A Husband who will Not Lead

A Husband who will Not Lead

A Husband who will Not Lead

Question and Answers


I am married to a man who makes poor decisions or can’t make spiritual and godly decisions. Although he would like to make such decisions for our marriage and household, I know that I must exert my control and authority in order for the marriage to go smoothly. My mother never allowed Dad to exercise leadership, and I think that I wouldn’t be able to either. What shall I do?


It is true that not all husbands will exercise the authority that God has given to them. And some women find it much more convenient for them to exercise authority in the home (as well as in society). There are various reasons for this.

First, some men just have never learned to be in control or take the lead—whether in their marriage or in any other relationship. They just allow another or others to take the lead and they just sit back and assume the passive role.

Second, some men are not spiritually mature for one reason or another. They don’t know how to exercise spiritual, righteous, and godly authority. Or they may think that this position is too far above them and they simply can’t reach this high.

Third, some men are aware that their wife has a “feminist” attitude that seems to like to take the lead in the marriage. She makes the decisions, she makes demands on the children, and she may love to take the preeminence over her husband.

Fourth, the wife may have more education than her husband and may earn more than he does, thus she thinks that she has “earned the right” to take the lead in the marriage. She may even hold a domineering position in a position she holds on the job and has learned to take control over others. Thus she thinks that it is good for her to do this in her marriage as well.

Fifth, some women think that her decisions are much wiser, thus why should she submit to a man who shows himself to be inferior in some way or make imprudent decisions? Thus, she may think that she has earned the right to take the lead over her inferior husband. She further believes that it would be foolish for her to allow her husband to manifest leadership over her because he is inept and she is superior.

These may be some of the reasons why a woman demands her “right” to have the authority in the home—and in every other relationship in life. She may also be somewhat egalitarian in her thinking, under the mistaken impression that she and her husband should “share” leadership in the marriage. We know that there are many men and women who have the same attitude manifested during the time of the Judges in the Old Testament era, in which “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). When both married persons have this attitude of following what is right in his or her eyes, there is bound to be chaos.

In these cases, it is helpful to remind ourselves that God has given us his own “chain of authority” for society, for marriage, and for other relationships in life. We read, “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Here we read that the “man” (or husband) is the “head” of a “woman” (or wife). The term here rendered “head” means head in the sense of a literal head in a body as well as head in a relationship, meaning the “authority” in the relationship.

We read further, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24). Here we see that the wife is to be “subject” or submissive to her husband. We also see that the husband is the “head” of the wife. And the wife is to be “subject” to her husband (as the church is “subject” to Christ). Reading a passage like this allows no other conclusion than that the wife is to be subject or submissive to her husband. And the husband is to exercise leadership or headship in the marriage.

We might suggest that you also read Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:11-15; Titus 2:4-5;1 Peter 3:1-6. All of these reveal God’s will for the marriage relationship and show that the husband is to take the lead and the wife is to follow and be submissive.

We know that some husbands are not spiritual; some are not wise; some are not used to take the lead. Some husbands don’t know how to exercise a good and godly authority over their wife and also over the family. In these cases (which are very real), the husband needs to find a seasoned brother to mentor him in how to exercise authority in the home (and in every other human relationship). And the wife needs to find a godly, wise, and submissive woman who will mentor her in how to be the kind of wife described in Proverbs 31:10-31.

We believe that there needs to be a great repentance on the part of many people on this very subject. Correction: there must be a scriptural and holy repentant on the part of almost everyone—men and women alike—regarding their past unwillingness to fulfill the roles that God has wisely given to them. Society tends to laugh about this matter, but God would bid us weep over it. Let us seek His will and do it—regardless of how difficult it may be to carry it out.

–Richard Hollerman


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