The most beautiful part of God’s creation is mankind, whom God Himself declared was made “in our image.” God made them male and female, equal in His eyes in spiritual worth but designed differently to excel in different functions. While complementary in nature, Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God has led to frequent bickering and disputing between marriage partners.

  • Genesis 2:18 (ESV): “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’”
  • Genesis 2:22 (NKJV): “Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.”
  • Ephesians 5:33 (CSB): “To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.”


WHEN A COUPLE DANCES, the male leads and the female follows, but when skilled dancers perform, all eyes are on the female. She makes the graceful, beautiful moves, the spins, the jumps, the poses — the fancy maneuvers. 

Adam and Eve in perfect symmetry

Every now and then, the male will shine, but his role is different. He’s given a support function: lifting the woman, guiding the woman, holding the woman … presenting the woman.

 Here’s how the dance breaks down …

>If the man is not smooth, fluid, and gently firm in his leading, it doesn’t matter how graceful the woman is, the dance will fall apart. 

>If the woman can’t be led or resists following so she can take the lead, the dance will be awkward and, potentially, even dangerous.1

With this as backdrop, I want to take you now to Genesis, Chapter 2. 



God created man (Adam) from a clump of dirt. He created woman (Eve) from living tissue.  

Man was alone in the Garden, surrounded by inferior life forms and having communion only with God, a much superior life form. 

The beauty of God’s creation

Woman was greeted by an equal life form, someone who was “comparable,” a man who loved her immediately. She was received, honored, and treasured.

Yet, despite their equality — and God told them they were equal — it must have been obvious to both of them that they were different. After all, they were naked. 

Since God made it clear they were equal and clear they were different, there was an obvious conclusion:

They were complementary, not interchangeable, they were made to fit together as one flesh … metaphorically like hand and glove, physically to reproduce, or complementarily as Headship and Submission.

Our relationship as man and woman mirrors the relationship of the Father with the Son and Holy Spirit, as well as Christ and the church, as well as the relationship of God and Man.  

Paul called it “a great mystery” (Eph. 5:32).


MOVING WITH GOD is very much like this dance. When we are led by the Holy Spirit, it opens the possibility for beautiful, wonderful, and powerful things to happen.

God loves to dance.

We’re designed to be God’s dance partner.

Feeling the melody, the rhythm, the music

When we struggle over leading and submission, the  movements are never what they could have been.

We are out of synch, and the dance breaks down.

In our walk with Christ, we are learning how to dance and move with Him, so we may reveal Him to the world. This can only happen by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, teaching us how to dance with God. 


HEADSHIP AND SUBMISSION. Leading and following. Loving and respecting.

As we watch the dance, we hear the music. Sometimes, we focus on just one instrument — maybe a trumpet or clarinet, a violin or guitar, some percussion, possibly a saxophone or flute, a cello, certainly a piano. Other times, we enjoy the blended mix and resonate to the numerous harmonies. 

Of course, there’s always a conductor leading the musicians to keep everyone in synch.

Just as we hear the music when we watch the dance, so, too, we watch the dance as we hear the music, so that the dance becomes the visual image of the music.


FOR MARRIAGE TO WORK as God designed us — male and female — the partners need to dance, to flow together, the male leading and the female following, even though all eyes are on the female. 

We miss something very important if we focus on male headship as the prominent role, and female submission as merely secondary or dependent. 

Both are equally important, and just as the male was designed by God to lead, so, too, the female was designed by God to respond, to shine, to flourish — not to be subservient or a doormat or a servant — but to radiate. To be the center of attention. To reflect God’s glory, His beauty, His grace. 

But the woman can shine properly only if she is led properly … and only if she submits properly.


A bug captures the essence of marriage — a hard exterior shell (male) protecting the vulnerable interior lifeblood (female)

THE MARITAL RELATIONSHIP, when understood  properly, is like a bug — a hard protective covering on the outside, with a soft life pulse on the inside. 

The male is the head, the protective shield — while the female is the heart, the vulnerable protected interior.

So as we unpack this “headship” and “submission” stuff, let’s let the Bible tells us how to proceed. 



The Bible tells us not to conform to the world but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds — in Christ — and that to love the world interferes with our love for the Lord. 

Looking for God’s answer


The world tells us its norms and values, and we see they conflict with what the Bible says … so,  naturally, we conclude that one of them must be wrong; the world concludes it’s the Bible. 

Why? Well, the most recent writing dates 2,000 years ago but stretches back another 1,500 years, whereas today’s thinking is current, modern, up-to-date. Plus, everyone is on board with the world’s values.


WHEN BELIEVERS COMPARE the world’s values with the Bible, they also see a conflict, yet believers conclude the Bible is correct and the world is wrong.

What are believers to do?

Jesus tells us we cannot serve two masters, for we will love the one and hate the other. His half-brother James tells us not to be double-minded, we can’t believe and disbelieve at the same time. 

So, it’s clear that for believers, we will follow the Bible. 


NOW, LET’S GO to Ephesians, Chapter 5. In this heavily quoted text as a guide to marriage, we’re told that man is the head of the woman, that man leads and woman follows, that man must love his wife, and woman must respect her husband and submit to him. 2

What women and men most desire (2)

That is tough language and difficult for us to unpack without some consideration.

So, why Ephesians, Chapter 5? What happened between  Genesis, Chapter 2, when Adam and Eve, in their innocence and purity, enjoyed the dance, and Ephesians, Chapter 5, when God, through Paul, spoke sternly about our marital duties. Why was this lecture necessary?

The answer is found in Genesis, Chapter 3. Chapter 3 tells us how the dance broke down, how Eve bucked  Adam’s authority, how Adam failed to protect Eve, and how both Adam and Eve blamed God for their failure.

God immediately announced His remedy. We find it mentioned first in Genesis, Chapter 3, but it’s repeated in various forms throughout the Bible, but the part that concerns us most today is found in Ephesians, Chapter 5. 


HERE WE LEARN that man is mandated by God to love His wife. We know from psychology and just our own experiences, that women want/desire/need to feel loved to feel secure.

We’re also told that woman is mandated to respect her husband. The same sources tell us that men need to feel admired/respected/congratulated to feel their worth, to feel qualified, to feel complete.

Paul makes the same point more succinctly in Ephesians 5:33 (NLT): “Each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”


NOW, LET’S SUM UP, looking at the parts that fit together to form the mosaic, the intricacy of small puzzle pieces that, when properly placed, produce a completed image.

Complementarity is God’s design for Adam and Eve — two equal partners designed for different roles.

As we look at the parts that make up headship and submission, we see the dance, the integral pieces, the oneness of two distinct but equal beings, their mutuality, their subservience and respect, honor and love … and their closeness, a closeness that is possible only with two equal but different parts, where one’s strength mirrors another’s weakness, and vice versa.

The summation of this essay is this: “headship and submission” do not mean, as the world tells us, that the male is dominant and authoritative while the female is secondary and pliant.  

Instead, we need to see headship and submission the way God designed us, the way the Bible tells us. 

To see that, we need to go back to the Garden, to those precious initial moments when God, basking in the glory of His fresh creation, presented Eve to Adam, the crowing moment of the Creation Story.

Eve is the glorious one in creation, the cherry atop the sundae, the beautiful one, the gracious one, the emotionally vulnerable one …

… and Adam? Adam is the worker, the one God will hold responsible for success and failure, the protective one, the provider, the hard shell, the leader. The sacrificial leader.


THINK OF JESUS whipping off his outer cloak, filling a wash basin, and cleaning His disciples’ dirty, dusty, smelly, sore feet, lovingly massaging their aches and pains.

That’s what Headship looks like.

Now think of Jesus, stripped, beaten, and nailed to a Cross, obeying the Father’s command for our sakes.

That’s what Submission looks like.

In both cases, Jesus was glorified. 

We, men and women, are called to do the same. As we play our parts as designed by God, we bring glory to Him.

We’re called to dance … with our marriage partner, with fellow believers, and with our God.

For those who are led by the

Spirit of God

are the children of God.

–Romans 8:14 (NIV)


Headship and Submission build Partnership

ALMIGHTY GOD, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we love Your creation, how You’ve fashioned  us, male and female, in Your image, to be Your image bearers on earth. You made us as man and woman to enjoy headship and submission, both in obedience to You. Heal our hearts, O Lord, from the sin that distorts that beautiful image of Adam and Eve, of our first parents, enjoying The Dance, feeling the music, moving their limbs, entering into embrace with each other and with You. Restore us, O Lord, to where we once were as You promise us future Eternity in Paradise. In Jesus name we pray, AMEN


1Dance story adapted from “God’s Dance, The Beauty of His Romance,” from Phill Urena’s book, REDEFINING GRACE, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., ©2020, Kindle edit., pp 147-149.

2Image from Emerson Eggerichs’ book, LOVE AND RESPECT, Thomas Nelson Publishers, ©2004.


The tale of three men presents an interesting paradigm as each one relates to Jesus, the Christ of God. JUDAS spent three years in ministry with Jesus, yet never believed; BARABBAS was condemned to death by crucifixion, yet was released as Jesus took his place on the cross; yet THE THIEF, a life-long scoundrel suffering in agony while stapled to a torture chamber — the cross — came to see that the Man in the middle was the Jewish Messiah and believed.

JOHN 10:10 (NKJV): “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

JOHN 8:24b (BSB): “Unless you believe I am He, you will die in your sins.”


WHAT A SPECTACLE. Here is Jesus brought before the Jewish leaders, then before the Roman authorities. He is mocked, spit upon, beaten, then turned over for crucifixion.

Jesus Carries His Cross

We read of three men who were impacted deeply and eternally by His suffering.

  • One man — Judas — had spent three years with Jesus, hearing Him teach, watching Him heal, and even being empowered himself to heal broken bodies and cast out demons, tratorously betrayed Him. In remorse, he returned the blood money the Jewish leaders had paid him, then hanged himself.
  • Another man — Barabbas — was freed from the dungeon and the penalty of crucifixion he deserved, and left the scene, amazed at his good fortune, but no record of his gratitude or repentance. Perhaps he resumed his life of rebellion and was killed in a later skirmish.
  • A third man — the thief — who presumably had led his short life stealing property from other people and was sentenced to die on the cross, an agonizing punishment of slow death from asphyxiation. Yet, while hanging from the tree in tremendous physical pain, he recognized Jesus as the Messiah, as the Son of God, and believed.

Of the three men impacted deeply that day by Jesus last moments, the thief alone was assured of eternal life through God’s grace. “Today,” Jesus said to him, “you will be with me in Paradise.


WHAT DO WE SEE when we look around us? At this holiday time especially, many of us have our best opportunities to gather with family and close friends to share meals, desserts, conversation, and general “catching up.”

Yet, as Christians committed to obeying the Great Commission to tell others of our faith, what do we find as those familiar faces sit in our parlors and living rooms, gather around the great tables in our dining rooms, or mingle before the giant television set in our family rooms.

Do we see fellow believers? Some of us do, but many of us don’t.

Instead, do we see those who, like Judas, lead “good lives” according to worldly standards yet lack a personal knowledge of the Lord?


Do we see the scoundrels, like Barabbas, who seem to defy accountability and reckoning for their behavior?

Or do we see those, like the repentant thief, who realize living challenging lives according to their own needs and wants leads to an emptiness that begs for healing?


WHAT CAN WE SAY to them, our friends and family members, those whom we love and have prayed for to encourage them to see Jesus as their friend and savior?

What did Jesus say to each of the three men we’re studying, Judas, Barabbas, and the thief?

As far as we know, His final testimony was lived out in His actions. He had preached to Judas and taught him for three years, and then warned him about what he was about to do.

We have no record of anything He said to Barabbas, but Barabbas must have turned around to look at Him as he was led out from prison. What did he see when he saw the Master?


WE KNOW FROM SCRIPTURE and from the life of Jesus that our testimony is comprised of our actions and our words, what we do and what we say, how we act and how we speak. They must be in synch, and they must reflect God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

As we enjoy the holiday season with loved ones, we should reflect on our prayers for them during the preceding year. Were we consistent? Were we sincere? Did we pray out of rote or out of conviction?

  • One man threw away three years of friendship and tutoring for 35 pieces of silver and a self-administered noose.
  • Another man escaped a torturous death he deserved and, for all we know, never looked back, never changed.
  • But a third man, struggling with excruciating pain just to breathe, called Him “Messiah” and was granted God’s grace.


OUR PRAYERS for our loved ones should reflect the grace of the Risen Lord, believing that His love is wide enough and deep enough to encompass all of those who don’t know Him — the casual Christian with whom we share a meal, the family rebel who glorifies himself (or herself) by avoiding the earthly penalty for their lifestyle, and the penitent — the one lost sheep the Shepherd can save.



Father God, we are ashamed to see ourselves reflected in the unbelievers who demanded our Lord’s crucifixion, wondering if we, too, would have cried out to crucify him and release for us the murdering thug Barabbas. Would we have accepted payment of 30 pieces of silver to turn Him in to the authorities, or would we, like the thief crucified beside Him, recognize who He was, the Messiah, even as the Apostles ran from the authorities and Peter denied Him? We only have to answer for ourselves today. So, Father God, help us who trust the Lord for our salvation share that conviction with those You place in our way who do not know Him. In Jesus’ magnificent and beautiful name we pray. AMEN


God has planned from the beginning to make men and women in His image and to give us dominion over the world He created. While we gave up that role through our disobedience, He still calls us to a critical role: To tell everyone about Him, who He is, what He has done for us, and how placing our faith in Him will lead us to an everlasting joy … and life with Him.

  • Ezekiel 33:9 (NKJV): “Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”
  • Acts 1:8 (ESV): “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

We Are Ambassadors for Christ

THE MOST LOVING ACT we can do for another human being — be they man, woman, or child — is to tell them about God, both that He is a God of love and mercy and also that He is a God of wrath and justice.


The world teaches that we should affirm everyone’s life choices, that we should not breath a word about God (especially about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit), and that we should leave the word “sin” out of our conversation entirely.

God told the prophet Ezekiel that he was a “watchman” and that his job was to tell the Jews the truth of what God was saying to  them, that they had forgotten His deeds on their behalf and forsaken His commandments, especially the First One — “I am the LORD your God, … You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3 NIV). 

God’s message to his prophet was simply this: “You tell the people what I tell you to tell them. If they listen, both you and they will be saved; but if they don’t listen, you will be saved because you obeyed, but they will die in their sins.”

The third option was the least pleasant for everyone: “If you don’t tell them what I tell you, and they die in their sins, so will you for your disobedience.”


SINCE WE’RE ON this side of the Cross, we come under the Law of Grace, not the Law, but we are still called to be God’s watchmen to the people in our lives, and we are still accountable for our obedience … as well as our disobedience.


IMAGINE THIS SCENE: It is Christmas dinner, and you are surrounded at the big table — with the leaves installed, the candles lit, and the good silverware arranged around the dinner plates — with your loved ones.


You can enjoy seeing your children all grown up with husbands and wives of their own and the smiling cherubic faces of excited little children, looking so much like their mothers and fathers,  that your heart swells with the joy of the moment.

Yet, beneath the laughter and the friendly banter, lies a dark film and behind that film lurks the evil of unrepentant hearts.

Your family — your most precious loved ones — are grabbing the festive secularism of Christmas while leaving the spiritual essence of the holiday far behind.

While you enjoy their bubbly presence at this long-for feast, your heart burns in anguish for their souls.


HOW DO YOU TURN the conversation into one that turns their hearts toward the Lord’s outstretched hand, beseeching them to turn to Him in humility, seeking His grace and forgiveness, receiving Him into their lives as Lord and Savior.


How do you maintain your joyous countenance when you fear — no, you know! — that if they were to perish this very day on the drive home, they would spend an eternity without God, and their suffering would haunt you.

How can you change that?

We know we can’t change anything, only God can, so, first, we are called to pray … and pray … and pray.

Then, we, as God’s watchmen, can obediently speak a word or two for the Lord, striving to plant seeds (and possibly water seeds) while not tarnishing the moment.

William Fay’s “Share Jesus Without Fear” program offers some suggestions. Let’s look at them.


NO SET OF QUESTIONS will change a conversation pattern if your audience is not interested in following, but most people have a desire to share their thoughts and opinions, so asking questions is a good starting place.

Here are Fay’s suggested questions:

  1. Do you have any kind of spiritual belief? (Or, more simply, what is your spiritual belief?)
  2. To you, who is Jesus? (Or, Who would you say Jesus is?)
  3. Do you believe there are a Heaven and a Hell (Or, do you believe both Heaven and Hell exist?)
  4. If you died right now, where would you go … and why?
  5. If what you said were not true, would you want to know it?

The first four questions in that list should elicit an animated conversation, but don’t stope there! They are merely set-ups for the fifth question. Let’s look at it again and focus on it:

>If what you said were not true, would you want to know it?

Just lay the question out there. Be patient. Be silent. Wait. Let the words sink in. Even if someone pridefully dismisses the question, even the most jaded is likely to be curious enough to ask, “Okay, so what are the right answers?”


THIS IS YOUR Big Moment.

The Bible tells us (1 Peter 3:15) to “be ready” to share your faith. 

Examine your arsenal: a brief personal testimony, the four-part Plan of Salvation, a few general Bible truths (God died for sinners, Jesus is Truth, God loves you), and the reality that only those who believe in Jesus will spend eternity with Him. The rest will not.

Be ready to pray with them, whoever is willing to call on the Lord. The others can listen to the prayer and jeer, if they want, but probably they will realize the seriousness of the moment and not act out. 

As born-again Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) and His watchmen (Ezek. 33:7). He has turned the job of witnessing for Him over to us (Matt. 28:19-20), and He expects us to deliver.

This is an awesome opportunity to thank our Lord for His saving grace by sharing the Good News with our families, friends, and neighbors, but also an opportunity to show our obedience to the Almighty.

You are to be My Witnesses.

I call you to be My Ambassadors.

I have appointed you as Watchmen.



Dear Father God, please save our families. Please turn the hearts of our loved ones to You. Humble them to seek You out and confess their need for You, that only Your Son can deliver them to healing, to peace in their souls, to forgiveness … and to life. Then, Lord, help us carry out our role as facilitators, as ambassadors, as witnesses, as watchmen … as You have appointed us. Come now, Jesus. You are both our Sacrificial Lamb and the Lion of Judah. It’s in Your name and through You that we lift this prayer. AMEN

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