And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. Acts 16:30-32 NKJV
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. Genesis 18:19 KJV
Headship is a fundamental arrangement that God uses to maintain order in the home. For example, according to the Scriptures, “the husband is the head of the wife” (Eph. 5:23; 1 Cor. 11:3). Subjection to a husband/father is essential to building a solid, happy, and peaceful family. According to U.S. Census Data, this principle of husbandly/fatherly headship is missing in 25% of white families and about 65% of black families in the U.S. But a lack of a husband/father doesn’t change the principle of headship; because mothers, out of necessity, will assume headship. I call this phenomenon “mother-head.”
Motherhood is the state and quality of being a mother (Merriam-Webster). On the other hand, “mother-head” is when the mother assumes headship, co-opting the roles, qualities and spirit of both mother and father (Author/Blogger).
God’s promise to save isn’t limited to gender. The Philippian Jailor and his household was promised salvation—not because he was a man, but because he was the head of a household (Acts 16:31-32). God honors headship regardless if the head is a male or female. In the home, God’s promises can only be circumvented only if the head of the family and household doesn’t live for God, nor command his children and household to do the same. The primary responsibility of the “head” is to command, i.e., instruct and teach, his children and household in two ways: (1) to keep the ways of the Lord; and, (2) to do righteousness and justice (Gen. 18:19). “Mother-head” is when a single mother is given this charge out of necessity.
It is God who builds a family and household (Psalm 127:1). And, it is God who gives a single mother the grace for “headship.” In fact, most single mothers would gladly choose motherhood over “mother-head” where they have to wear both “hats”—fulfilling the roles and responsibility of a mother and father. Some fathers are present, some AWOL, and some are just titular heads.
A present father will lead his wife and children and other members of the household, thus fulfilling his God-given role and responsibility. An AWOL father is absent—not present in the mother or the children lives. And, a titular father is the “head” only in name. He is physically present but emotionally and spiritually absent. Without headship from a father, children are at risk of behavior problems, dropping out of school, teenage pregnancy, gang membership, substance abuse, crime, prison, and poverty. But when a mother is forced into “mother-head”, God will still honor his promise to her and her household. Happy Mother’s Day!