I discussed yesterday that while God’s Word tells wives to submit (not single women!), it does not tell the husband to RULE over his wife! Today, though, I wanna go back to some of the Scriptural passages we examined yesterday regarding this discussion of men being in charge—Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 3. In addition, I’d like for us to examine a part of Genesis 2. This discussion will focus on the implications of these passages of Scripture. It is my belief that complementarians are half-dividing the Word of Truth on this matter.
Let’s take a look at Ephesians 5. Just so everyone can read it without worry, I’ll paste it here:
22(AR) Wives,(AS) submit to your own husbands,(AT) as to the Lord. 23For(AU) the husband is the head of the wife even as(AV) Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is(AW) himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit(AX) in everything to their husbands.
Notice something here: there are two relationships being compared to each other—husband/wife and Christ/church. In both relationships, there is a leader and a follower: in the home, the husband is the leader, and in the church, Christ is the leader. Both the husband and Christ are heads, but the husband is ONLY HEAD OF THE HOME! He is head of the home because of Eve’s punishment back in Genesis 3. However, Christ is the head of the church and should be Lord of the home (the husband is the lowercase “l,” lord of the home).
Somehow, complementarians have distorted the Scriptures to their own liking. They will totally affirm the first part of Ephesians 5:22, that “the husband is the head of the wife.” But they will stop at that—to them, the fact that the husband is the head of the home means that now, the MALE is the leader of the FEMALE (all men are over all women); and then, when it gets to the church, now, the MAN rules over the WOMAN in church. Complementarians take God’s words to Eve in Genesis 3:16 and misapply it across all of society. I even know of complementarians who have said that if a woman is in a manager’s position over her husband in any given company, the man should leave that company (because the woman is not to be over the man, from 1 Timothy 2)! How absurd! Does God’s Word REALLY say that? Of course not.
Let’s look at the second part of verse 22: “For the husband is the head of the wife EVEN AS CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH…” Did you catch that? Christ is the head of the church, not the man, the husband, the deacon, the preacher, the teacher, the Pastor, the trustees, the musicians, the choir members, etc! NOONE IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH BUT CHRIST ALONE! The husband is the lowercase “lord” of the home, but Christ is the uppercase “LORD” of the church! The man’s sphere runs to the home and ONLY the home; it stops when he reaches the church. Yes, his wife is supposed to acknowledge his headship in public before all, but his headship doesn’t give him the right to determine what gifts his wife has or whether or not she can use them. That’s not the husband’s call. The husband’s job is to lead in the marriage, NOT IN THE CHURCH! The husband only has one wife (monogamous), so he was never given the job of running the church, where there are lots of married women and single women alike. The husband has no authority over other women—only his wife!
Let’s look at 1 Timothy 3. Yesterday, I made the point that women can serve in the church as leaders as well; that, based on the chapter, Paul includes women when he mentions them later in 1 Timothy 5 and calls them “despots of the home” (literal translation of the Greek word “oikodespotein”). But let’s reexamine 1 Timothy 3 again:
1The saying is(A) trustworthy: If anyone aspires to(B) the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore(C) an overseer[a] must be above reproach,(D) the husband of one wife,[b](E) sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable,(F) hospitable,(G) able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but(H) gentle, not quarrelsome,(I) not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity(J) keeping his children submissive, 5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for(K) God’s church? (1 Tim. 3:1-5, ESV)
One of the qualifications for the leader is to be a good manager of his household. But notice what Paul says in verse 5: “for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”
I want us to look at the two verbs in this rhetorical question of Paul’s: the first is “manage” and the second is “care.” Paul uses the word “manage” with regards to the home (“household”); but what does he use in regards to the church? Does he use the word “manage”? Does he use the word “despot” as he did with the young widows? No. Paul doesn’t do anything of the sort—he uses the Greek word “epimeleisetai,” meaning “to care for.”
Don’t you see a difference in these two words? When a person manages something, they are over everything, as is a manager in a manufacturing plant or a corporation, for example. But does a person have to be the manager “to take care of” something? No.
To illustrate my point biblically, let’s go back to Genesis 2. Let’s read one verse of this chapter:
15The LORD God took the man(O) and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15, ESV).
Notice that, although Adam was the first human created, he was placed in the Garden as a steward—to work and keep the Garden. He was God’s assistant, but HE DID NOT OWN THE GARDEN! God owned the Garden, but He chose Adam to work it and keep it. And this is what God expects the leader in the church to do—work in the church and keep the church pure and spotless from temptation and error (to maintain doctrinal purity). So, while the man (or woman) can manage their homes, they are not to RULE the church—but to work it and keep it. The Lord owns the church just as He owned the Garden of Eden. Therefore, there is no room for power in the church. All the power belongs to Christ and He dispenses it as He sees fit.
There is no direct link here between the husband as head of the home and as head of the church; yet, it’s surprising that conservatives link “the church and home” in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. If you read works such as “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” by Grudem and Piper, you’ll find that they mention “church and home” or “home and church” several times throughout the pages. But the problem comes in when you have to prove that husbands were given RULE over the church, because they lead in the home—and that is proof that the complementarians don’t have.
This then, is the missing link—the connection between the husband leading in the home and leading in the church. Husbands, nor do wives, children, or church officials, serve as the head of the church. In fact, there is language from 1 Peter to tell us the role of overseers in the church:
2(C) shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,[a](D) not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;[b](E) not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not(F) domineering over those in your charge, but(G) being examples to the flock.
Peter tells the elders not to “DOMINEER” over those they serve. What are the leaders to be? Shepherds. And as shepherds, they are to lead LIKE THE CHIEF SHEPHERD. And what does the Chief Shepherd do?
11(H) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd(I) lays down his life for the sheep. 12He who is(J) a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and(K) leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and(L) scatters them. 13He flees because(M) he is a hired hand and(N) cares nothing for the sheep. 14(O) I am the good shepherd.(P) I know my own and(Q) my own know me, 15(R) just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and(S) I lay down my life for the sheep.
The undershepherds and other leaders of God’s church are to care for the church.
Nowhere in the passages above do we read of leaders RULING the church. If complementarians want to “connect the dots” and show why men are the leaders of the church, they will have to invent interpretations and perform “Olympic exegesis” to do it.