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Recently I heard it said that a Christian husband had to earn his position as head of the family and also to earn the respect that goes with it, the respect that is scripturally required of the wife. Presumably to earn it from his wife and from children if there were any. Whilst I realise the good intent of such statements, I do not consider them to be scripturally correct.

Scripture is very plain. In Ephesians 5 : 22-24 it is very clear that the position of the husband is one that is GIVEN and authorised by God - as a command. There is no mention of any qualification or of earning it. Other parts of scripture would confirm that. eg.

1 Cor 11:3, Gen 3:16, 1 Peter 3:1, 4-6.

If this assertion about earning headship and respect were true, then a number of things would follow.

1. The wife and/or children would have the right to judge the husband's performance and on this basis, be subject to him or not. This is exactly what Satan would like every wife to think. This would give the wife power over the husband. She could say that she would not agree to his headship because he had not performed to her satisfaction - as she thought he should. This would be quite against God's order of things.

2. The opposite would also have to apply. i.e. the husband who is supposed to love his wife unconditionally, as Christ loves the church, would be able to say she had to earn his love. How ridiculous! Every husband must love his wife, without her earning it. That is God's order of things.

Some consequences of this wrong way of thinking would be:

a. The husband's God given headship is undermined.

b. The wife's role as helpmate/follower is lost.

c. The wife may unknowingly or deliberately maintain an unauthorised authority over her husband. That is rebellion or witchcraft.

d. The wife may not show respect to her husband.

e. The husband may not love his wife.

f. The couple will be living out and ungodly relationship.

g. The couple would be much more open to Satanic attack, particularly in the case of the wife assuming unauthorised authority. If a wife removes herself from under the authority of the husband, i.e. outside God's order of things then she places herself outside the normal protection that she would otherwise experience from the covering of her husband.


God has designed things in the best way for both husband and wife and if either step out from his order - the man from under the authority of Jesus or the woman from under the authority of the man, then there are serious consequences, some of which will compound into worse difficulty. The whole thing is a case of using human reasoning instead of biblical authority.

If the wife doesn't trust the husband enough to let him lead, then the wife is in error. It is God that has given these roles and the wife must therefore trust Him for the outworking of this arrangement. If she does not, or wants to control what the husband does, then she is going against god, acting sinfully and subject to God's correction - if she will not accept it from the Bible or from someone else. Her basic problems are not with her husband, but with God.

I can understand that the woman's confidence in the man and respect for him would be consolidated as she saw him following Jesus in his life, but this should be a confirmation of the respect and not the initial basis for it, because it is a GIVEN from the Lord.

Likewise with the husband. He must trust God that his wife will act towards him as head of the family, because it is God's plan and order of things that it happen this way. if the husband does not love his wife as he us commanded, then he is in sin and subject to God's correction. The husband needs to trust God that His commandments to the wife are primarily subject to God. He needs to be loving even if the wife is not acting in recognition of the headship and shows no respect.


1. Knowing what scripture says and being obedient to it. Marriage responsibilities are God given and are not subject to the judgements of the husband or the wife.

2. Not allowing human reasoning or deception to influence against biblical truth.

3. Recognise that these are God's requirements of each of the partners and not the husband's and wife's requirements of each other. Both are responsible to God.

4. Correcting and errors that have been made, by acknowledging biblical truth, repenting and asking forgiveness of your partner and of God for the errors made.

5. Remembering that the basis of this principle is found in scripture - in a much more wonderous way. God loved us first, unconditionally. We have no capacity to love (agape) without Him loving us first, otherwise we would not have the agape to use on others. So, this is in keeping with the husband must first loving his wife unconditionally in order that she can respond to his love. Consequently, wives must respect their husbands. That is God's command for a gift from the wife to the husband, in order that he is given his correct place in the family, just as we must give God His correct place in our lives, in order that we can receive from Him

Ken Walker. Feb 1999