Southern Baptists and other evangelicals are teaching a false doctrine of husband superiority over their wives. “Our pastor said that we are not to lord it over our wives,” Ben, a man from a church in Oklahoma, told me as we were standing on the deck of a cruise ship in the Bahamas. That meant that husbands are Lords over their wives, but are to constrain themselves in some kind of false modesty.
The Roman Catholic Church claims the Pope is Christ’s representative on earth, with all the power and authority Christ had (with earthly physical limitations), and uses that as leverage over all Roman Catholics. Because of this teaching about Matthew 16:18-19, Catholics believe their Church has dominion over their souls.
In addition, Catholics give money to get their loved ones out of purgatory and for prayers to be answered because they are convinced the prayers of priests have power to change things in heaven. They are also convinced they can never attain salvation if they do not meet conditions decided upon by their Pontiff, the Pope, who is said to speak for Christ Himself.
The word Pontiff comes from a Latin word meaning “bridge builder.” The Pope is their bridge (pontiff) to heaven.
This false doctrine taught by complementarians says that Christ submits to God in heaven, while the husband (Christ’s representative) submits to Christ, and the wife (representing the church) submits to her husband. The husband becomes her ‘pontiff.’ In other words, they designate the husband as having become part of the divinity, with the right of rulership, so he can command obedience from his wife.
The complementarian wife is powerless to choose her own direction, or to hear from God for herself, unless it agrees with what her so-called spiritual leader, her husband, says. Her divine husband becomes her mediator, taking the place of Jesus as leader in her life.
They can teach this because they have decided that the husband plays the part of Jesus in a marriage, and they see no contradiction to 1 Timothy 2:5 which says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men (humankind), the man Christ Jesus.” She must submit to her husband and obey him in everything. In this manner, it is not the church, which is made up of both men and women, that is the body of Christ, it is wives who become the body of Christ, and husbands who replace Christ’s leadership.
In this way, they teach that Husbands have ‘become’ Christ.
If a husband could be given authority over his wife, it would change her personal relationship with Christ. Upon marriage, her relationship with Christ would become corporate, with her husband as the go-between between her and Christ. Her husband’s personal relationship with Christ would remain the same, but with the added responsibility of mediating for his wife. This is in opposition to what the apostle Paul says about Christ in 1 Timothy 2:5. Paul says there is “one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.”
Protestants believe that Catholic priests cannot mediate between God and man, but they are willing to give husbands this divine power. If such a thing were possible, that would make him a god/mediator and his wife a lesser being than himself.
Yet complementarian men are falling for the temptation to “be like God” when they insist on becoming mediators between their wives and God. Remember that the serpent tempted Eve by saying “You will be like God…”
Beware of men who would ‘become’ Christ in your marriage. If your pastor is teaching this, stand up to this false doctrine.
You can read more in my book Dethroning Male Headship: Second Edition.