Thursday, January 8, 2009

What does it mean when the Bible says, "the man is head of the woman"?

"But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ." (1 Cor. 11:3).

In the Jewish and Christian culture when the Bible was written, there was a concept now called "Federal Headship." This means that the male is the one who represents his descendants. Proof of this can be found in Heb. 7:8-10, "And in this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him." Notice that it says that Levi paid tithes while still in the loins of his father Abraham. How did he do this? By proxy since Abraham, his distant "father" represented him.

Likewise we see the concept of Federal Headship in the fall. It was Eve who first sinned. But sin entered the world through Adam, not through Eve. Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." This is because Adam represented humanity and creation. When Adam fell, we fell. This is why it says, " Adam all die," (1 Cor. 15:22). Also, Romans 5:15 says, "For if by the transgression of the one [Adam] the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many."

Alright, so this brings us to the woman. Again notice that it says in Gen. 2:24, "For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." When a man and woman get married, they become one flesh. There is a unity between them. But, it is the man who is the head of the family which is why it says that the man is the head of the woman.

Some may think that this was a cultural notion that snuck into the Bible. But Paul makes it clear that the headship is related to the created order:

"For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels." (1 Cor. 11:8-10).

It was because Eve listened to the devil that the issue of order and hierarchy in the marriage relationship has had to be raised and explained.

“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16).

This headship is not about having the upper hand nor is it to mean that a woman has no rights or is a second class citizen. On the contrary, God tells the husband some very serious commands:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless." (Eph. 5:25-27).

Finally, the headship issue is an issue of order, not of who is better or more important. The husband is the head of the wife in the family and he has the responsibility of guiding his family to a closer relationship with the Lord. God will require it of him on the day when all our deeds are judged by God."

(This article is from the CARM website)


Tamela's Place said...

Hello Jeff,

Women seem to be more easily deceived than men, maybe it's because we are more naive and inclined to be to trusting and believe most everything we hear. Wheras it seems to me that men are more inclined to be led by their affections even when knowing better.

My husband loves me dearly and his affection for me is such that if i have a desire for something his desire would be to give me my heart's desire as to show his love and affection for me. I said that to say this: I truly believe that because of Adam's affection and love for eve he desired to give to her her request (sharing of the fruit, that is, as she so desired of him) even when he knew better.

That is just an idea that i thought I would share! :)

Jeff said...


Well, you are sure giving the benefit of the doubt to Adam!

I have learned that women and men reflect, except for their sin natures, different aspects of God's characteristics. Though things like women's lib, role-reversal, and the immorality of gays/lesbians/bisexuals are trying to change this (as well as men being partially or completely absent and failing to fulfill their roles as fathers, which leaves the mother to have to take on that role as well), in general, men are (or should be) leaders, protectors and providers. Women should be the nurturers and the ones who make a home a home, and not just a house. Women tend to be the affectionate, emotional, sensitive, romantic ones. The men look to the future to provide for the family's welfare, and this is why women have a God-given need for security. The women look at the details of the home. For example, at a dinner table, the woman is generally concerned with whether the place settings, napkins, utensils, etc., look right and are in the right place. The man could care less about those things: all he is concerned about is how good that steak is going to taste. In the workplace, statistics show that women tend to take things more personally, and men tend to treat business as business, and not take it so personally. Of course, there are always exceptions, and these are merely generalities. When it comes to attraction, men and women are generally different, too. Men are more attracted by sight; women are generally more turned on by touch. A man can look at a woman he knows nothing about, even a photo, and get turned on. A woman, in general, usually has to find out what the person is like first, before she can be seriously attracted to the man (though, of course, women can appreciate a good-looking man, but it's not quite the same as the way men are wired). Women also differ from men in their bone structure, in their internal organs, and even in the way they look at life. Women are not less than men, but their God-given roles are different, just as Jesus is not less than the Father (they are both God---two distinct Persons, yet one Being), but Jesus, when He came to Earth, took on a different role than the Father, and became voluntarily subservient to the Father, in order that He might become truly human (at the same time, also being fully God), and that He would be able to die for sins, and that He would show us the proper example of how we should be in relation to the Father.

Jeff said...

Also, again speaking in generalities, men tend to look at life through eyes of logic and common sense, and therefore, they sometimes come off as cold or insensitive. Women, on the other hand, generally tend to look at life through eyes of sensitivity, emotion, and feelings. That's why women generally seem to be more romantic, and that's at least partially why women tend to cry more than men. Said another way, men tend to focus more on facts, and women tend to focus more on feelings. And, as I said before, there are always exceptions, and most men and women probably have some mixture of both in them (most men and women are not 100% one way or the other, I don't think). Even their physical bodies reflect this same idea: men tend to be hard, women tend to be soft. When I was a boy, little boys would generally pretend to be soldiers or superheroes; little girls would play house. The role model for boys was the fighter/leader/protector. The role model for girls was the homemaker/nurturer/mother/wife. God created men and women to be two halves of a whole, and to balance each other, each playing a different role.

Jeff said...

There are many more examples of how men and women are generally different. When women get on a computer, they just want to do their e-mails and maybe play a little solitaire or some other game. Generally, women focus on e-mail or Facebook or things like that because they involve relating to others. If a woman has a job to do on the computer that is more business or project-related, she just wants to get it done. A man, on the other hand, can spend hours surfing the net, etc., where a woman will generally see that as a waste of time.

Shopping is another one of many more examples that could be made. When a man goes shopping, he wants to get what he went to the store for, and then leave (generally speaking). A woman will shop around, window-shop, look at dresses, etc., while a man would find doing that completely boring. If a man needs to buy clothes, he will buy what he needs and leave. He already has planned out what he's going to do, and he wants to stick to his plan. Women, on the other hand, find therapy and fun in shopping for clothes, and most women will generally take their time.