Each of us plays a variety of roles every day in our lives. Some of those roles are based on the relationships we’re in, as examples: You’re a mother, you are a father – those are roles you’re in because of the particular relationship you have with your children. 

In a Christian Marriage, God Himself has established particular roles for husband and wife. This episode begins the exploration of the husband’s role in marriage.


Each of us plays a variety of roles every day in our lives. Some of those roles are based on the relationships we’re in, as examples: You’re a mother, you are a father – those are roles you’re in because of the particular relationship you have with your children. 

As another example, some of our roles are based on positions that we’ve been given while others are based on talents or skills that suit you for that role. There are a wide variety of names that could be given for these various roles: President, manager, brother, friend, guitarist, drummer, you know, things like that. Those are all roles in specific environments. And of course, the list could go on and on. 


Roles are important because they’re part of the way that groups and relationships are organized. It’s the way that we function. 

Without roles being clearly defined, we lack clarity and sometimes we lack purpose. Think of a business office where there’s not a manager and there’s not a secretary… those roles have never been clearly defined or assigned. When the phone rings, who’s supposed to answer the phone? Who’s going to follow up on a sales lead? Who is going to handle the needs of a customer who calls to make a complaint?

Roles are not only a very practical thing, they are necessary. We can’t function well without them.

Here’s the important thing for this discussion of roles within the Christina marriage: the idea of having roles isn’t something we humans came up with, it’s come from the Lord. He is the one who has perfect wisdom in how to order the world and order our lives. He started assigning roles for marriage partners way back in the Garden of Eden, back when Adam and Eve were first created. 


As we look at the key scriptures that relate to marriage, we have to understand that God’s the authority. As the divine designer of marriage, what He says about the way we are to fill the roles that are needed is what goes. We are not at liberty to change them. Of course, we can make the choice to change the roles to fit our preferences, but if we do, we shouldn’t expect that it’s going to turn out well. Marriage wasn’t designed in a way that the roles are interchangeable between husband and wife. 

So a quick reminder to start off is this: What the Bible says regarding the roles in marriage, is what goes.

There are many ideas swirling about related to the roles each partner takes on in a marriage. For that reason, we need to go back to the basics. As man and woman, husband and wife, ytou need to be able to see things clearly. The Bible is the source from which we can gain that clarity. So do your best to leave your past experience in the past. Let’s not bring up what you’ve heard people say about marriage roles. Let’s not bring up what you might even be doing in your own home right now.

Let’s start at the beginning of what God says, and that will help us to have clarity of where we should be going with our roles.

You know, we’ve learned over time that it makes sense to value God’s opinion about the things He’s established… more than anything else, more than what our culture will say, more even than what our own parents might say, because He’s the one who made the world that we live in to work in the way that it does. So if He tells us that certain things need to be ordered in a certain way, it’s, because it’s the best way for it to be. Think about all the orderly things He’s created — gravity, the water cycle, the orbit of the planets in the solar system — all those things function with clockwork kind of precision, reflections of His wisdom and power. If those things didn’t function in the orderly ways that they do, we would have disastrous results.

The very same thing can happen in the roles that we are in as human beings, in our marriages in particular. If we arrange our relationships as husband and wife in a way that’s outside the parameters God’s laid down, it’s not going to function the way that it should and will have detrimental outcomes.

And a little encouragement along that line… if God has created roles for us as man and woman, husband and wife, then He is ready to help us to fulfill those roles. So if anything God instructs for you as the husband or as the wife, seems hard to you, God is right there saying…

“I’m ready to help you. I just want you to be willing and ready to obey Me. Let My Holy Spirit guide, teach, and empower you. If you do what I tell you, you will be blessed because your marriage will work as it is designed to work.”

And as you learn what God says is best for your marriage, you may feel fear or pride or anxiety rising up. If you do, submit those to the Lord, for His Spirit to examine them and to help you determine what’s going on inside. That tension you feel is a gift, to remind you to turn to God for help. It could be that you’re experiencing the things that you are because of your background or because of some incorrect ideas you have about men or women or a host of other things. God’s word is going to serve you as an anchor, a source of stability when it comes to the questions you have about the roles within your Christian marriage.

So let’s commit together as we start to take what God says at face value, and to work to understand it very clearly.


There are some things that apply to both husband and wife, and the Bible makes these things very clear.

First: Neither the husband nor the wife are appointed to the role that they are because of skill, or education, or intelligence, or even desire. The roles we are assigned as husband or wife were designed to fit us as male and female. That’s something we have to be very clear on. Our makeup as male and female is what suits us for the roles God assigns us. We all are wise to admit that men and women are different. We’re wired differently. We have different strengths. We have different weaknesses. We have different perspectives on the world. 

Those differences are design features, not flaws or failings. They are things God built into the equation so that each of us can fulfill the role He’s given us. 

And again, if there are times when we don’t feel like we do very well in our role, or we don’t feel cut out for it, those are times when we need to depend on the Lord. Ask Him, “Help me to fulfill my role the way You want me to.” Realistically, in light of what God says is best, it doesn’t matter if we FEEL like we are capable of fulfilling our role as wife or husband. Hear that clearly: It doesn’t matter what we feel. It matters that God is there and He’s going to live through us to empower us to do our best in that role as we trust Him to live through us (Galatians 2:20).

When we accept our particular role and trust the Lord to empower us by the Holy Spirit to maximize that role, it’s not only going to bless us and our home, it’s going to bless all of those around us. Because again, we’re functioning in the way God has designed for us to function, and optimal results come out of that.


The easiest way to say this is that the husband’s been appointed by God to take the role of leader in the marriage relationship. We can see this truth described in the pages of Scripture.

Ephesians 5: 23 

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, His body and is Himself its Savior.

There is a similar passage in 1 Corinthians 11.3. It says…

I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

In both of these passages, the way that word “head” is used, is the same way that we often use the word in our own culture. We’ll say things like “head coach,” or speak of someone who’s the “head of a company.” When we use the word “head” in that way, what do we mean? That person is the leader, the one that sets the course and that everyone follows. They are in charge, and the one ultimately responsible for the organization and its direction and impact.

Ephesians 5 makes this clear by way of comparison. It says, the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church. Look carefully at the comparison being used to clarify the extent of the husband’s leadership responsibilities: There’s no question that Christ is the leader of the church, right? We all know that. Paul is saying that in the same way, the husband is the leader in the marriage relationship. The words are simple. They mean what they mean. We shouldn’t have any trouble understanding what he means.


It’s important here for just a moment to take a little side detour to talk about a principle of good biblical interpretation. When we have a passage like this that’s comparing two things, we need to be careful that we focus on the main things that the author is pointing out by way of the comparison. In this case, his point is that as Christ is a leader for the church, so the man is a leader for his wife and home. Paul doesn’t go into a lot of detail about the specifics of what that means, so we would be wrong to say, “As Christ is spiritually superior to the church, therefore the man is spiritually superior to the wife.” We can’t go there because Paul doesn’t say that, he’s only making a point about leadership. The comparison is about leadership and that’s all it’s about. And he uses the word “head” to make the point.

COMMON OBJECTIONS TO MALE LEADERSHIP (that honestly don’t hold any water)

BAD ARGUMENT #1: “Head” doesn’t mean “leader”

Some New Testament scholars have a problem with this… believing that since the idea of male leadership sounds so chauvinistic, or domineering, or oppressive to their modern-day hearing and sensibilities, that CAN’T be what Paul really meant. So they begin questioning the Word of God rather than letting the Word of God teach what it does on the subject. Toward that end, one of the objections that comes from the New Testament scholars is that they’ll argue that this Greek word for “head,” which is used in both of these passages, doesn’t really doesn’t have an idea of authority or leadership. They’ll point to a few examples in ancient Greek texts where the word “head” is used to designate the source of something, like the headwater of a river.

Now the problem with that argument is it’s simply not being honest with the facts about the ancient Greek texts. Thus far in the study of ancient Greek literature, and we’re always discovering more things as we discover ancient manuscripts, there have been 2336 instances of the Greek word “kephale” (translated “head” in English) being used in documents including the Bible and outside of the Bible. Out of those, only ONE of them convincingly means “source” and it is talking about the head or the source of a river in that context. But all 2335 other references use the word to mean “leader” or “authority.” 

So if you hear someone saying, “Well, the Greek word actually means ‘source” not ‘head,” they’re either ignorant or they’re not being honest with what the text really says when Paul said that God intends the husband to be the head or leader of the wife. It’s a certainty from the Greek text that he meant to teach that the man is given a leadership role in the relationship.

And let’s be honest: there are many times when something that God has commanded as a good thing us applied terribly wrong because of man’s sinfulness or ignorance. In other words, some men misunderstand what it means to be the head of their wives and lean toward abuse rather than responsible care and protection. When this happens, we have to be wary of the human tendency to say, “Oh, that the husband shouldn’t be the head because he is abusing his wife. He is domineering. He is not caring for her.” Do you see what’s happening in a situation like that? We’re tempted to change the clear teaching of Scripture just because a human being messed up the instruction that God has given. That’s backwards. You’re trying to get rid of the bad thing by throwing out the good thing altogether. That’s not only wrong, it’s pretty stupid.

The best approach to a situation like that is to prevent the bad behavior, or correct it, and stick to the principle that God’s Word has taught. Every time we go back to the very simple beginning of the command that husbands should be the head like Christ is the head, then that solves the problem. 

So let’s be clear — a husband’s leadership role does not give him the right to be domineering, controlling, mean, intimidating, or abusive, because the one he’s supposed to model his leadership after, Jesus, is not that way. 

BAD ARGUMENT #2: Male leadership is a result of sin, not the way God intended things to be

Many of the same people who wrongly insist that the Greek word for “head” means “source” will also say, “When Adam and Eve were created, God didn’t create them to function under male leadership. That came about after the fall, it’s a result of sin.”

But is that true? Let’s go back and look at Genesis 3: 6 and verse 9 to find out how GOD saw the issue when He set it up originally. 


So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. And she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.

Okay, so this IS pre-fall, or could we say, “mid-fall.” This is as the fall is happening, the original sin is being committed. Who committed the original sin? Eve, the woman. We’re not pointing that out to cast blame, but to highlight something that God does in verse 9. 

GENESIS 3:9-10

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, Where are you? And he said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

Who does God call to account for the sin? It wasn’t Eve, who committed the original sin, it was Adam… her head, the one responsible in God’s eyes. That seems a little unfair, doesn’t it? From God’s own attitude and response about what happened, it’s pretty clear that Adam’s the one who was on the hook. And as we go on through the New Testament, we’re going to see the apostle Paul discuss the way that sin came into the world in these same terms. 

In 1 CORINTHIANS 15:21-22, Paul says, 

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

If this doesn’t mean that Adam as the leader of the family, as the leader of the human race, was responsible for the entrance of sin into the world, then it makes no sense at all, because Adam wasn’t the one who sinned first, yet he’s the one who’s held accountable. That’s because he was the one GOD saw as the responsible party, the leader. Romans 5:12 tells us the same thing…


Therefore just as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, so death spread to all men because all sin.

Again, he’s pointing to the man, not the woman, as the responsible party. 


1) Cooperative relationships don’t work well without clearly defined leadership.

In a husband-wife relationship, we need to know who the leader is. We need to know who GOD SAYS the leader is. When we know that, then we can order our relationship rightly and carry out our roles properly and diligently. Those are things we’ll dig into further in future episodes. For now, it’s important for us to simply understand and accept that the man’s the leader in the relationship.

2) God arranged the marriage relationship this way to work the very best that it can. 

When He made men and women and placed them into relationship together, He did so in a way that would best utilize each of their unique natures. He created male and female and appointed them roles within the marriage to correspond to each other in a complimentary way. Mindi and I fit together. We are complementary to each other.

Back in Genesis, where God talks about making Eve as a companion for Adam, He says, much more than, “I’m going to make a friend or companion for you, who is like you.” No, He says, “I will make a helper fit for Him.” 

That phrase “fit for him” literally says (in Hebrew) “corresponding to him,” complementary to him. The man and woman who get married are intended by God to be complements to one another. They fit together like puzzle pieces, like hand in glove, they work together. It becomes a beautiful, God-glorifying relationship and it’s all for the good of both husband and wife — not to mention their family and community. There’s nothing negative about it. Our marriages will work best when we do it God’s way. 

By contrast, if we don’t do it this way, our marriages will not work well. It will not be a good thing. And that’s why many times marriages don’t stay together because the husband and wife are not understanding and fulfilling their roles as God intends.


#1: Ask God to align your heart and mind, and even your desires, with His on this issue of roles. Make it an ongoing prayer, especially if this is something that you are struggling with or you know you’ve had an issue with. Ask Him to lead you to accept and embrace what He has designed, for your good. And ask Him to make your marriage exactly what He wants it to be in this regard. 

And that can go for men or women. You may think that it’s more commonly going to be the woman who’s resisting the idea of the husband being the leader. But it’s not always the case. Sometimes the man doesn’t want to be the leader. He wants to shirk that responsibility. He feels intimidated by it. He feels afraid of it. So, man or woman, it doesn’t matter. Ask God to align your heart with His way of thinking on these things and step into it by faith, just like we have to take every step in life by faith, trusting God to act. 

#2: Examine any feelings of resistance you may have to this idea. How does what you feel square with what the Bible says? This is an addition to the first assignment, just digging a little bit deeper. God wants us to examine what’s in our hearts because that will help us to bring to the surface what could be causing issues in our behavior. So these are good things to be thinking about and praying about.


LISTEN SEPARATELY then set a weekly appointment to discuss what you’ve heard, pray about what God may want YOU to adjust or implement, then plan how you will do so.

LISTEN TOGETHER: Set a standing weekly date to listen together, pray over what you’ve heard, discuss, and strategize how to implement relevant things into your relationship.

DO THE HOMEWORK: The more you invest, the more you’ll grow and experience God’s blessings!