The Ordinance of Headship and Standards For the Marriage Altar

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The Ordinance of Headship


Standards for the Marriage Altar

By Robert E. Patenaude, Th.D.

Bible-Literalist Institutes

Batangas Province, Philippines

Campbellsburg, Indiana  USA

© Copyrighted 2001, 2006 by Robert Edgar Patenaude, as per United States Code, Title 17, Chapter 2,

§201(a), §401(a-d) and H.R. 2589.EH, H.R. 2589.RFS


      The Ordinance of Headship is found given in its most direct form in 1 Corinthians 11:3.

Principle Text

3. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

      We include headship as an ordinance because of verse two, "...and keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you."  What we deem as a New Testament ordinance, the Lord's Supper, is taught in verses 17 through 34.  Water [1]baptism is nowhere found in the chapter, although we (that is, in our ministry) continue to practice water baptism. There are many [2]ordinances in the Bible, even in the New Testament, beyond the Lord's Supper and water baptism.

      In the sentence structure of God's word, we learn the following:

  • That there are four clauses in the verse.
  • Regarding the first clause, it is one of eight times the Apostle Paul uses this structure in either the positive form (e.g. "...would have you know...") or the negative form (e.g. "...would not have you to be ignorant...") to insist that we not go on in ignorance about some vital subject.
  • In the second clause, "that the head of every man is Christ;" the man is a human husband or father.
  • In the third clause, "and the head of the woman is the man" the man is again a human husband or father. The [3]man in this third clause is not Christ. A human husband or father is the head of a human wife or daughter. This is easily seen from the cross-reference of Ephesians 5:23-"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church;..." Plainly, Christ is not spoken of as the head of the wife, but as the head of the Church. The husband is spoken of as being the head of the wife instead of Christ. The wife as a child of God and member of Christ's body-in that particular respect may be said to have Christ as her head. But the wife is not in actuality the Church, therefore to stress that aspect is to evade the practical issue at hand.
  • The fourth clause reveals that ultimate headship belongs to God the Father (see 1 Corinthians 15:24), as illustrated by the Son of Man when He sojourned and ministered on the earth. The man is answerable to Christ for how he exercises his headship over his wife and daughters. This does not, however, negate the headship of the man in his own home.

What Headship is Not

  • 1. Headship is not a cold, blind following of a husband's commands by a wife or daughter for the sake of some kind of domestic autocracy.
  1. Headship is not the means whereby the husband or father may simply be the boss.
  • 3. Headship is not physical threat or abuse by a husband toward his wife or daughters. A man who uses physical abuse, that is, he hits or beats his wife or [4]daughters to force her/their submission to him is a brute that knows nothing of the workings of the God of the Bible.
  • 4. Headship is not public humiliation, ridicule or embarrassment of wives or daughters by the husband or father.
  • 5. Headship is not always one hundred percent agreement of the wife with the husband's decisions.
  • 6. Headship is not a lack of consideration of the needs of wives or daughters.
  • 7. Headship is never an acceptable excuse for neglect of wives or daughters, nor is it a justifiable reason for defrauding wives (see 1 Corinthians 7:5).
  • 8. Headship is not a setting aside of a wife's participation in the management of a household.
  • 9. Headship is not a neglect of the use of the God-given gifts and talents of wives and daughters (see Proverbs 31:10ff).
  • 10. Headship is not a hiding away of wives and daughters from friendships and fellowship with God's saints.

What Then Is Headship?

  • 1. Headship is a believer's recognition on the part of both a husband and his wife (father and his daughters) that God indeed has set for us an authority structure (a protective ordinance) for our families-for our good and for our protection (1 Corinthians 7 & 11). The home-the family-is the first institution established by God. The family is pan-dispensational. That is, the family spans all dispensations; there is not one age of man in which the family doesn't have the dominant role. Headship, therefore, is a recognition of the primacy of the family in society, and that the family must have a God-ordained authority structure. Before there was a chosen and elect nation, Israel, and before there was a New Testament Church on the earth, there were families. Primacy belongs to the family.
  • 2. Headship is a believer's recognition that the woman in the garden (Genesis chapter 3) was beguiled and deceived by the subtlety of the serpent (Satan, angel of light-2 Corinthians 11). The consequence of this beguiling is the need of the woman for a head, covering, power and authority in a protective position over her.
  • 3. Headship is a believing woman's recognition that without the protective power of the man (her husband or father), she is more susceptible to attacks upon her spirit and mind by angels (1 Corinthians 11:8-10-these being angels which kept not their first estate-Jude 6), than would be her husband or father under similar attack.
  • 4. Headship is a believing recognition that the woman is the "weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7) who is to be given honour (provision; protection) by the husband.
  • 5. Headship is the believing woman's recognition and acceptance of God's decree (Genesis 3:16) that...

16. "...I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

      No matter how hard the civil rights movements try to rid the world of the decree of Genesis 3:16, the decree remains, and women who are beguiled by the rights movements are under ever-increasing attack by unclean spirits and devils.  Societies where women refuse to accept the decree are societies where sodomy and effeminacy flourish, pornography and harlotry are rampant; pedophilia and all kinds of debauchery operate with impunity.  Where the decree is not recognized is where women will be the most demeaned and their dignity will suffer the greatest.

  • 6. Headship is the believing recognition on the part of both husband and wife that the marriage union is designed by God to be a type-a picture-an illustration to the world, as well as to the heavenly principalities and powers of Christ's protective, supplying and sacrificial love for his Church. Headship further is an illustration of the Church's trusting submission to Christ, her Head (Ephesians 5:22-33).
  • 7. Headship is a recognition of the example to be set in the homes of the bishops of the local churches of God (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1), which is connected to the decree of Genesis 3:16. Part of the qualifications for the bishop, as found in 1 Timothy 3: 4, 5 read,

4. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

5. (For if a man know not how to [5]rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)


      As already stated: before there was a chosen and elect nation, Israel, and before there was a New Testament Church on the earth, there was the family-already established as the prime institution in society.  No other institution-not even Israel or the New Testament Church has replaced or superceded the family in its prime role.  A great nation did not emerge because of the demise of the family.  Rather, a great and mighty nation sprung because of a man's faithful headship covering his family.  This is revealed in Genesis 18:17-19:

17. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

18. Seeing that Abraham will surely become a great nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

19. For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

      We notice from Genesis 18:17-19 a prerequisite qualification in the mind of God, a qualification that the Lord found already resident in the character and behavior of Abraham.  "...he will command his children and his household after him,..."  Sarah is not considered in this qualification, except that as a result of Abraham's exercise of headship, she, along with the remainder of the household "shall keep the way of the LORD,..."  Some years later, Abraham rose up early one morning and took Sarah's only child and intended to sacrifice him on an altar to God (Genesis 22; Hebrews 11:17-19). Did God involve the wife in giving instructions for the death of her sweet child? No. God tempted (the sense is testing) Abraham and showed him a place, Moriah, where he would offer Sarah's child, without even mentioning it to Sarah. Did Abraham consult his wife?  Did he ask her opinion?  No and no.

      So we return to the bishop in 1Timothy 3, and find that since Adam's day, since Noah's day and since Abraham's day, the authority structure in the home has never changed. The bishop/pastor has these qualifications for office binding upon him, not for his sake alone, but because he teaches by example.  If the pastor is required to rule well his own house, it is because every Christian husband is supposed to rule well his own house.  The bishop/pastor is not supposed to rule the houses of other Christian men, but set the example of how well it is to be done. The bishop is not the head of the Church. Christ is the head of His own Church and churches.  The bishop is the head of his own wife, and no more.  He is not called the head of anything except, as is every man, his own wife.

The Biblical Role of Women

By Dr. James Rose

      (We included this article in our booklet, Pauline Instruction for the HomeWe believe it is valuable to insert it in this specific discussion of the ordinance of headship as well.  The author is Dr. James Rose, a strong proponent of the "Principle Approach" to education. Tthe points made are valid and Scriptural.)


Necessary is a thoroughly biblical understanding of the role of a woman which, I fear, has been largely lost by 20th century evangelical Christianity, including most of the churches.  Why did God create the woman in the first place?  God tells us that she was created to be a necessary and corresponding helper (Gen. 2:18) to her husband in both "fruitfulness" and "dominion" (Gen. 1:27-28). (There is no normative biblical example to the contrary.)

Sadly, we have narrowed her role to that of a helper in fruitfulness (child bearing and child training) and have largely ignored her partnership in dominion.  Consequently, when a woman's children (fruitfulness) are grown and gone (and because she may have no biblical vision of active grandparenting), the wife pursues her OWN dominion work, or she partners in dominion with a man who is not her husband.  In other words, she "gets a job" outside the home working for another man.

In truth, her husband is most culpable here.  He married her, but he has not made a place for her in his life work as God designed.  Of course, he himself has been caught up in the wretched, anti-family effects of the industrial revolution which robbed him from his children and now prevents his wife from being his helper.  It is a terrible trap which will take much sacrifice to escape if God will give us the grace and wisdom.

The answer is for the husband to formulate a life work NOT based solely upon his own skill set but upon the skill set of his entire household.  In this manner he can include first his wife and then each of his children under his leadership in a dominion work that not only "feeds the family" but also gives his wife and children their "raison d'etre"-their reason to be.  Such a family-centered life work becomes the most successful milieu for home schooling the children since they have daily opportunity to apply their academics to real life.

Now, as to the principles violated/compromised by a wife working outside the home, there are several, but I must be brief (there are various other Scriptures that could be cited):

(1) The husband is no longer her provider (1 Tim. 5:8, etc.).

(2) The husband is no longer her protector from physical, moral or emotional harm (Gen. 20:16, etc.).  As the weaker vessel, God designed her to have a protector (cf. Num. 30, etc.).  But the workplace (even the "Christian" workplace) regularly exposes her to possible harm.

(3) Multiple authority/accountability is introduced (Matt. 6:10).  A woman is designed to serve and to please.  Her fulfillment comes from pleasing and gaining the approval of the one over her.  She is designed to develop affection for the one over her.  This has produced great heartache when that person is not her husband.

(4) An independent spirit is fostered.

(5) She is acting as another man's helper (Gen. 2:18).

(6) She is not being a "keeper at home"; therefore, the Word of God is blasphemed (Tit. 2:5; 1 Tim. 5:14).  [See Mary Pride's exposition of these passages in "The Way Home."]

(7) She violates the pattern of Christ's relationship to His church, which is to be modeled in our marriages (Eph. 5).

(8) She becomes a poor role model for the younger women (Tit. 2).

(9) She robs her husband of honor as there is no praise for her in the gates (Prov. 31:31).

(10) She becomes more susceptible to negative influences outside the home, which can become a snare to her.

(11) She invests her heart in another man's life work--"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

(12) She often becomes unavailable for family or assembly ministry.

(13) Women in the workforce promotes androgyny as men view women workers as "buddies," resulting in the devaluation of the biblical role of women.

(14) Women in the workforce diminishes the value of the dollar (or any other currency), making it more difficult for "one income families" to make it.

(15) When a wife works, the husband's vision for his family is shown to be incomplete because it does not include her.

If even ONE of the above principles is true, then the role of a wife working outside the home must be reconsidered.  I know you desire God's truth in your life, so I write this note NOT with a spirit of criticism but with a spirit of help and a desire to encourage you in a better way.  This better way was, for the most part, the practice of godly cultures until around 1800 A.D. when the industrial revolution began. "Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it'" (Jer. 16:6).  May God give us the grace that Israel rejected.


The Exercise of Headship Functions Only Along With the Expression of Christian Attributes

Galatians 5:22, 23 - The Fruit of the Spirit

-love                  -longsuffering              -faith

-joy                    -gentleness                 -meekness

-peace               -goodness                   -temperance

Philippians 4:8 - The Christian's Thought Life

-true                 -lovely

-honest             -of good report

-just                 -virtue

-pure                -any praise

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 - Charity

-suffereth long                                     -thinketh no evil

-is kind                                               -rejoiceth not in iniquity

-envieth not                                         -rejoiceth in the truth

-vaunteth not itself                               -beareth all things

-is not puffed up                                  -believeth all things

-doth not behave itself unseemly           -hopeth all things

-seeketh not her own                            -endureth all things

-is not easily provoked                         -never faileth

      And let us not forget to emphasize the description of Christian behavior within the body-believer to believer (Romans 12) and the Christian's behavior toward all men within and without (Romans 13), especially the quality of honesty (12:17; 13:13).  Further, may we be reminded of simple Christian courtesy (1 Peter 3:8).  And supremely, there is the Christian attribute of love which cannot be practiced in the same sense or at the same depth by any people outside of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Romans 13:8-10 instructs,

8. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

9. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

10. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

      Obviously, it is not useful to impress the ordinance of headship upon a hateful brute.  An envious braggart will only use headship to exalt himself and destroy others.  An impure mind full of evil thoughts will exploit headship to involve unsuspecting or easily beguiled persons into his debauchery.  A man easily provoked could maim or kill those over whom he exercises the ordinance.


      Simply said, if a person is not a Christian in his general course of  attitude and behavior, it is useless to expect the ordinance of headship to have any godward and Christ-exalting benefit.  Without the Christian attributes, it is not the Scriptural ordinance of headship at all!

      When dealing with a person whose profession is that of being saved, but his speech, attitudes and behavior belie his profession, we can only go back to the Gospel and beseech the individual to examine himself whether he be in the faith (see 2 Corinthians 13:5).  Titus 1:15 and 16 teach us, in effect, that to insist on some things to a person of a defiled conscience is tantamount to casting pearls before swine (see Matthew 7:6); the defiled cannot appreciate God's finery.

15. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

16. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Headship Includes a Spiritual Operation in which Believers are Under-girded by the Lord Himself

13. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.  (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

      An indicator of people believing the word of God is the effectual working of the word of God in them that believe.

6. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

      Headship is not a law performed by the will of the flesh, but an aspect of that good work performed in the believer and in the believer's marriage.

13. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

      When a man and wife are believing, learning, growing Christians-when they are serious about developing Christian attributes-when there is prayer and attention to the words of God, then there is no reason that the wife cannot submit herself unto her own husband/head as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).  She has no fear of submitting herself, when her husband understands his role under his Head, Christ.  In the same way the woman would submit herself unto the Lord Himself, she should submit herself unto her own husband.  Do you remember Abraham and Sarah?  Can you imagine the horror that may have gripped Sarah's heart upon the return of Abraham and Isaac from Moriah on the day that Abraham offered up Isaac?  Sarah asks, "Where did you men go today?  How did you use your day?"  Abraham answers, "Sweetheart, God tempted me, and we went this morning to a place called Moriah.  There, I offered up your darling child in sacrifice to God.  Dear, I was ready and willing to plunge the knife into the chest of Isaac when God called out to me, staying my hand, and showing me a substitutionary ram.  I offered that ram in the stead of Isaac." Do you think that Sarah lashed out in anger at her husband for not consulting her first, or obtaining her opinion?  Though the thought of the near loss of her son might have wrenched her from her very underpinnings, I believe she had no fear-but faith-and yielded to Abraham's headship, knowing his faith in God.  "Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement." (1 Peter 3:6)  Christian wife, don't fear the headship of your husband who, though not infallible, seeks to know and do the will of God.

      The husband is the head of the wife and is the savior of her body (Ephesians 5:23). He protects her.  He feeds her.  He keeps her from danger.  His protection includes preventing her from being humiliated by his headship-not using his headship to humiliate or embarrass her.

      The wife is to be subject to her husband "in everything"-  everything that demonstrates his love and protection and salvation of her body-everything that is consistent with the mind of Christ (the Christian attributes listed earlier). (Ephesians 5:22; 1 Peter 3:1-6) "Everything" does not include hatred, bitterness, violence, impatience, bad habits, unbelief, pride, vices, dishonesty, injustice, impurity, evil reporting or slander, vileness, ungratefulness, unkindness, envy, vanity, unseemly behavior, selfishness, being easily provoked, evil thoughts, rejoicing in iniquity, rejoicing in error, discontentment, hopelessness, and so forth.

      In the case of a Bible-believing husband and wife who are living by faith and striving to obey Scriptural precepts in their home, specific situations arising which require the exercise of headship are met with special grace from God according to the need at hand.  It is impossible for us in a pamphlet so short to examine many examples of situations where men must exercise headship.  A large book could not treat enough examples.  But we do know that when we need grace and seek God's answer from His words (instead of our culture, traditions or the advice of the in-laws), our Lord under-girds us with the grace that we need in that hour.  As one brother said recently, it is much like dying grace.  You don't have it until it's time to die.  It's like the grace you need when someone close to you passes from this life.  You don't have it now, but God will give it if that circumstance is allowed to come your way.  A Christian needs grace when he or she is deserted by family or friends for taking a particular stand on any given Scriptural issue.  When you stand for Christ and for truth, God will give you the grace and strength to endure the affliction.

      We advise that Christians do not borrow trouble by speculating what they may do in situations being experienced by others. That is especially our advice if the others in question are unprincipled people to begin with, living un-Christian patterns of behavior. We don't need to create troubling hypothetical scenarios.  If you need a scenario to teach example, then go back again to Genesis 22 and Hebrews 11:17-19. There could be no more troubling scenario than a husband sneaking away with his wife's only child to slay him up on a mountain, because he said that God told him to do it-and that without her knowledge, consent or opinion in the matter. I doubt that any woman reading this paper will ever have so much demanded of her.  No we don't need hypotheticals-we need to study principles.  The times to apply the principles in our own lives will come quickly and frequently enough. The Lord will be there to guide us, and we may seek His guidance and enjoy His grace.

Headship and the Marriage Altar

Or, The Minister's Right to Decline

      The New Testament Gospel minister is under no Scriptural mandate at all to officiate marriages or to perform weddings.  The practice of ministers in this regard and the expectation of people upon their pastors to so perform are based on hundreds of years of tradition.  The Scriptures themselves contain no reference whatsoever to Gospel ministers performing marriage rituals or using the auspices of their call and ministry to endorse any marriage. And there is not even a hint in Scripture that this activity is mandated upon his ministry.  A prospective bride and groom, wanting to entangle their pastor in a plan to "tie the knot" are expecting something of their pastor which they have no inherent right to expect.

      We are amazed and largely appalled by the light and flippant attitude taken toward the ministers of God in the planning of weddings.  Weddings, baby dedications, house warmings, shop openings: these are some of the amusements in which church folks expect to entrap their pastors in order to have the public endorsement of the clergy in their fleshly, worldly undertakings.  We picture the white-robed priest of liturgical Christendom holding his martini glass at the wedding reception and the yellow-robed priests of Bhuddism along with the lion dancers to scare away the evil spirits from the threshold of man's selfish and godless enterprises. It is largely superstition to involve the man of religious orders: 'Perhaps if a preacher officiates, maybe God will approve after all, and bless us.'

      The true Gospel minister stands before the God of all the earth and must give account to Him for that which he uses his ministry to endorse.  The God-called man will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and answer for how he used the name of Jesus Christ in any stamp of approval upon the activities of men.  As there is no mandate upon the preacher's ministry to endorse any marriage by public rituals, he may decline to participate in such activity without fear of being rebuked by his Lord.  The minister who uses his calling, ministry and the name of Christ to endorse that in which there is little prospect of Christ being exalted or magnified will be subject to rebuke and censure when he faces the One who called him.  In other words, a Gospel preacher is worthy of the rebuke of Christ if he uses his ministry and Christ's name to officiate marriages in which Christ and His will and work is not the prime object of affection and the first cause and motivation for the marriage itself.

      We do not take the position that it is wrong or sinful, in itself, for a minister of the Gospel to take a bride and groom before witnesses in a public setting for public vows.  The position taken here includes:

  • (1.) The bride and groom are mistaken to believe that this performance is mandated upon a man's ministry;
  • (2.) The bride and groom are wrong to judge God's minister if he declines to perform at wedding ceremonies;
  • (3.) The Gospel minister has the prerogative to decline involvement in the sealing of wedding vows for any particular marriage or for all of them;
  • (4.) The Gospel minister will give account at the Judgment Seat of Christ for that to which he attaches Christ's name in the performance of his calling.

How does all of this relate to the subject of headship in marriage?  If a God-called man lacks confidence that a bride and groom will seriously adhere to God's standards and principles for marriage, he has the option to decline any participation in the wedding, and the duty to withhold the endorsement, by his ministry, from that marriage.  The bride and groom are free to go elsewhere for endorsement, but the preacher who declines involvement is free in the face of his God, and not subject to rebuke at the Judgment Seat.

      How can a Gospel minister know the spiritual basis and motivation underlying a marriage union?  How can that minister be assured that what he is sanctioning with his ministry will honor Christ?  How can the preacher be sure that (for example, in the case of the Catholic/pagan, matriarchal Philippines) the union he is endorsing will adhere to the ordinance and principles of Biblical headship. How can God's man be sure that the marriage standards of the couple will not revert back to the marriage standards and customs of the local pagan/Catholic, matriarchal culture?

Standards for the Marriage Altar

      Given below are the prerequisites and standards for the marriage altar to which the author has adhered since 1978 (except No. 16, which is an amendment), the year beginning his preaching ministry.  As a result of adherence to these standards, he has been involved in only one wedding ceremony.

  • 1. This minister will not submit to civil licensure of his ministry in any way or for any reason, even for the purpose of officiating marriage unions.
  • 2. Both bride and groom must be able to articulate a credible Scriptural profession of saving faith in Jesus Christ. Other of God's people must have known this profession for a significant time prior to any interest in marriage. This minister will officiate or otherwise lend endorsement to no marriage where either one or both parties do not give satisfactory evidence of regeneration.
  • 3. Neither bride nor groom may be divorcees from a previous marriage union while a former spouse is still living.
  • 4. Neither bride nor groom may be separated from a previous common law relationship while a former partner is still living.

(Note: Nos. 9 and 10 are for the purpose of demonstrating male leadership in the home.  These things must be firmly settled to the satisfaction of this minister at the time he is asked to participate.)

  • 5. If either bride or groom have children from a previous relationship (whether that relationship was blatantly immoral or common law in nature) with another person, this minister declines involvement in or endorsement of the now-desired union.
  • 6. Both bride and groom must be known to have a practical walk of faith identifiable as being Christian. In other words, their daily life must endorse their Christian profession; there must be an obvious degree of separation from ungodliness.
  • 7. Both bride and groom must be known to be consistent participants in the work of our Lord in and through (a) Bible-believing local church(es) in the place where they are residing.
  • 8. If the bride and groom are members of different churches, the wedding ceremony must be conducted by the pastor or minister of the church of which the groom is a member.
  • 9. If the bride and groom are members of different churches, the bride must be agreeable and ready to move her membership to her husband's church upon marriage.
  • 10. Unless the parents or guardians are too elderly or incapable, the parents or guardians of the bride and of the groom must be involved in planning and executing a structured and supervised (chaperoned) "hands off" courtship of the groom toward the bride prior to marriage. This courtship must be planned and supervised principally by the father of the bride with the cooperation of the father of the groom. The longevity and general rules of the courtship must be determined by the bride's father, but the rules must be obvious enough and principled enough to satisfy this minister, if there is to be any hope of this minister's participation in the wedding. This rule is obviously for cases where the couple is young.
  • 11. The bride and groom must certify to this minister and to both sets of parents that there has been no fornication (premarital sexual involvement) prior to courtship and marriage. If there has been any fornication, it must be confessed to God and to the parents, admitting that it was sin and an offense to God. In this case the chaperoned and supervised "hands-off" courtship must have a minimum longevity of one year.
  • 12. There will be no marriage of a bride who is with child. If fornication has occurred resulting in pregnancy, the wedding ceremony must not be used as a cloak to cover up sin. Though the couple should wed, the wedding may not take place until after the birth of the child; all contact between the bride and groom prior to the wedding must be strictly chaperoned and supervised; a "hands-off" courtship must be the rule. Again, the courtship must have a minimum longevity of one year.
  • 13. Both bride and groom must be able to articulate from the Scriptures the purpose for marriage in regard to its type of the relationship between Christ and His Church, satisfying this minister, and be willing, able and ready to articulate these things as part of their marriage vows.
  • 14. The groom must be able to articulate a thorough understanding of his pastoral role in the home, and must be willing and ready to publicly vow his Bible-teaching and ministering leadership to his bride/wife as part of the wedding ceremony.
  • 15. [Amendment] Both bride and groom must be willing and ready to vow publicly that there will never be separation caused by employment, except where that separation is in the military defense of the nation. The groom must be willing and ready to vow publicly that his wife going abroad to support the family will never be an option.
  • 16. Both bride and groom must be willing and ready to publicly vow that divorce will never be an option to solve any problem that may arise in the marriage relationship.
  • 17. Both bride and groom must demonstrate a thorough understanding and positive conviction regarding the ordinance of headship (1 Corinthians 11:3), satisfying this minister, well prior to the marriage, and both must be willing and ready to state their adherence to the ordinance as part of their marriage vows.
  • 18. Both bride and groom must be able to articulate a thorough understanding of the gift and heritage of children, and their purpose in glorifying Christ in the marriage, satisfying this minister. Both bride and groom must be willing and ready to publicly vow, as a part of their wedding ceremony, to raise all children given by God, both naturally born and adopted, for Christ's exclusive use, and in His nurture and admonition; according to Scriptural principles; willing to completely set aside culture and tradition where they conflict with the Scriptures of truth. The bride must be willing to publicly vow to fully support her husband's efforts to raise and discipline the children in accord with Scripture, even where doing so may bring discord with culturally sensitive in-laws, extended family members, neighbors, or public officials.
  • 19. The bride and groom may not insist on writing their own version of the marriage vows. If the couple is considered spiritually mature and Scripturally principled, they may be allowed to submit a draft of vows, but this minister reserves the right to edit and amend the vows that will be made publicly.
  • 20. The vows made verbally to witnesses must also be in writing and signed by the bride and groom before witnesses. Copies of the written vows will be archived by the church, by both sets of parents, and by any witnesses to the signing that are willing to safeguard copies.
  • 21. All other aspects of the wedding ceremony may be planned by the bride and groom, but the contents of the plan must be submitted to this minister well-prior to the wedding.

      Now you have a fair idea as to why since 1978, this Gospel preacher has been involved in five and only five wedding ceremonies.  One was for the marriage of his son, Matthew, to Carrie McCoy. Well, Matthew grew up in this minister's house and was under his rod and staff, and learned the Bible disciplines of a pure life.  Sister Carrie was raised under family and church discipline so very close to that of Matthew that you would think the two families had known each other and been in the same church for years.  Matthew and Carrie underwent a trial and testing by supervised and chaperoned "hands-off" courtship for nearly one year (1997 to 1998). They passed the test with great admiration from all who looked on for the period of courtship. Matthew and Carrie were wed in Orange County, Indiana on June 6, 1998 with Pastor John Lewis and Missionary-Evangelist Bob Patenaude as officiating senior and minor respectively. The second was for this minister's daughter, Liberty, who married Amos Pranger, who grew up in a missionary family in Russia. The third was this minister's daughter, Bethany, to David Daniel Mueller of Knoxville. The fourth was for a Chinese couple in Shanghai, China, who both having unsaved parents, placed themselves under our supervision in these matters. Lastly, for a Chinese pastor to a godly Filipina, where the parents had a godly view of marriage and family and were involved in the courtship.

Seven Headships in Scripture

      To close this paper on the subject of the ordinance of headship, we commend to you a study of the headships in Scripture.  You may want to use this as a family study, or as part of a Sunday School or Bible school course.

  • 1. The headship of the man to the woman (1 Corinthians 11:3; etc.)
    • 1a. The husband covering the wife (Ephesians 5:22-32, etc.)
    • 1b. The father covering the daughter (1 Corinthians 7)
  • 2. The headship of Israel to the nations (Deuteronomy 28:1,13; etc.).
  • 3. The headship of God [the Father] to Christ [the Son] (1 Corinthians 11:3; 14:24; etc.)
  • 4. The headship of Christ to man (1 Corinthians 11:3; etc.)
  • 5. The headship of Christ to principalities and powers (Colossians 2:10; etc.)
  • 6. The headship of Christ to Israel as King (Hosea 1:11; Revelation 19:11ff; etc.)
  • 7. The headship of Christ to His Church as Head (Ephesians 1:22,23; 5:23; Colossians 2:17-19; etc.)

Parting Thoughts that Should Be the Introduction

      The ordinance of headship is not something to begin teaching when our young people are ready for marriage.  By the time they are planning to wed they have absorbed metric tonnage of cultural anti-Christ and anti-Bible thought. Headship needs to be trained into the children of Scriptural Christian families from early childhood (Deuteronomy 6:7-9; Psalm 78:4-8; Ephesians 6:4; 2 Timothy 3:15; etc.).  Headship is a major subject of teaching for aged sisters to young sisters (Titus 2:3-5).

      If your daughters have grown up learning about home life from  popular television soap operas and situation comedies, the nuns and neo-evangelical or Darwinian school teachers, schoolyard conversation and "Talk & Text" with worldly classmates, their Catholic/pagan grandparents, aunts and cousins, and your optional/inconsistent adherence or non-adherence to the Bible, then don't expect them to either appreciate or accept what a holy God says about the home and marriage when they are twenty-one years old and in love with some sex-hungry dude!

      It Is Our Observation that Filipino parents these days, in the main, allow their children to choose their own friends and fall in love (or in lust) with any person or persons they choose.  After nuptials, the parents and other relatives find themselves spending a great deal of time trying to clean up marital messes or keep the marriage of their children in tact.  There is an inordinate amount of meddling and interference by parents and in-laws in the homes of newlyweds, brought on because of domestic disputes between brides and grooms who were neither taught nor trained in God's standards during their growing-up years.  Parents of newlyweds are guilty of gross neglect in this area of training (Mom was abroad working, Dad was too lazy to teach the sons, the Bible was never opened in the home, and so forth), but now somehow they believe that they have the wisdom to straighten out the messed-up marriages of their offspring.  This is utter foolishness.  Most were unwise when they were raising their children-and most remain fools(!). They passively allowed their children for years to be deceived by the world with its UN education system and entertainment gods. And now they are being deceived by and about their married children.

My Appeal-My Beseeching

      I appeal to young Christian parents!  I mean, parents aged in their early to late twenties particularly.  I believe you have lost at least one generation.  Your parents or in-laws, your aunts, uncles and cousins will not listen to God or His word!  Their minds are set by pagan/Catholic culture and by an education system (e.g. DECS-education, culture and sports-the gods of the Philippines-except that they forgot the god of the American Dollar) imposed upon your nation by the antichrist devil-possessed minds of UNESCO and the W.H.O. (World Health Organization).  Please don't allow your Catholic/pagan or neo-evangelical (NIV/NKJV) extended family members and friends to influence the minds of your children.

      I beseech young Christian parents!  Raise a new generation of Bible-believing, Bible-practicing, Christ-honoring young people.  Raise a generation of young brides and grooms that see Christ and His Church as the anti-type of their home.  Raise a generation that understands the Ordinance of Headship from early childhood!  Raise a generation that is ready to take the words of the Living God (the King James 1611 Bible), growl in the face of your pagan/Catholic/UNESCO culture, and walk in this world living for the Lord Jesus Christ.



[1] Water baptism is found only once in the Pauline epistles, in 1 Corinthians 1:12-17, where Paul states that his commission (we may assume to the Gentiles) didn't include a mandate for water baptism.  "For Christ sent me not to baptize,..."

[2] The ordinance of governmental authority (Romans 13; 1 Peter 2); the ordinance of the Gospel ministry (1 Timothy 2; Titus 1); etc.

[3] We discovered a teaching by many independent Baptists in the Philippines that the only "head" in 1 Corinthians 11:3 is Christ.  That is, there is a deliberate refusal to teach that the husband or father is the head of the woman.  This teaching has one or two (or both) purposes: (1.) The Philippines is the home of a matriarchal society where many men cower under their wives. Educated men have told me that eighty percent or more of the homes in Batangas Province are run by the women in the home; (2.) There are many Baptist preachers (in particular, many known popularly as "Bible Baptists")  who actually want to diminish a man's authority in his own home, over his own family, so that more authority can be heaped upon the pastor.  Of course both motivations are wrong and destructive, and violate sound Scripture principle.

[4] This is not to say that corporal discipline of daughters according to the book of Proverbs is invalid-yea, it is necessary.  We speak here of adult daughters, perhaps of marriable age, who should have been trained by the word and the rod in days and years gone by.

[5] See Esther 1:22 and 2 Chronicles 31:13

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The Ordinance of Headship and Standards For the Marriage Altar by Robert Edgar Patenaude, Th.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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