Let’s talk about headship and submission in Christian Marriage. Headship and submission in Christian marriage are Godly, biblical, and necessary for a healthy marriage. After all, that’s our goal as Christians.
God always has a purpose and reason behind everything he does, and everything he has created. Marriage is no different – he’s designed men and women specifically to be different in roles, strengths, weaknesses, and unique qualities. Husbands and wives are therefore designed specifically for different roles. It’s quite clear from scripture that God has intended marriage to be a reflection of how Christ is headed over the church. His leadership is not one of domination and tyranny, but of love, respect and strength.
In Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul in his letter explicitly explains that wives are to submit to their husbands just as Christ is the head of the church. As Christ is head of His church (His body), men are to be head of their household. All bodies need a head, after all, what would be a body without the head? Likewise, a head without a body cannot function. The head takes responsibility for the body’s decisions. It sets the direction and makes sure all the parts of that body are looked after with great care. The body also performs many functions that the head obviously cannot. The head needs the body just as much as the body needs the head! “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherished it even as the Lord the church.” (Eph 5:29).
The role of husbands
Just as a head has a specific role to their bodies, headship is different in role and therefore in responsibilities from headship over a family. It’s clear that Christ leads by example, teaching and training his body (the church). Likewise, headship in a family is very similar to headship over the church – a husband leading by example through actions and words. The headship in a marriage is therefore not one that oppresses or dominates, but rather one that loves and cares for. It is not abusive, selfish, or un-loving headship that husbands are required to exercise. In fact, scripture gives an excellent model for headship in the example of Christ.
Christ laid down his life for the church, in the same way, the husbands should lay down their life for their wives, doing everything they can to make sure their wives always have what they need. The headship of a husband is one of provision and protection.
A man is to head the home, and wives are to submit to their husband’s headship. The Bible says “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.” (Eph 5:22-23)
The role of wives
Wives must submit to their husband’s headship as they submit to Christ. As a family or body cannot function without headship, so the wife should not resist headship. There is no headship without submission, and in that way, headship and submission go hand-in-hand. “Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” (Col 3:18).
This does not mean that if the husband is abusive, the wife must submit to Him. The wife must take responsibility to be strong in the Lord and know what God’s promises are. In this way, she’ll be able to discern whether the husband is asking something from her that is according to the Word of God or not. Note that the scripture in Colossian 3:18, clearly says to submit to your husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
When the husband is not submitted to the Lord, then that’s another story. For this system to function in a healthy environment, the husband must be submitted to the Lord first so that he can exercise a headship that benefits the wife as well as the husband.
Headship and submission in Christian marriage are blessed by God, and the fruits of this relationship between husband and wife are to be a part of that blessing.
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