Get Your Head on Straight

get your head on straight

“But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3).

God is Head of all.  No matter how many intermediate heads exist they lead in a chain to God.  The woman is under the man who is under Christ who is under God.  Headship for the woman isn’t limited to the man but God is her ultimate Head just as He is the man’s.  For the woman, the man is AN authority, not THE authority.  Yet we sometimes understand authority this way.  Considering how fallible a man can be it is easy to understand a woman who feels this is a disappointing and unfair arrangement.  The man is subject to Christ, who is perfect, while the woman must submit to a man who is flawed like herself.  Why shouldn’t she be the head?

Paul tells us Adam was formed first (1 Tim. 2:13).  He says again in 1 Corinthians 11:8 that woman came from man.  “Head” in Greek doesn’t just mean one who rules but who is source.  Man’s headship, as Paul sees it, has to do with man being woman’s source.  But again, we can’t say man was THE source.  Eve was taken out of Adam and made of his very substance.  But God removed her and fashioned her.  God remains her ultimate Source and Head.  This is why Paul says, “For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman.  But everything comes from God” (1 Corinthians 11:11, 12).

Paul also says the woman and not the man was deceived (1 Tim. 2:14).  It is easy to think Paul is saying the woman is inferior for being deceived and was demoted.  But since she was never source, she couldn’t be head, even in a world without sin.  We assume hierarchy began at the fall because God told Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16).  But really, man was already source and head.  What changed at the fall was the nature of headship.  Since man was no longer under Christ his authority became worldly: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers…lord it over them….”  But of His authority, Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:42-44).  The quality of the man’s headship changed but the fact of it was not new.  There is hierarchy within God Himself, and its presence in people is part of God’s image in us.

“But everything comes from God” (1 Cor. 11:12).  Since God is ultimate Source and Head, all become one in their relation to His headship.  We are submitted to each other in our various roles, but all ultimately submit to God and are equal in their submission to Him.  “And masters, treat your slaves in the same way.  Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him” (Eph. 6:9).

After discussing headship in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul moves on to communion.  The death of the Lord, remembered in the bread and cup, is the heart of our submission to each other and to God.  Jesus didn’t cling to His divine form but “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Php. 2:6, 7).  Submission is based on the spirit of Christ, who gave up His equality with God so that God’s will might be done.  Men shouldn’t think their headship is based on inherent superiority.  It is simply by God’s order and choice that man was created first and became head of woman.  Neither does the woman submit because of inherent inferiority.  She submits to her husband because God is her ultimate Head.  She recognizes it is God’s design (and not her husband’s superiority) that she submits to.  She says, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

On the flip side, unless the man submits more deeply to his wife than she to him, he is not in the image of Christ his Head.  After Paul talks about how Christ humbled Himself “even to death on a cross” he says, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place” (Php. 2:9).  His exaltation is rooted in His self-sacrifice.  In type of this, Adam was put in a deep sleep, a form of death, before Eve was taken from him.

The Lord’s supper brings out our essential union in the Lord.  Whatever our roles—husband, wife, boss, employee, pastor, sheep—we are one in Christ, dependent on the redemption of the cross.  We are equal in our need to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53-57).  The one New Man—Christ—is greater than any member, and the body is greater than the authority of any member over another.  Ultimately, the headship of any man is instrumental.  It is the ministry of Christ through the man to the woman.  She belongs, not to the man, but to Christ, of Whom she is a member.  “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

26 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Mr Teague, You post some great articles and 99% of the time they are edifying and I enjoy them very much, but this one is disappointing and seems a very convoluted way of justifying the idea of spiritual hierarchy, both in marriage and in the Godhead. The word ‘kephale’ does not mean both source and head. Nor is gender a ‘role’. There is ample scholarly agreement that ‘kephale’ means ‘source’, which has a totally different meaning to ‘head’ as we understand it in the English language as one in charge. Neither is there a sound Biblical basis for believing there is hierarchy in the Trinity. I won’t go into further detail here as I realise these are arguments where people hold very entrenched opinions on both sides, and one can spend pages on them. The Biblical evidence against the ‘submission of women’ teaching is available if one wants to research the subject. I simply wanted to register my strong disagreement with what you’re teaching in this post and sadness to see this among so many other great posts.

  2. mrteague says:

    Cheryl, first let me thank you for your feedback. I knew this would be a risky post & might generate some disagreement. I really don’t feel entrenched on one side or the other on this issue, so I’m open to discussing it, which is why I appreciate your comments.
    My research on the word kephale has led me to believe it encompasses both the idea of source and hierarchy. So, agree to disagree on that, I suppose 🙂
    From my perspective, this issue isn’t “either/or” but “both/and.” When it comes to God, I firmly believe His nature encompasses both hierarchy and union (or equality, if you like). To embody God’s image, we need to express both hierarchy and union. This is true in marriage and in the church. I see plenty of evidence for this throughout scripture. I realize people tend to favor either hierarchy or union, and I think this is too bad. We tend to think dichotomously, and God is beyond our dichotomies. Over the centuries people have struggled with other paradoxes of God: How can Jesus be God AND man? How can Jesus be Spirit AND body? How can God be three AND one? I see this issue the same way. We struggle to see how God can embody hierarchy and union, so it’s easier to pick one or the other. More than anything, I think my post is attempting to address both sides of this dichotomy. Anyway, I am really sorry to disappoint you. My prayer is that God will make these points clearer to both of us as we press on to take hold of Christ (Php. 3:14-15).

    1. Thanks for your straightforward and honest reply Mr. Teague. I think it’s a mistake to try and hold the idea of hierarchy and union together and anyone doing so will inevitably lean more to one side than the other. You may have intended the post to address both sides of the dichotomy but it is clear that a belief in hierarchy both in the Godhead and in the marriage relationship is foundational to what you are saying. For those who believe that scripture proves there is no hierarchy between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is actually no struggle to see how God can embody hierarchy and union, so no need to pick one or the other. For many years I was heavily involved in denominations that teach the hierarchy view but after much research, prayer and scriptural study have formed the belief that traditional hierarchy and submission teaching has much more to do with culture, tradition and convenience than scripture. For several years now I have been ministering to women who have been deeply damaged emotionally, physically and spiritually by the traditional teaching on submission in marriage. The idea that to embody God’s image we need to express both hierarchy and union has no scriptural foundation, but I realise opinions on this are formed based on how we view the creation of man and woman and the first three chapters of Genesis, and from what you have stated I can see we would have very different readings of those chapters.

      I know we both know how to do the research and we are not going to change each other’s views on this, and that is not actually my intention. Due to my involvement in teaching classes online and in seminars on this very subject I feel it’s important to speak out on behalf of the women I minister to, and say ‘hey, this that you have been traditionally taught is not the only view.” Many of them do not know that.

      Thankyou for the opportunity to express a different view and discuss this important subject. I will leave it there because the subject is very wide and time consuming. I hope anyone reading will simply take the time to look into what we have discussed for themselves, trusting the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.

  3. mrteague says:

    Cheryl,

    My heart is with those who have been damaged by fallen expressions of authority. This is a difficult topic because many people have been hurt or know someone who has been hurt in this way. When authority functions as God intends, it is a blessing & a beautiful expression of Jesus’s sacrificial life. When it doesn’t function right, it’s tragic & gives the enemy ground to slander something God created for good.
    I am glad you are ministering to women, especially when they have been hurt by men who lorded over them. I am saddened because men often fail to care for women. In marriage, especially, we are to nourish & cherish our wives as our own selves, & as Christ does the church (Eph. 5:28-30). I pray that people would be healed as Christ lives through you 🙂

    Would you be willing to do a guest post on The Voice of One in which you share your views on this topic? Or is there a post you’ve already written on this that I can reblog? I think it would be beneficial. Please consider that & let me know 🙂

    1. I do hear your heart Mr. Teague and we are of the same mind regarding the misuse of authority, just on a different page about how that authority has been delegated by God. I have many articles, published and unpublished on this very wide topic so I will certainly prayerfully consider your invitation and get back to you soon. The topic of women’s role in the church and home is very wide, so it would be helpful to know which part in particular you are referring to, ie. are you specifically talking about submission in marriage, or hierarchy etc.?

      1. mrteague says:

        I was thinking something that deals with similar topics to my post. Your choice. Email me at thevoiceofone@gmx.com.

  4. Cathy Patton says:

    more thoughts… we are the bride of Christ, a bride denotes a female companion of a male. Christ is the head in this relationship, we are supremely loved & He has given Himself for us, yet He is the lead & we are to follow (be subjected to His lead). Is earthly marriage a foreshadow of this? Is there a heirarchy of sorts in the spiritual realm as well as the physical? I believe so… The Father will subject everything to the son, except Himself. 1 Cor 15:27 reads: “God has given Him authority over all things, except it does not include God Himself, who gave Christ His authority.” I’am over expressing this post because I see the church falling away from it’s long held roots. Homosexuality is being welcomed in many so called churches, which is expressly forbidden, yet coming in under a deceptive guise of “love”. Sometimes ppl can be so learned that they become fools and overlook the simple straightforward text of the Bible.

    1. mrteague says:

      Cathy,

      I agree that marriage is a shadow of Christ & the church. 1 Corinthians 15:27 is also a very relevant verse to this discussion so I appreciate your bringing it out. Cheryl, again, will probably have a different take on these things.
      I too am concerned about the church’s response to homosexuality. Our mission is to express the grace & truth of Christ to homosexuals. That means maintaining our stance that homosexuality is sin. It also means welcoming sinners & compassionately guiding them to repentance. This way, they can come to know God’s forgiveness & transformative power.
      Regarding your last comment about people being so learned they become fools–I assume you’re not applying this to Cheryl. That would be a mistake because, as I said in my last reply, I don’t think Cheryl is trying to reason around what scripture says. I think she is honestly grappling with the scripture like the rest of us. As a general rule, I won’t post comments that disparage another believer. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt. I believe you are just trying to contribute some honest dialogue, & I welcome that. Thanks again for stopping by 🙂

      1. Cathy Patton says:

        I enjoy a lot of Cheryl’s post & consider her a godly woman! I do, however, feel passionately that we as Christ followers, need to live The Word & follow the Holy Spirit’s leadings. We have a real enemy & it’s not each other or scriptural greek word translations… Bless You!

        1. mrteague says:

          Amen to that! Blessings to you too!

          1. Hi again Cathy,
            If you follow my posts you will know that I much prefer to be sharing revelation than information. In other words, I too get a bit fed up with the focus on Greek words, translations etc. I believe one of the main roles of the Holy Spirit is to interpret scripture for us and I rely heavily on Him to do so.

            However, in the case of the subject matter we have been discussing in these posts, unfortunately many words and phrases have historically been interpreted inaccurately. I bring these inaccuracies out because there are women who have been so damaged and abused by the misuse of scripture that they really don’t know there is a God who loves them and infinitely values them. I’m glad that has not been your experience, but I hear from far too many women for whom the Bible has been used as weapon over them. The abuse they have suffered has seriously distorted their view of God, and also themselves. I hope this helps you understand why it is sometimes necessary to go into the Greek to English translations and also bring in some cultural understanding as well.

            We do have a real enemy and too often believers with differing views on these subjects forget that. That is why I so appreciate Teague’s generous and gracious spirit in opening up his blog to me. I can assure you there has been no hostility between us and if anything we have a deeper respect for one another due to this important dialogue.

            Thanks again for your contribution!
            CM

          2. mrteague says:

            Amen, Cheryl 🙂

    2. Hi Cathy,
      Thanks for your contribution. Yes, we as the church are called to be the Bride of Christ and the first created man and woman were actually ‘types’ of Christ and His Bride. It is a metaphor. But we, both men and women, are also called to be the ‘sons of God’ and the “Body of Christ”. What I am trying to point out here is that there are metaphors in the New Testament for God’s people that are not gender based…..thus men can be the Bride and women can be the Sons.

      I believe Christian marriage is a shadow of Christ and His Bride but there is a point where the metaphor ceases. Ephesians 5:23 is the key verse. No need to go over what has been already said in my response to this post about the word ‘head’. However, the end of that verse states “and He is the Saviour of the body.” Men are not the saviours of their wives bodies, so the metaphor about the Bride ceased at “Christ is head (source) of the church”. The final part of the verse is about the Body, not the Bride. Part of the problem, as I see it, is that we take the metaphor of the male representing Christ too far. Christ is the Bridegroom and the Saviour. Married Christian men are the bridegroom, but not the saviour. A shadow is a shadow, but it is not the substance and not the full picture.

      I am not here going to respond to your comments about homosexuality except to say that I agree fully with what Teague has replied to you on the subject. I find whenever the issue of gender relations between men and women comes up for some reason people seem keen to bring in the homosexuality issue, as if somehow it’s related. Frankly, I’m a bit tired of the ‘woman’ issue being hijacked that way. My response to Teague and my subsequent article was on the subject of female submission in marriage, and hierarchy in marriage and the Godhead. I do have very firm views on the homosexual issue, similar to what Teague has expressed, but in this instance I would prefer to focus on the subject at hand.
      CM

  5. Lydia says:

    Hi Teague. I am an African woman who went through the online course with Cherly and I cannot quantify what that course did for me. It in a way set me free and helped me clearly understand who I am as a woman in God’s eyes. As you may know, traditions in Africa play a very key role in relations. Boys are viewed as superior to girls right from birth. This coupled with the teaching of hierarchy in churches places women in subservient roles not only in their homes but also in the church. After all “even God say’s so.”Cheryl teachings might not appeal to many but I believe they are timely, biblical, and very much need especially in places like Africa where the interpretation of the Bible is badly skewed in favor of men.
    Blessings. Lydia

    1. mrteague says:

      Lydia,

      Thanks for your comment. I am happy for the freedom you have come to know in Christ. It is wrong for us to view men as superior to women. After all, Genesis says, “In the image of God He created them; male & female He created them.” So the image of God is expressed in men AND women. I also agree that mutual submission (as Cheryl puts it) is a very large part of human relationships. I would submit that by entirely rejecting hierarchy we are missing some aspect of who God is. Obviously, fleshly understandings of authority pervert God’s intention & cause damage. That is tragic. The answer, in that case, isn’t to throw out this aspect of God but to know & express Him as He is. I appreciate you adding to the conversation, & sharing your experience. As a side note, our church has a couple sister ministries in Africa. I’ve always wanted to go there but the Lord hasn’t opened the door yet. I pray He does 🙂 God bless!

      1. Hello Lydia, ‘jambo’,
        It is good to hear from you again. I’m glad to know you are going on strong in your new understanding of who you are in Christ since taking part in our online course. In Kenya, and all across Africa, some parts of God’s word have been mixed with the cultural traditions where women were (and still are) treated as inferior. That is why it is so important that we continue to get the message out to African women, and men, that this is not God’s way. We are doing our small part in that through our Women for the Nations Kenya associates and through individuals like yourself who are now able to share ‘a word in season’ whenever the Holy Spirit gives you opportunity. Thanks so much for joining this discussion.

        Teague, I hope you can get to Africa some time. I recommend it. It will change your life. You said “I would submit that by entirely rejecting hierarchy we are missing some aspect of who God is.” True to form, I would come from the opposite end of that statement and say in injecting hierarchy into the Godhead we miss the aspect of God that is perfect Oneness. We also miss understanding God’s perfect plan for human marriage, which is ‘one flesh’. In perfect unity there is perfect agreement, hence submission becomes redundant. Just saying…. 🙂
        CM

        1. mrteague says:

          Cheryl,

          I understand what you’re saying. Of course, I don’t think I’m missing anything on oneness. As you know, I believe hierarchy & oneness can exist together, paradoxically. To me, I’m bringing a third option to the table (other than hierarchy OR oneness). However, the majority of people commenting don’t seem to think that option is REALLY possible. So, I’m just not going to worry about it 😉 If I were forced to pick a side (mind you, only if I was forced), I would definitely throw my lot in with all you mutual submission/union types. That’s the side to err on, in my opinion 🙂

          1. Thanks Teague, I understand.
            No ‘forcing’ around here though. We’re all very submissive 🙂

          2. mrteague says:

            LOL. It would seem so 🙂 Thanks.

  6. Lydia says:

    Teague,

    Thank you for your response. I hope that the Lord will open for you ministry opportunity in Africa. Am glad Cherly has had a first hand experience and understands how important it is for the African church to get a right interpretation of these biblical concepts. I am a victim of this misinterpration and have seen countless broken homes, spiritually broken women, and abuse that is often backed by scripture.
    Blessings, Lydia.

    1. mrteague says:

      Lydia,

      Yes, I agree: when men are viewed as better simply because they are men, this is unbiblical & damaging. I am again, sorry for what you & others have suffered because of deception. The Lord heal you & your sisters!
      Teague

  7. Hi again Lydia,
    It’s important that you know that you are heard, so I hear you! The tribal cultures were already biased against women in most parts of Africa, and from what I have seen on several trips, along came the Western church and added a church hierarchy on top of the culture that was already there. Thus where there was a culture that was based on the rule of a chief, it was very easy to simply transfer that fleshly kind of hierarchy into the church and the pastor, bishop, or church leader just continued the role of a chief, only with a spiritual face. This also has repercussions down the ‘chain of command’ for Christian marriage in Africa.

    I have seen this pattern repeated over and over in African churches and can only say I am deeply sorry that the Western church (generally speaking) did not model a Christianity in Africa based on servant leadership and Christ like humility. Thankfully God loves the African peoples dearly and the Holy Spirit is moving in many places to redress this.

    I’d just like to add also that while in Africa the down treading of women in general and also in the church is very evident and outward, we also have our cultural problems in Australia and I suspect in the USA also. It is usually more subtle and covert in our cultures because we have laws that try to keep us politically correct, but speaking as an Australian I can say there is real historical cultural bias against women in this nation too. That is not to say that the problem for women here is anything close to what I have seen in Africa, but I want you to know that it is not perfect in the Western churches either and much too often scripture is used to oppress women.

    From what I know of Teague I believe he is one of the rarer men who, while he may not agree in full with me regarding headship in the home, sincerely seeks to live out what he believes in a spirit of humility and servanthood.
    CM

    1. mrteague says:

      Thanks, Cheryl 🙂

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