What are the roles of the husband in a Christian marriage?

The primary roles of the husband are that of love and faithfulness (Gen. 2:24; Mark 10:6-8; 1 Cor. 7:2-4).  Monogamy, not polygamy is our divine template for a divine marriage. Gen 2:24 states “…and they shall become one flesh.” There is something sacred about exclusivity in marriage.  Why?  Because marriage is a covenant between two people, “male and female”, whereby God is the binding force between the two individuals bound by marriage and God.

Another role is that of authority.  The Bible tells us “To the women He said: I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16)  The word “rule” here literally means to have dominion over.  Although man has authority/dominion over his wife, it is not an abusive and neglectful authority.  It is instead an authority of love, reverence, and respect.  In fact, Paul makes the parallel of the husband to Christ’s role to that of the Church. Paul states 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the Body.  24Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.  25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loves the church and gave Himself for her…” (Eph. 5:23-26).  “Headship entails not merely nurture (though it does that; see Eph. 5:29), but also a position of authority.  This authoritative position of the man is a function, not of intrinsic merit or worth on his part, but of God’s sovereign creative will (and is perhaps reflective of God’s authority in light of His revelation of Himself as Father).  Hence, the husband’s leadership, as well as the wife’s submission, is to be exercised within the orbit of grace rather than legalism or coercion.”[1]


Husbands are to have the utmost respect for their wives; Peter gives husbands the following instructions: “Husbands, likewise dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Pet. 3:7).  Husbands are to relate to their wives with understanding, while at the same time giving them honor and treat them with fragility.  Why?  So that your prayers may not be hindered.  If the relationship is out of step, and unity in Christ is not at the forefront of the relationship, the prayers of that relationship will be stifled and hindered.


God has called the husband to be faithful to his wife.  The wife is to be the target and recipient of all of the husband’s affections.

The Husband Should Regard His Wife as Himself

Because the women was created out of the man, man must regard her with the same regard he has for himself.  Genesis 2: 23 states “And Adam said:  This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.” Proverbs 13:22 makes it crystal clear “A man who finds a wife, finds a good thing.”  When a husband regards their wife with such high esteem, the need for disrespect and needless arguments greatly diminishes.

 The Husband Is To Be Faithful

Proverbs 5:19 gives the husband the following instructions: “As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.”   The wife is the only interest of her husband, so much so that the husband is always satisfied with her on every level.  There is never a need for the husband to seek out the companionship of another woman because his wife is all encompassing and the fulfiller of all of his needs and desires.

What are the roles of the wife in a Christian marriage?

To Love Her Husband

“That they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus 2:4). Wives are to love and obey their husbands so that the Word of God may not be blasphemed.  The word blaspheme is derived from the Greek word blasphēmeō which means “to vilify.”  There is righteousness, a holiness if you will, for the complete love that a woman has for her husband.

To Respect Her Husband

“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (1 Pet.3:1-2). For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:34).  Through a wife’s respect for her husband, she will gain his respect.  A wife can transform her husband if he is a non-believer, by her behavior and not just mere words.

“The fact that wives are called to recognize and respect proper authority over them is not unique to them.  Men too must submit to Christ, local church leadership and discipline, the civil authorities, and their employers.” [2]

To Be Faithful to Him

“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor. 7:3-5).  Like the husband, the wife is obligated to make her husband the only object of her affections.

The Wife is Submissive to Her Own Husband

Ephesians 5:22 informs wives too “Wives to submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”  The wife is to submit to her husband the same way she submits to the Lord.  Those who have (both men and women) problems submitting to others are typically not yet completely submitted to Christ.  When completely submitted to Christ, it is much easier to submit to your husband.  The same rings true for husbands. When they can submit fully to Christ, they tend not to have a problem submitting to authority placed over their own lives. I Peter 3:1 echoes Ephesians 5:22 “Wives likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word may be won by their conduct of their wives.” 

Specific Issues of Male Headship and Female Submission

Male headship defined: Male headship is that of love, honor, and respect for his wife.  There have been cases where men misinterpret the Bible to fit their own agendas.  To have authority over one’s wife does not imply, nor mean, that she is the husband’s own personal property and slave.  The husband must see the wife the same way Christ sees His Church; through the eyes of love and compassion.  Christ is not an ego driven slave master towards His Church.  Although the temptation may be there at times to abuse one’s authority, one must keep their ego in check by loving their wife like Christ loved the Church, ultimately giving His life for His bride.

Female submission defined:  Female submission is that of respect for her husband, she willingly and submissively follows her husband, as her husband willingly and submissively follows Christ.

Wifely submission is first birthed out of love and obedience to God’s Word.  If one loves God and is submitted to God, the godly women will have no problem submitting to her husband.  When Christ is the center of the relationship, and both the husband and wife are submitted to Christ, this is the winning formula for a winning marriage.

[1] Köstenberger, Andreas J., and David Wayne Jones. “No Longer Two, But One: Marriage in the New Testament.” In God, Marriage, and Family Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation, 59. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2010.

[2] Köstenberger, Andreas J., and David Wayne Jones. “No Longer Two, But One: Marriage in the New Testament.” In God, Marriage, and Family Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation, 59. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2010.

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