A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

The Teaching that a Husband/Father is Priest to his Family is Unbiblical and Promotes Abuse (Part 5)

The third chapter of Sam Waldron’s book, A Man as Priest in His Home, opens this way:

To better understand the concept of a man as a priest in his home, it will help to take a look at the classic scriptural portrait of such a man….We’re going to examine the life of Job, a unique figure in Scripture and a prime example of a man who was truly a priest in his home. The classic portrait of his priesthood is found in Job 1:1-5″

NASB Job 1:1 ¶ There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.  2 Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.  3 His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.  4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.  5 When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually. 

The first thing we must realize is that Job was certainly acting as a priest to his family —  verse five says he consecrated (literally, sanctified) his children and offered burnt offerings for them. 

After pointing us to Exodus 19:7-15 where Moses similarly consecrates the Israelites in preparation for the Lord coming down on Mt. Sinai, Waldron applies that work of Moses to Job:

Job’s sons and daughters were preparing themselves for the holy worship of God. Job’s sending and sanctifying his children implies they were required to attend the worship Lob led. Even though some were adult children, Job brought all the holy pressure he could to bear on them as he assumed his right to lead them in the worship of God….Job was literally offering offerings for his chilren….So, in making burnt offerings for his children, Job was clearly acting as a priest.

Waldron then notes that once the Mosaic Covenant at Mt. Sinai was established, the priesthood “was restricted by law to the tribe of Levi and the sons of Aaron.” However, he continues, “Prior to that we have records of many legitimate priesthoods that were exercise by others.” Waldron points to Melchizedek, Jethro, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob and their exercise of priesthood.

Now, in making the application leap from Job to the Christian husband/father as priest in his home, Waldron proceeds in a section he entitles “The Continuation of Job’s Priesthood.” Here is his reasoning:

Job  is the epitome of a man as a priest in his home. Yet, he lived in the Old Testament era of types and shadows. He offered physical sacrifices that have since been abrogated by the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. It may seem at first glance that his pattern should not apply to New Covenant Christians. However, there are several reasons that we should indeed imitate Job’s model, even though we live under grace rather than law. First, Job’s priesthood was not Levitical. He was not a Jew and did not live in the land of Palestine, so we cannot avoid his example by arguing that we are not of the tribe of Levi. Job himself was not a Levite. 

Second, Job’s priesthood was not covenantal. He did not exercise his priesthood because he was one of the patriarchs of Israel with whom God had established a special covenant, as in the cases of Abraham and Jacob. He was a Gentile, as are most of us.

Third, Job’s priesthood was legal….We cannot avoid the force of Job’s example by claiming he was acting outside of God’s established will.

Fourth, Job’s priesthood was familial. The whole sphere of Job’s priesthood as it is presented in Job 1 has to do with his family and children and nothing else. He was a priest because he was a father. If we have families and if we are fathers, we too are priests. [Emphasis mine]

Adding  fifth, sixth and seventh reasons to his argument, Waldron says 5) Job’s priesthood was “original.” That is, it stemmed from the Creation pattern of the family where Adam offered burnt offerings; 6) Job’s priesthood was “ceremonial.” While Christ’s cross ended the literal offerings of animals on altars, the man remains as head of his home, responsible then as priests to our children; 7) Job’s priesthood was “primeval.” That is, because this priesthood of the husband/father was established at Creation, Christ’s cross and the New Covenant church still work in cooperation and harmony with the husband/father as priest in his home. Waldron states “We must strive to exercise our spiritual priesthood in harmony with the church, and see the two roles as complementary rather than threatening.”

Waldron’s central thesis, that as Job was a priest to his family, so all husbands/fathers are priests to their families today even in the New Covenant, fails in its logic. Why? Because there is nothing in the New Testament that teaches this doctrine. Waldron’s argument is based almost completely on the Old Testament and in the case of Job, he makes this ancient character into a kind of archetypal, primeval pattern for men as priests today. Is this sound hermeneutics? Does this approach agree with proper exposition of Scripture. I cannot see that it does. Yes, there are lessons men can learn from Job’s example of godliness, but the chief lesson of the book of Job is not that men are to be priests in their homes! No, the lesson is that we can trust in the goodness and wisdom of God even in the darkest trials. In other words, Job teaches us about the gospel. Justification by faith. Seeing God when we cannot see Him. Those are the lessons of Job.

Waldron will go on in the remainder of his book to describe what specifics a man must do as a priest in his home. He says:

  • A man is an intercessor in prayer (Chapter 4)
  • A man is a director of religious worship (Chapter 5)
  • A man is a mediator of divine blessing (Chapter 6)
  • A man is an instructor in sacred scripture (Chapter 7)
  • A man is a judge in holy things (Chapter 8)

While all of these chapters are problematic, the sixth chapter’s premise is the most troublesome. Waldron writes “In this chapter, we’ll consider that man’s special priestly role as a mediator of divine blessing to his family.” His subsequent argument is almost entirely from the Old Testament (he returns to Job once more) and the New Testament texts he references (Luke 24:50-51 and Hebrews 7:22; 8:6) all refer to Christ as our priest, whom Waldron claims the husband/father is to emulate as priest in his home.

I have no quarrel with Waldron’s assertion that Scripture shows us that a husband/father will bring either divine blessing or cursing upon his home, depending on his own character and conduct,” IF that outcome is based solely upon natural consequences of a husband/father’s sin or obedience. But is a wife or child in the family of a wicked man to conclude that when they suffer evil consequences due to the man’s sins (financial loss, illness, etc) that this is God’s curse coming upon them because of the man’s wickedness? Of course not. Is their blessing from God reliant upon the supposed “priest” of their home and family? No. Their blessing comes through Jesus Christ alone! But Waldron, I believe, exceeds mere natural consequences of the domestic priest’s sin or obedience and claims that blessing or cursing from God is in fact mediated to the family through the father/husband priest.

Like all Christians, a father/husband is a priest. Not because he is a father/husband, but because he is in Christ. All Christians are priests, including wives and children. A father and husband should indeed do many of the things that Waldron speaks of in this book, ministering as a Christian to his household. So should believing wives. But to establish a non-biblical priesthood which is founded on the mere fact that a man is a husband and/or father is to create an office that Holy Scripture does not authorize. No more good can come from the innovations of man that which Nadab and Abihu found out, and as the London Confession of Faith warns us against:

[God]…. may not be worshiped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or can other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.

Religious worship is to be given to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creatures; and since the fall, not without a mediator, nor in the mediation of any other but Christ alone.

Our original thesis stands. The teaching that a husband/father is priest to his family is unbiblical. And it most certainly will promote abuse in the church and in the home when sinful human beings use it to feed their mentality of entitlement to power and control. Scripture’s plain and clear teaching is that all Christians are priests under the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ. It teaches no other priesthood in the New Covenant.

(Go to Part 4 of this series)
(Go to Part 6 of this series)

35 Comments

  1. Brenda R

    There are many valuable points brought out in this article JeffC. This one caught my eye that Waldron subscribes to •A man is an intercessor in prayer

    Aren’t we all intercessors in prayer when we pray for others. What makes the husband/father/priest any different or more special than anyone else? He cannot replace our own prayers or pray us into heaven. I was raised in a church that was predominantly women. If there weren’t praying women in those households, there wouldn’t have been any praying done. There wouldn’t have been any Bible reading. God wouldn’t have been mentioned.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Brenda – you make a valuable observation here that we should all remember. You jogged my memory. In many small rural areas in particular, over the years, it has indeed been women who made up the large majority of these congregations while their unregenerate husbands stayed at home. I have not been involved in that kind of church for a long time, but I can remember as a kid going to churches that were just like that. Yes, if it hadn’t been for the women…..

  2. Carmen S.

    Charisma Magazine published an article ( 9/11/ 2013) written by Dr. Patrick Morley, founder and CEO of Man in the Mirror—a nonprofit organization to help men find meaning and purpose in life. One of the comments to this article: This is more your opinion than the Word of God. Check your theology. This is blasphemous. [Carmen – we will assume that the following are excerpts from that article, correct?]

    Exploring a Husband’s Role as Prophet, Priest, and King
    Eph. 3:25 offers the principle instructions to married men. If you want a biblical marriage, then you need to understand how Christ loved the church.

    Jesus loved the church–His family–as its Christ, or annointed one. Since husbands are to love their wives in the same way as the annointed one loves His family, they need to know exactly what Jesus was annointed to do. In the New Testament, as we shall see, husbands become annointed ones.

    The Role of Prophet
    A husband is to be the family prophet. He represents God to his wife ( and, by extension, his family, the fruit of their union). When his wife reacts emotionally, he calms her with God’s wisdom. He proclaims the gospel of faith to his family. He provides biblical instruction and training to his wife and children without becoming legalistic. He prepares family devotions and encourages private devotions. He is the arbiter of family values. He insists on regular church attendence. He is a messenger from God to his family.

    The Role of Priest
    If a prophet represents God to people, a priest represents people to God. A husband is to be the family priest. He represents his wife and children to God. He spends time in prayer each day remembering the needs and concerns of his wife. He prays for the salvation of his children. Like Job, he asks the Lord to forgive the sins of his children. He sets the spiritual temperature in his home. He sacrifices his life for theirs. He is a mediator to God for his family.

    The Role of King
    A king takes responsibility for the welfare of his people. He provides both justice and mercy for them. Jesus is a king in the line of David. A king provides for and offers protection and security for his people. A husband is to be a family king. He provides for the needs of his family. He works diligently to earn enough for food and shelter. He administers discipline with fairness. He quickly forgives and overlooks offenses. He acts in a manner worthy of receiving honor. He treats his wife with consideration and respect. He is careful not to be harsh with her.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Blasphemous indeed! What a bunch of ridiculous drivel.

      • Brenda R

        Oh, Yes indeed. I just read the article online. Dr. Morley does say the husband is prophet, priest and king. He fails to mention that a king can also be an abusive tyrant that conquers and destroys everything and anyone who gets in his way.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Bullseye, Brenda.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Who is this Dr. Morley guy anyway?

      • Brenda R

        I wanted to know that too, so I looked him up online. He was a successful businessman in FL and belongs to Northland Church. He sold his business to go into Men’s minisistry specifically “Men in the MIrror”. I looked up the statement of faith for Northland and it all sounds good until you get to this guys writings. He isn’t a pastor but does men’s ministry and discipleship writing and speaking. Another sell a book guy. Picking out scriptures, making his own assumptions and coming up with mud. This Northland group sounds more like an outreach program as they are in several cities in FL including house services.

      • joepote01

        They say the husband is prophet, priest, and king of the home?

        Based on Paul instructing the husband to love his wife as Christ loves the church, they’re saying (by extreme unjustified extrapolation) that means the husband has the same authority and roles in the home as Christ has in the Church?

        In other words, they are saying the husband has the role of “savior” to his family…

        Yes, that is, indeed, blasphemous!

        We have only one Savior, Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father!

    • Heather2

      Yikes! Scary stuff for any woman caught in its web.

    • When his wife reacts emotionally, he calms her with God’s wisdom.

      This deserves a stack of rotten eggs.

      • Brenda R

        What about when the husband reacts emotionally. Isn’t anger an emotion!! Who’s suppose to calm him down?

      • LOL BIT!!!
        This sort of sexist stuff slays me — the caricature of women as emotional and stupid, and men having to slap some sense into them. cracks me up every time! 😛

      • Jeff Crippen

        But Katy- that is how it is in all the Westerns!

      • Brenda R

        Hummmm!! I’m going to have to review my John Wayne collection.

      • Yes, Brenda’s reaction was my very first thought when I read the above also. Husbands / men never react emotionally? And whose job is it to calm the “family priest” when he flies off the handle?

      • Brenda R

        I don’t think they see it that way at all. If they fly off the handle, it is righteous. I don’t agree obviously, but in their minds they are justified.

    • Estelle

      Hmm, apart from the earning of money, my mother did all those things. She prayed with us and for us, instilled daily devotional habits, encouraged and taught and sacrificed and juggled budgets and sewed clothes and curtains and ran a ladies group at church, caring and praying for each of those women, too.

  3. Carmen S.

    Yep, Jeff. They are all exact excerpts from the article.

  4. In this chapter, we’ll consider that man’s special priestly role as a mediator of divine blessing to his family.

    I just can’t get past that sentence. What about all the families without dads? We get no blessings from God or ..? 🙂 I suppose he believes that God takes care of us but we would be “more blessed” if we had a man as mediator? sigh.

    • /sarcasm on Just like in Mormonism, you MUST have a man in your life to confer those blessings on you! /sarcasm off

      How sick is that?

      • Brenda R

        Definitely warped, Wendell. I was just thinking about how blessed I have felt since NOT having a man in my life.

  5. Carmen S.

    Whatever are to be the roles of men in their homes, they CANNOT be who Christ exclusively is for us and our salvation.

  6. Carmen S.

    “This deserves a stack of rotten eggs”

    BIT, I might never stop laughing! Good one 🙂

  7. Boy do I want to get my teeth into this shonky doctrine of Waldon and Morley. The man in the mirror ought peer into the mirror more closely and take out the knotty lump of wood from his eye before pontificating on doctrine. I would not be surprised if Morley is subsidising his mens ministry with grants from the Federal Fatherhood Programs. Ugh.

    Ephesians tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Let’s be really clear on this: the aspect of Christlikeness that husbands are to emulate when relating to their wives is LOVE. Ephesians does not tell husbands to emulate Christ’s roles of Prophet, Priest or King in their families. That is eisegesis, not exegesis.

    Men in the Mirror: take off your prophet robes, your priestly turbans, and your tin-pot king crowns, and start being real Christians — especially in you homes where your wives and children see the real you.

    Jeff C, thanks for exposing and pulling apart Waldron’s awful teaching. Job as priest to his family? Gee these patriocentrist wanna-be teachers cling at straws to try to justify their hay and stubble doctrines, don’t they? But what they teach will be burned up in the fire.

    • Annie

      I recently heard a sermon where husbands were exhorted to cleanse their wives with the Word aka Ephesians 5. I don’t think it’s worth leaving a church over, but it certainly does leave you stunned that this sort of teaching is widespread and goes unchallenged. What is at stake is not just the preaching of Biblical truth, but the consequences in families where violence is present. For the theologian, such debates may be invigorating. For the husband who is a perpetrator, this is the justification he is looking for. For the victim, it is the difference between life and death.

      • Thanks Annie, good confirmation of my point.

      • Rideshorses

        Annie,
        One time, after raging at me for over an hour, the perpetrator in my life got out his bible and followed me to room after room in our house, reading verses out loud, though I begged him to stop. He must have thought I needed a good scrubbing. How righteous it must have made him feel.

  8. Cassandra Wright

    Glad to see this conversation today. We have been looking for a church in our new home town, and there was one I had hope for. The pastor taught on the family priest and nothing he said was addressed to the women – it was like we just weren’t there. We know from study long ago that there is no good Biblical foundation for this type of chest thumping male behavior. I just can hardly believe that people are still teaching this.

    Yes, we want dads tuned in to their families, especially Christian dads. But we can’t play fancy free with the footwork of being biblically based. We can’t allow anyone to insert anything between ourselves and Jesus. We don’t need any other mediator. Some churches that think like this treat women as children and I don’t know about anyone else, but I am no child. Lots of these churches really get into chain of command, and there is no foundation for that, either.

    We were just visiting for the first time today and were glad that we didn’t get ourselves involved with anything. So surprises – the pastor saved us a lot of time and trouble with this today! We simply left by the back door, without saying anything, as I don’t think either of us would have had much pleasant to say. If they do a follow up on us, we will tell them, but we don’t expect follow up.

    I guess that our relationship as equal partners in marriage is so accepted and comfortable to us that we were really shocked to hear all the same thing more than 25 yrs since we were first aware at how poorly marriage was being taught. Sorry if I am rambling – today has really gotten to me.

    • Hi Cassandra. Glad you got the big red flag! Yeah, we save ourselves a lot of time when we know how to read these flags.

  9. Lacie

    A church in Springfield VA has the husband help baptize the wife. That is bizarre. It must come from the kind of teaching discussed here!

  10. pn

    Good series.

    By the way, the false patriarchy teaching is a very strong one. I know of a man who is highly intelligent, “studies” his Bible, holds a position of high authority in his “church” who actually believes that men have to interpret the Scriptures for women.

    I actually heard him say this out loud.

    In his thinking, then, men of this cult have co-opted not only the role of Christ for themselves alone but also the role of the Holy Spirit.

    Frightening.

Trackbacks

  1. The Teaching that a Husband/Father is Priest to his Family is Unbiblical and Promotes Abuse (Part 4) | A Cry For Justice
  2. The Teaching that a Husband/Father is a Priest to His Family is Unbiblical and Promotes Abuse (Part 6) | A Cry For Justice

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