Biblical Headship, Part 1

The Bible teaches that the husband is the head of the wife. This is primarily found in two verses written by Paul:

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3, NIV)

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:21-28, NIV)

Ephesians 5:21-28 describes Christís headship as a relationship based on his love and self-sacrifice. Christ, Himself, described His headship this way:

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28, NIV; see also Luke 22:25-26)

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:14-15 NIV)

Jesus taught and modeled that great leadership is based on a giving servanthood, not on imperious or tyrannical rule. In the words of Mart DeHaan of RBC Ministries, "Headship gives husbands the authority to serve their wives, not lord it over them." A "dying to self" is called for here, just as it is for the wife who submits to her husband in obedience to Christ.

Jesus came to restore Godís original design for marriage, as He reconciles all things to Himself (Colossians 1:20). He came to teach and demonstrate the kind of servant headship that nurtures and builds strong and godly relationships. His Word shows us how to make marriage a place of love and unity, through godly headship and godly submission.

Ephesians 5 paints a beautiful picture of the loving nurture and protection God intends for us. But what if you have an earthly marriage that falls far short of this picture? What if you are without a marriage partner? Christ, in Himself, offers this kind of relationship to every believer. Our Savior invites us to receive His sacrificial love and headship, so He can nurture us as His precious and beloved bride. He invites us to experience His loving leadership, care, and provision in our lives today.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever seen someone use claims of headship in an abusive manner? How?
  2. Read Galatians 3:28, which speaks to us about our standing in Christ. Does this verse suggest any superiority, rank, or privilege based on gender for those who are in Christ?
Copyright 2005   Judy Kennedy