A Review of Rocking the Roles by Robert Lewis and William Hendricks

Books on marriage are abundant, and many offer some helpful perspective or practical applications. Few, however, provide such a clear and comprehensive look at what it means for a man and a woman to make a lifelong commitment. In Rocking the Roles, Lewis and Hendricks have provided an excellent work that is practical enough to begin immediate applications yet deep enough to beg for reading it over and over again.

In Part 1, the authors lay out insightful and compelling reasons that a truly egalitarian, roleless marriage just won’t work. From logical illustration of organizations through history and culture to understanding the plain teaching of the Bible, we see the basic need for complementary roles. Healthy functioning organizations and relationships hold equal value for individuals but those individuals are tasked in different ways in order to bring the vision into full view.

In no way, however, do Lewis & Hendricks promote the idea of the so-called “traditional marriage.” The All-American family is shown in true light as being more of a “commitment to mutual tolerance” in the marriage relationship. While the Church had an opportunity to respond to the social chaos going on, it didn’t. According to the authors, “now we need to start making up for lost time.” As such, the book continues to follow the call to help readers understand their God-given roles which, if lived out, offer “the quality of life the couple will enjoy.”

The husband’s core role is addressed in Part 2. The idea of “headship” is placed within the idea of empowering other human beings. Lewis & Hendricks pull no punches when discussing the differences between a “lording leader” and a “serving leader.” Men are created by God to be Servant Leaders to their wives, families, and the community of faith. Excellent perspective is given in “Chapter 8: Twenty-Five Ways to Be a Servant-Leader.”

Not only does the husband have a core role, but they are also called to keep in mind some core concerns which is the topic for Part 3. A husband is challenged to work toward understanding his wife and empowering her to succeed in her God-given role. Perhaps most penetrating of all is the call for men to become praise leaders in the lives of their wives. With these core roles and concerns in view, women can not only understand their roles more clearly but they may be more willing to live them out within the context of male Servant Leadership.

The wife’s core role is addressed in Part 4. The opening question places priorities at the forefront. So many women feel they can “do it all” but are increasing finding that dream to be a “Super Myth.” As opposed to fitting in with the prevailing culture, Lewis & Hendricks calls women to follow Titus’ guidelines which fit with sound doctrine. Therefore, a wife’s core role as Loving Helper is to be the priority under which all other decisions become subject. The focus of her core role is as a husband-lover and child-lover. Her role is valued and essential. Without her as Loving Helper, the husband does not have the support necessary to be the Servant Leader. “Without mom exercising the power of ‘being there’ for her children, the next generation will be even more dysfunctional than this present one.” Lewis & Hendricks place high worth on wives both here and throughout the text.

The wife’s core concerns are the subject of Part 5 which focused on understanding the man in her life. With this understanding, she can better understand how she can lovingly help him through her support. As in other places, the authors keep in perspective that the decision to live out the God-given roles is the responsibility of each member in the relationship.

Not to be left on our own, Rocking the Roles gives some wonderfully practical ideas of responses that energize the roles. Submission is placed in a highly positive light, and it is rightly placed within the context of “response” as opposed to “role.” A submissive response empowers to pursue right behavior and is a key response for wives to encourage their husbands as Servant Leaders. We also learn that the masculine counterpart to submission is praise. In case we missed it earlier, men are challenged once again to praise their wives every day and hold them in high honor.

In Part 7, some problems and solutions are provided as a kind of marriage handbook. The topics include sex, lack of male leadership, enabling versus helping and church intervention. Part 8 offers some further practical applications in areas like priorities, seasons of life, and modeling a marriage before your children. Regardless of where readers are or where they’ve been, “hearing God’s Word is the first step to bringing dry marriages together again.”

In addition to the body of text above, some excellent insights into historic views of marriage and troubleshooting helps are provided in the appendices. While Lewis & Hendricks have sought to leave no stone unturned, the book comes across as very readable and applicational.

Rocking the Roles is not a book you should borrow; it’s one you should own. Understanding and living out roles within marriage is not an event but a process, and this book will serve as a guide and companion as you follow God in your marriage together.

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