As I’ve explained most recently in All roads lead to Duluth, the Duluth model has become by far the dominant paradigm for viewing domestic violence. This is essential to understand because Duluth isn’t really about domestic violence, but about legislating feminist theory. The focus of Duluth is to end what feminists call male privilege, or male entitlement. While the flag of domestic violence and abuse is waved in front of the crowd, the Duluth creators go out of their way to make it clear that their focus is not on violence or abuse, but on the idea that a husband is head of the household. In the Duluth model the idea of headship is both the root of abuse, and it is in itself abuse.
This paradigm is so widely accepted that very often it isn’t named Duluth when it is presented. For example, in the article Domestic violence: Male entitlement mentality a factor, the word Duluth is never used. However, the model is clearly the Duluth model, as it is about power and control and ending male entitlement (emphasis mine):
The real problem is a belief system rooted in male entitlement.
“The underlying belief system is, ‘Because I’m the man in this relationship, I’m in charge,'” Steffy said.
The goal is to help men change the way they think and live, Steffy said. The counselors help them to view relationships as egalitarian, not a hierarchy.
“Our ultimate goal would be for each client to make an absolute commitment to be noncontrolling, nonviolent,” Steffy said.
In the case above the advocate (Roger Steffy with Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pennsylvania) is very open about pushing a feminist/egalitarian model. But in other cases the same feminist model is delivered by Christian leaders presenting themselves as traditional. These leaders teach the same feminist concepts, and very often adopt the same feminist terminology, but they present the Duluth paradigm as a (traditional) biblical paradigm and not a radical feminist creation. This is far more dangerous than the overt teaching of feminism.
I’ve offered examples of this before, but for another example see Pastor Sam Powell’s Headship is not Hierarchy* and his related post Genesis 3:16. Like Steffy, Powell explains that a hierarchical marriage is by it’s very nature abusive, but he goes a step further and claims the very idea of hierarchy in marriage is of the devil:
The goal of marriage is the one flesh relationship, rather than the antagonistic and abusive relationship that characterized the kingdom of the devil. It isn’t about who makes the coffee, changes the diapers, or does the dishes.
Note how he weaves in feminist resentment to poison the very concept of headship. Modern wives are constantly encouraged to simmer in feminist resentment over who does the dishes, and Powell makes brilliant use of this to poison the very idea of biblical headship in his reader’s minds. Part of the ruse here is a very effective distraction. Powell wants the reader to focus on what he presents as men abusing headship, but his real argument is against headship itself. In Headship he writes:
I think it is reading to much into the text to say that this means that Adam ruled over his wife. Did Adam sit on the couch and say “Woman, beer me and shut those kids up!” I think not. He did not rule his wife. They both served God and one another perfectly, being without sin.
These are feminist nuclear emotional triggers, designed to terrify the men who are reading and make the women reading furious. They are stink bombs of marital strife. But his real point, the one he is sneaking in while lobbing stink bombs, is that husbands are not to lead, even in a loving way. He explains this in his Genesis post:
Let’s take it with the second part of the phrase, “But he shall rule over thee”, which is set in contrast to the first phrase. It’s a disjunctive clause. The word “rule” (mashal) can be good rule, benevolent rule, tyrannical rule or any other kind of rule…
Now that Christ has come, we as men are called, not to rule over our wives (whether benevolently or not) but to love our wives, and thus reflect to the world the love of our great savior, who gave himself for us.
This is also clear in the title “Headship is not hierarchy”; Powell is against any idea of headship other than one which redefines it as purely submission.
So in answer to the question, “Do I believe that the husband has authority in the home?” My answer is “Yes. Certainly. There is no way around it. He is to wash his wife’s feet, serve her, do good to her, love her – even, as Paul says, give himself for her.
This new definition of headship is really a thinly disguised form of the wife’s role of submission**. Except in this crossdressing form of headship and submission, husbands are accountable for the outcome while winning their wives without a word:
…the husband is to take the lead in taking the lowest place in the home. That’s not me saying this. That’s Jesus Christ.
It is the husband ultimately responsible for the peace of the home. It is the husband that God will hold accountable for what has been entrusted to him.
Then he switches to Duluth language of abuse, power and control, and male entitlement (emphasis mine):
…he does not rule the home by power and control. He governs his home by service and love. You can see a woman controlled by power. She is downcast and the light is gone in her eyes. And you can see a woman who is loved by her husband. She is alive, fully human, confident, and joyfully doing whatever work God has called her to with spirit and life. Why do so many who claim the name of Christ believe that women are to be controlled by entitlement and power?
The husband isn’t the boss, the commander, the chief, the king. All of that belongs to Christ.
Hierarchy, leading, believing you are the head of the household (in any non feminist sense), is abuse and satanic according to Powell. Instead, Powell teaches husbands to take on the role of homemaker:
So for you husbands insisting that you are the head of your home, take it seriously. Go home, cook dinner, draw her a bath, do the dishes, put the kids to bed.
As Powell explains, in Christian marriage “It isn’t about who makes the coffee, changes the diapers, or does the dishes”, so long as it is the husband who does these things.
*HT The Question
**The problem is not Powell saying a husband is to serve his wife; the problem is him using a husband’s obligation to serve his wife to deny headship and entirely recast it as submission.
See Also: Relishing sin