A husband is head of his wife.
The Bible asserts that GOD has assigned husbands responsibility for serving as the head of their family. Husbands are the head of their wife.
The apostle Paul explained this by pointing back to the creation of Adam and Eve:
3 and I wish you to know that of every man the head is the Christ, and the head of a woman is the husband, and the head of Christ is God.
7 for a man, indeed, ought not to cover the head, being the image and glory of God, and a woman is the glory of a man,
8 for a man is not of a woman, but a woman [is] of a man,
9 for a man also was not created because of the woman, but a woman because of the man;1 Corinthians 11:3, 7-9 YLT
Note: Forgive the “old English” phrasing there. Sadly, most English Bibles poorly translate this passage because they do not communicate that it is a specific man and woman that Paul was discussing. All men are not the head of all women. Rather, the husband is the head of his wife — not anyone else’s wife nor any unmarried women … his wife. In this regard Young’s Literal Translation gets this correct by translated man as “husband” in v3.
In ancient Greek, there wasn’t a specific word that delineated man/husband and woman/wife. Rather, the context revealed whether married individuals or groups were being discussed. This ambiguity becomes problematic for English translators.
Returning to the text, paraphrasing Paul’s statements:
- Jesus is the head of all men.
- A husband is head of his wife.
Paul explains that GOD’s reasoning for making husbands the head of their wife (and family) date back to the beginning (see Genesis 2:18-25):
- Woman (Eve) was taken from man (Adam’s rib).
- Woman was created for man.
In another writing, Paul gave similar instructions to Timothy regarding Christian households:
8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.1 Timothy 2:8-15 NKJV
Again, we face the same translation ambiguity.
Because the context reveals that Paul was describing how Christian households should function (see 1 Timothy 3:14-15), a more accurate translation of the above statements would read:
8 I desire therefore that [husbands] pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that [wives] adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a [wife] learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a [wife] to teach or to have authority over [her husband], but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.1 Timothy 2:8-15 NKJV
Note: “silence” in v12 does not mean speechlessness but quietness, as in, not dominating or authoritarian speech.
Here, Paul again based his argument upon the order of creation. And then he provided a third reason why husbands are to lead their family: Eve was deceived, not Adam.
As I write this, many cultures around the world would find this Principle highly offensive. It is politically incorrect to claim that husbands are the head over their wife. But GOD does not care about political correctness, nor the shifting sands of human morals.
From GOD’s viewpoint, this principle was put in place in the beginning and it hasn’t changed and it won’t change.
Remember, we don’t have to agree with GOD’s way of doing things. But we do have to acknowledge that He knows way more than we do and that He has our best interest at heart. GOD’s way is the best way, even if we find it offensive.
So, what does this “headship principle” mean?
- GOD has given specific roles to each member of the family so that things operate optimally.
- As the head of their family, husbands are responsible (and accountable to GOD) for direction, guidance, ultimate decision-making and outcome of their family’s operations. To borrow an analogy from the business world, husbands are like the Chief Executive Officer of a corporation: they are responsible for settings strategy, direction, and ultimate performance outcomes. Husbands are to love their wife unselfishly and to do what is best for their wife (and children), above their own interests. Husbands are to lend their strength in service of their families.
- Wives are responsible for following their husband’s lead, working together as a helper and companion. In the effective Christian household, wives provide counsel and feedback and are intimately involved and consulted regarding decision-making. And yet, the Jesus-follower wife acknowledges that, once her husband makes the final decision, she will loyally support him, even when she disagrees (provided it isn’t in conflict with Scripture’s teaching, of course).
It is unpopular today, but the truth is that, in GOD’s design, from the beginning, woman was created to support her husband.
Anyone who claims to follow Jesus acknowledges that the Bible teaches the headship principle. One cannot follow Jesus and reject what Jesus taught (or implicitly embraced through His apostles).