For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church;
Beginning in verse 22 of chapter 5 of Ephesians through chapter 6 verse 9, we are introduced to the Christian “household table” – a series of commands concerning submission of wives, children and slaves, to their respective authorities – husbands, parents, and masters. The motivating statement behind the command for wives to submit to their husbands, is that the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. The origin of the husband’s headship is grounded in creation – this is particularly taught in the narrative of Genesis chapter 2 verse 18-25, and elaborated on in 1 Cor 11:3-12 and 1 Tim 2:11-13 (read these texts in order to understand the biblical basis for male headship). In these passages we learn that the significance of the fact that the woman was made after man, out of man, and before man, and as such, the man is head of the woman.
Because the husband’s headship is grounded in the events of creation, we can say that his position of delegated authority is both permanent and universal, and cannot be dismissed as culturally limited. What was established at creation, no culture may destroy or alter. Also, while the practices associated with the husband’s headship were ruined by the fall of Adam in garden, his authority was delegated to him before the fall. In this command for wives to be submissive to their own husbands, Paul is addressing the church – a people redeemed and returned to a pre-fall condition. While the new creation in Christ removes the cultural barriers between male and female, and frees us from the distortion associated with the practices of male headship that came as a result of the fall, it does not remove, but in fact, restores the roles of headship and submission intended by God in the original creation.
The divine intention of marriage from the beginning was for the two to become one flesh and function together – not as a ‘two-headed monster,’ but under one head – and that authority is given to the husband. However, because husbands and wives are sinners, and even redeemed Christian husbands and wives are influenced by remaining sin, there is an ongoing struggle, both generally, in the flesh of all men against authority, and specifically, in the wife’s tendency toward rebellion and husband’s tendency for a domineering autocratic rule.
Listen to this message here: