Alexander R. Hay

To the women of our congregations to whose faithful ministry so much is owed.


The evidence of design in the Universe, in Nature, even in the most insignificant parts, testifies eloquently both to God’s infinite wisdom and to the fact that all has been made to a most careful plan.

“Each drop uncounted in a storm of rain
Hath its own mission, and is duly sent
To its own leaf or blade.”
               – Coleridge

God’s creation is designed for the fulfillment of a definite purpose, the design reaching back into eternity past (a little of which we know in part) and into eternity future (into which we have been given a vision in part of a glorious, progressive fulfillment). It is an ordered creation, the purpose of its order being the providing of a balanced harmony resulting in efficient and true life for the accomplishing of love’s purpose in full benefit to all, individually and collectively.

God has provided the many different parts necessary to form a perfect instrument for the accomplishing of the work that is to be done. And He has equipped each of the parts fully with the qualities required for the combined task. The order is the work of the perfect wisdom of perfect love, perfect in all its details, in all its motives and purposes. The greatness of the purpose and the complexity and perfection of the instrument are commensurate with the greatness of God. And it is not surprising that we finite beings, in our present state, find it hard to comprehend fully their perfection and their immensity, or that they present to us such an inexhaustible and rewarding source of investigation.

In all spheres of life, therefore, it is well that we discover what is God’s intention for each part and the special qualities He has given to it. It will avoid misunderstanding and loss and lead to true satisfaction and fulfillment.

We know that the creation, so far as the present world is concerned, is not functioning as God intended. Man’s rebellion against God’s authority, substituting his own, has brought disorder into all spheres with the resultant imperfection, lack of true coordination, suffering and loss. The Satanic principle of self-love, or self-interest, rules instead of God’s principle of perfect love, and produces its deadly fruit  (Gen. 3:16-19; Rom. 8:19-23).

In the home and in the family, as is natural, there is much evidence of this. The man and the woman are affected both in their relation to each other and to life in general. It helps greatly if we know the manner in which they are affected. Knowing this we will be able to see in Scripture the provision which God has made, through Christ and through the Holy Spirit, that the disorder wrought by the fall may be overcome and God’s original purpose for both the man and the woman manifested in this present age as a testimony in the midst of a fallen world.

The Headship of the Man

The necessary qualities for headship were given to the man; to him was entrusted the government. Upon the earth he was to exercise dominion. In the home, as husband and father, his ministry was to govern and provide. Government is a basic essential in the home as in all other spheres. The orderly functioning of the universe depends upon government by God. The rejection of that government has brought chaos. And so in any association of people in any sphere, in the community, the nation and the Church, government is a necessity. Wherever there is a company gathered together for any purpose government and leadership are essential. For efficient coordination and cooperation they are required. An army without a general would soon be a rabble and a rout. A business, a city, or even a club without authoritative leadership would soon cease all orderly functioning. The family, being a group of people banded together for a definite purpose also requires a head. Without the proper exercise of headship, the unity that is essential to the family and the order required for its efficient functioning will be lacking.

God’s Government

But we must understand the nature and purpose of God’s government if we are to understand the government which He intended to be exercised in the home. In the revelation which He has given us of himself and in the manner of his dealings with man through the ages we can discern clearly the principle of his government. It is government based upon perfect love, manifesting perfect love in all its actions.

God is not an arbitrary dictator; He is not a willful tyrant. Autocratic government infringes upon the personal rights and responsibilities of the individual, upon his free will and personal responsibility. God’s government (theocratic government) never does this. Man’s personal responsibility and free will are never limited. In this, theocratic government differs entirely from all forms of human government. The obedience which God requires is on the ground of truth and right. Perfect love caused him to create and perfect love rules his every purpose and act of government. He demands the obedience of love on the ground that perfect love given must have perfect love in return. “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me.., if anyone loves me he will keep my word” (Jn. 14:21, 23).

God’s government is not one of force, of arbitrary laws and punishments. Love cannot be created by force and the obedience of love cannot be obtained by force. It cannot be decreed by law and it cannot be practiced by the mere fulfilling of laws. We see this in God’s dealings with fallen, rebellious, sinful man. “Love suffers long and is kind.., bears all things, believes all things.., endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:4, 7, 8).  Love counts no personal sacrifice too great. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:10).

This does not mean a government that is weak, that will submit to rebellion, waive principles and accept compromise. On the contrary, it can never compromise or it ceases to be true government manifesting true love and administering true law. But it seeks the obedience of love through the law of love.

Objective of True Government

The objective of this government is not the carrying out of the will of the one who is governing but the maintaining of true order which will create a situation in which all the different ones concerned can perform their functions in cooperation with each other and so attain to the full realization of their purpose. This does not make the individual a mere unit with no individual purpose or will. It gives to each true liberty and full attainment, but provides that the attainment of each shall not be selfish but shall contribute to the perfect attainment of the united purpose.

It is this form of government that is seen in the congregations in the Early Church in which each member is equally a priest unto God, responsible to offer spiritual sacrifices, but in which a group of Elders presided, whose ministry was to see that the true order was maintained so that each member would have full freedom to exercise the gifts of the Spirit given to him in true cooperation with all the others. Regarding the gifts of the Spirit it is stated, “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Cor. 12:7).

It is this principle of government that God gave to the home. This is evident in Paul’s statement of the great principle that must rule in the relationship of the husband and wife : “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:23-25).

It must be understood that perfect love, as we see it in God and as God intended it to be manifested in man, is not the love with self in its heart, weak, sentimental, inconstant, inconsistent, excusing sin, that man knows now as love. It is love that cannot tolerate impurity of any kind. It will make any personal sacrifice for the sinner, it will never condone or pass over his sin. Any tolerance of impurity would immediately take from perfect love its purity. That is why Christ had to take the Cross for us.

In all the ministry of both the man and the woman before the fall, as God made them, in the home and out of it, perfect love ruled every thought and act. It was love with no self in its heart, capable of the utmost patience and self-sacrifice. The ruling by the husband in the home and the acceptance by the wife of that rule were on the basis of that love.

The obedience was voluntary, not forced. It is in accord with this that in the New Testament, while the headship of the husband is definitely taught, it is nowhere stated that he is to enforce obedience. But the wife is counseled repeatedly to render that obedience voluntarily, “as unto the Lord”. It is the obedience of love, therefore the responsibility to render it falls largely upon her (1 Pet. 3:1-6; 1 Tim. 2:9-15; Eph. 5:23; Gen. 3:16; Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:3, 14, 34).