The Role of the Father in Family Worship Read Ephesians 5:25-6:4
“Husband love your wives just as Christ also loved the church.”
Paul’s writing on the spiritual leadership of the husband has often perplexed the reader. Tragically, it has been used by some to mean that the husband is to be the domineering leader in the home whose decisions become law and the wife is to become passive. But this view is a distortion of what Paul is teaching and what scripture teaches about leadership and marriage. To understand biblical leadership, we need to understand that it is not about authority and position. Christ clearly points to a different view of leadership when he states that it is not about authority but about being a servant (see Matthew 20:24-28). This is equally true of what Paul is teaching here. The prescription that husbands are to be the head of the home is not grounded in authoritarian control, but rather sacrificial servanthood. This is clearly seen in these verses as he compares the husband’s leadership in the home to Christ’s activity in the church. We see in several important ways. First, leadership is grounded in love and sacrifice (vs 25). Genuine live is not demanding but sacrificial, giving up our desires, wants, and even wellbeing for the wellbeing of the other. This is what Christ did when He “gave Himself up for her” which points us back to the cross where he sacrificed his life for the salvation of the church. The true measure of love is expressed in the willingness of the husband to set aside his happiness and comfort for the good of his wife. Second, He nourishes and cherishes her. The word nourish sets the priority of providing for her needs even above his own. The word cherish speaks of the concern he is to have for her welfare. Third, leadership is grounded in a redemptive purpose. What is to mark the leadership of the husband is that his one goal and desire is to present his wife and family to God without “spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless”. In other words, the focus of his leadership is not on authority and control, but spiritual transformation and growth.
Not only does he accept responsibility for the spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing of his wife, but also of his children as well. First Paul provides a warning. He is not to provoke his children to anger. We do this by being authoritative, controlling, and harsh. Establishing an iron-fisted rule that shows little regard for his children. Instead of being authoritative, he is to strive to instruct and teach them about Christ and a life of obedience to him.
But this all points us back to the importance of the husband and father becoming a pastor of his family. What Peter writes about pastors, in general, provides us an example of what it means to be a pastor at home (1 Peter 5:1-4). A pastor is one who provides an example for them to follow. This is why Paul states that if we are not first a pastor (elder) at home we are not qualified to a pastor (elder) in the church (1 Timothy 3:4-5).
This is what Paul is challenging men to be when he states that they are to be leaders in the home. To be a leader of the home is to accept responsibility to care for the spiritual wellbeing of the family and strive to make sure that your family growing in Christ. A godly husband and father becomes a pastor to his family, striving to care for the spiritual needs and promote the spiritual health of the family. When we do this our family will thrive in the midst of the most difficult circumstances.