Many denominations teach that the husband is the high priest of the home, or that the husband is the priest of the home. My husband and I are ones who sat under this teaching for many years, and we never thought to question this teaching. Being the high priest (or the priest) of the home, the husband is to take charge of all things spiritual for their wife and children. This includes leading the family in devotions, prayer and devotions with his wife, and so on. In some denominations, this teaching goes so far as to say that the Lord only speaks His will to the wife through her husband.
There have been times during my marriage when I would become frustrated as I waited on my husband to “do what he was supposed to do.” I would put pressure on my husband to “step up to the plate” and fulfill his role as high priest. Over the years, I’ve known countless other women who have struggled with this same frustration and put pressure on their husbands to fulfill the role of high priest.
On one occasion, I actually had a well-meaning Christian tell me that I was getting too far ahead of my husband in my spiritual walk with the Lord and that I needed to slow down and wait for him. This person was not referring to my activity in the church, for at the time, I was only involved in intercessory prayer, as was my husband. This person was referring to my personal relationship with Christ, and their assumption was based on this teaching that the husband is the high priest of the home and their opinion that I was growing in my relationship with the Lord faster than my husband was growing in His relationship with God.
One night, “out-of-the-blue” the Lord spoke to me and told me that this teaching was not Scriptural. I was shocked by what He had said, and I racked my brain trying to think of a Scripture that says the husband is the priest, or high priest, of the home. Of course, I could not think of one. He then began to explain to me how contrary to New Covenant this teaching actually is and how this false teaching harms the body of Christ and puts us into bondage.
First of all, Scripture tells us that, in the New Covenant, every one of us are now priests unto God. (See I Peter 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6, 5:10, 20:6) It does not specify that only men are priests.
Secondly, New Covenant tells us that JESUS is our High Priest (Heb. 2:17, 3:1, 4:14-15, 6:20, 8:1). He is now the ONLY mediator between God and mankind (I Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15). Under Old Covenant, the high priest had special access to the presence of God that no one else had. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, he would enter the Holy of Holies in the temple; the Holy of Holies being the place where God dwelled. No other person was allowed to enter this place. To say that the husband is the “high priest” of the home is to insinuate that he has special access to God that his wife doesn’t have. This completely contradicts the New Covenant and what Jesus accomplished through the cross.
Not only is Christ our only High Priest, but at His death, He opened the way into the Holy of Holies so that EVERY believer could enter! At Jesus’ death on the cross, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn in two, signifying that every Believer now has access into the Holy of Holies, or God’s intimate presence (Mat. 27:51). As the Lord tells us in Hebrews 10:19-22, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to ENTER THE MOST HOLY PLACE by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us DRAW NEAR TO GOD….” When that veil was torn opening the way into the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place), God didn’t put a sign up saying, “men only.”
We are living under an Old Covenant mentality when we think any people group (in this case, wives) needs a human mediator between themselves and God or needs someone to represent them before God. Christ is the only High Priest. He is the only Mediator. In fact, when we put a human in a place that is reserved for God alone, we become guilty of committing idolatry, which is spiritual adultery.
When God created Eve, it wasn’t because He looked at Adam and said, “You need someone you can lead.” He created Eve because He saw that Adam was alone and needed a helper (Gen. 2:18). This helper came from Adam and was part of Adam, so she was in no way inferior to Adam. She was Adam’s equal. The New Testament upholds this original intent of God in Ephesians 5:28, as J. Lee Grady points out in his book, “10 Lies the Church Tells Women”: “It was even more radical when Paul told the men of Ephesus to love their wives ‘as their own bodies’ (v. 28). THIS MEANT THAT MEN AND WOMEN WERE EQUALS…Paul’s simple words shattered gender prejudice at its core.”
Actually, God created male and female to rule together (Gen. 1:26-28); He did not create one to rule over the other. Man only began to rule over woman after Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What does this tree prophetically represent? It represents legalism and man-made religion, because “knowledge of good and evil” does not require a relationship with the Living God; it simply requires following a list of do’s and don’ts. The Tree of Life represents relationship with Christ and living by the Spirit. Today when you find men ruling over women in one form or another, which includes this false teaching that the husband is the high priest of the home, it is because they are eating from the Tree of Knowledge. This false teaching perpetuates the curse where man ruled over woman.
As New Covenant Believers in Jesus, we live “in Christ.” (I.e., Acts 17:28; I Cor. 8:6) What does Galatians 3:26-28 tell us? “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, MALE NOR FEMALE, for you are all ONE IN CHRIST JESUS.” In Christ, we are not male and female. Spiritually, we are not segregated by ethnicity, social status, or gender, as we are all ONE in Him. If you were to put a gender on us as Christ’s body and church, we are all sons of God (male) and we are all the bride of Christ (female). Aren’t you glad that in God’s kingdom (and we are part of that kingdom presently), physical attributes such as skin color and gender make no difference?!
There may be times when the husband leads in spiritual activities. However, because we are spiritual equals and all priests unto God, there’s nothing wrong with wives leading in spiritual activities as well. For instance, a woman may feel the Holy Spirit nudging her to lead her family in a time of prayer or discussion about the Lord. She should not resist the Holy Spirit by believing the lie that her husband is the only one that can lead the family in these types of “priestly” activities. We all learn from each other, so wives need to speak forth and do the things Holy Spirit is leading them to do and say, just as husbands need to do the same.
I’d like to encourage the single women who have sat under this false teaching as well. Don’t buy into the lie that you are missing out on something that is essential for your life because you don’t have a physical husband to be your high priest. Whether single or married, male or female, we ALL have a high priest, and that person is Jesus Christ.
This false teaching not only harms wives, as it puts a middle-man between themselves and Christ and stifles the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives, it also hurts husbands. It puts undue pressure on men and forces them to carry a burden they were never meant to carry. Christ never put this yoke on husbands that they must be the high priest of their home. This false doctrine causes many Christian men to feel discouragement and condemnation, as they believe they will never add up to all that is expected of them. (For those Christian men who are able to “toe the line” and be the high priest of their home, they run the risk of walking in pride, self-righteousness, self-idolatry, and control.) When the Lord revealed to me that this was a false teaching, it brought freedom from bondage for both myself and my husband, and we experienced such life, peace, and joy in the Lord!
Though I knew it was the Lord revealing these truths to me and setting me free from a false doctrine of man, it contradicted everything we had been taught, and that was quite frightening. A short time later, the Lord brought a book into my life that confirmed the truths that He had revealed to me. If you are interested in reading more about this subject, I would highly recommend this book to you. It is the book I mentioned earlier, which is “10 Lies the Church Tells Women,” by J. Lee Grady. By the way, one of the 10 lies is that the husband is the priest (or high priest) of the home. I would also recommend the book, “The Christian Woman…Set Free” by Gene Edwards. Both books dive deeply into Scripture, particularly those few sticky passages that seem to bring women into bondage. They also look at translations of specific passages and church history.
Men and women of God, let’s walk in the freedom Christ bought for us on Calvary! Women are a priest unto God just as men are, with Jesus being our only High Priest! And He’s opened the way so that every one of us priests would have access into the Holy of Holies!