Is My Husband My Priest?

''But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man,[a] and the head of Christ is God''. 1 Corinthians 11:3

Having spent many years in complementarian and patriarchal circles, I often heard the teaching that "Husbands are to be prophets, priests, and kings in their homes". I didn't question it at the time, but I now find it to be completely unbiblical. 

The way in which the biblical concept of headship has been abused in the church does not mean, however, that the Bible can be ignored here. Certainly, biblical passages have been misunderstood and misapplied in a way that has devalued a woman’s role in the home and in the church. But those abuses are not grounds for ignoring or reinventing meanings for difficult biblical passages.

What I want to do today, though, is zero in particularly on the concept that a husband is to be his wife's priest (or his child's priest, for that matter!), looking to the Scriptures to see why this simply is not so.

No Other Intercessor Required
The priests were called by God, in Old Testament times under the old covenant, to serve as intercessors between a holy God and sinful man. They were the ones who made the sacrifices on behalf of the people seeking atonement for their sins. They served as mediators between God and man, serving as the go-between and communicator who inquired of the Lord on the behalf of the people.

Everything changed, however, with the coming of Christ. The need for priests ceased, because Christ is forevermore our High Priest. Hebrews 4:14-16 says, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Other passages which confirm this are Hebrews 6:19-20, 7:20-28, 10:11-18.

Jesus is our one and only High Priest, our eternal intercessor between us and the Father (Romans 8:34), and to claim otherwise is to go against the very gospel itself.

We are All Priests
Another change made by the New Covenant was that far from only specific people being qualified to be priests, all followers of the Lord are now priests. First Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light". 

Each and every follower of Christ is now a member of the "priesthood of believers", requiring no earthly intercessor between themselves and God. Every believer is able to go before God on his or her own, inquiring of the Lord, seeking His will, repenting and confessing, accepting His atoning sacrifice, and more. Earthly mediators are not only unnecessary; it is a slap in the face of God to act as if they are.

The Problem with the Umbrella Model
There is a common teaching in complementarianism known as the umbrella model, which teaches that there is God at the top, and then man a little under God, and then woman under man. First Corinthians 11:3 ("But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.") is used as the proof text for such a belief system. It falls short of proving such a stance, however, because to believe and practice such a model is in itself unBiblical and therefore unable to be backed up by Scripture.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a single woman approaching her wedding day. You are enjoying a close, intimate relationship with God, knowing that no human being could ever come between you and the Lord. Not only do you have no need for an earthly priest, intercessor, or mediator, but no earthly person could ever insert himself between you and God. 

You have direct access to the Lord, any time of the day or night. Now imagine that you, days before the wedding, are taught the umbrella model of complementarianism. You are now taught to believe that your future husband will, upon your marriage, be interjected between you and God as the priest of your home. Suddenly your direct access to the Lord is hindered and the belief is that your husband is between you and God. 

Who then would want to get married, right? If it means you suddenly need an earthly priest when before you enjoyed close, direct, and intimate access to the Lord all on your own, through Christ, who would sign up for that?

And yet, as outlandish as this concept seems, it is, of necessity, the implication of the teachings of complementarianism and patriarchy and its umbrella model of husbands being high priests in their homes. It's sad, unfortunate, and downright unBiblical, plain and simple. My husband does not stand between me and God. I have access to God any time of the day or night on my own as a royal priesthood through my High Priest, Jesus. My husband is not called to be my priest, and will never be so – to believe otherwise is to disregard the truths and implications of the gospel.

Marriage by God's Design
So, what does marriage by God's design look like then? If husbands are not to be priests on behalf of their wives, then what are they to be? Peter makes it clear for us in 1 Peter 3:7 – husbands and wives are "heirs together of the grace of life". Even more than being just your husband, he is also your brother-in-Christ and fellow co-heir (Romans 8:16-17). As such, interacting with your husband in a godly marriage looks like each of you serving to be as "iron that sharpens iron" (Proverbs 27:17), spurring one another on to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).

No, your husband is not your priest – no one stands between you and God. Instead, your husband is your brother-in-Christ, and as such he is meant to point you to the Lord just as you, in the same way, are to do that very same thing for him. God's design for marriage truly is so much better and more rich than anything man could ever come up with, amen?

By Rebekah Hargraves
Is My Husband My Priest? Is My Husband My Priest? Reviewed by E.A Olatoye on October 30, 2020 Rating: 5

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