Federal Husband
(Wilson, Douglas; 1999 Canon Press; 110 page paperback; $9.95)
Federal Husband is a short yet powerful defense against the modern trend that seeks to erase the distinguishing characteristics between men and women particularly as it relates to the God ordained roles assigned to men husbands and fathers.  While there are many good works that review and reinforce the Godly role of women, there are few written for today’s man that isn’t swayed by today’s accepted egalitarian feministic presuppositions from the start. Federal Husband represents a trend of exceptions with works being produced by men who have a vision to restore the standards of biblical manhood.

The first question that may come to mind is, "Just what is a federal husband?"  According to Wilson, such a question is the product of a Christian faith that has lost its way:  " …it is not too much to say that this federal thinking is the backbone of historic Protestant orthodoxy.  This brings to mind a distinction between classical Protestant theology and modern evangelical thinking: modern evangelicalism doesn't think and doesn't have a backbone.  Because contemporary evangelical theology doesn't have a backbone, modern Christian men who are taught in terms of it find themselves without backbone also.  And books like this one become necessary." (Page 9,10)

Wilson asserts that God's created order of social structure has been so minimized by modern teaching within and without the Church that we no longer think of ourselves as connected to anything or anyone - only our own individual autonomy.  Thus we assume no responsibility for anyone else, we submit to authority only as long as we agree with the authority or as long as the authority has the power to restrict our freedom, and we assume the position of victim when we fail to get what we think we deserve.  The fruit of such thinking is betrayed by popular child control techniques, the acceptance of no fault divorces, and the impotence of the Church to hold her constituents to any standard of ethical behavior.

The converse of this type of thinking is historic Protestant orthodoxy that understands all of reality in terms of connectivity.  This connectivity is expressed in terms of covenant relationships throughout the Bible.  "The reason we must consider all this in a book on marriage and family is that God's dealings with His people throughout history (which are always covenantal) are set before us in the New Testament as the pattern for husbands to follow.  The doctrine of male headship in marriage is set down for us in Scripture in a way which relates the whole thing to a right understand of the divine covenantal order…" (Page 15)

The divine covenantal order of connectivity requires those ordained within the order to assume the responsibility of their ordained position.  In short order, that translates to mean that as Christ assumed the responsibility for the sins of His people husbands are to come to grips with the responsibility for the actions and state of affairs of that which they have been ordained the head of: their wife and family.  That doesn't mean the husband is necessarily guilty (though most likely he at least shares some guilt); Christ was not guilty of our sins.  But it does mean that the husband is called to step up to the plate and assume the responsibility and consequences of his family.

"A proper understanding also excludes the blame game.  A husband can no more blame his wife for the state of their marriage than a thief can blame his hands.  As Christ assumed responsibility for things He didn't do, so husbands should be willing to do the same for their wives."  (Page 18)

But assuming responsibility is not for the purpose of condemnation or frustration but, rather, to liberate the man of the house to function as God has so designed him to function.  It is a call of responsibility for the purpose of taking action.  Thus Wilson identifies the actions a husband must take in order to comply with the duty to love his wife as Christ loved the Church.  First, there are many areas of his personal thinking and habit that must be re-evaluated in light of scripture.  Second, he must re-evaluate his position and responses to society in general.  Third, he must re-evaluate his thinking and habit of rearing his children.

In his analysis of these three life and relational skills, Wilson illustrates the degradation of personal and social ethics when the Christian worldview is expressed in terms of individual autonomy rather than that of covenant community.  For example, fundamentalist become fundamentalist when faced with decisions such as a man's hair length or a woman's dress length apart from applying the scriptures in the context of covenant community (page 40ff); the current mania for self-mutilation and piercing that reflects the disdain for the mark of covenant community - baptism (page 48); issues of work, wealth, sensuality, laziness, and financial entanglements, (page 50ff); the problem of the "masculinist egalitarians" (page 62); the gods of synthesis (page 71); women in combat (page 77); and fatherhood (page 83ff).

In summary, Wilson states, "Christ embraced His bride covenantally, and husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.  My point has been to show that this means that our theology of Christ's love will determine how we love our wives.  If a man's theology is truly biblical and thus federal, then he will indeed love his wife as Christ loves the Church…"

Federal Husband is a primer for the biblical model of a man's responsibility to his wife that calls him not to abdication or complacency but to action and leadership.  It is a book that will challenge the way you perceive yourself, your role as a man, and the issues of our society that face your family and our nation.  I can think of no better source of New Year Resolutions.



Patrick L. Hurd
Weatherford, Texas

EST. 01/01/01