“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Eph 5:25-33
In 2001, our ReformedWomen group studied Jay Adams “Christian Living in the Home” and I wrote a study guide for the book and that course. A recent email question about the husband’s leadership in the home reminded me of that study and I thought it a good subject for the blog as a reminder of biblical leadership and submission. Read on…
“Loving Leadership” is one the most important chapters of this book. Dr. Adams emphasizes the importance of the role of husband as “head” and “leader” of his family. We have studied this many times before in our previous book studies and discussions but it bears repeating over and over again to us as a reminder of our husband’s headship and our responsibility to be submissive wives. Dr. Adams also emphasizes the importance of “love” in this chapter. Love as taught in the Bible is sacrificial and giving. It is putting the other person in place of ourselves, setting aside our wants and desires and serving others. This is what the husband must do in his relationship to his wife. He is called to “die to self” and live for Christ. Living for Christ means being that sacrificial, loving, patient, compassionate and tender leader, strong in leadership in governing his home and family well. It means hard work, much study and great application. He is a picture of Christ in the home — one that “represents” Christ and thus the ruler, administrator and caretaker. He is also the undershepherd who leads, teaches, oversees and grows up his wife and children in the spiritual things of God. He prays with them and for them. He is God’s appointed leader to fulfill God’s ordained purpose for him and his wife and children must respect this role. They must submit in loving obedience just as the church is subject to Christ in everything.
Dr. Adams asks us “What is the husband’s relationship to his wife?” and he answered it by saying that it is two-sided — one side submission and the other is a Christ-like loving leadership. He follows throughout the chapter taking us through the meaning of headship, leadership and obedience. From this book, God’s Word and our study materials we learn:
1. Husband’s must love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.
2. Husband’s are to love their wives as their own bodies which they nourish and cherish.
3. Husband’s are to lead and administer with authority as God’s administrators with gentleness, love and kindness.
4. Husband’s are to “die to self” meaning putting themselves, their wants, desires and needs aside to care for their wife as Christ cares for the church.
5. The husband is to be a “leader in substance” not just in name. He, as the head authority, is to know everything that goes on in his home; nothing is hidden from him. He controls it and manages those under his authority.
6. The “leader” husband delegates management responsibilities to the wife in his absence. He is not afraid to delegate responsibility if he is leading properly. He knows that the wife will serve Christ, him and the family in a God-glorifying way in her responsibilities if he has been that loving leader that Christ has called him to be.
7. The “loving leader” provides well for his family. It is his responsibility to see that the members of the family are cared for. He is to provide the physical welfare, food, clothing, shelter and all of the necessities of life.
8. He, as the leader, must lead his family in spiritual matters, teaching them God’s Word, praying with and for them, leading family devotions, taking them to church and Sunday School, being involved in God’s work of the church and providing Christian fellowship activities for them.
9. The husband is to oversee all that his wife and children read, study and partake of. It is his responsibility before God to know that his family is following Christ obediently and he is to be intimately involved in their day-to-day life.
10. The husband is to use good discernment in understanding the difference between the physical makeup of women from men. It is his responsibility to “know” his wife in such an intimate way that he understands her moods, personality, physical limitations, and be patient and tender preferring her well-being above his own.
11. The husband as God’s picture of Christ in the home is due obedience, love, submission, and a sacrificial tender understanding of that enormous role to which God has called him.
Dr. Adam on the husband’s headship:
“The husband’s headship must reflect Christ’s headship over the church in the love of Jesus Christ for His church. Headship, then, is not just authority. Nor is it merely leadership in which one assumes responsibility. It is also a loving leadership so deeply influenced by the love of Jesus Christ that the husband is at length able to love his wife as Christ loved the church; that is, enough to die for her.”
_Jay Adams, Christian Living in the Home, p.95
About the woman’s responsibilities:
“A Beautiful Woman Exercises Biblical Submission and Liberty”
ReformedWomen Bible-Book Studies, ReformedWomen,
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