Submission: And the Dinosaur Called Headship

I hope that this title does not offend you.  I thought for some time about what to name this post, and dinosaur continually came to mind.  For years, I taught kindergarten, and one of the characteristics that I love about young children is the way that they make up their own definitions to explain what is in their little minds.

So in kindergarten style, here is my own definition.  Dinosaur: something that lived long ago, but is now extinct.  That was my perception of headship.

When I began on my journey into submission, I came face to face with the concept of headship.  What was this headship thing all about? It honestly seemed like a foreign language to me.  I didn’t understand it, and I couldn’t decipher it at all.  But something inside of me pressed me to understand.  What was it that drove me to understand?

What I had found as I studied submission was that submission and headship were inseparably linked.  Why do I say that?  It is because in Ephesians 5:22-23 the Scripture says:  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife.  What the Scripture was saying is that we are to submit to our own husband because he is the head. If I was supposed to submit to my husband because he is my head, then I knew I had to understand this truth.

The first thing that I did was to look at marriages of those around me.  I watched all the marriages that I could – young and old. I couldn’t observe anything that looked like headship to me. Where else could I look, I wondered?

I knew there was a parallel drawn in the Scriptures between Christ and the church and the husband and the wife, so I decided to look at churches and see how they were subject to Christ as their head.  Then maybe I would understand a little better. Was it just me, or was I missing something?  It didn’t seem that many of the churches that I was familiar with exemplified headship and submission.

Then, I went to the place that I should have gone in the first place.  I bowed my heart in prayer and asked the Lord to help me understand His Word.  Lord, I can’t see this truth in our culture and society.  I can’t see this truth in the marriages surrounding me.  And I can’t even see this truth in the churches that I know. Help me, Lord.  It is Your Word.  The command that You give me is to submit, and the reason that You give is that my husband is my head.  Please help me understand, straight from Your Word.

I got my Bible and my concordance and began to study.  The questions before me were: What Scriptures shed light on the relationship between Christ and the church regarding headship? And how is that relationship an example for me? 

I read and studied for some while, but quite honestly, I was not prepared for the answer that I found.  There were two specific verses that impacted me in a way that words cannot describe.  My eyes were opened. I saw truths that I had never seen.  How I was humbled!  I had missed these truths for all of my married life. What I learned that day was:  And He is the head of the body, the church: the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18

For Christ and the church, headship meant that Christ was to have preeminence. Applying this truth to the husband as the head, I could see that the husband was to have preeminence.  Preeminence means: first place.

Yikes! I thought. First place?  That meant that David was to have first place. I had to stop and take a deep breath.  I didn’t think that David had really ever had first place.  In the early years of my marriage, I was pretty sure that my own self had been in first place.  After our son was born, I knew that he had been in first place.  Lord, this is going to take a lot of work.  I couldn’t get away from the connection.  To the church, the headship of Christ meant that He was to be preeminent.  In the marriage, headship meant that David was to have first place.  Now maybe you can understand why I called headship a dinosaur.  Surely, this truth no longer exists today.

But this Scripture was not the only one that jolted me.  Here came the second one: And you are complete in Him, which is the head … Colossians 2:10.   What was the relationship?  The church was complete in the Head.  And, therefore, in a marriage the wife is complete in her husband (her head).  Yikes, again!!  Surely, this cannot be so!  Today, a wife finds completion in anything and everything besides her husband.  I fully understand that a woman can only find spiritual completion in The Lord Himself, but in the physical life that a wife lives, it is in being a wife to her own husband where she will find fulfillment.  Without a doubt, this truth, too, is surely extinct. Yes, certainly, headship is a dinosaur!

One more truth staggered me.  In Biblical circles, I had heard that the husband is the head of the home, and I do not disagree.  The man is the father, and he is the husband, therefore, he is the head of the home.  But look very closely at the Scriptures: For the husband is the head of the wife!!!!  Wait! Wait! Wait!  I could see that our son needed his dad to be the head.  And I wanted David to lead, to take care of problems, to make sure that we had adequate income, etc., but the Scriptures clearly said that he is the head of the wife. Now, that is going a little too far!  But if we understand the church as the bride of Christ, then indeed, He is the head of the wife!  My thoughts were reeling!  Maybe this is the way that things were in days gone by, but we are liberated now, right?  The head of me?  Dinosaur again.  Never to return, I’m sure!

But then there came some type of freedom, to which I return often, because it truly “liberated” me.  It was here, in this passage on headship in Ephesians 5 and in the headship passage in 1 Corinthians 11, that I realized that both passages return to the creation account in Genesis BEFORE the fall. As the Apostle Paul expounds the truth of headship, he returns to God’s perfect creation!  Again, I say that God’s ways are so much higher than our ways that we can never understand nor attain to them, but by His marvelous grace.

May I fast forward a few years? I began with baby steps to walk in these truths that The Lord had taught me.  Arranging my life around David, attempting to put him in first place, serving alongside of him as a help and companion, I found a fulfillment such as I had never known!  It was truth.  It was truth, indeed!  Make no mistake, I fail and falter regularly.  I get distracted with many “good” things outside of my home, but I have never found a greater satisfaction than when I walk in the truths of headship and submission.  It is there where I find rest, peace, contentment, and fulfillment.

And guess what else I discovered?  Though they are few, there are some other Christian women who seek to put their husbands in first place, submit themselves to their own husbands, and willingly serve as a help meet for them.

I have decided that headship is not a dinosaur after all.  I will agree that it is probably on the Endangered Species list, but no, it is not extinct!  Truth is still alive!  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever!

One thought on “Submission: And the Dinosaur Called Headship

  1. Beautifully written! I appreciate you sharing this. I struggle with submission and headship, but am striving toward being the wife God has called me to be.

    I’m visiting from the Women Living Well Wednesday blog hop.

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