Disagreement on the answer to this question brings inevitable conflict to every human association: our families, churches, businesses and nations. Every war ever fought has been over who will have authority over whom. It was the reason for the Fall, as Satan disagreed with God about who should be in charge of the world, and he persuaded Adam, through his wife Eve, to join with him in challenging God’s right to be God and to run His creation.
That conflict is ongoing, and the physical manifestation of this inescapable, spiritual battle between God and Satan is front and center in the family today. Someone in the family is—spoken or unspoken, recognized or unrecognized, acknowledged or unacknowledged—the one who makes final decisions, points a direction for the family and its activities, and the one you know, in your heart, is where “the buck stops,” That person is the one who has the authority and is in charge of the family.
Does God have an opinion about who that person should be, or is the issue up for grabs? Should it be the one who is the most natural leader, the strongest-willed, the loudest, the smartest, the one who wants to lead, or the one who is the visionary? Some large families may include “one of each.” However, the Bible leaves no doubt as to where “the buck stops” in God’s basic, societal unit.
The Bible undeniably, emphatically, from cover to cover, teaches that “the buck stops” with the husband and father. He is “the head” of His wife” (Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Corinthians 11:3), and she is to submit to him, as unto the Lord Himself, in all things. Then the parents, with the wife following her husband’s leadership, are in authority over their children, who are to obey them “in all things” (Colossians 3:20).
Can you believe I even wrote that paragraph to put on the web, right in the midst of today’s “Woke” religious revival sweeping the country? That is “sexist,” “hate speech” at its very worst and deserves cancellation, and I must be immediately eliminated from acceptable discussion for proposing such radical ideas. But I am innocent; the ideas are not mine; they come straight from God Himself.
And that in itself is amazing. What was mainstream Christian teaching 60 years ago has today become as vile and unmentionable as the “n” word, even in evangelicalism! You would have to look long and hard to find any church, even among solid, Bible-teaching churches, that even touches this idea of male leadership in the family, much less actually teaches it to help their families. ”Can you imagine how many members we would lose if we taught that!” is in the hearts of many church leaders.
So, where we are today, as a nation in our understanding of this crucial biblical truth about the family, is the fault of the church. As we have tried to be “relevant” and ‘“user-friendly” we have ceased to “stand and proclaim”—to always stand for biblical truth, and always proclaim it whenever the opportunity presents itself. The reason is because we have not understood the topic of the last blog: biblical leadership is nothing to be afraid of but to be desired, because it is the leadership of Jesus that He demonstrated so beautifully—characterized by firmness and compassion. Let’s apply that to the family.
Men, make no mistake. God has given you the authority, straight from His throne, to lead your families. But know for sure as well, along with this authority, comes his identical twin who always accompanies him—responsibility. In the kingdom of God, of which the family is a branch, they are inseparable.
This has unsettling implications. If I am the final decision maker in my family, when there are problems in the family, it is, appropriately and truthfully, always my fault. Remember “the buck stopping” concept? It is not because my children are rebellious, my wife won’t submit to me, or any other of an endless stream of excuses. Those individual sins are the responsibility of the one who commits them, and they will face and handle them in the context of a smoothly functioning family.
But the family dysfunction is ultimately my fault, because I have either not loved my family unconditionally, or not led them with strong, firm decision-making, or, most probably, both. How can I, as the husband, the father, the leader, change my approach to my dysfunctional family and see progress?
The foundation of any legitimate change is always the same: the love of God that only comes from Him. This is a love that is initial—it does not wait to see if its object will love in return, but commits itself fully first. It is unconditional—not conditioned in any way on the response of the loved-one, neither positive nor negative . Finally, it is sacrificial, never considering its own well-being, but always sacrificing its own needs and wants for the well being of the loved one.
Not long ago after I had spoken in a church on these ideas, a young man came up afterward and asked me what he should do if his wife still wouldn’t submit to him and follow his leadership. I asked him how he was doing loving her with unconditional love. “Good,” was his shocking answer. He couldn’t see that his very concern about his wife’s submission to him exposed him as not loving her.
If he had seen the truth and responded to my question with, “Terrible. I don’t have it in me to obey God’s command to love her. I really only love myself,” the decks would then be cleared for action! I would have told him to tell her that he is so sorry that he has not loved her, and he repents to her, and to God, for not doing so and casts himself on God to produce that love in him.
The only way to love is to recognize, embrace, and repent for not loving! With that simple (but not easy!) step, this young man would take the first step in the “walk of faith” in his family leadership—loving his wife and children. Next week we will look at step #2—leading them with strong, firm decision-making.