Are Christian husbands to be prophet, priest and king for their families? Since I’ve never read a verse that says anything instructing husbands in this fashion, I set out to see if this teaching is valid?
What is taught…
Here is the progression of thought. I’ll save my commentary for the end.
It starts with Ephesians 5:22-33. From these verses, it is concluded that a Christian husband is to act toward his wife in the same fashion that Christ acts (or has acted) toward the church.
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansingher by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
- What does Christ do for the church? In Institutes, John Calvin sums up Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Testament types as prophet, priest and king. Calvin coined this triad phrase from his study in Hebrews.
- So, if a husband is to be Christ-like, he must also fulfill these Old Testament types for his wife and family.
- Old Testament practices, culture and stories are examined for husbandry examples to follow in today’s Christian marriages.
If a husband is to be the head of his wife in the same way that Christ is the head of the church, then as a husband he must understand the prophetic, priestly, and kingly roles he is to fulfill. (Bob Lepine, Building Strong Families, p 102)
Notice any redundancies? I believe you run into a few doctrinal problems when you follow this reasoning.
Some questions arise.
- Why isn’t Christ’s fulfillment of these roles enough for women and children that they require their husbands to double up? Is Christ not enough?
- How can a mere man fulfill the responsibilities that God himself had to insert himself into time to do the right way?
- What man would WANT to fill those roles, or imagine he COULD fill those roles for another?
- Why should a man who lives by grace revert to Old Testament types, when Christ completed all the necessary requirements of that law?
- What is wrong with women (that men are excluded from) that they need this “extra layer” of spiritual authority?
- Can you call this teaching Biblical if it is based on human reasoning?
Does Ephesians 5:22-33 apply?
I have so much to say about this passage, that a few paragraphs here will do you a disservice. So please understand, that my few words here are lacking to flesh my thoughts out in full. I believe this passage is clear. I also believe it will hurt no man or woman to obey its words completely…to take Jesus’ words to His disciples literally when he was washing their feet:
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 12)
All Christians should strive to emulate Christ in submission and love. Since the two (submission and love) are so close in practice, if wives and husbands are both living gracefully to each other, neither will be an issue. The heart of the gospel is the sacrifice of personal rights. It looks surprisingly the same for both genders. I’ll have to write on Ephesians 5, specifically, in its own post.
To keep on topic, I ask. Does Ephesians 5 instruct husbands to act as prophet, priest or king for their families? Not directly. It uses a metaphor that describes the priestly and prophetic role of Christ. Metaphors are tricky because they are so successful… the purpose of a metaphor is transfer the meaning of one phrase to another. But metaphors are not meant to be literal. To understand what it means, we start by asking what it doesn’t mean. I think we all agree that husbands do not literally become Christ. Husbands do not literally atone for their wives’ sin. Husbands are not the voice of God to their wives. Husbands do not have absolute authority over their wives’ lives. How do we know this? Because of clear passages elsewhere. So, attributing the roles of prophet, priest and king to husband is not accurate.
There are many clear passages that say Jesus’ work for the church is sufficient for all genders.
- There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28) Galatians teaches us to continue in grace. We do not revert back to the law after we believe. Under grace, in Christ there is no gender. There is no hierarchy. Even the priestly hierarchy was abolished/completed in Christ.
In explanation of what husband as prophet is to do for his wife, Lepine says,
Rather than ignoring theological and doctrinal issues, dismissing them as foolish or unnecessary, a husband should find himself wrestling with the issues raised in Scripture and should determine for his wife and his family what is right and true. (Building Strong Families, p. 106)
Should husbands grapple with Scripture? Yes! Does Jesus hold a husband responsible to determine for his wife what is true? No way. He has given His Spirit to all believers to instruct us through His word, not just men.
- Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24) Jesus teaches the woman at the well that she does not need the mediation of her husband or a temple. Not only does she believe, it is through her teaching/witness that others are saved. Women can directly go to Jesus.
- For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. (1 Timothy 2:5) We fault the Catholics for putting a priest between us and Jesus. How is husband as priest any different at the core? (I realize it differs in practice.)
- Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25) Christ alone completed our need for priest regardless of our gender or age or race.
In explanation of what being a husband-head means, Lepine says,
“It doesn’t mean control, but a willingness to assume responsibility…Too many husbands assume that their spiritual leadership in this area will begin once the children are older. In truth it begins the day the spiritual responsibility for a young woman is passed from her father to her husband.” (Building Strong Families, p.101 and 103)
What is this spiritual responsibility? To be responsible is to be the one answerable for a thing. To be the one held accountable for something. The idea that certain people need someone else to be answerable for them or held accountable for them in the spiritual realms seems counter-gospel to me. It must seem off to Lepine as well, because he addresses the issue, but doesn’t answer it. He just re-asserts that men are “responsible” for the women under them.
The Bible teaches that all believers are part of a “royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9), and that there is no intermediary between man and God except for the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). Still, if a man aspires to be a godly husband, he will assume responsibility to oversee the spiritual condition of his wife. (Building Strong Families, p. 103)
- There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:9-11.. goodness its all over the whole book!) Every person is responsible for his or her own choices. A Jew is judged or rewarded based on his own faith, not because he belongs to the House of Israel. God does not favor men over women. Men are not held responsible for women. A women is responsible for herself, as is man.
Since the Bible never asks the husband to fulfill the roles of prophet, priest and king, what does it ask a husband to do? Love. Why must we place women in a different position under the spiritual authority of man and call it a biblical command? We shouldn’t place that burden on either gender. Christ alone is all we need.
36 thoughts on “Women in the Text: Do women need another priest?”
Hi Everyone and Kbonikowsky,
Thanks for everyone sharing their ideas!
I would just like to ask everyone here what it means for a husband to be ‘head’ over the wife?
What do you think that actually means?
Just a word of caution, Nikita: The husband is “head of”, not “head over” the wife. Those are two different expressions.
Here, Bible scholar Gilbert Bilezikian gives a short answer: http://www.cbeinternational.org/resources/article/i-believe-male-headship
Jezebel and Ahab spirits?
How about we respect each other as co-heirs, shed the assumed and presumed spiritual hierarchies (and “lowerarchies,” if you will), and love each other?
What did Jesus say? “The greatest commandment is love…”
A side note: in the modern patriarchal movement, I don’t think men fear being men. The message to thwart fear and seek redemption and deliverance in our only Savior, Jesus Christ, seems more aptly offered to women who must, it seems, once again (as in Old Testament times, some believe) step backwards from the throne in deference to humans with male body parts.
Sorry to be so blunt, but are we now esteeming flesh over spirit?
But was it always true even “back then”?
Consider: in Old Testament times, there were women who led men…and judged them…(Deborah).
Not only that, but give some thoughtful time to a study of Abigail. She not only thwarted the plans of her foolish husband, Nabal, she, by her spiritual discernment and maturity, also thwarted the murderous plan of the young David–who listened to her, submitted to the wisdom of her words and avoided blood-stain on his reign. You will find her story in 1 Samuel chapter 25.
Two more side notes:
Although I haven’t read all the posts here supporting the male ppk notion, I do know that proponents often cite a woman’s need to be “lorded over” as the result of equating her with “sin, crouching at (Cain’s door)” (see Genesis chapter 4) “desiring to have him.”
Do you realize that is tantamount to equating what God called “good” (as in His creation of woman) with evil?
And what of a man’s “free will” to resist sin, that “crouching” entity? Did God forget to give men free will when it comes to their ability to choose to succumb or not succumb to their woman-related temptations?
Additionally, is the Genesis 3:16 description of a man’s “lording over” his wife really a mandate for husbands? Or, is it part of the curse that would wreak havoc until the redemption offered by Jesus Christ?
Please. Think about these things, and accord to men and women alike equal respect and love available by the power of the Holy Spirit abiding in us because of the sacrifice of our one and only Savior, Prophet, High Priest, King, and Intermediary: Jesus Christ.
And if because I am a woman you can’t “hear” this, think about the real genesis of that fear.
its hard for men to be men and women to be women,
especially in this day & age ( 2013 )
God demands order in the Christian family / home.
Men can’t be women and women can’t be the men.
It’s simple people… You are either for me or against me
Let’s pray for order in the homes and submit
to the teaching of Jesus and Godly preachers /
leaders like Tony Evans ( and his wife)
Jim & Betty Robinson, Mark Driscoll and his wife.
Men don’t be afraid to be men.
Let’s rid the body of Christ from Jezebel and Ahab
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Also, Kay I actually agree with you on the “prophet, priest, king” thing. I don’t know that we can so cleanly break that down from the concept of headship, but that is another conversation.
hmm, actually that was what my post was about.
I’m not sure how using the term “emotive” is condescending. If you want more intellectual terms I could rephrase it as a Red Herring or information fallacy of argument from emotion. I didn’t mean that we can’t have an emotional debate only that if felt like it went from the discussion of the text and specifically, “What does Headship mean?” to irrelevant questions that divert from the task at hand. Whatever, “husband as the head of the wife” means it won’t be found based on the problems our culture has with it, or the fact husbands are sinners, or that some wives are better than their husbands. That is irrelevant to the meaning.
Kay, if I was condescending I apologize. I wasn’t intending to be so.
No worries. I disagree that the questions I ask are a result of my emotions, or a lack of “leadership” on my husband’s part, or that they were an attempt to rabbit trail. I genuinely want to know how those who teach ppk (which is what I am exploring in this post, not headship) would answer them? I think they are rational questions!
I would love it if you answered a few of the questions in my comments back!
Awesome, Kay. I’m not sure if you really believe this or if you are just pushing buttons but they are great buttons you push.
In dealing with the issue of husband being “head” of the wife I notice you ask a lot of emotive questions such as “how can a mere man fulfill the responsibility that God . . .” So I’m sure these questions are ones many women ask particularly when they are frustrated or dissatisfied with their husbands. Then you list lots of what I assume to be counter proof texts for why “head” isn’t logical based on the new equality we have in Christ, how that Jew and Gentile are the same and there is no hierarchy, etc.
But I don’t see where you really exegete the understanding of “head” as anything but responsibility, authority, accountable. It is important to deal accurately with the text itself. First, the concept of federal head goes beyond simply proof texting but is a broader systematic theological approach. The Bible and particularly the Old Testament is from a Jewish Eastern way of thinking, not Western. The concept of father being priest of the home goes all the way back to the oldest book of Job who sacrificed for his children’s sins. Of course no one believes that the wife and children are not responsible for their own salvation and sins, but only that the husband is to take seriously his role as mediator to God.
In terms of Adam’s sin the Bible is crystal clear that although Adam and Eve both sinned, it was only Adam’s sin which counted because Eve wasn’t responsible for the covenant with God, Adam was. How is it that Eve sinned and only Adam is said to have “broken the covenant” (Hosea 6:7)? How is it that mankind is cursed through Adam and not Eve when both sinned? Why is it Christ came as “Son of Man” (son of Adam or second Adam) and not Son of Adam and Eve? Because although we all have equal ability in God’s eyes, that doesn’t mean we have equal responsibility. Adam was responsible and the one responsible is blamed, judged, and ultimately had to be redeemed through Second Adam Christ. So this is just general creedal theology for thousands of years. “For as by one man sin entered the world.” (Rom. 5:12) This can’t be interpreted as “mankind” in general because in verse 14 Paul says so death reign from “Adam to Moses” not from “Eve to Zipporah”.
In terms of the husband then being “head” of the home it doesn’t really matter the frustration a woman may have or the illogic of it to her. It matters as to whether God set it up a hierarchy in the family structure similar to that of the Trinity. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the wife. (I Cor. 11:3) If Christ is the “head” of the wife directly why is there not one single scripture that says so? The wife like anyone who believes is united to Christ, but he is never called her head once she is married. Why? He is the head of the wife in that he is the head of the church, but it is never said specifically Christ is the head of the wife because the husband is head of wife while he himself is subject to Christ. What does it means for Christ to be head of the church? It means he acts as Savior protector (Eph. 5:23), he is the authority (Col. 2:10), he is to love her, sanctify her, and present her holy to God (Eph. 5:28). So even implicit in this is a responsibility for the husband to act in a certain way towards the wife to fulfill his role.
Finally, it is curious you quote I Tim. 2:13-14 to show how Eve is a sinner. To me it supports the opposite. Eve was the sinner, but Paul says just before this she is not to have authority over man and be in submission to him in the church. So do you believe it is because of Eve’s sin women must now submit to male authorities in the church? Kind of like a punishment. Or does her sin have nothing to do with it? I think it is the latter. The emphasis is not on Eve being decieved, but on Adam being created first. Women submit to the authority of male leadership in church because “Adam was first formed, then Eve.” No other reason but God set it up that way.
I linked your blog to your name, if you don’t mind? I like things tidy. lol
Well, here we go again…I think you and I have faced off on this issue before, eh? good times!
Because you think my questions are “emotive,” they aren’t valid? I think they are logical questions that deserve an answer from those who believe wives need another prophet, priest and king? Do you think we do?
This post was investigating the teaching that husband must be prophet, priest and king for families. That lead to a discussion in the comments of husband having the spiritual responsibility for his family, which is a core point in this teaching. I haven’t really set out to explore the meaning of head here. Just where it touches prophet, priest and king (ppk). The teaching of ppk is drawn from/read into “head.” Husband IS head. Where does scripture say he is to act like ppk?
Is Job’s example of mediation valid when nowhere, post-Christ, are men instructed to offer sacrifices? Its use is an example of #4 at the beginning of my post. Using OT examples to prop a teaching that isn’t in the New Testament. Do you sacrifice for your family? 🙂
I believe in the Trinity. I don’t believe man is a part of it.
The order of creation and fall is too big to reply to here. Its going to take me a while to work through my thoughts on that. Not ignoring it. 🙂
Kay, I have a commentary on Genesis you should read, by John Walton. He’s an expert on Genesis 1-11 and has an awesome look at creation order. Fun fact, the term for Adam is gender neutral until God took one of his ‘halves’ or ‘sides’ (not rib). So what that suggests is that Good split an androgynous human into male and female halves. Not coincidentally, the gender neutral form of Adam in the text immediately changes to being male specific from that point on.
God = Good. Literally in this instance. (That was a genuine typo)
“but only that the husband is to take seriously his role as mediator to God. ” Is the wife not mediator as well? What do you mean?
“But I don’t see where you really exegete the understanding of “head” as anything but responsibility, authority, accountable.” Do you believe it means that?
“In dealing with the issue of husband being “head” of the wife I notice you ask a lot of emotive questions such as “how can a mere man fulfill the responsibility that God . . .” So I’m sure these questions are ones many women ask particularly when they are frustrated or dissatisfied with their husbands. Then you list lots of what I assume to be counter proof texts for why “head” isn’t logical based on the new equality we have in Christ, how that Jew and Gentile are the same and there is no hierarchy, etc.
But I don’t see where you really exegete the understanding of “head” as anything but responsibility, authority, accountable. It is important to deal accurately with the text itself.”
Brent, I want to preface any further comments by pointing out that this is a somewhat public forum. *I* know that you and Kay are friends and respect each other but not everyone here does and this comes across as a little condescending. Having personal feelings about an issue doesn’t affect its underlying truth (or lack thereof) so mentioning that right at the beginning sounds a little like an ad hominem attack. Also, you “assume” those are counter proof texts? Are you just making sure she didn’t flip open the Bible and list passages at random? And yes, it’s important to deal accurately with the text – that goes without saying. Because if you do say it, you’re really just implying the other person’s points aren’t valid.
As far as the substantial points, it’s also helpful to remember that there is no clear cut answer here. About half the Bible/Theology profs at Wheaton described themselves as egalitarian, the other half as complementarian, with specific beliefs and practices all over the map. Not that Wheaton has any special status – it’s just what I’m most familiar with and it’s certainly no hotbed of extreme ideas.
What it comes down to for me is burden of proof. Someone has an affirmative belief about gender roles? Great, it’s your job to demonstrate the Biblical correctness of the belief. (That’s true for any Christian belief, but most things are more clear cut so not many people discuss them). In this particular issue, we’re dealing with sources that are not just ancient and translated, but anchored in cultures so different from our own (in regard to gender and household) that it’s sometimes hard to distinguish the eternal truth of God from random stuff Abraham or Paul believed because it was a pragmatic response or that was simply the only option they knew. Even some of the references you made aren’t nearly as clear cut as your post would suggest.
So in light of a large amount of uncertainty I simply can’t justify viewing headship as a Biblical mandate. There’s nothing wrong with individual households choosing that model on their own, but we should be wary whenever we’re calling something a Biblical command to which other Christians should be conforming.
The reason I didn’t address specific passages is BECAUSE it’s so complicated. Which makes it hard to have a reasonable discussion in the a comment thread. Also, that would be a lot of typing and I’m lazy.
Interesting about Wheaton. I’m glad to hear of their unity regardless of their specific beliefs on gender.
The interesting thing about the Heb. 13:17 passage is that the burden of obedience (and joyful reward) seems to fall upon the one submitting. Even though the pastor(s) will give account, if they should have to give a negative report, it appears the responsibility falls upon the person in the pew! How fair is that?! Could it be similar with the husband/wife relationship? Wives are responsible for their own submission, yet a husband will still give account for how well he leads her/children spiritually.
I don’t see a husband referred to as a “king” in Scripture (unless you count “a man’s home is his castle” – wait, that’s not Scripture!) But (as posted in your other write-up) I do believe the husbands’ “headship” – leadership – is clearly taught in Eph. 5:22-24. That does NOT mean the husband is the dominant “head” of his wife for that must belong only to Christ. And sometimes that line gets hazy, admittedly.
My question with this responsibility for another person business, is… how can we even say someone is responsible for another? HOW? There is no condemnation in Christ. He is the responsible party for all our good and bad behavior when we believe in him, abide in him to the end. That is gospel.
Free will…freedom to choice. I cannot make someone do something they don’t choose to do. Even God wouldn’t make his children obey him. How can we say he requires a pastor or husband responsible for another free will?
Retha, I didn’t mean Adam took responsibility, but that the responsibility was given him by God. Just because he didn’t shoulder it doesn’t mean it wasn’t his. Kay, could there be a difference between culpability and responsibility? I’m not suggesting my husband take the punishment or blame for my sin, but I do believe he’ll stand before God, accountable for how he leads his family, including me. I don’t think wives need another priest. That’s borderline heresy, since I believe in the priesthood of the believer – every believer. But, I don’t have a problem with telling men they should aspire to the qualities of prophet (seeker and teller of truth), priest (sympathetic shepherd) and king (loving leader) of their families. I’ve never heard anyone teach that they are to be a literal priest – the mediator between God and man – to their wives. But, I’m sure you’ve done more reading on this than me. =)
You have concluded from the verse you quoted on Adam, that God held Adam responsible as a gender position and not as in all humanity? I don’t think that’s a commonly held position, due to the balancing out of the Timothy passage I quoted. Adam and Eve were both responsible. Eve was deceived, Adam sealed the deal with outright rebellion. Humanity fell. All humans die.
“Could there be a difference between culpability and responsibility?” Sure. Isn’t one the result of the failure of the other? Webster’s defines responsible as “answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management.” Again, I don’t believe my behavior is in my husband’s power, control or management, hence he isn’t accountable or responsible for my actions. That’s in the Holy Spirit’s domain. Praise God.
“I’m not suggesting my husband take the punishment or blame for my sin, but I do believe he’ll stand before God, accountable for how he leads his family, including me.” Where have you gotten this idea, just curious?
“But, I don’t have a problem with telling men they should aspire to the qualities of prophet (seeker and teller of truth), priest (sympathetic shepherd) and king (loving leader) of their families.” Okay. But, its not a command of Scripture, so don’t hold them to it. 🙂
Christy–“but I do believe he’ll stand before God, accountable for how he leads his family, including me.”
I’ve been looking for a couple days off and on, but can’t find a Bible reference for this. Maybe you know where I can find it? I’ve heard this phrase used/quoted many times so I’m surprised I’m having a hard time…
Tanis, I don’t think there will literally be a “day of reckoning” someday for husbands on how they led their families. I don’t know how the accountability works. The passage I’ve always heard is the Eph. 5 one that Kay expounded on in her post about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her – to present her to himself…holy & blameless. If husbands are to love their wives “in the same way”, I can only assume that husbands will be held responsible for the spiritual and physical well being of their wives.
“The idea that certain people need someone else to be answerable for them or held accountable for them in the spiritual realms seems counter-gospel to me.” We do see this command to pastors in Hebrews 13:17; they will be accountable (or give an account) for those under their spiritual care. Although I agree with your premise here, I do think there is some responsibility for a husband concerning the leadership of his family in spiritual issues – hence, the biblical expectation for a leader.
Glad you’re back! Although, you should have taken me instead of Julie… 🙂
I wondered who would bring up pastors in response to that sentence. hehe. I don’t know what to say to that. I haven’t studied that passage in detail. I still agree with my sentence that you quoted. It seems counter gospel. So, to keep in context with this post … I ask you…
1) Where does the bible say husband is to act as leader (the “king” idea)? Looking for actual/literal words.
2) How do you define this spiritual responsibility?
Why was Adam, then, held responsible for original sin?
Because he sinned? 🙂 Would you expound a little? Not sure how to answer.
Why is Eve, then, not the Federal Head, but Adam? “For as in Adam, all die, but in Christ are all made alive.”
“And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” 1 Tim 2:14 Which one shall we blame? Paul couldn’t make up his mind, either! 🙂 The contradictions are so confusing!
But lets keep your question in context with women needing another priest beside Christ. If you want to accept that Adam has spiritual responsibility for Eve, you must also accept that he had to answer for her actions and be held accountable for her culpability, because that is the nature of responsibility. Can you take responsibility for sin without punishment? So, if Eve is not considered responsible for her own actions, Adam was, wouldn’t Eve already have a savior in Adam? Yet Mary calls Jesus her savior, so we know women are saved by Christ too, not through their husbands. Or maybe that’s not what you are saying? Am I being dense? Maybe I still don’t understand your point.
Didn’t Adam take responsibility (not punishment) for Eve’s sin?
Christy, it does not seem to me as if Adam took any responsibility. Not for her sin, or his.
Adam:” This woman you gave me, she gave it to me, and I ate.”(Blaming the woman, and God indirectly.)
Another great post!