Is the Husband in a “Biblical Manhood/Biblical Womanhood” Marriage Tantamount to Christ?

Phyllis Nissila

FROM THE ENGLISH TEACHER…

I concluded my last post with direct quotes from the document “Fifty Crucial Questions” (and answers) posted on The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website [1]. Permit me to do a bit of English teacher word/sentence analysis to help expose the errors in the teachings of the “husband as supreme authority over the wife as Christ is supreme authority over the church” and to propose the logical conclusions wherein the errors fester, wrong teachings of great import—and danger—for they cut to the quick of Who Jesus Christ is—and who a husband is not.

Not to mention the un-biblical (and potentially dangerous) position, spiritually, mentally, and perhaps even physically, into which these teachings put the Christian wife (and children) in such marriages.

FROM THE MOUTH…

For reference, again, from the document, here are the explanations given wives and husbands regarding her “submission role” in the teachings and his “Christ role” (bolding within the answers, mine):

Question 5: What do you mean by submission (in question 4)?

Submission refers to a wife’s divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It is not an absolute surrender of her will. Rather, we speak of her disposition to yield to her husband’s guidance and her inclination to follow his leadership. Christ is her absolute authority, not the husband. She submits “out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). The supreme authority of Christ qualifies* the authority of her husband. She should never follow her husband into sin. Nevertheless, even when she may have to stand with Christ against the sinful will of her husband (e.g., 1 Peter 3:1, where she does not yield to her husband’s unbelief), she can still have a spirit of submission – a disposition to yield. She can show by her attitude and behavior that she does not like resisting his will and that she longs for him to forsake sin and lead in righteousness so that her disposition to honor him as head can again produce harmony.


Question 6:
What do you mean when you call the husband “head” (in question 5)?

In the home, Biblical headship is the husband’s divine calling to take primary responsibility for Christlike leadership, protection, and provision. (See question 13 on the meaning of “primary.”)

*qualifies: “be entitled to a particular benefit or privilege by fulfilling a necessary condition.” [2]

FROM THE WORDS…

The definition given the husband regarding his role is nuanced by use of the adverb “Christlike”. By the suggestion that he is to strive to merely act LIKE Christ, not AS Christ keeps this part biblical. Indeed, all Christians are called to Christlike actions.

However, and this is key to the first serious error, the wife is told that she is to go well beyond believing merely that her husband has only to behave like Christ.

The wife is taught, as the definition regarding her role denotes, that her husband IS Christ, or a Christ type, i.e., mediator between her and God. She is to believe that his Christness, if you will, is not merely his behavior, but his essence due to his husband status.

How is this accomplished rhetorically? By use of the cause/effect construction of the sentence: Christ has supreme authority over the church, therefore, the husband has supreme authority over her.

But here is the (dangerous) rub: Jesus Christ is sinless.

Her husband is not.

When any Christian, man, woman, or child, is called to follow (the real) Christ, he/she does not have to worry that Jesus will lead in the wrong direction.

When we follow those who claim or presume to be Christ, or Christ types, there is no such guarantee.

But perhaps the more dangerous—not to mention heretical—logic of such teachings is that assigning Christic status to a man in the marriage relationship means that he is at once both Christ and anti-christ (false christ), he is at once both sinless and sinful.

This error in this conclusion should be egregiously apparent, and not just to Bible scholars and theologians.

If the wife has become ensnared in this belief system, or was reared in it, here is where the teaching winds further away from the straight path of truth down an even more treacherous road: how is she then to respond to her “relationship christ,” as it were, if he sins?

Not even the BMBW Scripture-spinners are denying that a husband, as revered as he is to be by his wife, might at times sin. However, should the Mrs. be aware of the Mr.’s transgressions, she is allowed but few suitable responses, again:

  • Showing by her “attitude and behavior” that she does not like resisting his will and that she “longs for him to forsake sin and lead in righteousness (again)” so that by her behavior, her “disposition,”
  • She still honors him as “head,” so that
  • (her right behavior) will thus bring back harmony

Here are but a few concerns prompted by these “instructions” for the wife:

Who is it that determines what attitudes, behaviors, and/or dispositions are “correct”?

What if Hubby’s sin is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, psychological, and/or spiritual abuse?

Why is it that if it is he who has sinned, it must be she who, by “behaving correctly,” brings back the harmony in the relationship? This, ironically, actually puts HER in a Christ/Savior position assuming her husband is somehow unable to “save himself” from his sin without her carefully prescribed and executed responses…

Not to mention the potentially debilitating mental, emotional, and/or spiritual pain that she might experience trying to juggle all her responsibilities vis-a-vis his sins: the frustration, alarm, guilt, fear, doubt, etc., that predictably follows attempting to follow a false christ via mandates that are essentially religious works.

And, of course, what is notably missing in all this word smithing is the truth of the matter, i.e., it is wholly the husband’s responsibility to deal with his own sin (just as it is for the rest of us)—the acknowledgement of it, the confession of it, and any restitution deemed appropriate because of it—regardless of his wife’s, or anyone else’s, behavior.

Now on to the clarity of God’s Word.

FROM THE WORD…

That is to say, from the truth and protection of The Word:

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy, 2:5, NIV).

Period.

To my dear Christian sisters caught up in this teaching: there is no one who stands between you and (the real) Jesus Christ. Ask Him today for guidance, wisdom, and comfort.

And if there is abuse, contact your local authorities at once. Whatever you have been taught in this belief system, you—and your children—are still protected under the law.

***

 

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3 Responses to Is the Husband in a “Biblical Manhood/Biblical Womanhood” Marriage Tantamount to Christ?

  1. healingInHim says:

    Thank you for this post. My husband is not considered physically abusive although counselling refers to sexual abuse as also being physical abuse… I believe many women, including me, who have not had a strong Christ-honoring father, naïvely fall into the patriarchal mindset. They are tired of having to have made so many decisions on their own in order to survive. Once married, they want someone else to ‘lead’. Men who don’t truly want to lead will become abusive in other ways by an indifferent attitude towards the wife but look good to others. Eventually, the role of making decisions by a passive ‘leader’ comes about with:
    – nothing gets done until it is done his way. This can include minor to major house renos OR where do we take vacations? Outwardly, he will ask what the wife wants but he has already made up his mind what the answer “should be.” In order to keep harmony … the wife submits, praying that eventually the relationship will become more equal?! Oh, so many years slip by before she realizes that ‘nothing will change’. Wife and children are scarred and sadly many adult children turn against the mother who nurtured them but also became the disciplinarian as the father quietly condoned their sinful hearts:-(
    My husband has no qualms about admitting that he has and still is selfish; looking out for himself. He admits he is in ‘survivor mode’ at the expense of me.

    Like

    • pnissila says:

      bevanne,

      You describe the situation very well.

      Yes, whenever there is a non-biblical hierarchal structure in a marriage relationship, the couple is left wide-open to all sorts of tendencies of fallen men/women. I read in your post “passive aggression,” for one; control, for another; cowardliness, for yet another, and of course selfishness and manipulation.

      Where a woman is told not to buck her husband’s “rightful authority over her,” she is trapped in so many ways, and he is tempted in so many ways to keep up appearances or to try his best to be perhaps what he is not: a naturally and supernaturally gifted leader.

      Bad idea all around.

      Thank God He has redeemed us from all this.

      Like

      • healingInHim says:

        You stated it very well. In fact my husband has admitted that he did and said many things just to keep up appearances and because he felt it was expected of him. He really didn’t want true leadership and now has decided after many years he is not a Christian; all of this so he can ‘get along with others.’ Said he is tired of pretending. Even with him saying that; it hurts me how some within the church will praise him for his honesty! Why are they praising him? He has been a liar and deceiver and many times he did indeed know what he was saying a doing and meant it!

        Like

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