The family was the first institution God designed for the purpose of fulfilling his vision and mission for mankind. It is the basic unit of the church and society, as well as the primordial training ground for God’s children. The success of the church and society at large depends on the success of the family. In this expository study, we shall examine the Bible to discover God’s ordained government in the home, as well as the submission required of the various components of the family unit, in order to achieve God’s purpose for the family. This article will focus on the relationship between husbands and wives. The relationship between parents and their children, and between servants and their masters, will be discussed in subsequent posts.
The family unit consists of the husband, wife, children and household servants. Each member of the family has a head he or she is answerable to, and to whom he or she is expected to submit. The various heads are appointed by God, and rebellion against one’s head is considered rebellion against God who delegated authority to that head. Submitting to our various heads is a sign of obedience and reverence to Christ!
Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Let us examine Scripture to see the heads of the various subunits in the family. We will find out God’s original design for leadership in the home, and by extension the church. Adhering to God’s order is the only way to avoid chaos and confusion. Only God’s order will ensure stability and prosperity of the family unit, the church and society at large.
1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.
1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God (ESV).
From the passage above, we see that the head of the wife is her husband, while the head of the husband is Christ, and the head of Christ is God the Father. The idea of co-equality of the husband and wife in marriage is a lie from the pit of hell! It’s a product of the feminist movement designed by satan to topple God’s ordained government in the home. From the very beginning, God created the man to be the head, and the woman to be a helper who would be subject to the man.
1 Corinthians 11:8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
1 Corinthians 11:9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man (ESV).
Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.
Genesis 2:21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
Genesis 2:22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
Genesis 2:23 Then the man said, This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (ESV).
Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you (ESV).
Yes, God created the woman to be a helper to the man, and placed the woman under the headship of the man. God made the man the ruler of the home and head of the family unit. The husband is God’s delegated authority over the family, and all members of the family are to submit to him. Rebellion against the husband’s authority in the home is the beginning of anarchy in society, for where there is no order, chaos and confusion reign!
Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
Ephesians 5:24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands (ESV).
Colossians 3:18 Wives, place yourselves under your husbands’ authority. This is appropriate behavior for the Lord’s people (GodsWord).
The wife is to submit to her husband’s authority as though she’s submitting to the Lord himself, for the husband’s authority over the wife comes from the Lord himself. Think about it: the wife is to submit to her husband the same way the Church is to submit to Christ! We honour God when we honour and respect his delegated authorities. Now, wives are not to be submissive only to godly husbands who obey the word of God; they are also required by God to subordinate themselves to the authority of those husbands who do not obey God!
1 Peter 3:1 IN LIKE manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives,
1 Peter 3:2 When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him–to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband] (AMP).
Yes, wives are to obey and subject themselves even to those husbands that don’t obey God. It’s not a wife’s business whether the man is subject to his own head or not- God will hold him accountable for that. Don’t tell your husband what he must do first before you’ll submit to him. You’re not his head. Your duty is to submit to him, not to argue and lay down pre-conditions for obedience and submission. Your very act of submission and your godly behaviour towards him, even in his rebelion to his head, can win him over to God, without you uttering a word! That’s what the Bible teaches!
1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands,
1 Peter 3:6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (ESV).
It is thus against Scripture to see a woman putting someone else above her husband! Sisters, your husband is your head, not your parents, not your pastor and not your prophet! To submit to a pastor and serve him subserviently, while ignoring and relegating your husband to the background is unbiblical! To bow down or kneel to greet a pastor, while grunting out greetings reluctantly to your husband is rebellion! To serve other men with fawning attention, while treating your husband like scum is the height of foolishness!
Some married women abandon their homes and husbands to go and take care of pastors’ homes, cooking for and taking care of pastors, while their own husbands and homes are neglected! Shame on such women! That is the same as unfaithfulness and infidelity! If a pastor teaches you to place him above your husband, that pastor is usurping the position of your husband! That pastor is already luring you into marital unfaithfulness! Your loyalty and submission are to be to your husband, and not to any other man! The moment you transfer your loyalty and submission to any other man, you have become unfaithful. You’re as good as an adulterous woman!
A warning against dangerous extremes of submission! The submission Scripture prescribes for the wife in the husband-wife relationship is not mindless, slavish subservience! The wife is not to be a muted doormat to be trampled upon, with no say in the home! To the contrary, a Christian wife is a Spirit-filled believer, has a mind of her own, is to be listened to, and is to actively make contributions in the decision-making process in the home. She has a lawful right to disagree with her husband when the man makes an unlawful, an unscriptural or an unwise decision, or when he tries to take the place of Christ in her life. The husband is only an adminstrative head to the wife, not her spiritual head! The spiritual head of every believer is Christ! When it comes to choosing between the commands of Christ and those of a husband, a woman should not think twice to disobey her husband! If a husband requests his wife to disobey the word of God in order to obey him, he has made himself an anti-Christ! The woman shouldn’t hesitate to disobey him in such circumstances! The husband’s authority is derived from Christ, and is legitimate only to the extent that the man himself is subservient to Christ! If obeying Christ rather than an unbelieving husband will make him depart, so be it! A sister is not under bondage in such circumstances. Your relationship with Christ is to be treasured above relationship with husband or anyone else for that matter! You’re to obey God rather than man, if you have to make a choice between the two! But, let your disagreement be done in a wise, humble, and respectful manner.
1 Corinthians 7:13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.
1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
1 Corinthians 7:15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace (NIV).
The Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,
The Acts 4:20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard (ESV).
Now, let’s turn to the man and his head to whom he’s to submit. We’re told Christ is the head of the man, even as God is the head of Christ. The husband is to subject himself to Christ, to obey his word and precepts, and to lead his family in the ways of God. The husband is to follow Christ as his family follows him. God expects every husband to be the family head, priest, pastor, shepherd, and guide, as he provides for his family spiritually, materially and emotionally.
Genesis 18:17 The LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
Genesis 18:18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
Genesis 18:19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him (ESV).
The man is to command his household to keep the ways of the Lord, by doing righteousness and justice. He’s to teach and display for his household the ways of God. His family is to follow him as he follows Christ his head. His authority over his household is a delegated authority from Christ. He would be failing in his duties and responsibility if he fails to follow and obey his head, who is Christ. The husband leads his family as he is led by Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (NCV).
The husband is to love his wife and family even as Christ loves his bride, the Church. Christ laid down his life for his wife and family, and the husband too, as the head of his household, is to love his family to the same degree! The mystery of the union and relationship between the husband and the wife is a type and reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church! The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church, and the wife is to submit to the husband as the Church submits to Christ.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Ephesians 5:26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
Ephesians 5:27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Ephesians 5:29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
Ephesians 5:30 because we are members of his body.
Ephesians 5:31 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
Ephesians 5:32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (ESV).
1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (ESV).
Finally, when a family unit discovers and follows God’s prescribed leadership, there will be peace and harmony. Wars and strife will cease. Contentions will be minimised. Inevitably, prosperity will follow, as the family will be united in purpose, vision and mission. When there is only one recognised captain in the family ship from whom everyone takes orders, and to whom everyone submits, there will be nothing that that family will not be able to achieve under God.
Genesis 11:5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.
Genesis 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them (ESV).
However, when a family is divided and there are multiple and divergent leaderships in the home, confusion and chaos will result. That family cannot stand. A foolish woman who fails to submit to her husband’s authority in the home will only destroy her home with her own hands. Rebellion against God and his delegated authority can never end well for anyone, especially in the home.
Mark 3:24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
Mark 3:25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand (ESV).
Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman builds her house: but the foolish plucks it down with her hands (AKJV).
In conclusion, the family is the basic unit of the Church and society at large. The relationships among the various subunits in the family should be based on love and submission. There’s a hierarchy of authority in the family: children are subject to their parents, wives are subject to their husbands, while husbands are subject to Christ. The various heads are God’s delegated authorities to ensure there’s law and order at home. Without loving leadership and reverential submission in the home, there will be chaos and confusion. Rebellion and disregard for the people God has placed above us is rebellion and disregard for God. However, when children obey and submit to their parents, when wives submit to their husbands and when husbands submit to Christ, God’s will will be done in families and there will be peaceful coexistence, harmonious living and prosperity at home, in the Church and in the larger society.