It is evident in the creation story of Genesis that the woman is equal to the man. She is his partner, there to help him carry out the plan of God for their family. But in every couple, family, team, organization or entity, roles are given to enable it to function properly and to avoid dysfunction. Being the head does not mean one is superior. For example, the captain of a football team is not superior to his teammates. Likewise, because the man is the head of the family does not mean he is superior to his wife; he has simply been positioned as the head by God.
Ephesians 5:22-33 goes into great detail about the man’s headship in the family. It is a role of great responsibility. The ultimate message is that the man is to treat his wife as Christ treats the church. Of course, Christ gave his all (his life) for the church so that he “might sanctify and cleanse it” and “present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle…that it should be holy and without blemish” (v. 26-27). So as the head, we are not to serve as dictators over our wives but instead we are to give everything we have (the equivalent of Christ giving his life) to help our wives become all God has called them to be. Just as Christ empowers and equips the church to do God’s will and shine in the world, we are to empower and equip our wives to fulfill their God-given purpose in the world. Christ also puts up with the faults and shortcomings of his bride (the church), so let us be willing to do the same with our wives. After all, we are told to love our wives as we love ourselves.
We also must realize that God tells wives to submit to their own husbands "as unto the Lord'' (Ephesians 5:22). The phrase "as unto the Lord'' does not mean God wants the wife to put the man in the place of God or to view her husband as God; that would be idolatry. The Bible is clear that humans are not to worship other humans, that we are to worship no one but the true and living God (Acts 10:25-26, Acts 14:11-18). Instead, "as unto the Lord'' means the wife is subject to us as we are subject to the Lord. In other words, if a husband is telling his wife to do things that go against the Lord and the Scripture, the wife is not to do them, for her ultimate submission is to God not to a man.
This does not mean we are the heads of our home only in "spiritual matters,'' but it does mean that our leadership in all areas must be in line with Godly principles and done with an attitude that is Biblical. We are to lead our homes in a way that is loving, compassionate and strong, not in a way that is selfish and abusive. This should be reflected in the rules and standards we lay down and the manner in which we institute them.
Finally, being the head of the home includes protecting our family. Christ, of course, gave his life to save the church and we ought to be willing to give our all to save and protect those in our family. Just as we feel safe and secure in the arms of our Savior, our wives and children should have emotional, spiritual and physical security in the home we lead. As stated, this means protecting them not only physically but also spiritually. As we shall see in the next aspect of manhood (Priest of the home), we are to protect them from spiritual forces that could hinder their joy, peace, righteousness and relationship with Christ.
I. The husband has been given the role of leader/head in the household
A. This does not mean the husband is superior
1) Defined roles are necessary for families, churches, etc. to function properly
B. Our wives are equal partners with us
II. There is great responsibility in being "the head''
A. Men are to love and treat their wives as Christ treated the church
1) Christ's goal for the church is to help it become holy and reach its full potential in God
2) Likewise, our household leadership should be done with the goal of helping our wives and children be Godly and reach their potential in Christ
3) We should love our wives as we love ourselves
III. Our wives submit to us as we submit to The Lord
A. We are not to be worshipped or viewed as God by our wives
B. Our leadership must be in line with Biblical principles and values
IV. We are to protect our family
A. Emotionally, spiritually and physically
POSSIBLE DISCUSSION QUESTION/TOPICS
I. Have we as men often misunderstood and/our abused the notion of men being the head of their homes and wives submitting to their husbands?
II. What can we learn from Christ's model of leadership?
A. What are ways we can help our wives (and children) reach their full potential in Christ? What things have worked/not worked for you?
B. What household rules could/should we have to achieve these goals?
III. How can we lead if the wife refuses to let us lead?
IV. What models did we see in our own lives? Was our father the head, or was our mother the head? How did our father lead?
V. What are some practical ways in which we can lead our household?
VI. How can we create an environment in our home that makes our wives and children feel secure?