How Does a Husband Act Like a Head?

Here’s a line you may have heard: “God has ordained the husband to be the head of the marriage, which means he’s in charge.”

The first bit is biblical; the second bit is not.

Headship, in a Biblical sense, has nothing to do with superiority or being in charge. The Greek philosophers taught that men were to rule their homes like lords of the manner, and some of the Church Fathers bought into that. But Jesus and the Apostles said no such thing.

Do you want a godly and blessed marriage? Do you want to know what headship really looks like? Then consider the pattern established by God.

At the head of the human race, God placed a man. Being first in the line does not make Adam more or less special than Eve, but it did mean he was privy to instructions that Eve never heard.

God told Adam to avoid the forbidden tree. God didn’t tell Eve because she hadn’t yet been made. It fell to Adam to convey God’s will to Eve, and tragically he failed.

It was Adam’s job to keep the garden serpent-free, and he failed at that too.

Adam was the head who didn’t lead, and as a result the first marriage partnership failed. If Eve had been made first, these concerns would have been her responsibility. But being made second meant she could not succeed unless Adam succeeded.

Adam was the head who failed to act like a head. In contrast, Jesus is the head leads well.

God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Eph 1:22–23)

Jesus is the head of everything, and his headship is exercised through the church and for the church. In the same way, a husband’s headship is not exercised upon his marriage, but through his marriage and for the benefit of his marriage.

A true king does not rule his queen like an Athenian. Rather, he rules with his queen and for the benefit of his queen like Jesus.

According to the English theologian Matthew Poole, “The man is called the head of the woman, because by God’s ordinance he is to rule over her. He has an excellency above the woman, and a power over her.”

Like Aristotle, Poole believed the husband to be superior to the wife for the same reason that “the head in the natural body, being the seat of reason, and the fountain of sense and motion, is more excellent than the rest of the body.”

If that offends you – and I hope it does because it’s unbiblical trash – change the channel. Don’t listen to Poole; listen to Paul. The Apostle Paul never said the husband was superior and more excellent to his wife. Instead, he spoke of mutual submission and preferring one another. He spoke of that divine mystery we know as the one-flesh team:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. (Eph 5:31)

Children obey their parents, but when a marriage is formed, everything changes. The daughter no longer submits to her father, for she has become joined to her husband. Her husband is now her head.

Similarly, the husband is no longer beholden to his parents, but he submits to his wife. They have become a one-flesh team ready to take on the world.

Just as wives need to be liberated from patriarchal bondage, husbands need to be liberated from the unholy burden that they alone are responsible for all that happens in the home. You and your spouse are a one-flesh team created to lead together.

Partnership is not always easy, especially when you have the weight of tradition pressuring you to conform to ungodly roles and stereotypes. For the sake of your marriage resist that pressure. What God has joined together, let no man separate.

The crown upon his head

Women were never meant to be ruled by men, yet because of the Greeks and the patriarchs and the Fall of Man, here we are. If we are to return to God’s original plan, we need a better definition of headship, and Jesus is our definition.

If we men are to be godly husbands, let us take our cue from the One who gave his life for his church.

A godly head cares for and nurtures his wife. He respects her as a partner in Christ and acknowledges her God-given talents and gifts.

He provides for her and seeks to please her.

He encourages and comforts her and helps her to walk in the way that God has set before her.

He prays for her and with her.

He sets an example for her to follow and points her to Jesus in all things.

The primary way in which a husband serves as a head is by loving his wife as his own body and by giving himself up for her. He leads in the art of love.

And so does she.

His wife is a queen made in the image of God. Filled with the Spirit, she is just as capable of leading as he is.

As the proverb says, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown.”

If her husband is the head, then she is the crown that sits upon it.

Source: The Silent Queen

More articles on marriage:

In marriage, who takes the lead?

Is the husband the head of his wife?

Submission doesn’t mean what you think it means

Who submits in marriage?

Why the Proverbs 31 woman may not be your ideal wife

Equality is not the goal

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4 Comments on How Does a Husband Act Like a Head?

  1. Leading in the art of love… beautiful.

  2. gospelprince // December 8, 2021 at 8:31 pm // Reply

    Well said and done! Keep up the grace filled gospel work for every believer throughout the whole world!

  3. The husband acts like a head_ in this instance the mystery of the 2 becoming one flesh is in like Jesus and His one Body. All those the Father has given Him. Jesus is the head of the One Body – as the husband is the head of the his (Body) wife. He does not act like a head. He is the head.

    When there’s important issues that needs a decision but the 2 that are one are at odds; the wife is to differ [submit] to the husband. That is in no wise, the husband being the boss, superior, ruler nor leader. But taking the responsibility on behalf of that family – who in departing their parents to become one and a new family._ that they be a reflection of the Christ and His one Body. They might also decide to differ the decision all together.

    • You are playing with words, Steve. If the submission is all one-sided and the husband is the ultimate authority and the final decision-maker, then he is the boss, superior, ruler or leader. You only have half of the script. You have read Eph 5:24 but missed Eph 5:25. You are missing the bit where the husband lays down his life for his wife. How do you think that happens? It happens through submission, which in a healthy marriage is mutual and based on love and respect, not rules and half-read scriptures.

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