What does it mean that the husband is the “head of the household”?

It’s time for a new episode of the To Love, Honor and Vacuum podcast! And today I thought I’d take on something a little bit controversial, and give it the attention it needs. So this one ROCKS!

I hope you all will listen, but if you don’t have time, I’ll have some links and rabbit trails below so you can read all you want as well!

And consider this podcast “extras”. If you want to go deeper into what I talked about in the podcast, here are some more things to help you.

But first, here’s the podcast:


Main Segment: Ephesians 5 Explained–What is “Head of the Wife”?

We start in by talking about how head of the house isn’t actually in Scripture, and why we should stop using the term. And then I talk about what headship really means, and what it DOESN’T mean. It’s a bit of a jaunt through two different Greek words for head (and why Paul chose the one he did), why his word choice DOESN’T mean “chain of command” or authority (though the other word he deliberately DIDN’T choose does mean that), a bit of Hebrew, and some Roman history.

Then we talk about what headship does mean, and how the idea of taking initiative and doing something when something needs to be done is a much better translation both for the Greek and for the logic of the context of several passages we’re looking at. If you’ve ever been confused by Ephesians 5, or by other passages about husbands and wives, you may really enjoy this!

When I was 16 years old, I was really struggling with my faith, because I believed that God didn’t like me as much as he liked boys. I thought, “why would God have made me smart if he didn’t want me speaking up, if he only wanted me to listen to men?” Then someone gave me some heavy duty academic books about Greek and the New Testament and women, and they literally changed my life and reinvigorated my faith and made me understand that I am precious to God, too. So I’m crystallizing all of that in just 20 minutes in this podcast to make it accessible, and I hope you like it!

If you want to read more on this, Marg Mowczo is a great resource:

Kephale and Male Headship in Paul’s Letters

By the way, I so appreciate Marg’s scholarly work, and so when I knew i was going to be in Australia, I sent her a message on Twitter and asked if we could meet up, and we did!


I’ve also written other posts about this subject through different lenses, but I encourage you to take a look at the series I did on submission last September, starting at the first post about Sarah and Abraham, and whether we’re really supposed to obey our husbands. It’s an in-depth series leading up to what God is calling women to do in marriage.

Your Weekly Challenge: Ask Your Spouse, “Have I Ever Said Something About Sex that Hurt You?”

We’ve got our second weekly challenge this week! And this one is based on two posts from earlier in the week–the first when I asked you all about this newlywed whose husband wants her to be sexier; and the second when I asked you all what things we shouldn’t tell our spouses about sex. 

I couldn’t answer that question well myself because I couldn’t type. My hand was all bandaged up from a bad cut on the weekend. But I’ve got the big wrap off now and it’s much easier! So this is what I wanted to say (and what I said in the podcast):

When sharing something that may be hurtful about sex, ask yourself: Is this something that either of us can change? Will sharing this help us be able to work towards greater intimacy? Or will it just be hurtful? Am I sharing it in a constructive way and a kind way, or am I sharing it in a biting way?

There may be a reason, for instance, to tell your spouse that you’ve been faking orgasm and you really want to work on not doing that and on learning how to feel pleasure. That WILL hurt, but you have to have that conversation if you’re ever going to move towards real intimacy. Sharing that you think his penis is too small, or her breasts are too small, though, is NEVER  helpful because neither can change that. 

So do our challenge! And, if you find that you need a way to have more conversations about this, and figure out how to make sex mutual and feel intimate, work through 31 Days to Great Sex.

Do you find it hard to talk about SEX?

Want to try new things--but don't know how to start?

No more wondering how to talk about what feels good or what you'd like to try. This fun challenge will get you talking and trying new things without the awkward.

Reader Question: How Do I Set Boundaries with My Elderly Mom?

And now for something completely different! A woman writes:


My husband and I recently moved to another state to help our kids with their new baby. My mother lived in the state that we came from. She was living independently and able to drive still and took care of herself and had people who could help her when she needed it. 

I lived a short car ride away and only saw her once a week for a few hours when we lived in the previous state. I was the last of my siblings to move away from my mom. 

When we moved, my mom decided to move with us. I wasn’t 100% on board with this but she told me “she would die if she had to stay there alone” Last month, I flew home and moved her here. She has her own condo but now she can’t find her way around (even though I have taken her places and I wrote directions for her too) She also will not reach out to people and make any connections to meet people. ( She also did this back at home) So my question is, What is the healthy way to deal with this and not let her make me feel guilty. How can I put healthy boundaries on this situation? I also want to mention she refuses to get someone to come in and help her 1-2 days a week. I also work part time and and helping my daughter with my grandbaby. She doesn’t like it where we moved to because it is different than we where we lived for 50 years. I told her it would be hard but she insisted on coming.

It’s funny, because  a few years ago I wrote a post that went really big about how senior parents owe their adult children a life, and if they need their adult children to eventually look after them, they owe it to those children to move closer to those children. So this older mom is doing exactly what I said she should do!

Yes, the mom does need to make friends, and I’d recommend this letter writer take her to some aquafit classes and seniors’ groups at churches until she feels comfortable. And yes, it’s okay to say, “I won’t be your housekeeper, Mom, so I need you to hire someone, or else realize you’ll be doing it yourself.”

But at the same time, I think you can spend some time with your mom. And she will need her daughter more as the mom gets older. She moved to care for a grandbaby who had two parents who are married. Her mom has nobody, and needs her, too. That’s valid. Involve the mom with the baby! Have the mom in for dinner. And if Mom is difficult, tell her for sure. But I think we can spend some time caring for parents who need us, and not just grandbabies who are cuter.

And get the siblings involved, too! But overall, be grateful your mom moved, because in the long run, this will be much easier.

That’s it for the podcast this week! Listen in, because it’s full of some pretty important stuff. And let me know:

Have you ever been told about the significance of the different Greek words for head? And what do you think this woman owes her mom? Let’s talk in the comments!

Podcast: What does headship in marriage really mean? A look at the Greek.

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