Marriage as Completion: Gender Roles (Part 2) – Gospel in Life

Marriage as Completion: Gender Roles (Part 2)

Tim Keller |  October 6, 1991

Download Agreement

By downloading this file, I confirm I understand Gospel in Life's Copyright & Permissions policies and agree to only use this file for personal usage and will not upload it to any third-party platforms.


  • Marriage
Ephesians 5:22-33
FM 1-8


We’re looking at a subject that’s controversial. I’m going to try to speak as personally out of my own experience as I possibly can. Yet it’s still an area to think carefully.

In our series on marriage, we look for the second time at Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.” What does this mean? It means a whole lot.

Let’s look at what this passage teaches about the head: 1) head means the husband and the wife complete one another, and 2) head means there is an authority structure inside marriage.

Ephesians 5:22–33

Today, we’re talking about a very personal and sometimes controversial subject. We’re looking at Ephesians 5:21-33, where it talks about wives submitting to their husbands. This part of the Bible tells us that the word “head” means two things. It’s about how husbands and wives complete each other, and it’s about the structure of authority in a marriage.

1. Being the ‘head’ means completion

When the Bible says a husband is the “head,” it’s saying he’s both an “authority” and a “source.” This reflects how we, as humans, can be like God. When Eve was created from Adam, it showed us that men and women are different but they need each other. They become one when they marry. While men and women have different ways of thinking and feeling, they need to support and complete each other, while still being themselves.

2. Being the ‘head’ means authority

When the Bible talks about wives submitting to their husbands, it doesn’t mean wives should just do whatever their husbands say. It means wives should support their husbands’ leadership, as long as it aligns with what God wants. Rather than the wife being submissive, both husband and wife should work together to make decisions, using the Bible as their guide. The goal is to create a loving, committed relationship like Adam and Eve had.

3. The idea of ‘headship’ teaches us about our relationship with Christ

Christ loves us deeply and intensely, even though we make mistakes. Just like we would do anything for someone we love, Jesus does everything for our good. When we give up control and accept His love, we find that we become whole again. Just like a husband should be to his wife, Christ is our Helper, our Head, and our ultimate Spouse.



The Girl Nobody Wanted

By Tim Keller

Marriage as Commitment and Priority

By Tim Keller

Marriage as Ministry Power

By Tim Keller

June Book Offer

Deepen and Strengthen Your Marriage!

Marriage is one of the most profound human relationships — but it can also be one of the most challenging. So Tim and Kathy Keller designed a devotional book for married couples to use together.