One of the cultural footballs of our time is gender relations, and it’s the one that seems to get kicked the hardest. The roles men and women play in society, as a whole, and in the home, in particular, is open to heated debate. As Christians, we need to shape our opinions on this matter by what God reveals in Scripture. Before we speak up, we need to ask, “What does the Bible say about the roles of men and women?”
Obviously, a blog post doesn’t provide me enough space to give an adequate summary of scriptural teaching on this matter. So let me defer to theologian, Wayne Grudem who summarizes the perspective I share with him: With regard to male-female relationships, I argue for a view that is neither traditional nor feminist, but “complementarian”—namely, that God created man and woman equal in value and personhood, and equal in bearing his image, but that both creation and redemption indicate some distinct roles for men and women in marriage and in the church. (Systematic Theology)
The complementarian view obligates the man to provide sacrificial leadership in his home. He is to love his wife in the same way that Jesus loves the church (Eph. 5:22-33). No easy task—I know, because I fail at it all the time! Wives are instructed to welcome this leadership and support it. In complementarian homes, love and sacrifice make for a very safe, encouraging environment. It’s a good thing.
But not every example of male headship is praiseworthy. Last week, I was reading a post by Michael McKinley who warned against the inconsistency of some men. Reveling in their God-given authority, these men avoid submitting to the authorities set over them by God. These were the examples McKinley gave:
1. Some men complain about their wife’s unwillingness to submit to their authority while they (the husband) embrace secret sins in their lives. As if their wife should submit to their authority, but they shouldn’t have to submit to God’s authority.
2. Some men extol the glories of male headship but never think to consciously submit their lives and decision making to the authority of their elders and fellow church-members. As if God designed a husband’s authority to be a blessing at home, but all other authority is arbitrary and unimportant.
3. Some men think nothing of venting their spleen about their boss, the government, or the leaders of their church, all the while insisting that their wife speak about them in tones of hushed respect.
McKinley went on to say that it is spiritually dangerous to be in this position, exercising authority without submitting to it. I heartily agree!