favorite Things {September 2016} | The Trotter Family

  35. Pingback: Complementarity Without Subordination: What Does it Look Like? | A Cry For Justice

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  37. Pingback: Hierarchy and Subordination vs. Headship and Household Mission - The Aquila Report

  38. Mary

    I notice that after washing the disciples feet Jesus also then hands the position of the master/servant over to his disciples (which would become the Church, His Bride)…

    14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
    15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (John 13:12-15 KJV)

    In this scene it’s all male and no one has a wife there. Neither does Jesus point out that they are to treat their spouse in such a way so people will see how he is towards the Church. (I admit I did infer this.)

    Ephesians 5:21 repeats this by saying to submit to one another, in which Paul is addressing the Church (Christ’s Bride) on a whole and not individual couples…

    21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:21 KJV)

    I’m very uncomfortable with the idea that men are to be held accountable more so than the wife because we have encountered a teaching in a prominent Christian Church that went as far as to say the husband is to be a savior to his wife. Which he can’t be. That’s Jesus.

    Also there is no place in the New Testament that says that husbands will be judged on there marriage or happiness of there wifes, but it does say that all will be judged according to their works…

    6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds (Romans 2:6 KJV)

    and

    11 For there is no respect of persons with God. (Romans 2:12 KJV)

    How women and/or men treat their spouse will most likely fall under this event.

    I’d like to being to light that even though God is the head of Christ that doesn’t stop God from handing His full authority over to Christ as quoted in your article above…

    3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

    It also implies a balance of authority as he, authority (he being lower case implies personification of the inanimate and not a reference regarding Christ the person), comes from God and goes to God. Authority is fluid between them.

    1 Corinthians 7:29 (KJV) says 29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
    30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;

    How is one to live as though he didn’t have a wife and be her authority if she doesn’t share that authority or share responsibility in the master/servant role?

    In either this article or your last you point out, and I agree, that the male ruler and female desirer roles are a consequence of sin and we are to discard them now that we are in Christ (paraphrased).
    Husbands shouldn’t try to out do their wifes and wifes shouldn’t try to out do the husbands. In doing such we turn service into a competition and we try to one up each other and inevitably end up with someone higher up on the ladder of success like we did in the beginning. In Christ we are to, once again as was in the beginning, put Him (as God) first instead of ourselves and we are to submit to each other out of reverence to Him. Married couples should take turns in submitting to one another but ultimately put the spiritual well being and Salvation of others before there own needs, wants and urges. Which, admittedly, is tough in this day and age to think of doing that and being kept safe, but we have a ways to go before the times get as bad as they were in the days of Noah when the Son of Man returns. Our number one job is to build up the Church and we don’t know our how long the time line is until the job is finished.

    (It makes me chuckle, I once read that saying the husband’s are to lead because Adam was first puts Adam in the position to have a squirrel lead him because he was made after the squirrel. Just something to laugh about.)

    • jsolbakken

      A commissioned officer in the US military is expected to put the needs of his enlisted men ahead of his own needs. Putting the needs of others ahead of our own is not inconsistent with having authority over them. In fact, Jesus stated quite blatantly that unlike the rulers of the gentiles, who lorded it over those under them, those who were great in His kingdom would be servants, and the greatest among them would be the servant of all. People don’t understand servant leadership because we are stupid. Our stupidity ought to make us humble, but for some reason it does not. A husband can have moral authority over his wife and also simultaneously put her needs above his own needs to the point of giving his life for hers if the situation calls for it. Personally I think that it is this willingness to sacrifice for the other that allows for the moral authority to be exercised. A wife would certainly be a horribly depraved person if she did not respect her husband who was willing to die for her.

      • Lea

        “A husband can have moral authority over his wife ”

        What ‘moral’ authority is it you think a husband has generically over a wife?

        Do I need to mention that a husband is not a military commander? A military commander will put the needs of a mission above all, or we would not be sending men to die.

      • Dear jsolbakken, I received your next two comments, but did not approve them. I found them demeaning and condescending to Lea, and all women, and unworthy of my time to respond.
        I understand your viewpoint, and reject it as unbiblical. I did not approve them, because I have no time to debate online, nor do I have the will to do so.
        Please start your own blog and argue your viewpoint there.

  39. The husband/wife relationship is fundamentally unlike a military relationship. The law of biblical authority is the fifth commandment, which specifically includes mothers, as well as fathers. The marriage relationship is NOT governed by the fifth commandment, but the seventh. The tie that binds the marriage is love, not authority.
    The mother and father are both given authority by God equally in the fifth commandment.

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