The Principle of Authority in Marriage
When God calls a woman to submit to the leadership of the man, this is not saying the woman is any less than the man, because she is not. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 3:28).
Although there is no difference between man and woman in the nature of their salvation or their standing with God, there is a principle of authority in the family. Those who struggle with this concept will be helped by considering Paul’s words: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3).
What does this verse mean when it says that the “the head of Christ is God”? God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit are coequal and coeternal. This verse is saying that God the Father is the head of Christ—not in essence or nature, but in function. Jesus was in His very nature God, but He laid aside His rights and privileges and humbled Himself as a servant (Philippians 2:7–8).
The relationship structure of Jesus Christ to God the Father is the same one presented to us for marriage. Though the husband and wife are equal in their standing before God, in order for the family to function in harmony, the woman, with no loss of dignity, takes the place of submission to the headship of her husband.
- God’s divine design intends that the wife’s respect, help and obedience would be matched by her husband’s servant leadership as they submit together to the lordship of Jesus Christ and to each other.
Proverbs 31 describes the woman of virtue: “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. . .She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:11–12; 25–27 NIV)
There will be times where, in the interest of the family, a husband must make certain decisions that may not be popular. At those times, the wife needs to accept that God, having put her husband in that position of authority, will speak to his heart to guide him.