As the story goes: There was a gathering in heaven and all the men were divided into two lines. To the right were men who ruled their own house, and to the left were men who were henpecked. Only one man was in the ruler’s line, and the rest were in the henpecked line. When the Lord called forth the one man who was in the ruler’s line, he was asked, “And may I ask why are you standing in the ruler’s line”? He shyly replied, “My wife told me to stand over here.”
Are you a henpecked husband? Long ago this appeared in a church bulletin: WANTED: Henpecked Husbands. Prefer leaders in the church, but any male Christian will do. Must enjoy being controlled and be willing to make havoc of the church. May be necessary to relocate church membership. For more information contact: the Devil.
It’s a plea that is often accepted by both the husband and the wife in the marriage relationship. It’s a problem that first disrupts the family, but control of the family isn’t always enough. The hunger for the control commandeers other relationships of relatives and friends, and often takes hold of the local church.
While the Bible teaches that wives must submit themselves to their husbands (Eph. 5), society dictates a different norm saying their roles in the home demand equality. However, some Christian women even take it a step further and ease themselves into a role of leadership in the home. When this happens, the man garners the title of a henpecked husband. A “henpecked husband” is defined as “brow-beaten, bullied or intimidated by one’s wife.” The Bible has a better definition. It’s simply called sin.
Control and usurping authority are both especially tempting to some women. It was a temptation for women in the Bible as well. Jezebel couldn’t stop at only controlling her home, she controlled Israel in the process. Husbands, have you ever heard your wife say, “Don’t worry honey, I’ll take care of everything”? Ahab did. While sulking over Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kin. 21), Jezebel schemed and manipulated until the death of Naboth allowed Ahab to take hold of the vineyard. Jezebel’s dominance, allowed by Ahab, caused spiritual decline for Israel. Ahab was said to have caused “all Israel to sin” (1 Kin. 21:22). Verse 25 of the same chapter reads, “But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up.” Today, leaders in the church are often manipulated into making decisions by women at home. If it’s not the wife of an elder, then it is the wife of any man who has a part in the decision making process of local affairs. After the husbands comply, then the “real” recruiting of other church members begins. If decisions don’t go her way, the family will sometimes decide to place its membership elsewhere. Some even begin meeting in their homes, where her leadership has already been established.
It’s easy to point the finger at a woman when addressing the problem of a henpecked husband. But it’s just as much of a sin for a man to allow that woman to take control of the family. Not all men will put up with such dictation. When faced with trials and suffering, Job’s wife told her husband to ‘curse God and die’; But Job didn’t allow his wife to control his actions. Job 2:10 says, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Adam wasn’t so strong. 1 Timothy 2:14 reads, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” While Adam was not beguiled, he followed his wife into sin.
Men who lose control of their family do it willingly. When the husband refuses to take his proper leadership role, the woman will often take the reins herself. God has issued His plan: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and he is the Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:22,23). The roles work together. While the man (v. 25) loves the wife “just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it,” the wives are to be subject to their own husbands in everything, “just as the church is subject to Christ” (v. 24). Take special note of the contrasts. The man can no more give up his role as the head (of the wife) than Christ can give up his headship of the church. The husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church. And the same is true for women. Verse 24 says, “Just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” If the wife can give up her subjection to her husband, can the church do the same with Christ? Don’t look now, they already have.
Women are to love their husbands and be obedient toward them (Tit. 2:4,5). Women don’t need to be domineering and arrogant to be faithful workers for the Lord. It was Sarah who recognized the authority of her husband and addressed him as “lord,” meaning “master.” Sarah’s name is mentioned in that long list of faithful children of God in Hebrews 11:35 of the same chapter says, “Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” 1 Peter 3:1-6 states, “Wives, be submissive to your own husbands . . . let it be the hidden person of the heart with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord…”
Men usually don’t appreciate being called “henpecked.” It’s an insulting, degrading term. But a man who allows his wife to become the head of the home deserves the title. I Timothy 5:14 says women are to “manage the house,” not the husband. God made women to be a helpmeet for man (Gen. 2:18) and woman was made to be subject to her husband (Gen. 3:16). It’s the Lord’s plan. Any other falls contrary to his word.
The devil works in many ways. He deceives, casts doubt, misuses Scripture and uses other schemes to go after children of God. He’s done wonders at entering and destroying homes, and he starts with the leader. The devil is on the prowl right now, searching for henpecked husbands. Don’t let him enter your home. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Pet. 5:8,9).