When a census form arrived at their home in Canada, addressed to “The Head of the Household,” the busy husband asked his beloved wife to help him by filling in the form so that he could just check over it and mail it in. As she was entering the information, the lady became irritated at the constant reference to the husband as “head of the household.” In a section marked Householder Comments she lodged her objection: “In this family my husband and I definitely share the household equally, and I wish to register my complaint at your archaic wording.” Several days later, when she checked over the form before posting it, she found to her chagrin that her husband had facetiously penned the following amendment: “Statements made by the employees do not necessarily reflect the position of management,” and signed it “Head of the Household.”
In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d crack open this can of wrigglies for us to consider.
In Genesis 2 God told Adam to name the animals and then when Eve was brought to him he named her too. Chauvinists who know enough Bible to be dangerous, like to point out that naming something or someone is a sign of authority. They stress the authority part of the design but ignore the main point of federal headship, namely responsibility.
In football, why do they fire the head the coach the week after a team loses the state championship game? The coach didn’t fumble the ball, miss a play, or get sent off for fighting. So why sack him? Because he’s responsible for the team’s performance. This is not a football thing, it’s a biblical reality. It’s federal headship.
In the account of the Fall in Genesis 3, who listened to the serpent? Eve. Who took the fruit? Eve. Who ate the fruit? Eve. Who gave the fruit to her husband? Eve. Who did God call for? Adam. Wait, what?? This prompts Adam’s famous blameshift: “The woman you gave me…” I think it’s obvious who the weak link was in this mixed doubles team. But God held Adam primarily responsible. Why? Because he is the head of the family.
Adam wasn’t acting like he was the head, but God still considered him the head, albeit it a shaky one.
When a rambunctious five year old is gleefully pulling cans of tuna off the shelf in the grocery store, just to hear them plunk repeatedly on the tiles, the manager walks past the offending kid and approaches the parent. We understand headship. We know instinctively that one person can be responsible for the actions of another.
This is what was going on in Eden. God put Adam in charge of leading, protecting, and teaching his wife. So when said wife plunges the human race into irreversible condemnation, it is the husband who is taken to the woodshed for a talking to. Is it fair? No more or less fair than Jesus taking responsibility for your sin. As the second Adam, he accepted the responsibility for our sin and took the consequences on our behalf. This is the way God’s world works. You can say you don’t function that way in your home, but God will still call the husband to account for that.
This is not my opinion; it’s in the Bible. Husbands, just be sure to read all the verses in the passage…
Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 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. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
A note to single guys: don’t marry a woman who you can’t lead. It doesn’t matter how much you like her personality, interests, or looks; your job is not to chat to her, hike with her, or ogle her; your job is to lead her. And your children. So, happy federal father’s day.