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Being head is not being master: Men should not use the Bible to abuse their wives

ACCORDING to the Bible, “the head of a woman is the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23)
But many who profess respect for the Bible feel that this principle of husbandly headship is not only outdated but also dangerous.
“The doctrine that women should ‘submit graciously’ [to their husbands], taken to an extreme, can lead to abuse, both physical and emotional,” commented one couple.
Sadly, abuse of headship is widespread and rampant.
Some suggest that the Bible principle of headship has led to these brutalities. Does the Bible’s concept of headship demean women and encourage domestic violence?
Headship is not tyranny
Tyranny and domestic violence has a long history. The first act of physical violence by a human that is recorded in the Bible is described at Genesis 4:2-15. Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve, grew jealous of his brother Abel and murdered him in cold blood. How did God react?
The Bible explains that God punished Cain severely for taking the life of his brother.
The influence of demons
The Genesis account reveals that “sons of God” had married women and produced offspring. (Genesis 6:1-4)
The offspring, known as Nephilim, were men of extraordinary size and fame. Under the influence of their fathers, they became violent bullies.
When the flood waters rose and covered the earth, these wicked bullies perished.
But the demons that had possessed them apparently de-materialised and returned to the spirit realm.
The Bible makes it clear that since then, these rebel angels have exerted a strong influence on humans. (Ephesians 6:12)
Their leader, Satan, is called the original “manslayer.” (John 8:44) Hence the violence that takes place on earth, particularly in the homes because of abuse of the principle of headship could properly be referred to as demonic or satanic.
Many today have been seduced into approving of, promoting or perpetrating acts of violence.
Also, millions of people have been enticed into enjoying entertainment that glorifies violence.
Biblical headship is a loving arrangement and is by no means synonymous with tyranny or violence towards one’s spouse.
It was disregard for divinely constituted authority that resulted in man’s often brutal domination of women. (Genesis 3:16)
Since the Garden of Eden, men have frequently abused their power, viciously exploiting others, including women and children.
But wife beaters and other abusers cannot in any way use the Bible to justify their violent actions.
Proper headship?
Headship is a fundamental arrangement that God uses to maintain universal order.
Subjection to leadership is necessary for an orderly, stable society.
Likewise, subjection to a family head is essential to building a solid, happy, peaceful family.
The lack of a husband or a father in the family does not change this fact.
In such families the mother assumes headship.
When both parents are missing, the oldest child or another relative may take on the role of head of the house.
In all cases, family members benefit when they show proper respect to the one authorised to take the lead.
The key, then, is not to reject the headship principle but, rather, to learn to exercise and view headship properly.
Jesus was never harsh, unyielding or overly demanding. He did not throw his weight around and constantly remind everyone that he was the Son of God. Rather, he was humble; lowly in heart.
Emulating Christ’s headship
A responsible head shows concern for his family’s physical and spiritual welfare. He puts himself out by giving appropriate time and attention to their individual and collective needs.
A wise head is also humble. When necessary, he will freely apologise although he may find it difficult to admit that he was wrong.
Humility will also motivate a family head to listen to and actively seek the opinion of his wife and children when appropriate.
When we exercise our headship well without wanton abuse, we reduce the cases of domestic violence.
The author is a Zambia Daily Mail staffer

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