Rebuking Feminist Headship Theology
I recently encountered this Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) page regarding marriage. Since I have found some of CARM’s pages useful in the past, I read it with great interest. However, I found that it reflects a commonly stated principle of religious feminism (or Christo-feminism) – the feminist headship theology. Since this happens to be the most succinct explanation of it I have encountered, this post will address headship theology and explain the error in this false theology through responding to this CARM page.
It is agreeable that marriage exists to bring God glory. After all, it was meant as a model of Christ and His Church. It is sensible that God would define what marriage is, and therefore glory would be derived by following God’s pattern for marriage to the letter (Marriage 1.0). Hopefully it could be further argued that departing from this model (as a husband or wife) constitutes sinning against God. However, the feminist vision of marriage (Marriage 2.0) does not do this and is a complete redefinition of marriage as God intended it. Unfortunately, it has permeated the church with very little challenge. It’s further hypocritical that the church chooses to challenge the homosexual redefinition of marriage, when they are operating under a redefined version of marriage themselves.
Christo-feminism has been extremely successful at removing proper examples of masculinity in society and in the family for their children. Religious feminists has vociferously opposed Godly masculinity when it has been expressed in church. As well, feminism has opposed proper masculine examples in society. This is well reflected through the media through the poor examples given by the author of the CARM page. The detestable examples of the bumbling buffoon, the child in a man’s body who has not grown up, or the male who can not control either his violent impulses or his sexual impulses are misandric (misandry is hatred of men) portrayals of men, which are devised by the feminists to lower the reputation of all men. These negative media portrayals have been quite successful in coloring the perceptions of who men are, and this has been shown through countless preachings, man-up rants, and other views that have been expressed of men. It has also been quite effective in eliminating examples of proper Godly husbands and wives within the church.
CARM, as a place whose mission seems to speak truth in light of falsehoods, would do well to challenge these hateful portrayals of men, especially since the last thing feminists want is an accurate portrayal of a truly masculine and Godly man. Unfortunately, this CARM page expressly embraces feminist headship theology, and embraced these views of men as a shaming tool for furthering the feminist agenda.
While the husband is indeed the spiritual head over the wife, CARM places all the blame for the faltering of marriage on men, and does not hold women to account for their very substantial part in the matter through feminism and good old fashioned rebellion. This is done through an incorrect view of Romans 5:12:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
While Romans 5:12-21 (the Scripture in context) is indeed difficult to understand in isolation, studying the whole thing reveals that Paul is discussing the need of justification for all through Jesus Christ (sometimes called original sin) and not anything to do with how marriage works in God’s plan. Since sin “infected” Adam as the first man, it took Jesus’ sacrifice to bring people back to God. Therefore this Scripture is irrelevant as it does not directly relates to marriage.
The CARM author further compounds the heresy by stating that God first addressed Adam, and not Eve. While this is indeed correct as it relates to the order of headship, it is not correct when it comes to how sin is handled. Reading Genesis and elsewhere makes it clear that women can sin and are held to account as much as men. Genesis reveals that both Eve and Adam were addressed regarding their sin:
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat . . . Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Genesis 3:13, 16)
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Genesis 3:17-19)
Feminist headship theology has the effect of releasing women from accountability for their sin. There are people in the evangelical world who are now questioning if women have any original sin at all, any culpability for sin, or even if they are capable of sinning. If the wife gossips, it’s not her fault it’s the husband’s fault. If the wife commits adultery against her husband, the sin is all his fault. She is not held to blame for her sins. Needless to say, much sin occurs at the hands of wives when it comes to marriage and they are held to account for none of it.
Because feminist headship theology is well in force, even the women who are not married are affected. The reasoning used with the unmarried woman is that she sinned because any man pushed her into it. She did not do it of her own free will, therefore she is still considered blameless and pure in the sight of God. Most of the churches today do not allow admonition of women for any sin. A sure way for a pastor to add “former” to his title rather quickly is to faithfully preach Scriptural responsibility of women (for example Titus 2:3-5).
The chief reason why marriage is faltering is the sin that wives have made against their husbands, as well as the sins of the leadership in supporting and upholding the feminist view of marriage by not calling the sins of women into account and not enabling husbands to take headship over their wives. In looking at the full counsel of Scripture regarding marriage through sober eyes that are not tainted by feminism, it is easy to see that the historical Biblical view of marriage is not generally followed or supported by the majority of Christianity. It is also easy to see with sober eyes the amount of destruction that this has caused to husbands lives both during their marriages and as part of the divorce culture, as well as the sanctity of marriage as a whole.
Chief is the injunction given in several places that wives are to submit to their husbands. The elimination of stress on the Biblical text as written as a responsibility of the wife (Ephesians 5:22, 24, 33; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1-2) is eliminated in favor of placing responsibility on the husband. Feminist headship theology stresses that the husband is to step up and lead the family, instead of the wife submitting to her husband and this is readily apparent in the CARM page. The assumption is made that the wife will just fall in line if the husband does this (again assuming that she is without original sin).
This plainly goes against the intent of the Scripture. No matter how much a man “leads”, he is no leader at all unless he has a wife that is under his submission and is not under rebellion. Since it is the nature of all men (and women) to rebel against God’s order, Scripture stresses the wife’s subjection and NOT the husband’s leadership. It is always dangerous to create doctrine that is supported by nine words in only one verse of Scripture (1 Corinthians 11:3), while contradicting several others in the process!
In the feminist view of marriage, the wife is the head of the family, and the husband is to submit to her. This vision of marriage is played out all over Christianity today, and is taught repeatedly by a majority of the pastors. In giving the call to leadership as many pastors and this CARM page does, it functions as a duplicitous and hypocritical call. This is because they also take steps to continually cut husbands off at the knees when they try to lead their families, do not support husbands in bringing their wives under Biblical subjection, and sanction ways the wives and the church itself can undermine the husbands position as head of the marriage before God. It is easy to list off the responsibilities of wives in marriage as CARM does (they leave out any direct mention of submission), but when they are willfully not upheld in churches and wives are allowed to rebel against God openly, husbands are left with very little recourse but to not lead. This is purposeful.
I have not studied any other CARM pages to see if the feminist doctrine is expressed, but hopefully this can serve as a warning to those involved, and hopefully CARM will repent of this unbiblical theology. CARM would do well to uphold the historical Biblical pattern of marriage by calling for the submission of wives and for husbands to start listening to and respecting God over his wife (Adam’s specific sin), instead of posting false feminist theology and passing it off as Scriptural.
Edit: Removed the note at the beginning. Upon reflection, it really didn’t add anything to the post at all.