- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2004

The following are excerpts of a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Dan Wolfe at Oakbrook Church in Reston.

A controversy rages over the Bible’s view of men and women and their roles and the desire to make men and women pretty much the same. Thus marriage is merely a partnership with one or the other taking the lead. The strongly feminist view of our day is that there is no difference between men and women’s roles and to support gender-based role differences is unjust discrimination.

These views have seeped into the church and within evangelical Christianity, bringing an increasing tendency to oppose any unique leadership role for men in the family. This has brought uncertainty among many believers.

Obviously, women have some good reasons for rejecting this more ‘traditional’ role. Selfishness, irresponsibility, passivity and abuse have come from many men within marriages.

The Bible teaches that men and women fulfill different roles in relation to each other, charging the man with a special leadership role. It bases this difference not on temporary cultural norms, but on the permanent facts of creation.

Read Ephesians 5:22-33 and I Peter 31-7. The man of God doesn’t demand to be served, but desires to serve and sacrifice for his wife and children. Leadership is not demanding, but moves everyone toward fruitfulness. “Love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” That reveals how a man loves his wife and family.

Peter admonishes us as husbands to live with our wives according to understanding. Women are not like men — thank God — and we need to understand them and their needs.

The man of God does not take the place of Christ in the marriage. Christ is to be her Lord as much as his. He is to encourage her relationship with Jesus. He leads her to depend on Christ above all, including himself.

The man of God never acts superior, but attempts to release the strength of his wife and children.

We are all sinful, and every man must look at himself realistically. We don’t do everything right. A good leader in the home or in the church can often adopt the ideas of others, and encourage them. In this way, true leadership releases the gifts and callings of God in greater ways.

A man of God doesn’t have to initiate everything, but he does take responsibility to set the tone of the home.

He doesn’t plan everything, but takes responsibility in general. (Many times his wife will do all kinds of planning and initiative).

However … if the wife begins to find herself doing a number of things like this: Prayer at meals and other times, getting the family out of bed and to church on time, getting the family to devotional times, initiating talk of finances, always asking what moral values are we teaching the children, et cetera. (She may do these things periodically, but if the primary responsibility is on her, something is wrong in the marriage).

Discipline can be carried out by both husband and wife, but when the husband is present and there is a rule broken, the man should take leadership and discipline his son or daughter and not be passive while his wife does it.

A woman of God wants to have a meek and gentle spirit of submission to her husband as unto Christ. (She is like the church, submitted unto Christ).

This is not to say that men do not need to be under authority; they do, too. They should be under pastoral authority and in some accountability with other men.

True godly womanhood is a disposition to confirm the strength and leadership of their husbands.

True godly womanhood feels glad to accept the strength and leadership of their husbands. She is glad when he isn’t passive.

True godly womanhood nourishes and builds up her husband’s life. Insight and help is brought to the man by his wife. Both men and women have differing strengths, and they shouldn’t pit them against each other, but strengthen each other.

What does it mean when it says the wife is the “weaker” vessel? Physically, a man can overpower a woman. She is weaker in authority as a godly woman, since she submits her life. She is more sensitive to emotional conflicts. As Wayne Grudem says: True submission by a godly woman does not mean putting your husband in the place of Christ, giving up independent thought, sinning against God … when the husband asks you to, living with an abusive husband who will not change, living with an adulterous husband who will not change.

An illustration is Abigail with King David. [She had] great influence over David but that was done with discreetness and a desire that he would not do something that would hurt his relationship with God (I Samuel 25).

Remember: Formation into God’s word is what the Lord desires.

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