Early church father John Chrysostom (A.D. 347-107) said “God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of life into two parts, and assigned the more necessary and beneficial aspects to the man and the less important, inferior matters to the woman.” That statement should have you falling about the room with laughter! Some of you may also remember how we laughed and were entertained by a television show a number of years ago starring Judith Light and Tony Danza when they tried to work on their complicated relationship in ‘Who’s the Boss’. Relationship issues are not so funny however when it is happening a little closer to home. I am often asked questions about who makes the final “judgement call”, who is the boss or priest in the home? My answer always is simply ‘the one who has the toolbox’. If two people in a close relationship cannot reach a decision then the person who has the experience or the one most affected by the decision is the one who makes the call.
My good friend, Suzie (not her real name) has a black belt in karate. Her husband, Sam (not his real name) makes the most delicious gourmet meals. Should an intruder come breaking down the door to their house Suzie will be the one to respond and Sam feels confident because he knows who has that toolbox. She on the other hand enjoys the wonderful meals prepared by Sam without guilt. Whoever is best at it should do it!
So who is the head of the home? The problem has been our interpretation of the word ‘kephale’ translated as ‘head’ in 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23. Scholars agree that a more accurate translation of the word ‘kephale’ is source and that the word was not used to denote authority in Paul’s day. We have to look no further than the high rate of divorce in the church to see that the popular “authority” understanding (and all the other wrong teachings about submission) are flawed.
We are called to live in mutual submission to one another regardless of gender, race or class (Galatians 3:28). It is not a requirement for only women or wives. Jesus taught submission and servanthood as eternal principles. The consequences of patriarchy and domination are broken homes and abusive relationships.
What about ‘man as priest of the home’? This phrase is not a scripture found in the Bible.* Husbands pray for their wives and family and wives function in this same priestly role by praying for their husbands and teaching their children the Word of God. “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” 1 Peter 2:9
The head of the home is God and the priest of the home is every believer who lives there.
The only time a priest in the home is mentioned in the Bible was during a time when there was no king in Israel (Judges 17:1-13) and everyone did according to what they thought was right. Micah disobeying God’s law, committed the sacrilegious act of consecrating a young Levite to his household (sons not wife) as priest.
By Ethel Schultz Pittaway