Head and Helper in Marriage: Who is the Sous Chef?

I am leading a Biblical Womanhood group right now, and we’ve been fleshing out what Genesis – and the rest of the Bible – have to say about how God designed us as men or designed us as women.

We’ve talked about how the genders are designed with equal value, and we are both given the task of loving and leading creation by creating more people who believe in Jesus. All of this with the help of God Himself, of course.

But there was an order in creation – Adam was created, and then Eve. Not only that, but Scripture is clear that even though Eve, the woman, was deceived in the garden, God holds Adam responsible for not stepping up to the plate and leading his partner and himself away from Satan’s temptation (Genesis 3:8-9).

1 Corinthians 11:3 explicity says, “Now 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” (NIV). But we don’t know what this word “head” means! We think of “head” and our mind races to ways women have been treated unfairly. So we cry NO! I want no head! I want equality!

But notice that Christ Himself submits perfectly to the Father in the Trinity. This headship is not inherently a bad thing. It is simply the structure of relationships that God chose to use, in His perfect wisdom. Once we pervert it with sin, then it becomes something treacherous, something that God did not intend.

While God made Adam the head, Eve was created as the helper. And notice that the Holy Spirit is also called our Helper (John 14:16-17). This helpership is not inherently a bad thing. But again, I think we misunderstand it.

I have only touched on this sensitive concept, but I want to use an example to illustrate how we do not know what headship and helpership is.

In our Biblical Womanhood group, a friend said that when her and her husband are doing something together, if she’s better at the task, she sometimes wonders if she’s doing the wrong thing by doing more of the work or having more of the ideas, etc.

And I would say NO! God designed each of us with strengths and weaknesses, and they often compliment the strengths and weaknesses of our spouse! So you and your spouse as a team should come up with how that works itself out. If your husband is better at cooking, and you, as a team, decide that he’s going to lead in that – awesome! If your wife is better with the finances, and you, as a team, decide she’s going to roll with that – awesome!

To the women, I would say make sure you’re giving your husband the room to lead. To the men, I would say make sure you’re leading! When something is out of whack in your home, it’s your job to take the initiative.

I have a personal example, too. 😉 Brad, my husband, while he can cook, cannot plan to cook. If he made our meals, he would go to the grocery store before each one, get the groceries, then come home and cook. This would be a little bit challenging for a family who is always on the go!

So while I was having my baking day, I asked if he wouldn’t mind being my sous chef for a bit. He very happily filled the role for me, chopping candied ginger, strawberries, and butter. Just look what he did for me!

Not only did he help me, but he actually got to play the knight in shining armor because cutting candied ginger is a pain!

Bottom line: we have a lot of emotion attached to the words “head” and “helper” – but if we fill the roles as God intended, we will be an example to the world. An example of how God loves us through Jesus:

…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27, NIV)

8 thoughts on “Head and Helper in Marriage: Who is the Sous Chef?

  1. Donna kaminski

    Great reminder! I remember when I first began learning this I REALLY struggled with it! Especially because my husband was not learning this with me! Though he is a believer, he didn’t generally live “the Christian” life. Not that he was all that bad, but had a condescending attitude toward me. Thinking that I had to “submit” to THAT was very scary! Feeling in my heart that it was because I tolerated his poor behaviour and that’s why were were in the trouble we were in. Not realizing that it did not mean “accepting” bad or poor behaviour, but becoming confident enough to know that I was who God said I was & that meant I didn’t need to play the power struggle role any more. God would fight my battle as long as I was obedient to His Word. That taught me that I couldn’t change him… only God could & He is faithful! Our marriage isn’t “perfect” but like the complicated workings of a fined tuned car…it’s finially up & running! Glory be to God! Thanks for this great article!

    1. Stephanie Post author

      It is such a hurdle – especially if your husband isn’t being the spiritual leader he needs to be! I have a post in my head about this, so hopefully I will write it in the next couple of weeks! 🙂

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