Faithful Christian husbands and fathers know that they are accountable before God to lead their household well. No doubt most Christian men believe that this is an imperative, not an option. Ephesians 5:22-25 explains this dynamic in the marital relationship:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
And Ephesians 6:4 speaks to the responsibilities of a Christian father to his children:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
To summarize, wives are called to submit to their husbands, and children are commanded to obey. This means that the Christian husband and father is, on the other hand, commanded to lead and exercise authority over his entire household, as he is under the authority of Christ.
If you’re part of conservative, complementarian, evangelical communities, this probably isn’t new to you. This is the theology that you know and love, that you have been taught and practice.
But it’s one thing to believe that you are called to lead a godly home and it is another thing altogether to hold to sound theology while you do it.
What men believe about God, about Scripture — the theology that they hold to — makes all the difference in determining whether they will fulfill this calling in a faithful manner.
You can’t lead if you don’t know where you are going. Proper theology is the fuel that makes the car of godly leadership go. Even worse, if you are confident about how and where you are leading, but you are wrong, disaster will ensue. This means that a man’s theology matters when it comes to being a godly husband and father.
It’s not enough to be a nice, patient, or skilled provider of the necessary earthly requirements (home, food, safety). Christian men must also know God and believe the truths contained in Scripture. Here are two reasons why.
What men believe about God, and who He is, will determine how they lead their families. If a man believes that God is good but not all powerful, he will view God as just a well-intentioned deity who hopes for the best for His creation but can’t really control things. Such a misguided understanding of the omnipotent nature of God will no doubt be reflected in how he leads through times of major decisions, crises, or tragedy. But the Bible is clear: “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). God is a sovereign God — and men must stand on this theological foundation if they are going to have the confidence to shepherd those entrusted to their care.
Christian men must also know that God is a loving God — a God who is patient, kind, and compassionate toward His sinful children. If a man believes that God is distant, stingy, or capricious, this will be reflected in his leadership. Remember, God is our Heavenly Father — and He has tasked men to model Him as they fulfill their responsibilities as earthly fathers. How a man does this will, unavoidably, teach his children something about who God is, right or wrong. Therefore, Christian men must have a proper theology of God’s love so they can strive, albeit imperfectly, to show that same love to their wives and children.
Finally, Christian men must know that God is holy and hates sin. Consider this example: A daughter comes to her Christian father and tells him that she thinks she is homosexual. How should that father respond? If he has an unbiblical understanding of God’s teaching on human sexuality, the father may be tempted to affirm that child’s sin out of a desire to embrace her and keep her approval. As difficult as it may be, though, a Christian man who holds to sound theology will let that child know that he loves her, but he cannot approve of or condone a life that is lived in open rebellion to God’s good commands.
God is sovereign. God is loving. God is holy. He is many more things than that as well, but if a Christian father doesn’t understand these basics of biblical Christian theology, he won’t be able to lead his family well.
One other area in which the importance of holding sound theology matters greatly for godly leadership is in what a man thinks about the Bible. Christian men must show an intentional pursuit of biblical literacy and theological savvy in order to set a good and necessary example for their wives and children to follow.
This requires a posture of humility. Yes, men are called to lead. But they are not tasked to come up with the playbook. That’s been given to them by God — in the Bible.
Christian men must believe that the Bible is God’s perfect, inerrant, infallible, and inspired Word, given to us as the only reliable standard for faith and practice. They must believe that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Every good work. Every single one. That includes how to be a loving husband, a good father, and how to lead a godly household.
Because at the end of the day, it’s not enough to simply believe the fact that men are called to lead, they must also believe the right things — to hold sound theology — if they are to lead well.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.