Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin (Gen 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Cor 11:7-9).
It’s pretty interesting how there is a strong alignment of God’s perfect Creation and the New Creation.
Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man 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.”
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
- v18 – Man is alone and needs a helper.
- v19-20 – God shows one way how man is tasked with authority and dominion over the animals by naming them (from prior Genesis 1 “dominion over all the earth”).
- v21-22 – God creates woman from man.
- v23 – Adam’s statement parallels naming Eve (headship authority) and covenant vows.
- v24 – Marriage is a man leaving his parents (independence), forming a new family unit with his wife (cleave), and becoming one flesh (covenant).
Paul in Ephesians 5 references the Creation in Genesis several times, much like he does in other passages in the Scriptures (e.g. 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Timothy 2, etc.).
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands and wives are to emulate Christ and the Church, which also emulates Adam and Eve’s Creation. Adam:Eve::Christ:Church::husbands:wives.
- Gen 2:19-20 – God sends Jesus to take back dominion over all the earth as the Messiah. Jesus passes His mission on to Christians (Matthew 28) to be co-workers with God (1 Corinthians 3).
- Genesis 2:21-22 – Eve was formed from Adam, so too the Church is formed from Christ. Christians are partakers in the New Covenant through Christ’s sacrifice for us. His blood washes away our sins to those who repent and follow Him, and we remember this through His body and blood (communion).
- Genesis 2:23-24 – Jesus departs from God and is to be joined to His bride, the Church. He is the head, the Savior of the body, just as Eve was formed from the body of Adam and Adam is the head.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
Genesis 2:16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
Genesis 3:17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;
Christ loves the Church for the purpose of sanctification. Where Adam stumbled, Christ reigned. Husbands are to emulate Christ as the head over their wives by teaching and helping them to be sanctified unlike Adam did with his wife.
Ephesians 5:28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.
Like in Genesis 2:21-22, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies — like Eve who was fashioned from Adam, and Christians who are saved by Christ’s sacrifice through His body and blood. They are one flesh with their wives through covenant, and must treat them as themselves.
Ephesians 5:31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
Finally, like in Genesis 2:23-24, the covenant of marriage is reaffirmed both in reference to Adam and Eve in Genesis and Christ and the Church. A husband is to treat his wife as part of his body (Adam and Eve, Christ and the Church) and a wife must respect/reverence/fear her husband as he is her head (as Adam was Eve’s head and Christ it the Church’s head).
Headship was originally created for Adam and Eve by God in order that they fulfill their mandate on the earth to take dominion, be fruitful and multiply, tend to the garden and obey God by not eating of the forbidden fruit. Similarly, headship functions in the similar way with Christ and the Church and husbands and wives in the New Creation in Christ.