The Teaching that a Husband/Father is Priest to His Family is Unbiblical and Promotes Abuse (Part 1)
This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from him to any other ( 1 Timothy 2:5 ). The London Confession of Faith, Chapter 8, Of Christ the Mediator
If you have had contact with what we will call the patriarchal teachings of various individuals and organizations (Vision Forum, Doug Phillips, Family Integrated Churches, Voddie Baucham, Geoff Botkin, etc), you already know that a common plank in their teaching is this business of the husband and/or father functioning as a priest to his wife and children. Numbers of abuse victims we have interviewed have related how this teaching increased their suffering as their church and their abuser used it to enslave them. The husband must disciple and purify his wife. Hey, doesn’t Ephesians 5 say that? It is his prayers that make intercession for the family. It is his teaching of the Word to wife and children that is his unique duty.
As with most errors, this unbiblical doctrine that the man is the priest of his home consists of truth mixed with error. A father is to train up his children in the instruction of the Lord. A husband is to love his wife and promote her sanctification. He surely must pray for his family. These are good and noble things. But none of them make him a priest. None make him a mediator between his family and God. That office belongs to Christ alone. Furthermore, consider this:
1Pe 2:5-9 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (6) For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (7) So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” (8) and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (9) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
So what people constitute this holy priesthood that offers spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ? Who are the members of this chosen race, this royal priesthood? Well obviously it is the church. This priesthood is made up of every single Christian, whether male or female, slave or free, from every nation and language. This means then that not only is a Christian husband and father a priest, but a Christian wife and mother as well. And a Christian son or daughter. Besides the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, is there any other priesthood in the New Testament? No. Most emphatically, no. This is why the Reformers, and we Protestants today, reject the validity of the Roman priesthood or any other priesthood.
In the next installment of this series, we will consider what Scripture has to say about the sacrifices offered by this priesthood. In what way is every Christian a priest? Do we offer sacrifices and if so, what are they? And then I would like to proceed further by giving a critical review of a book recently published by a reformed baptist pastor (that’s my own theological camp) entitled A Man as Priest in His Home. Is that a biblical teaching? As you no doubt already know, my answer is going to be, no way.
[Go to Part 2 of this series]