As we look throughout the New Testament about what the Bible says a family is supposed to be, it gives us clear definitions on defined gender roles for the husband and the wife. The most obvious reference to the husband and wife in the New Testament is Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5 reads,
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Leader: Loving & Serving
There are two crucial facts to state concerning this passage of Scripture: First of all, Husbands are to love and serve their wives as Christ served the church. Paul discusses the authority/headship/leadership of the man as nothing less than Christo-centrically. Leadership must be servant leadership. Paul draws out the fact that Christ served his church and gave himself up for her. The husband must lead his wife this way. He must lead her to the point of giving himself up for her, even to the point of death. Often in the evangelical community, servant leadership is called mature masculinity. John Piper gives this definition of mature masculinity: “At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.”
Concerning leadership in our sub-culture of Evangelicalism, this is often taken to the extreme and can be very sinful, not to mention idiotic, for the man. The call to lead the woman is not a hyper-leadership form of egotistical consumption, though it is a call to serve the woman. Questions to ask are, “What is best for her? What can she handle at one time? What would she like to do?” Yes, the man should assume his responsibility in undertaking the final say in disagreements, but he should not use this like a wild card. Leadership is humble, repentant, risk-taking, and sacrificial.
Provider: Working Hard & Giving
Concerning provision for the woman, this is often backwards thinking in our feminist and suede-intellectual society. The man should feel a great responsibility to provide for the woman, not that the woman should not assist in maintaining support for the family, but the man should feel a benevolent responsibility to always provide for his woman. Genesis 3:9, “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” The man is not only to provide financially for his wife and family, but he is also called to provide emotionally and physically as well.
Protector: Champion & Preserver
Concerning protection for the woman, mature masculinity senses a natural urge to always protect the woman (any woman for that matter) from the context of danger by putting himself between the adversary and the woman. This is simply an understanding of mature masculinity learning to be bold and courageous (Joshua 1). Who goes into the lifeboats first when the ship is sinking?
Piper, John and Wayne Grudem. Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, 35-45.