Headship is the Christian goal for marriage.
Readership: Christians; Married; Those who hope to be married;
Note: In this essay, Headship includes the Tingly Respect model.
A Short History of the Model
Over the past couple years, I have been working on categorizing different types of relationship structures and identifying the defining elements that constitute such a structure. I came up with two characteristic dichotomies.
- Who has defacto authority? The man or the woman?
- What is the woman’s mindset and longitudinal habits concerning her submission to male authority (AKA her “Life Path”)? Submissive or independent?
Once I placed these two dichotomies on two axes to form a graph, then all the different archetypical relationships clearly fell into certain areas of the graph, as shown here.
This graph underwent a couple revisions, described in the following posts.
- Σ Frame: The Feminine Dilemma (2018 October 27).
- Σ Frame: Placing the Marriage Structures within the Archetypical Models (2020 September 28)
I had a few RP principles that guided the process of forming this model.
- Authority is sexual.
- Power is dynamic and visceral.
- Σ Axiom 6: The natural interaction defines the relationship structure according to which model it fits best.
- Women are naturally drawn to men, and this can be expressed in many different ways, depending on her mindset toward authority and her habits of submission.
- Rollo’s Cardinal Rule of sexual strategies: “For one gender’s sexual strategy to succeed, the other gender must compromise or abandon their own.”
- Chateau Heartiste: The Moral Dichotomy of Women (2017 April 18)
DS disagrees with Rollo’s Cardinal Rule, but I think many relationships do play out this way, and so it needs to be considered. I think DS would agree that if both the man and the wife are aiming to glorify God in a Headship structure, then this competition should become much less of an issue.
I want to take this occasion to point out a few things that I had not described in detail in these past writings, and also to respond to DS’s reviews of this model.
One thing is the placement of Celibacy on the graph. Celibacy is a unique relational position, because the woman is independent, but she still remains under the authority of her father. I think true celibacy is very rare, because most women are sexually involved with a man at least once in their life, and this upsets the clarity of authority over her head. Secular, independent, adult women who may or may not have been previously married, may not recognize any form of male authority over her, and if this is the case, then although she may not be sexually active, she fails to conform to the Christian archetype of true Celibacy. Older widows or single women whose father has died are special cases of Celibacy, if it can be called such. I have to offer a disclaimer on the details, as there are technicalities which I have not yet worked out in great detail.
Other points are elaborated below.
The Man is in a Defensive Position
It is fairly well known that the wife has much more influence than the husband towards creating happiness in a marriage. (“Defensive” may not be a very good word to describe this, but I am hard pressed to think of a better description.) To understand why this is, one only needs to consider the two dichotomies in the graph.
- The man only has defacto authority if the woman has a “Thing” for him. Besides the plain fact that there are precious few men who are able to instill the blessed Tingles and/or exert masculine Headship, this status is somewhat unstable and always subject to change (c.f. hypergamy).
- The woman’s mindset and habits of submission are subject to her own discretion. She can always choose to be disobedient and/or disrespectful.
Here are a couple posts that describe this imbalance in more detail.
- Biblical Gender Roles: Why Unity In Marriage Has More To Do With The Wife Than The Husband (2016 November 23)
- My Unhappiness Is Your Fault! (2018 June 3)
Because of this dynamic, it is more accurate to use the husband’s happiness as an indicator of his wife’s spiritual maturity, and less accurate to trust the converse proposition as an indicator of the husband’s worth, as is customary within Churchianity.
The Trajectory Towards Headship
First of all, I want to express my appreciation to DS for taking the time and effort to review my work. I try to be as descriptive and accurate as I can for the readers’ benefit, and his reviews serve as a valuable quality check. This discussion also fuels further thought as to how we can refine this knowledge and possibly improve upon it.
Recently, Deep Strength reviewed this model in two posts.
- Christianity and Masculinity: The Bible and female life path (2020 November 18)
- Christianity and Masculinity: Summary of evaluating relationship or marital status and plans of action (2020 November 26)
In the former post, DS said that the dotted male submission line is the same line as the female submission line. I separated these two lines because there is a grey area in real-life relationships, in which there is some degree of mutual submission depending on the issue. This is best exemplified by a Complementarian structure in which the man and wife hold traditional gender roles. The man is an authority in certain areas, such as politics, religious doctrines, and which car to buy, while the woman is an authority in other areas, such as the frequency of church attendance, choosing a school for the children, and how child rearing is to be implemented. In a true Headship, the wife consults her husband on every decision and follows his directive accordingly. She rarely (if ever) insists on having things “her way”, and instead, finds joy in discovering the purposes behind her husband’s directives.
In the latter post, DS discussed the “trajectory” of a relationship or marriage. I want to discuss this idea a little further, because it has several components.
The nature of this trajectory carries an implication that DS and I have assumed in our writings, and that is the plain fact that a marriage may not stay in one location on the graph over time. DS considered a few situations in which relationships change in and out of Headship. There is much to be said about these transitions, but a full analysis would require many case studies. If any of our readers have the makings of a case study, I invite you to write it up and mail it to me.
When people describe marriage as “hard work” or “requiring work”, I like to think they are referring to the daily tasks required to maintain or progress towards a Christ honoring Headship. This may or may not be the case, depending on the personalities involved, but it needs to be emphasized that when we talk about a Christian marriage, we aren’t just talking about a wedding ceremony and the related legal documents. No, a Christian marriage is defined/determined by whether it is characterized by Headship — male authority and female submission. Any other type of relational structure is not a Christian marriage by definition. Either or both the husband or wife may or may not be Christians, but without Headship, they don’t have a Christian marriage.
This gets sticky when we realize that it is possible for two people to be unbelievers, yet still have a Christ-like relationship. This is true because all humanity remains under the pre-Edenic Covenant.
I do not write this to condemn Christians who have failed to achieve Headship, nor to glorify non-Christians who have. My intention here is to draw attention to the fact that Christians who are married, or who hope to be married, should aspire to attain the Headship structure. This necessarily indicates several itinerant “goals” for the Christian in marriage, which DS discussed in the latter post. But reaching these goals may be far from simple.
To aid our understanding of this transition, I wrote a post titled, The Red Pill and Blue Pill as Paradigms of Sanctification and Defilement (with a mathematical analogy) (2020 November 15). In this essay, I used a mathematical analogy to illustrate how moving from one relationship structure to another may require things to get perceptibly worse for a time. Here, we can think of Headship as a global maximum according to the analogy, a form of sanctification that married Christians should pursue. A few more case studies of transitions are contained in the post, Stepping up to the Challenge (2018 April 29).
Moving towards Headship is Redemptive
Another way to succinctly describe this “move” from one relationship structure to another is carried in the concepts of redemption and sanctification. A man’s marriage and family experience redemption when a Headship structure is attained and/or maintained. This means that God is able to use this marriage and family for His purposes towards holiness, glory, growth, and bearing fruit, rather than it being relegated to a common, real life, sitcom drama filled with self-centered sins of ignorance.
Sanctification is also more likely to occur in Headship. But this is a little more complicated, because the man, or especially the woman, may not find internal joy and contentment in adopting the Headship structure. This weakness becomes more pronounced with women who are steeped in the Strong Independent Wimmin™ mindset, and/or who have a sordid sexual history and can no longer bond to a man in marriage.
Regarding the children, redemption is much more likely to occur for the children if their parents have a Headship type of relationship, and sanctification is almost certain. The reason divorce is so destructive to children’s well-being is because it destroys their inborn hope of redemption, and transforms a sanctified home environment into one of shame and fear.
12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.1st Corinthians 7:12-14 (NKJV)
There is no guarantee that God’s glory and Shalom will come to rest on a Headship marriage, but it most certainly will not exist in any other type of relationship.