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Who is in Charge?


In 1976 Israeli commandos landed in Uganda at the Entebbe airport after Palestinian and German terrorists hijacked an Air France airplane and flew it to Uganda’s airport at Entebbe. The commandos landed to save the hostages in a bold move since Uganda under the psychopath Idi Amin was friendly to the terrorists.
The operation while bold was also very successful considering what could have happened. Unfortunately the leader of the raid Lt. Col. Yonaten Netanyahu, older brother of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was killed during the later stages of the operation. Netanyahu’s second in command took over the rest of the operation thus finding himself in the position of inescapable leadership.
As far as I know Pastor Doug Wilson coined the terms inescapable leadership in his book Reforming Marriage where he uses the concept to explain that the husband is the one who finds himself in the position of inescapable leadership once he marries.
This is not because the husband’s officer has been wounded or killed and now he is in charge. It is because God has placed him in charge whether the husband wants to be in charge or not.
Wilson makes a central point in regards to this concept. He says that people often confuse imperatives (commands) in Scripture with indicatives (statements that describe the way things are.)
Husbands are commanded (an imperative) to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25) but are already in charge of the home because God says so (1 Cor. 11:3), an indicative.
For some reason the modern church does not take imperatives very seriously much less understanding the difference between an imperative and an indicative. I remember talking with a family, the wife in particular, about the wife being submissive to her husband. She acted as if it were an option that she could take or leave. Her analysis was she had the option to submit as if obedience to the Lord were some how items on a menu and one was free to chose only those items that had personal appeal.
Indicatives just describe how things are. The very first indicative in Scripture is Genesis 1:1, “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God is not saying how or why in the verse he is creating; he is just indicating (indicative) that he did create the heavens and the earth. It’s a fact. One can object to the statement and say that creation came about through some sort of other process but saying that does not change the fact Scripture simply states God created, an indicative of biblical reality.
Sometimes men and women do not like the indicative fact that men are declared the head of the home. Frankly, the notion that men are the head of the home is not popular and like the woman above who accurately surmised that submissiveness was connected with her husband as head of the home she then goes on to some how deny it in practice. In her case it was pretending it was some sort of an option rather than a command (imperative) clearly linked to the indicative (1 Cor. 11:3).
And to add fuel to the denial fire feminism and evangelical egalitarianism further assists women and men in denying what God says in practical ways.
In the case of feminism the idea of the husband as being head of the family is clearly nonsense and a relic left over from a by-gone day when women were under the thumbs of a male-dominated culture.
In the case of evangelical egalitarianism the Scripture is reinterpreted to mean something more akin to their liking which always amounts to a watering down of what headship biblically means.
These are significant obstacles to over come because they become entrenched as truth in the mind. Unless a woman is open to sound teaching the man is always going to have a battle on his hands since she will never see it the way Scripture sees it. As a counselor I can tell you that is a big deal since impasses do not amount to following the Lord even though many couples settle for a peace that really is not peace.
But men too often do not like the idea of headship and treat it as an ignorable imperative. To acknowledge headship means to go against the grain of worldly feminism and evangelical egalitarianism and if one’s wife is in one of those camps (or just plain disobedient) he knows a battle looms large.
The man then takes on a “fear of woman” attitude and simply lets her have her way. If he’s spiritual about it he’ll gloss it over by being a nice guy thinking it’s better to be nice than it is to follow the Scripture. This is not speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). It’s cowardice.
Why is inescapable leadership an indication of why it is like it is? The answer lies in the creation order. Man was created first (an indicative) and woman second (indicative) and Paul uses the indicatives to explain the commands (imperatives) in 2 Timothy 2:8-15.
Now once again, men and women may not like that for a variety of reasons which is why a considerable amount of ink is spent trying to redefine indicatives and imperatives for modern ears. But for those who see what Paul is after it can mean a relationship between husband and wife that is more in harmony with God’s desires and that in turn can mean a more harmonious home in general.
Often times women do get what the Scripture means and says and how they should apply it but they suffer from being married to a dunderhead who either leads like an authoritarian jerk or does not lead at all. In either case she struggles to obey her own command to respect her husband (Eph. 5:33) because she realizes due to the creation order that he will always dominate the relationship.
If he dominates harshly like a dunderhead his home will be a home of fear and everyone will do whatever they can to avoid him and his harshness. If he dominates the relationship by not being there because he’s a work-a-holic or play-a-holic he still dominates by virtue of his absence. It’s not a healthy dominance but he is indeed the one who dominates.
Even if the husband is a chronic abdicator in his inescapable headship he still dominates the home with his wimpiness.
Paul gives a picture in Ephesians 5:22-33 where he compares marriage between a husband and wife to the relationship that Christ has with his church. This means that marriage, with the husband in the position of inescapable leadership is always saying something about the relationship Christ has with his church.
As the world looks on husbands, you speak for Christ. You either do that well as Christ loved the church or you communicate something else entirely. The choice is yours but either way you are in the position of inescapable leadership and are saying something about Christ and his church.
And wives, I do not know what it has been like in your home but you too must realize that your husband is in the position of inescapable leadership. You too have a choice. You can help him lead, you can be his best friend and lover, you can follow what God says for the glory of God or you can fight God’s word and your husband every step of the way. Your home will either reflect the picture of Christ and the church or it will reflect something else and something else is never a pleasing aroma rising to the heavens (Eph. 5:1-2)
Inspiration for this series comes from the Bible and from Pastor Doug Wilson who wrote Reforming Marriage, Canon Press, 1995. Further inspiration also comes from my own pastor and friend Matt Henry of Missio Dei Fellowship in Kenosha, WI who faithfully and tirelessly preaches the Word every week. http://www.sermonaudio.com/source_detail.asp?sourceid=tbckenosha
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