Men are the head of their wives despite what some in the church and those outside of it argue, Mark Driscoll recently affirmed during his latest "Real Marriage" sermon series based on his controversial book.
Speaking to the men in his congregation, the Mars Hill Church pastor declared, "You are the head of your wife as Christ is the head of the Church. It's not a not. It's an is."
"We get into a lot of trouble when God says we are something and then we debate as to whether or not we should be," he said, referring to the many debates people have had over the years because of the very question, which is to him, simply a biblical fact.
For the 41-year-old pastor, the question is not "are men the head of their wives" but are they doing a good or bad job. "That's the only question."
As the chosen head of the household then, men are responsible for their wives and children's well-being, not only physically but also spiritually, mentally and emotionally as well.
"If your children or wife struggle and fail to grow in godliness, it is your responsibility, in addition to their responsibility. That's what the Bible means when it uses the word head."
Citing Ephesians 5:22-33, Driscoll referenced Apostle Paul, whom God spoke through to share his exhortations for husbands and wives, to clearly examine what it means to be the head of the household.
Men first of all need to know that they are the covenant head. "What this means is that your understanding of marriage has to be covenantal, not contractual," Driscoll said.
"Contract is about me negotiating terms that benefit me, it's selfish. Covenant is about me giving myself to you for your well-being. It's servanthood. Covenant is about your benefit. Contract is about my benefit."
When people spoke about divorce, they usually mentioned things like, "God wants me to be happy." They were thinking contractually, however, and not covenantally, the Seattle pastor stressed.
"What they're saying is me. God wants me to be happy. God wants me to get what I want. God wants me to get what I need. Covenant thinking says God wants me to become what you need. God wants me to love you as you need. God wants me to serve you as you need. Covenant is about what is best for you, contract is what is about best for me. It's the difference between selfishness and servanthood."
In a covenantal marriage, a husband and wife are in covenant with God through faith in Jesus Christ and in covenant with one another, Driscoll described. "As Jesus loves and serves the Church, so the man as the covenant head is to similarly lovingly lead his wife so that she flourishes and grows in the grace of God."
Additionally, men also need to understand that every covenant has a head – an ultimate leader. For Christians, that head is Jesus Christ and the "lower case" head is the husband.
Men are to model their covenant relationship with their wives after Jesus' relationship with the Church.
"It sounds peculiar because Jesus never went on a date or never got married," Driscoll stated. "What does he know about marriage? But in the storyline of the Bible, marriage is a reflection of the relationship with Jesus and the Church."
And no wife is like Jesus' wife, whom the pastor called "a piece of work."
"The Church of Jesus Christ is not always this beautiful, glorious bride. She falls into sin, rebellion, selfishness, but Jesus loves his bride, the Church. And how men are to love their bride, the wife? We read words in Ephesians 5 like loving her, washing her, making her holy, cherishing her, becoming one with her."
Husbands aren't supposed to be like "bosses at work" merely delegating responsibilities to their wives, but be like Jesus, pursuing his bride, investing in her and loving her.
"Your wife is your garden," the author of Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions voiced. "And if you don't like the way the garden looks, you're the gardener. You can't just stand back and yell at her, or give demands to her or pass judgments regarding her. You need to love her like Christ loved the Church. You need to take responsibility like Jesus."
But many men today are failing to take responsibility or be responsible for their family, leading to broken homes where abuse and mistreatment are rampant.
"There's a culture that causes you not to think covenantally or prepare covenantally. There's a culture that wants to extend your adolescence as long as possible," the co-founder of Acts 29 Network explained.
"You men need to repent of a whole culture of adolescence that says I don't take responsibility for myself. Then get married and take responsibility for that woman. And then have children and take responsibility for those children and as you work your job take responsibility for the company so you might serve it well so it might provide life for your family."
Men are to claim responsibility of their families as Jesus took responsibility for his Church and his people.
"God comes to the earth, as the man Jesus Christ and he lives a life without any sin. And he goes to the cross and he dies. Why?" Driscoll asked. "Why did he die? The Bible says it this way. For our sins. For the wages of sin is death, but instead it's Jesus. Jesus took that which was not his fault and he made it his responsibility."
That is why Jesus is the perfect man, one for men to model after. Though it wasn't his fault that his people sinned, he went to the cross, substituted himself, and took responsibility, like all men should.
"That's what Jesus does for the Church. That's what husbands are supposed to do for their wives, and what fathers are supposed to do for their children, not in a saving way but a serving way," the North Dakota-born theologian shared.
Men are not only to be responsible but their responsibilities also have to be in the correct order for marriages and families to thrive.
Their first responsibility is to God and their covenant relationship with Jesus. Their next responsibility is to their spouse, their children, and lastly their work.
"If at any point you have an inversion, you are not being responsible," Driscoll stated. "Men as covenant head make sure your life reflects these priorities, your wife's life reflects these priorities, your children reflect these priorities."
In order to become a covenant head and begin claiming responsibility, men should, practically speaking: get involved in a church, which models healthy relationships and helps men become more like Jesus to their wives and children; agree on what the Bible said with their wives; and worship together at home, leading by example.
When men model their headship after Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, slowly becoming what Jesus was to his own wife, the woman –"the reflection of his affection" – would shine brightly. "The woman is the glory of the man. She reflects his investment. As a church matures and grows it reflects the service and sacrifices of Jesus."
While husbands are the head, women are the referees, Driscoll emphasized, telling the men if they were succeeding or failing.
"We will stand before God the maker of Heaven and we're going to give an account of ourselves as men for our wives and for our children. We will give an account for everyone that is under our authority," he affirmed. "That is what it means when the Bible uses the language as head. That we are responsible."
Driscoll's "Real Marriage" series began Jan. 15 with a sermon titled "Part 1: New Marriage, Same Spouse." Part 2 spoke of "Friend with Benefits."
"This is not your average sermon series on marriage," the Mars Hill description reads. "We won't give you five steps to happiness. We won't talk about sex in code. We won't talk about how you can fix your marriage. No, this is a sermon series about Jesus – and what he has to say about marriage through the Bible."
Driscoll's book by the same title was published at the beginning of the year and has been culling controversy from the Christian community mainly for its "provocative" and "invasive" discussion of sexuality.
Responding to the rampant criticism, the Resurgence founder stated that though his book was not perfect, he hoped that it would simply help Christian couples in their marriages when they had "nowhere else to turn."