Is A Man the Head of His Household?

Written by Father Bill 2 Comments

The   film Courageous  has gotten some religoius feminists in a tizzy over the whether or not husbands and fathers are the heads of their households. I haven’t seen the film (it hasn’t been booked into our small-town theater), but to judge by the eyes of the religious feminists who are commenting at the link above, I’d guess I would agree with the film’s fundamental premises about the responsibility married men have for the welfare of their wives and children.

Here’s how the blogger puts it:

  •  The movie implies (and explicitly states in at least one instance) that the Bible teaches fathers are to take full responsibility for their wives and children, but they do little to show where and how the Bible teaches it (actually nothing that I can remember, but correct me if I’m wrong) As egalitarians agree, there simply isn’t biblical justification for a view like this, and it is unfair to both men and women to place this extra burden on fathers alone.
  •  In encouraging men to be responsible, why does it have to be at the expense of women’s responsibility? Does the Bible not also call godly women to be engaged with their families, and to be prayerful, respectful, kind, and integrity-filled—all prominent ideas in the resolution the men sign? To me, these challenges seem to highlight the way all who follow Christ are to live—both female and male.

As usual, religious feminists can’t stand the notion that the Bible lays responsibilities on men greater than a women’s, that women and men relate in the family in an ordered way that makes the man responsible to God for the woman in a way that the woman is not responsible to God for the man. To the religious feminist, any wifely responsibility that is NOT identical to the man’s is no responsibility at all, rendering her “passive.” Such folk need to be warned against airing that sort of idea to a faithful wife and mother productively serving her family in a patriarchal marriage, lest she punch their lights out.

But, here’s the rub, something which shows how intractable the religious feminist’s plight is when he is firmly in its clutches: the religious feminist cannot see what is writ plain in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is patriarchal to the core, and at the heart of the Bible’s patriarchy is a responsibility of the husband/father for his family that is not shared with the wife.


  1. Michael McMillan   |  Monday, 07 November 2011 at 7:50 pm

    It is a good movie, but one of things about it that was most unrealistic to me was that all the women seemed to want their husbands to be their spiritual leaders. The men had plenty of opportunities to be courageous in the film, but they didn’t have to tangle with religious feminism in their own homes. None of the women were offended by male headship. There didn’t seem to be any bossy career women in competition with their husbands, or ones who considered themselves spiritually superior to them. They were home-makers expecting their husbands to take care of them. That looked almost too 1960s “Father Knows Best” for today’s gender landscape. The men just had to deal with gangs and such, not any irate egalitarians.

  2. Fr. Bill   |  Monday, 07 November 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Hi, Michael,

    I’m not surprised to hear this. I wonder if the producers simply didn’t want to deal with more than one issue at a time (i.e. to tackle male passivity as husbands/fathers) or whether the producers/screenwriters were unable to incorporate the theme you found to be missing. I suspect that a film that shows men courageously and righteously engaging religious feminism as biblical patriarchs …. well, it might not be such a feel-good movie!

    But, one can always hope.

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