Biblical Headship (02) - In Marriage
Biblical Headship in Marriage
Genesis 2:7-25 - 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground. . . The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 2:17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat . . . 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” . . . 2:20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 2:21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 2:22 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 2:23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
In this series we will consider the biblical idea of “headship” as it applies to redemption, marriage, raising children, and the church. Last week we saw the foundational example of covenantal headship in Adam and Christ (Rom. 5:12ff). Adam is the “head” of natural humanity, but Christ is the head of a new humanity (Eph. 2:12). Headship is not limited to the spiritual and invisible realm. It is paralleled in the world of marriage and family (1 Cor. 11:3).
In marriage, the principle of headship arises from the creation account of the first marriage (Adam and Eve). Adam was created first, then is given the prohibition against eating of the Tree of Knowledge, later to lead Eve in this obedience. Adam is then charged with dominion, naming the animals. Further the fall is through “one man’s sin.” This all demonstrates the primacy of Adam and his headship over his wife.
Adam’s headship does not devalue women, however. The image of God is reflected in both genders: “in his image. . . male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). To demonstrate the complimentary relationship in marriage, after finding no suitable helper in the animal kingdom, Adam truly needs Eve. Eve is a special creation from the side (rib), not from the foot of Adam and henceforth every man will be birthed through woman. This is a picture of Trinitarian interdependency in the created world. The creational design of marriage also emphasizes unity. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” The NT emphasizes the parallel between Christ as head of the Church and the husband as head of the wife. The husband is to sacrificially love the wife which places the task of covenantal leadership on the husband, while the wife must be submissive, obedient and respectful. Adam and Eve failed in both of these roles which is brought the fall in sin and misery. Yet Christ and His bride will succeed in both of these roles (finally) which will fully undo the fall.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more