CBMW leader asks: Are many complementarian homes gender-neutral in practice?

Communications Staff — February 7, 2007

Many Christian men do not know how to exercise biblical leadership in their homes and in practice deny the Scripture’s demands that call men to lead, protect and provide for their families, Randy Stinson, leader of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), told students Wednesday at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Stinson, who serves as CBMW’s executive director and as dean of the School of Leadership and Church Ministry at Southern Seminary, said many evangelical homes inadvertently ignore the teaching of God’s Word regarding gender roles.

“Way too many evangelical homes do exactly what James (the New Testament author) says people who are self-deceived do: they are hearers of the Word of God and not doers,” Stinson said.

“I am very concerned that most evangelical Christian men don’t know what leadership in the home should look like.”

A Christian husband is not leading his home simply by providing the “tie-breaking vote” on difficult decisions, Stinson said. Instead, Stinson argued that leadership in the home requires intentional, sacrificial—and often difficult—effort if a man is to lead his family in the manner that God has called him.

A biblical arrangement of the home is undermined typically in two ways, Stinson said. First, egalitarian Christians argue that the Bible does not teach male headship. They go to great, and often creative lengths to explain away passages such as Ephesians 5, Stinson said.

Second, and perhaps more troubling, Stinson said some well-meaning Christians who believe that Scripture calls for male headship deny the teaching in practice by failing to lead their families, he said.

Stinson identified nine areas in which husbands/fathers are called to initiate godly leadership. These include:

* Vision. A Christian man is called to cast the vision for his family’s future in numerous areas, Stinson said. “We have to answer questions like, ‘what do we want our children to be like in 10 years and where do we want to be as a family in 10 years?’” he said. “We might ask what we want our homes to be characterized by. Maybe we want our homes to be characterized by forgiveness, respect, love, responsibility and hard work. The husband is the keeper of the vision…He is not merely supposed to show up at the house.”

* Direction. The man is supposed to shepherd the family with regards to the specific steps it will take in accomplishing the vision, Stinson said.

* Instruction. Stinson said a Christian man must give his family members clear and specific strategies to meet the daily challenges each of them will face. The man must also model the things he wants to accomplish in the home.

* Imitation. Fathers and husbands must set gracious, godly examples for their children, Stinson said. This may well include fathers apologizing to their wife and children when their behavior does not square with Scripture, he pointed out. “It is not a sign of weakness to apologize to our wives and kids,” he said. “When we do this we are still saying ‘watch me,’ in the same way Paul said ‘inasmuch as I imitate Christ, imitate me.’”

* Inspiration. Christian men are responsible for maintaining positive morale in the home by encouraging family members with words such as “isn’t this a great family?” Stinson said. “It is the leader’s responsibility to tell the family that this (family) is a great thing,” he said.

* Affirmation. Christian men must regularly tell each family member that he or she is doing well in carrying out their roles in the home, he said.

* Evaluation. Men must answer regularly answer the question, “how are we doing?” Stinson said. A man is called to lead his family by serving them, but Stinson pointed out that this is by no means the father/husband is to be passive. The leader of the home must assess his family’s progress in many areas and make adjustments regularly to keep the family on a godly, biblical course, he said.

* Correction. Men are called to correct problems that become evident through evaluation, Stinson said.

* Protection and provision. Christian men must remind their wives and children often that they are committed to the family for a lifetime and that they are going to take care of the family’s needs. “This is a sentiment we must say with full humility and in the full knowledge that we can’t protect our family from every possible harm,” he said. “But we must tell them often ‘I’m not leaving you,’ and ‘I’m going to take care of you.’”

Ultimately, Christian homes must paint a clear and accurate picture of the Gospel in accord with Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5, Stinson said. When the husband and wife are faithfully filling their God-ordained roles in obedience to Scripture, the broader culture will catch a clear glimpse of Christ’s love for His church, he noted.

“Our home says something about the Gospel that is either true or false,” he said. “If we are using headship as an excuse to lord it over our families, then we are giving a false picture of the Gospel. But when the husband and wife are carrying out their roles as God has called them, then their homes are showing something that is true about Christ and the Gospel.”

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