A Former Independent Fundamental Baptist Pastor’s Perspective on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood
As an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor I taught that the Bible clearly defined the roles of men (husbands), women (wives), and children. (a hierarchy) The Bible was clear; the husband is the head of the home and the wife is commanded to submit to the authority and rule of her husband. Like the pastor in the church, the husband is the final authority in the home. It matters not if he is worthy of such responsibility. A husband is disobedient to God if he refuses to be the head of the home. The wife, if she refuses to submit to her husband’s authority, is a Jezebel and risks the judgment of God.
I taught women that God’s highest calling for them was marriage, having children, and keeping the home. I discouraged women from going to college. After all why waste money going to college if you are going to be busy having children and keeping the home.
I taught men that God’s highest calling for them was to be leaders. Men were called to lead the church and the home. (and lead the government) The strength or weakness of any culture, church, or home depended on whether or not men were fulfilling their divine calling to lead.
Children were at the bottom of the hierarchical system. They were under the authority of God, the Bible, the pastor, their father, and their mother. (And according to my sons, the oldest brother) Children had one divine calling in life, obey!
This kind of hierarchical family structure has been a part of American society since the day the Pilgrims stepped ashore on the eastern coast of America. Over time, due to social, political, and economic pressures the hierarchical family structure was weakened. As women gained the right to vote, began working outside of the home, and began using birth control, they realized they could live without being under the control and the authority of a man. Modern American women are free to pursue their own life path, free to live lives independent of men. When women marry they are no longer considered the helpmeet. They are equal partners in the marriage. Their values, beliefs, and opinions matter.
However, in the IFB church movement women still live in the 18th century. Bound by commands and teachings from an antiquated book, they live lives strangely and sadly out of touch with the modern world. Every aspect of family life is controlled by what the Bible teaches. (or what an authoritarian Pastor and authoritarian husband/father say the Bible teaches)
I have no objections to a women willingly choosing to live and participate in a hierarchical family structure. If an Amish woman wants to live as the Amish do then I have no reason or right to object. (though it is difficult to determine if they willingly choose. Is it a free choice when there are no other options?)
For my family and I moving away from a hierarchical family structure was difficult. We had to relearn how to live. We had to examine sincerely held beliefs and determine if they still were applicable to the new way we wanted to live our lives.
I realized that I had lorded over my family. I had dominated and controlled their lives, all in the name of Jesus. By doing so I had robbed them of the ability to live their lives independently of my control. Every decision had to have my stamp of approval. Nothing escaped my purview. After all, God had commanded me to be the head of the home. Someday I would give an account to God for how I managed the affairs of my family. I took the threat of judgment seriously.
The biggest problem we faced was that since I was the one who always made the final decision my children and wife lacked the skills necessary to make good decisions. My children quickly adapted to their new found freedom, shouting a Martin Luther King Jr. like FREE FREE AT LAST, however my wife did not fare so well.