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Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, in her book, Good News for Women (Baker), explains that there are really two kinds of male headship from which to choose. One is what she calls "life-giving headship," which was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden when He took Eve out of Adam's side.

The opposing model is what she refers to as "ruling headship," which began with the fall, when man and woman came under the curse of sin. Christian men today often view ruling headship as the godly way to lead a family--but it is the wrong model.

Writes Groothuis: "The biblical headship of the husband described in Ephesians 5 is redemptive, in that it mitigates the effect of the fall which places the woman under male rule, and it helps to reinstate woman in her creational place of cultural responsibility alongside man. In life-giving headship, the social privilege and power of maleness is shared by the husband with the wife, and utilized by him according to the terms of love rather than of male conquest and demand."

Some Christian husbands have made a lifestyle out of being benevolent dictators--and they quote portions of Ephesians 5 to defend their behavior. Tragically, many women have embraced the idea of being Christian doormats, and they have made their subservience such a part of their identity as women that it has become a place of security for them that they cannot abandon.

I pray you will not let a false concept of "male headship" stop you from fulfilling your high calling in Christ.

Read a companion devotional.

J. Lee Grady is a contributing editor for Charisma and author of 10 Lies the Church Tells Women (Charisma House), from which this article is adapted.

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