But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ,and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (I Corinthians 11:3 NIV)
Today we begin our discussion on one of the most unpopular passages in the book of I Corinthians. Members of secular society despise this passage, and others like it in the Bible, for saying that men are supposed to have authority over their wives. The critics, both male and female, argue that the Bible tries to enforce de-humanizing submission on those that it deems to be the lower classes. However, what these critics fail to understand is that true love is virtually impossible without submission. The Bible gives guidelines for Christians to submit to God, to government, and to the appropriate family members so that we can learn humility and love. The self-centered philosophy of our current age is powerless to fix the world’s many problems. The commentators claim to oppose war and strife, and yet they are always applauding the “me-first” attitudes that cause such conflicts. There will never be peace on this earth until we each learn our place and focus first on meeting the needs of others rather than our desire for pre-eminence.
In the passage above, the Apostle Paul gives us a spiritual command structure in the family. It starts with God the father, who is the head of Christ, who in turn is the head of every man, who in turn is the head of the woman. The woman must submit directly to her husband, who must submit directly to Jesus, who must submit directly to God the father. The reason that the woman must submit to her husband is not that she is spiritually inferior to him; she is equally a child of God. The reason that Christ must submit to the Father is not because He is inferior to him; both are equally God, members of the trinity. The structure is based on different roles. The Father and the Son have different roles in the trinity, and likewise the husband and the wife have different roles in the family. It is wrong for any member to refuse to submit to the one who is over them, just as it is wrong for the one over them to refuse to perform their individual responsibilities to the one under them. We do not get to choose our role. We must faithfully give orders or obey them as God has ordained. There are many women who would rather not submit to their husbands, and there are many husbands who would rather not lead their wives, but personal preference does not excuse either of them from the role that God has created for them. We must each fulfill our role in order to show our submission to God and our genuine love for others who depend on us. We must not fight and quarrel over who has the most important job, but we must each cheerfully do the task that God gives to us, looking for opportunities to genuinely serve others and glorify God, not for opportunities to bring attention and praise to ourselves.