We cannot get far in our discussion of God’s design for the family without addressing the failure of men — failure to fulfill their responsibility as God has designed it. They have perverted their maleness and perverted the role that God intended for them.
When things go wrong on an athletic team, the coach gets fired. He’s the leader and success is his responsibility. When profits drop seriously in a corporation, the president and the CEO are replaced. When things don’t go well in the church, the board seeks a new pastor. That’s the nature of leadership: If things aren’t going well, you take it right to the leader. The leader bears the responsibility, ultimately, for success and for failure. We see that all throughout our society.
And in the home, the buck stops with the husband. If all is not well, the greatest measure of responsibility for that may well be in the hands of the leader.
By God’s design, clearly expressed in Scripture, the man is the head of the household. He is the leader. He is the one responsible for the success of the marriage and the family, as well as the wellbeing of everyone involved.
We cannot ignore the issue of male irresponsibility. It would seem to me that feminism would have a much tougher time surviving, let alone gaining ground, in a world where men understood their responsibility clearly.
So we ask: Where are the strong husbands? Where are the loyal, loving, leading husbands and fathers? Where are those men who are the solid framework on which you can build a marriage, a family, and a society?
Men have developed their own agendas, living in worlds isolated from the family and pursuing personal goals while being largely passive at home. In their own worlds they are aggressive doers and problem solvers, seeking promotion and prestige. But at home, for the most part, they appear passive, indifferent, and irresponsible.
What you have is a legacy of the Industrial Revolution and what it produced in a materialistic world. What you have is the disappearance of the American husband and father. The father left the home and began to cultivate a world completely independent of his own family — a world which his own family knows little of anything about. That has caused subtle and not-so-subtle, radical, and devastating change.
We can explain those things sociologically, but that’s really only a venue of temptation; that’s not the explanation. The explanation for the breakdown of male leadership is the fact that men no longer obey the Word of God.
Throughout our society, most men have no idea what the Bible says, and when they find out they’re not interested in following it. When it comes to their families, they have abandoned their responsibility to their wives, they have forfeited their character, and they have renounced their leadership. What do you expect but chaos?
Now, how can we pick up the pieces of all of this? I think, for Christian men, we have to start here: The heart of being the man God desires you to be is to get a grip on the responsibility you have for the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of your wife and your family.
Moral and spiritual leadership, as well as emotional and physical security, and lifelong provision and support — that is what male headship is all about. It’s not something mystical; it’s something very practical. If we’re ever going to recover biblical leadership in men, it’s going to begin in the home.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 1996, titled “God’s Pattern for Husbands, Part 2.” In addition to serving as the pastor of Grace Community Church and the voice of Grace to You, Dr. MacArthur is the chancellor of The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, Calif. You can learn more about TMU at masters.edu.
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