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Taking the place of sole Master of the home – by law

Taking the place of sole Master of the home – by law

Taking the place of master by law on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

The Bible records a law that requires men to take the place of sole master in the home. We find this law in the book of Esther chapter 1 verse 22.

Let me first give a little background.  King Ahasuerus was a very wealthy and powerful king who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces.  In the third year of his reign he made a huge banquet for his nobles and officials as well as military leaders.  Then for 180 days he displayed his great riches and all that went with the majesty of his position.  At the end of all this show of the king’s splendor, he threw a seven day banquet for all the people who were present in his capital city, both the greatest of them to the least of them.  It was at that time, after seven days of partying, that the king became joyful from the wine that was served at the banquet, and in a hasty decision to show-case all that he owned that was magnificent beauty, he ordered that queen Vashti be called to appear before the king wearing her crown in order to parade her beauty before the crowd. Vashti refused to have her person put on display and this caused the king to feel great wrath and he called his wise men to find out what could be done by law to punish queen Vashti for refusing to obey his command.  In verses 16 to 19 Memucan one of the wise men said, 

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How a passion for ministry almost cost C. Michael Patton his marriage

How a passion for ministry almost cost C. Michael Patton his marriage

Today I read a blog post that really touched my heart because it showed the importance of mutual decision-making instead of unilateral decisions by the husband (the male trump card).  I have asked and received permission from Michael Patton to post this on my blog.  I think that this story puts a human face to the issues of a one-flesh union that we have talked much about on this blog.  This testimony by Michael Patton and his willingness to listen to the wisdom of a godly woman really raised my respect for Michael.  I think that you will be touched by his story as well.  This is a fine example of how real complementary marriage works rather than a hierarchy model.


John Piper: "What should a wife's submission to her husband look like if he's an abuser?"

John Piper: "What should a wife's submission to her husband look like if he's an abuser?"



On August 19, 2009 John Piper tackles a question on an abusive husband and Piper’s answer directs women on how they should take abuse from their husbands.  The answer is typical of a complementarian who sees the husband as king and priest and the wife as the follower of her priest-king.

My comments will be below the transcript.  I recommend you listen carefully to what Piper says.  I think there is a lot to discuss especially his freudian slip calling the husband “lord”.  An edited transcript of the audio is below.

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Ask John Piper – Do some complementarians deny women opportunities?

Ask John Piper – Do some complementarians deny women opportunities?

John Piper picture on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

On John Piper’s web site is posted a question that someone asked of him about the application of complementarianism that affects women.  The question is:

Do you think complementarianism is so important to some people that they deny women more opportunities than the Bible denies them?

I was shocked at John Piper’s response.  You really need to listen to it for yourself.  Click on the link above to hear an audio version or see the video clip. 

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Two heads one master

Two heads one master

While Paul said that the husband is the head of the wife (1 Cor. 11:3) with this metaphor implying that the wife is the body of the husband, scripture also tells us that Jesus is the head of the body of Christ and the believing wife is part of that body too.  This means that the metaphor of head/body is used both of a physical relationship between husband and wife and a spiritual relationship between believers and Christ.  But does head mean master?

Many believe that head means one who has authority over another.  Some believe that a woman is not allowed to teach the bible if her husband does not give her permission to do so.  In essence he is her master and she must obey what he tells her.  But if head means master, then scripture contradicts itself because the bible says that we have only one master.  In John 13:13 Jesus says that he is that Master.

John 13:13  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.  KJV

The word translated as “master” is didaskalos and it means teacher, instructor, master.  Jesus then goes on to show that we are all brothers and only one is our master/teacher.

Matthew 23:8  But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Matthew 23:9  And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Matthew 23:10  Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
Matthew 23:11  But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.  KJV

Jesus also taught that no one can serve two masters:

Matthew 6:24  “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.

The word for master here is kurios and it means lord, master, owner.

It is impossible for “head” to mean “lord, master, owner”.  Jesus is both head and Master because he alone is God.  No husband is to be in the position of master because we are to have only one master and that is Jesus Christ.

It is a wonderful thing when a husband agrees that his wife should teach the bible.  However his agreement should have no bearing on the obedience of a servant of the one and only Master.  There is only one spiritual head and only one Master.  The husband is in a one-flesh union with his wife and together they should work out their marriage relationship.  But scripture never gives the husband the position of master over his wife and scripture never tells the wife that she must obey her husband as her master, for no one can serve two masters.

Patriarchal authority and free will

Patriarchal authority and free will

One of the key differences between an egalitarian and a patriarchal marriage is in the area of authority and will. In a patriarchal marriage, the man is set up as the final decision maker of the home and he is given the right to make a decision for his wife even if it overrules her will. The question we need to ask ourselves, is this biblical? Is a husband given a scriptural right to take authority over his wife against her will?

There is only one place in scripture where we find husbandly authority. This authority is found in 1 Corinthians 7:4. The Amplified version says:

1 Cor. 7:4 For the wife does not have [exclusive] authority and control over her own body, but the husband [has his rights]; likewise also the husband does not have [exclusive] authority and control over his body, but the wife [has her rights].

In this case both the husband and the wife have rights and authority over their spouses’ body. While the bible shows that each has an authority over their spouse’s body, this does not give one person the right to exercise authority over their spouse’s body against their will. In verse 5 Paul addresses the one who has made a decision to hold back from their spouse the sexual rights due to them.

1Co 7:5 Do not refuse and deprive and defraud each other [of your due marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves unhindered to prayer. But afterwards resume marital relations, lest Satan tempt you [to sin] through your lack of restraint of sexual desire.

Paul’s encouragement is not aimed at the one who has been deprived of their rights telling them to take what belongs to them by taking authority over their spouse. This kind of forcing of one’s will on the other is never permitted. Rather, Paul’s instruction is to the one who is holding back and he instructs them to consider their spouse and the marital rights that are due their spouse because of their one-flesh marriage union. Paul writes that abstaining from marital relations is fine as long as it is for a time and is by mutual consent. The focus then is on mutual consent not on one person taking authority over another. If there ever was a place where Paul could have allowed men to take authority over their wives, this would have been one such place. But Paul does not tell men that it is their right to take authority over their wives even when he states that it is a man’s right to have marital relations with his wife. Why doesn’t Paul tell men in this instance that the husband has the right to take authority over his wife when their view on sex is different? Why doesn’t Paul tell men that they are allowed to make a decision for their wife when the husband and wife do not come to a mutual decision? It is because when a husband takes authority over his wife and physically overrules her will it is called rape.

If a husband is not allowed by scripture to take authority over his wife physically to force her against her will into a sexual relationship with him, then what makes patriarchs think that the husband is allowed by scripture to take authority over his wife’s will when they have a difference of opinion in other areas of their marriage? Scripture never once tells a man to take authority over his wife. This would be an overriding of her will and God considers our will as a very precious thing that not even he overrides. When people reject God by a decision of their own will, God does not force them into a relationship with him. God has given mankind a will that God respects. God will encourage us and persuade us and plead with us but God will not override our will. If we reject God, God will give us our will in the end and he will punish us for our sins instead of forcing us to be saved against our will.

One of the challenges that patriarchs will offer, is what does a married couple do if they disagree over a decision? If the husband doesn’t take authority to make the decision then how can they survive in a dead-locked position? The book “Does God Really Prefer Men?” available as a free download from gives some very good biblical suggestions regarding what to do in this situation. When a couple is dead-locked, this is an opportunity to take the decision to the Lord in prayer. It is also an opportunity to work at unity. Last, it is an opportunity for the husband to sacrifice for his wife and/or for the wife to submit to her husband.

There is another good reason why God has not given the husband the right to take authority over his wife. The reason is that God’s desire is for each one of us to grow up and be mature. If the husband takes the position of decision maker in the home, the wife’s ability to mature is withheld from her.

Let me give you a couple of real life examples from a former complementarian couple who were taught that the husband was to be the decision maker of the home and he was to be responsible for his wife.  I will refer to them as “Bruce” and “Connie”. On their wedding day Bruce started this “role” as he took seriously his responsibility as “head” of the home. On their honeymoon in the mountains, when he realized for the first time that his new wife was afraid of heights, he took on the responsibility of dealing with her fears. He took authority over Connie by forcing her to go close to the edge of a cliff. For him it was an act of love because he was taking authority over her fear and that should have been a good thing. However his young wife was not released from fear. Instead she experienced a great amount of fear and panic and for the very first time in her new marriage, she experienced resentment because he had exerted his authority over her and against her will.

Within a few months they came to their first major roadblock in decision making. Bruce had a bag of mending for Connie to do and he wanted her to work on mending the holes in his pants. She loved sewing but she hated mending and she did not want to mend the ragged holes in his pants, at least not now. Maybe later, she told him, but not now. So he took his authority over her and told her that she had to do the work – now. Bruce pushed Connie down into the chair in front of the sewing machine and took authority over her will. This certainly should help her to be responsible and do things in a timely manner. He did everything that he was taught to do. He became responsible for her and he took authority over his wife and made the final decision when they disagreed. But by his taking authority over her will, she started a process of dying inside. Because Connie’s husband took authority over her will, she started to lose who she was as a person and instead of growing and maturing as a person and as a Christian she was kept in an immature state and she stopped growing. Through the years he loved her by protecting her from making mistakes. For example if she bought a frying pan at the store and he didn’t think that she needed a new one, he took authority over her will and made her take it back to the store.

As Connie’s will was overridden time and time again she started to hate her oppressor. After years of having her husband take authority over her, she started to dream about doing the unthinkable. She could never actually divorce him, but she could dream about divorce and what it would be like to be free from the one who controlled her life. What neither one of them realized at the time was that taking authority over your spouse against their will is emotional rape. It wasn’t until many years later when Connie came to the end of her rope and she finally drew the line in the sand because of all the control, he stopped taking his authority over her and he stopped making all the final decisions and she finally started to grow and mature emotionally. She actually started to blossom as a person. Instead of protecting her from every bad decision, he started to allow her to make wrong choices and she started to learn from her mistakes and this helped her to mature. She responded by loving him intensely for the freedom that he gave her to be her own person. She now was able to submit to him in love instead of having her submission forced on her. Bruce started to understand that loving his wife meant that he needed to sacrifice his need to keep her from making what he considered to be mistakes. True mature love, he learned, is not about taking authority over another person, but in serving them. A true godly husband serves his wife by providing her with all the tools that she needs to grow and mature.

When Jesus was on earth he did not take authority over his bride. Instead of taking authority over her and making her decisions, he spoke gently to his bride and he used persuasion instead of authority. One of the best examples of this is when Jesus submitted himself to wash the feet of the disciples. Peter, part of the bride of Christ, refused to have Jesus wash his feet. If the patriarchal way of taking authority over the wife was the right way, then Jesus surely should have taken authority over Peter and made the decision for Peter to wash his feet even if it was against Peter’s will. However Jesus did not do that. Instead of taking authority over Peter’s will, Jesus told Peter why he needed to wash his feet. When Peter understood Jesus’ actions as serving Peter in his need, Peter was very willing to submit to the service of Jesus.

The actions of Jesus are representative of a godly husband. A godly husband does not take authority over his wife’s will. Instead of making decisions for her, a godly husband will gently persuade and lovingly sacrifice for his wife. When a husband does these things, a wife will find joy in submitting to his sacrifice and it will be an act of her own free will that will accept what he offers her.

The husband as king over the wife

The husband as king over the wife

In part two of this discussion we asked whether God has ordained that a woman must have a priest in the home to represent her to God and God to her. Today we continue our discussion about whether a husband is to have the position of king over his wife in their marriage. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) supports the claim that the husband is to be king over his wife and this view is taught in an on-line book on their web site. The book is called “Building Strong Families” by Dennis Rainey (Dennis is on CBMW’s board of reference) and we are focusing on chapter 4 of this book called “The Husband as Prophet, Priest and King” this chapter authored by Bob Lepine.

Mr. Lepine admits that the teaching about the husband as King has been abused by many well-meaning Bible teachers. Because of this he says that we need to “proceed with caution”. Although a king is thought to be someone who wields power and enjoys privilege and position, Lepine says that the husband needs to go beyond that to be the kind of kingly husband his wife ultimately wants and needs him to be. Lepine then focuses on the king as a warrior and a representative of “his wife and his family in the culture”.

I personally found this part of the chapter to be the most alarming. This patriarchal teaching about the husband as “representative” of his wife and family is lived out by a group called Vision Forum and their leader Doug Phillips. Taking the husband as “representative” teaching to a position of “law”, Doug Phillips teaches that “God does not allow women to vote”. Quoting from Mr. Phillips:

“In regards to a woman’s right to vote; if husband and wife are truly “one flesh” and the husband is doing his duty to represent the family to the wider community, then what PRACTICAL benefit does allowing women to vote provide? If husband and wife agree on an issue, then one has simply doubled the number of votes; but the result is the same. Women’s voting only makes a difference when the husband and wife disagree; a wife, who does not trust the judgment of her husband, can nullify his vote. Thus, the immediate consequence is to enshrine the will of the individual OVER the good of the family thus creating divisions WITHIN the family.”

So if the husband is “federal head” then he makes all the decisions and she is forbidden by God to vote. Do you see the problem here? This type of “federal head” concept of the husband as King and representative of the family taken to its logical conclusion makes the husband’s rule in his family virtually unchallenged by anyone. Who then can decide if the husband is being unkind to his wife?

Going back to chapter 4 of “Building Strong Families” Lepine suggests that there will be attacks on the husband’s way of leadership from all kinds of directions. He says that “(attacks) will come from friends and coworkers who, thinking themselves to be wise, have become as fools (Rom. 1:22)” Under the heading Know your enemy Lepine also identifies the wife as someone who will attack the man’s leadership. He says:

There will also be attacks from your closest ally, your wife. While her spirit will welcome the leadership, protection, and provision of a wise king, her flesh will war against her spirit and will seek to thwart your authority. Over time, there will be showdowns as you wrestle with whether to compromise and gain her approval or to stand fast and face her wrath. There will be times when you’ll have to decide whether to serve her or to serve God.”

The advice then is for the husband to stand against his wife. When a wife doesn’t want her husband to vote for her as her “representative” and she doesn’t want his leadership, the husband is to take control of his kingdom and stand up to her anger. He is to lead whether she wants him to take control or not.

Is this really what scripture says? Does the Bible ever tell a husband to take control of his wife or to have a showdown with her wrestling her to force her to a place of submission?

The Bible never once instructs the husband to “lead” his wife. The Bible also never once tells him that he is to be her king or her priest or her prophet. The position of her King is already taken. Jesus is her King and her High Priest and her Prophet. The husband is never granted a place to usurp Jesus’ role. The husband’s role in the marriage is to take the initiative to bond with his wife so that they can have a one-flesh union. In Genesis we find Adam identifying his wife as flesh of his flesh.

Gen 2:23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

In Genesis 2:24, the Bible says “for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” For what reason? The reason is because she was taken out of him and he is to initiate a joining of himself with her to be that one flesh union again.

When a husband loves his wife and treats her tenderly and with affection and he sacrifices himself for her, a woman will respond willingly to that kind of love. That is why a husband is not to take authority over her but he is instead to love her and this will bring her willingness to submit to his love.

Right now I am hard at work on our new DVD on the Trinity but when I get a chance to do another post, I would like to respond to some of the questions that were posted on my original 2006 blog article about the husband as priest of the home. There were questions about the wife obeying the husband that I didn’t get to at the time so it should be interesting.

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