Husbands, Assume Your Responsibilities of Headship
“I have become acquainted with him in order that he may command his sons and his household after him so that they shall keep Jehovah’s way to do righteousness and judgment; in order that Jehovah may certainly bring upon Abraham what he has spoken about him.”—Gen. 18:19.
1. Who are interested in this subject? Why?
THE subject of this article certainly is of interest to Christian husbands, their wives and families. In fact, we feel that actually all persons are concerned, that you are too, even though you may not be a worshiper of Jehovah God, one of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, or perhaps may not profess to practice the “Christian religion” at all. Family problems are universal. Husbands and fathers everywhere often find them to be overwhelming. Where do the responsibilities of husbands properly begin? How far do they go? Is there a reliable guide to which husbands can turn and which will give them real, practical help? Yes, we say, and so we direct your attention to the following, which Jehovah’s witnesses considered at their Christian conventions during 1966.
2. What do all members of Christian families need to understand?
2 In view of the fact that 50 percent of monogamous married persons are husbands, the responsibilities of headship apply to a great many of Jehovah’s people. The other 50 percent of the married persons, wives, and the rest of the families, children, also need to understand that there are responsibilities of headship that husbands and fathers must assume if they are to discharge their Scriptural privileges and obligations. These responsibilities actually exist and they should be assumed. We know this because such responsibilities are undeniably established by the Bible in several ways.
3. (a) What arrangements of old are helpful examples now? (b) Why did Jehovah “become acquainted with” Abraham?
3 They are shown in the family organization that was established by Jehovah God at the outset, as in God’s arrangement for Adam and Eve and also for the family of his servants emerging from the ark following the great Deluge. Husbands who were approved by Jehovah God constitute Scriptural examples for Christian husbands. Such was the family head, Noah, of whom it is stated: “Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God. In time Noah became father to three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.” (Gen. 6:9, 10) Another example is Abraham, of whom Jehovah said: “I have become acquainted with him in order that he may command his sons and his household after him so that they shall keep Jehovah’s way to do righteousness and judgment; in order that Jehovah may certainly bring upon Abraham what he has spoken about him.” (Gen. 18:19) There is no question that these husbands, Noah and Abraham, were the heads of their families.
4, 5. State additional Bible support of headship responsibilities.
4 The Bible further establishes the responsibilities of headship in the example of Christ Jesus, who is spoken of as the husband and head of his congregation. It makes direct statements, such as: “Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation, he being a savior of this body. In fact, as the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, so let wives also be to their husbands in everything.”—Eph. 5:22-24.
5 In the succeeding verses 25-33 of Ephesians chapter five the loving relationship of the family head is further considered, establishing the husband’s responsibilities of headship in the fact that the wife is here viewed as the helper and complement of the husband and as the beloved property of the husbandly owner. (Gen. 2:18-24) What responsibilities this brings to the husband!
6. What is the import of Galatians 4:1, 2 in respect to a father’s responsibilities?
6 Another point to have in mind is the fact that in Galatians 4:1, 2 children are compared to slaves. Yes, slaves, but beloved ones for whom the father has responsibility and toward whom he has an obligation that he must recognize and assume. The scripture expresses it this way: “Now I say that as long as the heir is a babe he does not differ at all from a slave, lord of all things though he is, but he is under men in charge and under stewards until the day his father appointed beforehand.” A babe is no more in position to care for himself than is a slave, because “he does not differ at all from a slave.” His father, his mother’s husband, has all the responsibility a master would have toward his slave to care for him in every respect.
7. Can a husband properly ignore the foregoing?
7 What attitude, then, must a Christian husband take in respect to these responsibilities? Does the Christian husband believe the Bible is God’s Word and is true and that in it God does not lie? He must believe the Holy Scriptures; he must assume his headship. His faith and faithfulness in this matter will be shown by his doing so. By his profession of Christianity he says he is in union with his own head, Christ Jesus, and accordingly, to quote 1 John 2:6, “he that says he remains in union with him is under obligation himself also to go on walking just as that one walked.”
WHAT HEADSHIP MEANS
8. Why a definition at this point?
8 If, then, a husband desires to assume his responsibilities of headship, what is he assuming? What does headship involve? The qualifications for overseers show that such a person must preside over his own household and have children in subjection. (1 Tim. 3:2-4) What does this mean? What does headship mean? It is good that we see a definition of “headship.”
9, 10. Define Christian headship (a) as to the husband’s decisions, (b) as to the husband’s directions.
9 The word “headship” is a noun. Of course, it means the state of being head; the condition, quality, position and office of the head of something. Our interest is in being head of a wife, of children, of a family. The head has the deciding voice in the family, but that is not all there is to it. The deciding voice must give a right decision; the decision must be right. How fine it is for wife and children when the deciding voice is from “one [who knows] wisdom and discipline, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive the discipline that gives insight, righteousness and judgment and uprightness, to give to the inexperienced ones shrewdness, to a young man knowledge and thinking ability.”—Prov. 1:2-4.
10 Headship means to give direction, but more than that, because the direction given must be good and must be the best for all concerned. A pattern is given in Deuteronomy 4:5, 6: “I have taught you regulations and judicial decisions, just as Jehovah my God has commanded me, for you to do that way in the midst of the land to which you are going to take possession of it. And you must keep and do them, because this is wisdom on your part and understanding on your part before the eyes of the peoples who will hear of all these regulations, and they will certainly say, ‘This great nation is undoubtedly a wise and understanding people.’”
11, 12. What follows in respect to the husband’s need for a guide?
11 How, then, can a husband be certain of his decisions for his wife and family and of his direction in the guidance of his life and theirs? You, who are a husband, how can you be certain of the course to take in assuming and discharging the responsibilities of headship? You know from the Bible that the responsibilities exist and should be assumed. You know what headship means. How, then, can you be sure of yourself in your meeting your wonderful God-given responsibilities?
12 Can we answer that question? Yes, we can. Someone might say, “Oh, the answer is going to be that the Bible is the guide. We know that.”
13. What conviction is needed? By whom?
13 Yes, the Bible is the guide in exercising headship as a husband. However, there is more to it than just knowing this fact. You husbands must be convinced of it. You must be convinced that without the Bible you will have what many husbands in general have, perplexity. With God’s Word you do have sure guidance; of this you must be convinced without any doubt. You as a husband must “safeguard practical wisdom and thinking ability, and they will prove to be life to your soul and charm to your throat. In that case you will walk in security on your way, and even your foot will not strike against anything. Whenever you lie down you will feel no dread; and you will certainly lie down, and your sleep must be pleasurable. For Jehovah himself will prove to be, in effect, your confidence.”—Prov. 3:21-24, 26.
14. (a) In the light of Genesis 18:19, what must the family head do? (b) What is here recommended for each family as a basic essential?
14 If you are in agreement (and you certainly are if you are dedicated to Jehovah and love his Word) you then can appreciate a basic essential that you may or may not as yet have established in your household. It is called to your attention now as the basis in taking full advantage of the Bible as your guide in exercising your headship. Remember Jehovah’s words of approval concerning Abraham: “I have become acquainted with [Abraham] in order that he may command his sons and his household after him so that they shall keep Jehovah’s way to do righteousness and judgment.” (Gen. 18:19) This is what the family head needs to do. He needs to command his sons and his household so that they shall keep Jehovah’s ways to do righteousness and judgment. This means that it is not sufficient for the husband himself to know the things that are in the Bible and to have a mental understanding of principles of the Scriptures. There is something else to be done. Are you doing it? Are you willing to do it? What? This: first of all, establish and hold a weekly family Bible study.
15, 16. Outline the points of procedure respecting the family Bible study?
15 Study the Word of God with your wife and your children. In this way all in the family will learn the place and the obligation of each one of the family in relationship to the family, to the congregation of God’s people, to the ministry and to his fellowmen. This can be done by your family studying the Bible together. “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) You, your wife and your children need this from the Scriptures and to obtain it as a unit in group study.
16 Hold your family study at a definite time, regularly, and at each study consider certain material, selected beforetime and known to all the family so that all will receive the greatest benefit possible from the study. Proceed in a formal way, the husband leading in opening with prayer and closing with prayer. A prayer to this end is in Psalm 119:66: “Teach me goodness, sensibleness and knowledge themselves, for in your commandments I have exercised faith.” Christ Jesus, the head of the husband, stated: “If you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!” So in the family study the family head has the certain support of the word and spirit of Jehovah God.—Luke 11:13.
17. What can the family Bible study include?
17 Such study can be a preparation for the congregation’s Watchtower study, Theocratic Ministry School, Bible reading or some other congregational activity. It could utilize the publications on the congregation’s current program or the Watchtower main article, secondary articles, articles of special interest or of family application in Awake! or in Kingdom Ministry. In your study mark the publications and have the family do so for congregation participation. This will result in an hour or two spent most profitably weekly. “These words that I am commanding you today must prove to be on your heart; and you must inculcate them in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.”—Deut. 6:6, 7.
18. What need of the family head is here stressed?
18 The family head has a great need for kindness and must exercise this quality fully. “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.” “Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it.” “In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives.” “Fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.”—Eph. 4:32; 5:25, 28; 6:4.
19. For wisdom, on what must the husband rely?
19 The loving lead and direction of the head are needed, and very often the deciding voice must speak. However, in doing so reliance upon worldly wisdom is unwise. Ancient and Christian Scriptures demonstrate this. “And Manoah began to entreat Jehovah and say: ‘Excuse me, Jehovah. The man of the true God that you just sent, let him, please, come again to us and instruct us as to what we ought to do to the child that will be born.’” “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”—Judg. 13:8; 1 Cor. 3:19.
USING THE FAMILY BIBLE STUDY FULLY
20. What matters may be handled through the family Bible study?
20 A husband can use the Scriptures in dealing with matters that come up in the home and in the congregation. There are things to be done; problems come up; family matters must be handled; congregation responsibilities and obligations are to be cared for. How can the husband use the Bible in dealing with these matters, solving problems, answering questions, discharging his responsibilities and helping the other members of his family to care for theirs? Briefly, some concrete examples of this:
21. In what do Abraham and Jehovah God himself serve as fine examples?
21 The sacrifice of Bible principle in dealing with a child is not really an expression of love. It would be a mistake to sacrifice principle in order to gain or hold the affection of the child. We have this demonstrated in the Scriptures. Read Genesis 22:1-10 and note how Abraham did not sacrifice principle in an effort to gain or hold the affection of Isaac. But, rather, Abraham “put out his hand and took the slaughtering knife to kill his son,” and then Jehovah’s angel intervened. (Heb. 11:17-19) Consider Jehovah God himself, who did not spare his own Son. His Son Christ Jesus responded, not with childish affection but with unbreakable love.
22. Wrong desires present what danger and also what opportunity for use of the family Bible study?
22 The Christian head must avoid wrong desires on the part of himself and his family. Wrong desires constantly need attention because they recur and they must always be dealt with. They are basic in respect to conduct. Explaining the matter, Jesus said: “The things proceeding out of the mouth come out of the heart, and those things defile a man. For example, out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things defiling a man.” (Matt. 15:18-20) The husband must detect wrong desires on the part of himself and his family and apply the Scriptures, to show how these wrong desires must be put aside. “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.” (Jas. 1:14, 15) So these scriptures and related ones can be used by the family head in the family Bible study to straighten the family out in the matter of wrong desires. All the family can help each individual in this respect and each individual can help all the family as all rely upon the Bible.
23, 24. Show how wrong attitudes can be handled through the family Bible study.
23 Not only wrong desires but wrong attitudes must be given attention by the Christian head, so that these will be eliminated from himself, his wife and his children. Do you detect anywhere in the family the attitude of anxiety? Why not study together the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 and Mark 4:19, along with 1 Peter 5:7, which states: “Throw all your anxiety upon [God], because he cares for you.” It could be that the attitude of disrespect is seen in some members of the family. This may be expressed toward the marriage mate, toward the parents, toward the congregation or its servants, even toward the Bible and the ministry. Now the family head needs to take action. The husband should, together with the family, turn to the scriptures that deal especially with the problem at hand so that the wrong attitude can be viewed in its proper light and be eliminated. In the case of disrespect you have the scriptures at 3 John 9, 10; Psalm 74:10; Jude 8-10; Proverbs 11:2; 13:10; 16:5, 18; 21:4, 24; James 4:16: 1 Samuel 15:23, and others.
24 If you as a family head would take action whenever you see the wrong attitude of belligerence, contentiousness, cowardice, egotism, envy, covetousness, fear of men, greediness, hardheartedness, hatred, hypocrisy, jealousy, laziness, love of money, love of material things, malicious bitterness, uncontrolled anger, unreasonableness or wicked suspicions or other wrong attitudes in your own heart and in your wife or your children, then study the Scriptures on these things. If you wish assistance in finding the scriptures, take “Make Sure of All Things; Hold Fast to What Is Fine” and turn to page 99, from which page on you will find the Scripture references and citations. Use them while studying whatever attitude is under consideration for all your family so that your family’s attitude will be that of the Bible.
25, 26. (a) Who are in danger of carrying on wrong practices? (b) What action is to be taken by the family head?
25 Wrong attitudes are not the only matters that may come up in the home and in the congregation that must be dealt with by the family head, but also wrong practices on the part of himself, his wife and his children must be eliminated Scripturally. What are some wrong practices? How about complaining? It shows a bad attitude and perhaps the wrong desire and lack of love. Complaining is a practice to be avoided. So when it exists, eliminate it. How? Go into the matter with your family members, all of them, using the scriptures and context of Jude 16; 1 Corinthians 10:10; Numbers 11:1 and Colossians 3:13, the latter of which states: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.” Complaining kills joy, cooperation, appreciation and leads to other wrong conduct and possibly thereby the loss of life. So, again, the Christian family head needs to turn to God’s Word with his family so all will know the Bible reasons for taking the proper course of action and what course should be taken to make the necessary changes.
26 The same procedure can be followed in order to prevent or to remove the wrong practices of bragging, drunkenness, gluttony, obscene speech, immodest dress, immoral tendencies, quarreling, stealing, screaming and such things. Here again husbands can get help from “Make Sure of All Things; Hold Fast to What Is Fine,” particularly page 102 on, including the scriptures concerning godly fruitage to be cultivated.
27. The entire family needs what?
27 If a family will study together to obtain the Bible’s solution to any problem they have, they will be benefited. The entire family needs constant application to the study of these matters so that wrong thinking, desires, attitudes and wrong conduct will be avoided. In this way there will not be the more difficult problem of eliminating something that has already developed. “Cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.” This is the good advice of Ephesians 5:17.
28. Comment on the benefits (a) to the wife, (b) to the children.
28 By assuming the headship responsibilities that the Scriptures place on him the Christian husband benefits all concerned. His wife has security and she has self-respect. The children have security, which they so very much need, and self-respect, which they also need, both of which are sought for in so many ways by young persons of the world and which search is in vain and leads them into all manner of excess. The loving father can protect his children in this regard if he will use the Word of God.
29. What advantages come from the standpoint of fulfilling one’s dedication?
29 The proper assuming of husbandly headship likewise upholds the dedication of the husband and assists those of his family in respect to their faithful, dedicated course. The ministry is advanced and the family is guided in setting their hearts and affections upon the ministry, planning ahead for it, thereby avoiding being turned aside to materialism and the devotion of a life to just material pursuits, instead of to the ministry.
30. What may be said regarding (a) the preservation of the family, and (b) improvement of our worship?
30 Certainly, when family heads find in their own hearts or in the hearts and attitudes of their wives and their children love for money they need to take steps to correct this. The ministry needs to be advanced and ministers need to advance. Also, by discharging headship responsibilities the husband can preserve the family, because without such the family may disintegrate. By his discharging headship it should improve the family’s worshiping of Jehovah. It certainly will reflect itself as far as the family and the individuals in the family are concerned. This is good and is the desirable objective. The fact that all these things are attainable should be a great encouragement to husbands and a great strengthening to them in assuming their responsibilities of headship. Such will bring them great joy for the present, assurance for the future, and, for themselves and their families, a certain hope of everlasting life in Jehovah’s righteous new system of things.