1Co 11:7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.
I have been thinking a lot about the relationship between a husband and wife and their roles in marriage lately. And one of the verses that interests me is the one quoted above and in particular how is the woman the glory of man. What follows is just some observations and is not being stated as a dogmatic interpretation; this is something that I look forward to studying further. By the way, I don’t think Paul is referring to the fact that women are the fairer sex when he makes this statement even though that is true.
I guess the first question to be answered is how is man the glory of God and that will more or less answer the main question. Paul does not say that woman is the image of man for both genders are created in the image of God. And another thing that must be remembered is that the context is the roles of genders and specifically that the man is to be the head or leader of the woman. So in part “she is his glory” must refer to the fact that she is under his authority. But I think there is more implied at least in the whole of Scripture on this subject. In fact, I hope to show that being under his authority is at the heart of this.
Man and, in a sense mankind, is the glory of God in that all that he is and does is because of God’s provisions, care and wisdom. So as we serve him in his world and with those things he gives us, we reflect his wisdom, love and care. This is seen also in the idea of being conformed into the image of Christ. The more we look like God, the more we are going to display his attributes.
I think there is a sense in which this holds true in the marriage relationship. Since man is the head of the home and for that matter, men are to be the leaders in the church; part of their leadership is to create a healthy, spiritual atmosphere in the home, and this will hold true in the church, that enables his wife and children and himself to have a proper relationship with the Lord. They are to provide not only material needs but spiritual, emotional and psychological support so that their total persons, inward and outward are to be healthy. Our goal as a husband and a father is to create a home with the help of our wives so that all might flourish firstly and most importantly spiritually.
I remember a college professor saying that if he wants to know what kind of husband a man is he looks at his wife. Does she seem to be a joyful, content woman who is using her gifts? Does she take care of herself; does she seem to have healthy self-esteem? Or does she act like she is being kept down? Is it obvious that her husband keeps his thumb on her and wants her to focus all his attention on himself so her gifts are being wasted on him alone?
We must be careful of making snap judgments and we can’t infallibly figure everyone out; but I think it is an astute observation that will hold true in one way or another. I have known women who are clearly unhappy in their marriage because their husbands expect them to be their servants and have all the influence over them and “protect” them by keeping them squirreled away in their homes as much as possible. They haven’t made the home a place to serve the Lord but themselves and to that end everything must be done their way or all Hell will break loose.
What I am simply saying is that a godly husband should want to display his wife because he has through his leadership helped her develop herself to be a godly woman. It is to his glory if by his provision and influence he has helped her by the grace of God grow into someone who is thriving in service to the Lord both at home and at church and everyone else. The question we husbands must ask ourselves from time to time is whether our wife and children are flourishing and being all they can be for Christ or are they supposed to serve only you. It won’t take long before it becomes obvious to all what kind of home environment your headship is creating.