Headship: The Giving up of Power

Often as I talk to Christians about domestic abuse, I end up doing quite a bit of debating with people who believe the Bible says that men should have power over women.  Who say that being the ‘head’ (Ephesians 5:23) of the household involves having power over the other members of that household; who think this is God’s best plan for human life.

Unfortunately the problem with this belief is that it has enabled men to abuse women horrifically in the name of Christian marriage for many many years.  It has been taught from pulpits and perpetuated in small groups.

It is not only men saying this is the correct way to live within marriage, there are also many women advocating for this type of relationship.  Many of those promoting headship as power within the marriage relationship would condemn domestic abuse, saying that it is sinful but believing that within a non abusive relationship, where the man is loving, the woman should submit to him as the head, because “that’s what the Bible says”.

However I feel that many Christians, in believing this, are deceived.  For our teacher should be Jesus and as He said, “"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  (John14:15)

Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life—a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-30)

How much more clearly could Jesus have said to us, AUTHORITY IS NOT ABOUT POWER?  I’m not sure He could have!  Maybe those who have believed for so long that headship equals power, should go back to what Jesus says, we must NOT dominate or exercise power over others, instead we must give it up, this is Jesus’ description of authority and greatness, and this must be the way we interpret the idea of headship within marriage, the giving up of power, not the gaining of power.

Natalie Collins, 06/04/2011