The late James Brown, often referred to as the ‘Godfather of Soul’, wrote the song “It's a Man's World” back in February 1966. While the record was characterised as “biblically chauvinistic” by Rolling Stone magazine, the song lyrics point out that all of men’s achievements no matter how great, would "mean nothing without a woman or a girl".
Essentially he was right (the man being nothing without a woman to make him whole), and we see this in Genesis 2:18 of the Old Testament. Although it was always God’s intention to create male and female (Genesis 1:27), the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man (men) to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him" (NLT). Therefore we know by this scripture (Genesis 2:18) that the woman compliments the man as it is written in Genesis 2:24, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh"(NIV).
With great power comes great responsibility
Uncle Ben, (no not the brand name for parboiled rice and other food-related products, but the fictional supporting character for Spiderman-related stories in the Marvel Universe), once told the teenage webslinger “with great power comes great responsibility”. Although coming from a comic book, the expression rings true and it has not only become one of the most enduring statements in US popular culture, it can also be regarded as the verse from Luke 12:48 for superhero fiction. No matter who we are in life, we are all given a measure of responsibility and this is compounded in the parable of the talents where the master (God) expects a return for the abilities that He has given us.
Now, when it comes to the man (men to be specific), we have a greater degree of responsibility than the woman because God appointed us to be head of the household. Marriage between a man, woman and the family are God’s first institution and in this, both the man and woman play a role. God is a God of order, and we see the order of leadership explained in 1 Corinthians 11:3.
"It also must be said that this order, of the man being the head of the woman, doesn’t grant any man a license to mistreat his wife"
It also must be said that this order, of the man being the head of the woman, doesn’t grant any man a license to mistreat his wife. Not only does Ephesians 5:25 instruct husbands to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, but Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28 that with God, there is no partiality between the sexes, but that we are all one under Christ Jesus.
How is the role of the man in the household viewed in today’s society?
That entirely depends on the culture and society one is raised in. For example in some countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, it is not only illegal for a woman to leave the house without a male chaperone, but the woman being escorted often has to walk several paces behind the man. In western society, for the most part, the woman doesn’t endure that kind of formality and although the relationship between a husband and wife won’t necessarily reflect society’s views, it can certainly be said that it has an influence on defining the roles between them.
"Now in the past decade or so, we’ve seen this stereotype become gradually less and less prevalent as time goes on and feminism has played a part in this. Because of this, when combined with political correctness, it can sometimes make it hard or even off-putting for a man to want to lead in the home."
Since the early days of soap operas we’ve seen women traditionally portrayed as the stay-at-home mums/homemakers while the man was traditionally either at work or coming home from work. Now in the past decade or so, we’ve seen this stereotype become gradually less and less prevalent as time goes on and feminism has played a part in this. Because of this, when combined with political correctness, it can sometimes make it hard or even off-putting for a man to want to lead in the home.
The main problem concerning this is ego. When you take ego out of the equation it won’t matter who earns the most money, who was the most independent prior to the wedding day, which one puts on the dinner for the spouse and kids, etc. It’s about practicality and in any relationship you’re going to have to compromise at some stage and be taken out of your comfort zone, which is a good thing.
Have men’s duties changed over time?
Western society has become more and more liberal with the dawn of the 21st century. The ‘traditional’ roles of a man and a woman are essentially still in place, but they have gradually been redefined with the increasing ‘metro-sexuality’ of men and women gaining more independence in society. This growing trend that we’ve seen over the past 20 years or so can be summed up perfectly in the record by girl group, Destiny’s Child ‘Independent Woman Part 1’. The song lyrics describe how the women in the group don’t require a man to provide them with material possessions and that going into a relationship is always “50/50”.
These growing attitudes are reflected in today’s society with songs like “Miss Independent” by singer-songwriter Neyo, conveying the same sentiments. Men's duties as it were have become more fluid over time in the sense that a woman can be just as capable of fulfilling the same duties traditionally attributed to men, with modern examples going as far back as their labour contribution in Britain to the war effort in WWII.
Bill and Hilary Clinton have had a well-documented marriage in the public eye, which at one point was under serious threat of collapse when his indiscretion with then intern, Monica Lewinsky, came to light back in 1998 during his Presidency. While he was still in office, Bill would arguably have been the most powerful man, as the Commander and Chief of the most powerful country, whilst also being the God-appointed leader in the home (or Whitehouse in this case). Now that Bill has long since left office, his wife Hilary is aiming to take office as the Democratic candidate for US Presidency. Assuming she gains office effectively, making her arguably the most powerful woman on earth, it still doesn’t change what Genesis 3:16 says.
"With that being said, if any couple who are in Christ encounter marriage problems, (as long each party is obedient to God and doesn't harden their heart), there is no issue that should separate them other than death"
David and Tamela Mann's marriage as a high profile Christian couple comes across as a partnership from what we've seen in the media; with each of them making joint decisions whilst considering each other. Arguably, Tamela has a higher profile than David, and of course no marriage (Christian or otherwise) is perfect and no couple is immune to marital problems. With that being said, if any couple who are in Christ encounter marriage problems, (as long each party is obedient to God and doesn't harden their heart), there is no issue that should separate them other than death.
Understanding roles from a Biblical perspective
It is important for men as leaders in the home to lead the family and set the example in Christ. This includes training the child in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), providing for the family (1 Timothy 5:8), which isn't limited to financially providing as you can do so and still be absent in the home, and loving your wife unconditionally with the kind of love that Christ has for the church.
By allowing the husband to lead you and the family, in Christ, you not only make the household run much more smoothly, but you also allow God to be the third person in your marriage, which is pleasing to Him. As I mentioned earlier, while not showing partiality (Galatians 3:28), God is one of order and if any woman, no matter how much influence and power she posses, chooses not to allow the man to lead- whom God has ordained, how can the same woman expect to be lead by Christ?
Written by Andrew Hamilton Thomas
Andrew is an aspiring political journalist, cartoonist and contributor for the Orator & Croydon Citizen