One of the misconceptions that has been accepted into the realm of fact is the supposition that the husband is commanded by God to be the head of his wife/home. Men, there is no such command in the Scriptures (stay with me on this one...).
In both passages that detail the teaching of the headship of man (I Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5), this concept is found to be in the indicative mode, not the imperative. This means that it is a statement of fact: the man, as husband, is the head of the wife. By virtue of his position, he is the head of the home. He possesses the authority to lead. With refreshing candor, Douglas Wilson, in his book Reforming Marriage, calls this “inescapable leadership”. Understanding this concept of leadership empowers men to be the precise type of husbands that God has designed for them to be in the home.
Embracing this accurate understanding of headship (“inescapable leadership”) gives husbands the opportunity to ask (and hopefully answer) the hard questions concerning leadership instead of being detoured by the non-essential question. Since headship is in the indicative, the question is not “Am I, as a husband, going to be the head, the leader of my wife and family?”, but “What kind of leader am I?” Christian husbands need to ask themselves, “Am I a lazy leader? Do I take initiative? Am I an absentee leader? Am I conscientious of my responsibilities? Am I harsh in my leadership? Is my example what it should be? Is God pleased with my leadership? Does my wife feel secure in my leadership?” These and other hard questions need to be evaluated honestly in order for husbands to be the right type of leaders in the home.
Also, understanding “inescapable leadership” helps husbands avoid the unbiblical, self-seeking extremes of domination or abdication which are normal in homes that have surrendered to the philosophy of the age. In the amazing headship parallel of Ephesians 5 (husband/wife and Christ/church), Paul articulates that husbands are to model the leadership of Christ. Therefore a husband cannot be selfish in his demands or a tyrant in his home without marring the portrait of Christ’s leadership. Nor can he abdicate his leadership role by physical, emotional, relational or spiritual absenteeism without doing injustice to the example of Christ.
Consequently, at the heart of “inescapable leadership” is personal responsibility. Good leaders don’t seek privileges, they seek responsibility. In a society that has elevated shifting responsibility to an art form, it is important that husbands assume responsibility for the spiritual direction of the home. Men, what kind of leaders are we going to be?