Does Someone Have to be in Charge? (Part 5)

This is a continuation of the outline series exploring the roots of the chain of authority. The original articles by Kristen Rosser are at No Longer Qivering. Please browse the outline, then if your spirit it so led, go over to the full articles to read her extended insights. Posted with permission.

Jesus was quite accurate when He said that hierarchies of authority and rule were of the “Gentiles” in Matthew 20:25, because the concept known as the “Great Chain of Being” was formed in Greek thought and was never taught by our Savior. We are Gentiles also, and we have taken hierarchy for granted, missing the impact of Christ’s words that it is to be “not so among you,” for too long. KR

This section looks at authority in marriage. The following quote sums up one Complementarian argument for husband authority in marriage.

“What your husband wants is your acknowledgement that he is the leader, the one in authority. This is not to grind you under or treat you as inferior. It is only to say that because God has made your husband responsible (review Eph. 5:22-33), he needs the authority to carry out that responsibility. No smoothly running organization can have two heads. To set up a marriage with two equals at the head is to set it up for failure. That is one of the big reasons that people are divorcing today.” Eggerichs, Love and Respect, Thomas Nelson (2004), page 221.

The following outline argues against the presumptions established in the above quote.

1. The husband might be called to lead, but it is not required of him simply because he is the male.

a. Eggerichs (from the quote above) equates husband leadership with the right or power of authority in marriage.

b. This argues Aristotle’s for “Great Chain of Command.”

c. It places males and females in a hierarchy under God.

d. This viewpoint from Ephesians 5:22-23 leaves out the context of Ephesians 5:21.

2. Marriage should not be defined as an organization.

a. The Bible defines marriage in the organic terms of close friendship.

i. One flesh. Mat 9:6

ii. Covenant. Mal 2:14

iii. Companionship. Mal 2:14

b. “Best friends do no need one of them to be a leader. In that case they wouldn’t be best friends— they’d be hero and sidekick.”KR

i. Establishing friendship based on a business model destroys the relationship.

ii. Boss and employee are cautioned not to become more than acquaintances for that reason.

c. Oneness does not concern itself with who is in charge, but with blending its parts into the whole.

3. A family might run closer to a business model than marriage, but it is a partnership business model, not a sole proprietorship.

a. Some successful businesses are partnerships; especially in a small business model similar to a family.

i. Both partners share equal risk and contribute equally to the success of the venture.

ii. Neither partner is in charge of the other.

ii. Consensus is the desired goal.

b. Children need leadership and guidance.

i. The mother and father share in leading the children.

ii. One does not have to lead the other.

In a family where the wife is better with figures and the husband better at planning events, for instance, she might defer to him on when and where to throw a party, and he might defer to her on how much to spend on it.  There would be no need for either one to try to squeeze into rigid “roles” that neither is suited for. KR

c. A marriage is especially suited to be a partnership since the goal is “oneness” and close companionship.

4. The example of the Proverbs 31 marriage reflects a partnership model.

a. The wife works independently of husband.

b. Her husband trusts her to buy land, run a business and manange the servants.

c. She does not seek his leadership in any of these things.

d. The husband meets his own duties, and lets her work speak for itself.

5 thoughts on “Does Someone Have to be in Charge? (Part 5)

  1. (oops, had an internet malfunction)…continuing…

    …gives his life for? Just because one friend assumes the leadership rightfully given to him/her DOESN’T mean the authority is wrong or unbiblical or unkind.

    I do think this passage also emphasizes the importance of love and service within the roles of a marriage – or life in general.


    1. Linda, neither is the husband EVER directly told to lead or take authority over his wife. Instead, he is told to lay down his life for her. Look at what Christ did for His friends– He girded Himself as a slave and performed the most menial of tasks for them. Then He told them that if He would do this for them, they should do it for one another. In His humanity, He was our equal, even though in His divinity He is our Lord. Philippeans 2 confirms that when Christ became obedient to death, He was laying down His high position and becoming even as a slave among humans.

      When Christ said, “I call you friends,” He was making a distinction. “I used to call you servants, but now I call you friends, because I have told you everything the Father showed me.” He said this on the eve of His crucifixion, on the night He washed their feet. He was not saying, “Hey, I’m your friend but we are not equals.” He was specifically saying, “Now, at this time, in this place, as I prepare to lay down My life, we are equals.” Friendship is indeed about equality, not about one person being in authority over the other.


  2. Again, I can appreciate the need to address a servant-leadership style for a husband, but I still read throughout Scripture where the wife is told to be in subjection to her husband, and never is the husband directly told to be in subjection to his wife (“directly told” is the key – as is repeated often in Scripture).

    “Best friends do no need one of them to be a leader. In that case they wouldn’t be best friends…” I was appreciating the nuances of the previous statement and reflecting how best friends DO usually have the workable relationship of give-and-take, but then John 15:14 came to mind: Christ said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” And, yes, He also gave His life for his friends (verse 13), but wouldn’t this passage seem to say that one friend can also assume a leadership position for the friend he willingly loves and gi


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