There is something that has been particularly bothering me over the past month. When watching some of the television shows I enjoy, or ones that I catch a few minutes of here and there, it truly saddens me when I consider the ‘father figure’ in most of these shows. Many, many times, the father is pictured as very weak, ruled by the wife, incompetent in leading the family, and generally quite lacking in any leadership.
Ok, let me back up before I get shot down too quickly. I enjoy watching television. I do not believe it is evil. Of course, I don’t want it to be a god in my life, and that I must guard against. But I do enjoy watching a few shows, particularly Prison Break, Lost, 24 (patiently awaiting a Season 7), CSI and Friends. The typical 30-minute American sitcom has not always been my ‘cup of tea’, but my wife’s fondness for Friends did end up drawing me in. And I have to admit, though some of the innuendos can be a bit over the top, I find myself laughing quite regularly, especially at the comments of Chandler Bing.
Yet, when I turn to some other shows – Everybody Loves Raymond, The Simpsons, According to Jim – I truly find myself disturbed. I know the characters (or cartoons) are just playing their roles. I know it’s just a 30-minute television slot (or 22 minutes after commercials). But there seems to be one common thread with so many of these shows. The real lack in male leadership in the home.
I guess it would go way back, I mean way back to the Garden. When we turn right back to the beginning of the story, it seems that when the serpent was tempting Eve to eat of that fruit, Adam just might have been right there with her. Check out the passage:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6)
Did you catch that last little bit of the verse – ‘and she also gave some to her husband who was with her’? The Scriptures might generally be stating that Eve gave to her husband that was with her, as in Adam was ‘with her’ as I am generally at home with my wife in the evening. But, with a common understanding already established that Adam was generally there with Eve, as he was the only other human being at that time, it is interesting to ponder the situation.
Was Adam right there watching the whole plot being played out with the serpent? Was he watching that serpent lie its way into deceiving Eve? The Bible many times simply summarizes events, and so, at times, we have to take license in reading between the lines. No, not so we can develop and strengthen a pet theology, or even worse, to develop heresy. But we simply ponder the possibilities.
And so, I wonder if Adam was standing right there at that tree, hearing that conversation between Eve and the serpent. If he was, why did he not ‘step up to the plate’? Why did he ‘tuck his tail between his legs’ and not fight for the one given by God that was the ‘helper fit for him’ (Genesis 2:18)?
Please believe me that this is not just another article arguing the ploys of male dominance. By no means is it such. I believe in the role of women in life, in the church, even in ‘ministry’ (you can see the two articles I wrote concerning such – part 1, part 2). But what I am really longing for is the reality of men being men, of men being leaders, of men taking headship as designed by the Father.
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. (Ephesians 5:23)
Again, please remember my heart is not to argue for male dominance. Rather, I challenge men to take up the role of male leadership in the family, in the home.
I’ve always appreciated the remark that, if you have to continually ask your wife to submit to you, then you most likely are not loving her as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:25-27). And, so, we are also challenged to love our wives as Christ does love the Church. That is a great challenge to us all! But, I also know the man is called to lead, to be strong, to be a refuge for his wife, a loving father to his children, and so much more. There will be times when the husband is weak and vulnerable, and I can testify to such, or maybe my life is just out of the ordinary. I have experienced such vulnerability and have found refuge in my wife. Remember, she was given as a ‘helper fit for him’. But, in the end, it is the husband that has been given the role of headship in the home, it is the father that has been given the role of leadership in the family.
So, today, my encouragement is that men be what God has called us to – not perfection, but strength and leadership. Don’t leave your wife longing for you to step up and lead. Take the initiative. Do it with a gracious heart, do it with a servant heart, but do take that lead. And if you do so with grace and a servant’s heart, you will be walking in the footsteps of Christ Himself (Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 5:25-27). But, in the end, don’t ‘look the other way’ as Adam might have done in those beginning pages of history. Don’t walk the typical path of Homer Simpson or Ray Romano (or you might be thinking of someone else). Rather lead, defend, serve, protect, discipline your children in love and grace, and display the heart of God as a male created in His image. Oh yes, give your wife room to image God as well, and let your children be children. But as men in Christ, let us not be like the typical male of the 30-minute sitcom, even if it does make us laugh. Let us be what God has called us to be as men, as husbands, and as fathers.
If you are interested in further reading, I would encourage you to look into both of these books:
Wild at Heart (by John Eldredge)
The Way of the Wild Heart (by John Eldredge)
Cool thoughts, Scott!
Ironically, Liberty Church just had its marriage retreat weekend conference. The speakers highlighted this very same element of the Eden story- Adam’s being “with her” at the temptation. It’s something I have touched on in youth lessons to our youth group in the past, as well!
I have always taken a conservative, “safe” view of complementarian gender roles. I definitely do not share many of the egalitarian understandings, but I am certainly more “progressive” than the traditional complementarian camp.
But otherwise, good thoughts on male headship. It’s good to take a delicate but firm stance on what scripture teaches.