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Lie No. 4: Women must obediently submit to their husbands in all situations.

A distraught Christian woman who was regularly beaten by her husband finally gained the courage to seek counsel from her pastor. After she told him about her husband’s fits of rage, the pastor responded, “If your husband kills you, it will be to the glory of God.”

The pastor reached this irresponsible conclusion because of a distorted view of “male headship.” We often portray marriage as a hierarchy, with husbands on the throne and wives at the footstool, and we use Scripture to justify this view: “Wives...submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22).

We assume this verse means women have no say in family matters or that their opinion is second-rate. In extreme cases, women have been told to submit to abuse in order to honor male headship. But this is not a Christian view.

Paul also told the Ephesians, “submit to one another” (5:21, emphasis added). I have heard teachings by male clergy on the subject of male headship, but I’ve never heard a pastor encourage men to submit to their wives! Yet in a loving marriage, a man and woman will defer to one another as they make decisions.

In my 16 years of marriage, my wife and I have had plenty of disagreements. But when we reach an impasse, I don’t announce, “I am the head of this house, so what I say goes.” Rather, Deborah and I either agree to pray about the matter, or we choose to defer to one another.

The point is never who is in charge. I view my wife as an equal. I am not “over her.” We function as one.

Lie No. 5: A man needs to “cover” a woman in her ministry activities.

This idea came from a distorted interpretation of the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “the head of woman is man” (NKJV). People have used these words to bolster the idea that women are subservient to men or that they cannot approach God without a male authority figure in their lives.

Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11 about head coverings is a difficult passage, and Bible scholars don’t agree on its meaning. However, most teach that Paul is addressing specific cultural concerns in first-century Corinth and that he is calling for propriety and order in a society where immorality and paganism had blurred gender distinctions.

Paul was not placing men in a position of generic rulership over women. Because there is “no male or female in Christ” (see Gal. 3:28), women can pray, worship, study the Bible or minister without a man present. How silly to think that a man, because of his gender, could add credibility to prayer or Spirit-empowered ministry! To believe this would be to trust in the flesh.

Lie No. 6: A woman should view her husband as the “priest of the home.”

Search your concordance. Scripture never describes men as “priests of the home.” This man-made concept was popularized in evangelical churches in the last century. We have one priest, Jesus Christ, whose blood atoned for our sins. It is a mockery of the gospel to suggest that any human being needs an additional priest apart from the Son of God.

The Bible says all believers are priests (see 1 Pet. 2:9, Rev. 1:6); there is no gender restriction. Husbands function as priests when they pray for their families or when they minister the Word of God to them, and wives also function in this role.

My experience in marriage has been that God speaks both to me and to my wife. He doesn’t say to me, “Since you are the head of this house, I’ll tell you my plans for your family, and you can tell the others what I said.” Often God has revealed His plans to my wife before I heard anything!

Christian men need to stop being defensive and recognize that God has called us to function in unity with our wives. We need to listen to their counsel, consider their opinions, and pray together for the mind of the Lord rather than putting our foot down and shouting, “I am the leader of this family, and what I say goes!”

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