In the beginning, it was not good for man to be alone. He needed a wife to complete him, to help him take dominion over the world. God designed a husband and wife to work together as a team – each with different roles, each complementing and completing each other. As each spouse fulfills the role God created for them, together they become one in the way God designed, a beautiful unity which has a far greater impact on the world than each can alone.
God designed the husband to be the head of the family. This does not mean that the man is more valuable, nor does it mean that he is the dictator – it simply means that the husband was created to be the one responsible for the family, and the wife was created to be his helper.
And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body.
So, the question is – what does it mean for the man to be the head of the family?
Being the head of the family does NOT mean that the husband is a dictator, ruling with an iron rod. Jesus made it very clear that we are not to rule over each other like the dictators of the world.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
How do the dictators of the world lord it over those under their care? First, they exercise authority for the sake of their own selfish desires. Second, they exercise authority in order to gain glory for themselves. And third, they exercise authority simply because since the beginning men (and women) have had a desire to be in control, and to have power over others. Husbands should not exercise authority in these ways.
Instead, this is what it means for the husband to be the leader:
1. The husband should be the first to serve. Jesus displayed that the one in authority should be the servant of all by washing the feet of the disciples (John 13). A husband should use his leadership to find ways to serve his wife, and minister to her. He should live out love in real ways by “washing the feet” of his wife every day.
2. The husband should not exercise authority for the sake of his own selfish desires, but should sacrifice himself for the sake of his wife. He should lead in what is best for his wife, with true love that gives of itself for what is best for her.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; because we are members of his body.
Christ gave his life for the Church – so we as husbands should give up our desires and lead in the ways that are best for our wife.
3. The husband should not exercise authority in order to gain glory for himself, but should honor and lift up his wife. His should lift up and exalt his wife instead of tearing her down for his own glory. Just as Christ humbled himself for the sake of the Church, so a husband should humble himself to exalt his wife.
Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.
4. The husband should not exercise authority for the sake of power, but should lovingly make the decisions best for his wife and his family. This is the authority Christ displayed, who embraced even the cross in order to win His bride.
5. The husband is the one who is RESPONSIBLE for the family. In the beginning, God made Adam first, and then gave Eve to be his helpmeet. Adam was the one responsible for taking dominion over the earth. Every decision a husband makes should be made with love and honor, but in the end he is the one who bears the responsibility for the family, and he must lead in what is best for the family.
6. As the one who is responsible for the family, the husband should provide physically for his family. God calls a man to put his family above any other ministry or calling; his family is his first and primary calling.
But if any provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.
But I would have you to be free from cares. He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and is divided.
This is not to say that a man who is out of work is worse than an unbeliever, but one who ignores his family for the sake of some other “calling” is not being a leader in the way God wants him to be.
7. As the one who is responsible for the family, the husband should lead his family spiritually. He should have a real relationship with God, so that he can help his wife and his children in their relationship with God.