You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 (NASB)
One of the more difficult issues to face in a discipleship
situation is women married to men who have abdicated their responsibility to
lead in the marriage and in the home.
Most but not all Christian women desire to be led by their
husbands. It is a love-hate thing for us. There is that part of a woman that wants
that leadership and oversight and direction, and honestly the other part that
wants to self-rule and to rule over him!
Rebellion to authority is our curse to bear (Gen. 3) and it is not
God's desire or plan that we rule in the home. He has designed women to need leadership
and headship, but sometimes appointed leaders don’t want to lead.
Remember that Eve was seduced by the serpent into believing lies
about what God truly did say regarding that tree and the fruit. Scripture
informs us that Eve was not alone with the serpent as she was tempted. Genesis
3:6 tells us that Adam was there as the serpent twisted God’s Words, and
interacted with Eve. There is no record that Adam attempted to correct the
serpent’s lies or to drag Eve away from the situation. He was right there
listening and did not refute the lies or distortions. Eve was deceived and
ultimately disobeyed her husband (who had told her about the prohibition) and
God and ate of the tree. Her act was not one of flaunting rebellion; she was
seduced by the great Deceiver! Her protector, Adam, was not protecting. Her
leader, Adam, was not leading. In fact, Adam followed his wife into sin and ate
the fruit she gave him.
Adam abdicated his position of authority as Eve’s headship, and
his leadership over his wife. When Adam was called to account by God, he blamed
God for giving him Eve as though it were her fault he disobeyed. He knew the truth for God had told him personally.
He also blamed God for his own sin claiming God had erred in giving him this
particular woman. Adam abdicated his
leadership position and failed to protect his wife from sinning. I often wonder
about the post-fall conversations Eve had with Adam about that event…
I usually get one of two scenarios in a couple’s session: A woman
who is willing to follow a man who won’t lead, or a woman who frustrates her
husband’s leadership to the point he gives up.
When woman understands the biblical model of headship and
leadership and is willing and wanting to follow but the husband won’t lead the
marriage is often full of discord. A man who will not lead is often considered
weak and lazy by his wife. She resents his unwillingness to step up and
"be a man."
If your husband is not a leader you ought to understand that over
the past 40 years men have been conditioned by culture to be conciliatory and
to not lead their wives and families. Biblical male leadership was most likely not
taught in his home or his church. My
experience in biblically counseling couples reveals that the far majorities of
men have no clue how to lead and are very afraid to be put in the position to
If you are a woman who is married to a man
who will not lead, you have to realize you will not change him, you cannot
change him. Only the Lord can do those changes in his life, because they begin
in his heart. The Lord has to convict him, and change that selfish part of him
that desires the ease and comfort he has in being a passenger in his home.
The other scenario comes to light when a
wife complains to me that her husband won't make a decision or take a leadership
role so she “has” to do it. While this may be the way it is now, he may have
attempted leadership in the past but was overrun by his wife. She (you?) was
critical of his decisions or belittled him when things didn’t turn out
well. Some husbands quit even attempting
leadership because their wives contradict them constantly. This sets up a ungodly paradigm in marriage and
creates bitterness in both husband and wife.
The wife’s complaint is her husband won’t lead. My question is,
why would he lead when he doesn't have to? If you are doing his job what reason
does he have to fight you for it? Many times, it is a fight too. You don't want to
give up that control or power and it is evident as you criticize the decisions
he does make! You tell him to lead, and
then refuse in practice to get out of the way!
If this resonates with you then you need
to consider if the first problem in this equation is you. If you conclude this
is the case, begin by confessing the sin of your heart to God. I would suggest
beginning with the sin of pride as you have believed in your heart that you
believe your way is better than God's way. Then re-read key passages of
Scripture about your role in the home, Proverbs 31, Titus 2, 1 Peter 3 and Ephesians
5 just for starters.
Pray and ask God's help in changing your heart toward submission
and leadership. Find a Godly woman in your church who can help you to learn
these principles and then begin to build them into your life. Be aware of the
times you respond sinfully to your husband, and confess to him that you have
become aware of your usurping his authority in the home and ask his
Give him the grace and the space to be the
leader. Stop making decisions, stop doing his job and put him back in the place
to succeed. This is going to be a process but with a humble heart and a
submissive spirit you will see rapid positive changes.