Should Headship Be A Power Play? -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 01:2 (Nov 1995)
Article: Should Headship Be A Power Play?
Author: Anonymous

Should Headship Be A Power Play?

Often, the relational tensions between men and women are described in terms of power or control. This semantic slant on the discussion often wrongly leads egalitarians to the conclusion that headship includes the forceful use of power by a man, resulting in domination if not outright abuse of his wife. Because of this, egalitarian efforts to level the distinctions between men and women in the home and the church are easily focused on the woman’s reclamation or assertion of power or control in the relationship.

A glimpse at some Biblical injunctions should correct this false assumption and its conclusion. Jesus’ reminded the disciples in Luke 22:25–26. “The kings of the Gentiles lord it overthem; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” Likewise, Peter describes leadership and authority as gentle service, “serving as overseers…eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you” (1 Pet. 5:2–3). In the home, Paul does not command husbands to dominate, rather he instructs them to lovingly and sacrificially serve their wives as Christ does His church (Eph. 5:25–33).

Along these lines, Diane Knippers of the Institute on Religion and Democracy declared in Beijing, “I am likewise skeptical of the use of the concept of power in the family…. What a sterile and bankrupt view of the most private and intimate human relationship!…The root problem is husbands who do not love their wives. Our goal should be to change their minds and hearts, not merely to restrict their behavior.”

In a letter to First Things (Jan., 1995) a woman reader underscored these issues as she wrote, “I know a woman whose husband has Alzheimer’s disease. She cares for him with loving patience and constancy such as she used with their small children many years ago. I know a man whose wife has an incurable debilitating disease. He bathes her, dresses her, and feeds her. He lovingly tries to understand her sadly garbled attempts to speak. Where does the concept of power come into these marriages? The healthy spouses are obviously making all the decisions.

Are they therefore powerful? Or might we consider that the helpless spouses are exercising power because they are commanding constant service?

“Feminists in academe, feminist syndicated columnists, and talk show hosts on TV have been highly effective in promoting the practice of analyzing all human relationships in terms of power, oblivious to the distortions that ensue. Concomitant with ...

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