Ephesians 5:23 clearly shows the husband as the head of the family: “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is Head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body.” Unfortunately, the biblical meaning of headship is often misunderstood and abused. Let us examine the true meaning of headship.
SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY: A GOD-APPOINTED SERVICE
Sin entered the human race at the Fall (Genesis 3). The chaos and brokenness resulting from sin caused a need for right order to again be established. Thus, God has appointed that specific authority (rulership) be given to certain people. Because this order of authority is from God, it is therefore good (see Romans 13:1-7). But what people do with that God given authority and power is not always good.
God places people in positions of authority for the good of those they serve: to protect them from harm, guide them with wisdom, and rule well over them to keep order and peace. Consequently, God strongly disapproves when people misuse their authority and power for their own selfish gain.
Whether it is in government, at a job or in a marriage, those who do not carefully and wisely use their authority will come under judgment. Each man, as a husband or a citizen (or leader) of a nation, will give an account for how he has used the authority God has given him.
The authority given by God is on temporary loan from God to mankind. He releases to mankind particular authority – within clearly defined scriptural limits -for the purpose of keeping order while we come into full and total submission to God. Once all of mankind is in full subjection to God at the “end of the age”, there will be no need for the same system of authority that we now have on earth. All authority will be back in God’s hands (1 Cor 15:20-28).
In the meantime, God has set up a system of authority for people to follow. One position of specific authority established by God is that of a husband in his home.
THE HUSBAND’S AUTHORITY
God has given authority to the husband to be head in his home (Eph 5:23). This authority is always to be used for the best good of the wife and children. It is NOT to be used to serve a husband’s selfish desires. A husband is not a dictator or tyrant, whose every wish is to be unquestionably obeyed. His wife and children are not his slaves, nor his possessions. They belong to God, and the husband is charged to carefully and lovingly “rule over” his household as a good steward (Luke 12:42) of what belongs to God.