Tag Archives: headship

Headship in Marriage Part 2 – Why and How?

In the last post I was sharing on what the whole authority and headship thing means, and the qualifications. This time I want to look at why God put it there and some of the things it takes for us wives to put this difficult stuff into practice!

Why did God put this in place?

  • God is a God of order –  John Macarthur said ‘An employee may be more intelligent and more skilled than his boss, but a company cannot be run without submission to proper authority, even if some of those in authority are not as capable as they ought to be.’
  • Protection for us – When our husbands realise that we are submitted to their authority, they will often see more of the weight of the decision that lies with them, and take more care over making it. It also protects us from a lot of the worry that we would otherwise be prone to as the responsibility lies with him.
  • Women are more easily deceived –  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 2 Tim 2:14 We don’t like reading this verse mainly because of pride and the world’s teaching. But this doesn’t mean that women are less valuable or less intelligent, or inferior. ‘It does mean that God has restricted women’s role in the local church partially because she could be more easily deceived.’ (John Macarthur) And in practice we are more easily deceived, I think primarily because the emotions that God has put in us to help us care for children also have the tendency to mislead us. If I want my 3 year old daughter Hope to kiss me after she has already refused, all I have to do is to pretend to cry like a baby, ‘Waah, waaah, waaaaah!’ and she immediately gives me a kiss! There’s no chance of that with my two boys! That is a bit scary for me because it shows how easily she can be manipulated by being made to feel guilty, just as I know I can be.

What it takes on our part

  • An understanding of who God is – God is compassionate and understanding, and knows what we are going through, and knows what we can cope with – He has promised to not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear 1 Cor 10:13
  • Faith in God – God has also promised that He will work everything for the good of those who love Him Rom 8:28. This is key in submission, as if we trust that, and know that God’s will is that we submit to our husbands, then we can trust that God will work it for our good whether our husbands make the right decision or not, because ultimately God is in control, and we are doing God’s will so we don’t need to be afraid.
  • Humility – We have to get past our pride that tells us we are right and they are wrong, and that we know more than they do so we should be making the decisions. That may be true, but just as Christ humbled himself and became obedient, so must we!
  • Obedience – if we obey God we will be blessed, and if we disobey we will reap the consequences. Ultimately we have to remember, this is a clear command in the Bible, which is God’s word.

If you want to know more, Alistair Begg has an excellent sermon called ‘Being a Wife God’s Way’ that you can listen to online, as well as many other sermons on marriage and womanhood that are free to download and listen to.

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Headship in Marriage Part 1 – What Does The Bible Say?

We have been going through ‘The Excellent Wife’ in our women’s ministry, so I thought I’d share some of what I’m learning as I study!

The Bible says that the husband is the head of the wife: ‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body.’ Eph 5:22-23

This is a controversial topic because the world’s view is so different from what the Bible says. As Christians we should try not to be pressed into the world’s mould, so if this is something you are not sure about I would encourage you to pray, be open to changing your mind, have God’s word as your rule and not what the world says, and examine the Bible to see if these things are true. Also remember that if you obey God you will be blessed!

Carolyn Mahaney says about this topic, ‘How do you view submission? Do you find it appealing or do you cringe at the mere mention of the word? If you react negatively to the idea, chances are you have only seen a warped or defective product, because the genuine article of submission brings immeasurable benefit to our marriages and tremendous honour to the gospel’

Elisabeth Elliot said, ‘Many are the discussions I’ve heard on this one, almost all of them directed to ‘what it can’t possibly mean’ rather than to the plain word of the Lord. The statement is simple. Not easy for women like me, but simple, that is, I understand it only too well. As Mark Twain said, I have far more trouble with the things I do understand in the Bible than things I don’t understand.’

What does this mean?

Some people use the verse where it says that there is neither male nor female in Christ (Gal 2:28) to argue against headship of the husband. But there the context is oneness in Christ – it means that we are all equally one in Christ. Marriage is just like in the Trinity, where all the members are equal, yet ‘the head of Christ is God’ 1 Cor 11:3. The members of the Trinity are equal in nature but different in their function, and in marriage it is the same as we are equal but have different roles. Wives submit to husbands yet are not inferior to them, just as Christ submits to God yet is not inferior to Him.

The word ‘submit’ here is a different word from obey – not as a servant or a child, but as an equal. In the Greek it means ‘to voluntarily place oneself under’. So as wives we should voluntarily place ourselves under our husband’s authority. It is also to be done ‘as to the Lord’ because our manner and attitude is to be as to the Lord. There will be times when our husband is inconsiderate and thoughtless, and then it will really help to remember that we do it for the Lord, as it is the Lord’s will. A wife who does not submit to her husband does not submit to the Lord.

Some qualifications

  • The husband never has absolute authority over the wife because God is the higher authority. So if our husband asks us to sin then must we must obey the higher authority – God – and refuse.
  • The Bible doesn’t say ‘Submit to the right kind of husband’. He may be an unbeliever, or sinful (who isn’t in some things?) but we should still submit. A good passage that deals with that issue is 1 Peter 3:1-6
  • God has also put our church and the authorities there for our protection, so if abuse happens we should go to them for help
  • Headship doesn’t mean that we have to ask our husbands about every single decision, unless they want us to! It is more meaning that they have the authority to lead and make final decisions.
  • We can of course give input, but when a conflict of opinion arises that cannot be resolved, they are responsible to decide, and we are responsible to honour and affirm their leadership.

It is interesting to me that Jesus delighted to do His Father’s will – and I think with true submission in our heart we will delight to do our husband’s will – it’s not just a case of waiting till there is a big dispute to submit!