I’ve argued that headship is not meant to be about power and hierarchy but rather, authority is about being authorised to do what we are responsible for. In the case of husbands and fathers (as well as elders -spiritually in the church) this is about provision and protection. I take this from Genesis 2:18
15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.
This raises a question. If we have a God given responsibility to protect: to guard or keep and this is a Creation ordinance, then what exactly were we to protect against prior to Sin and The Fall. That Genesis 2 introduces the idea of keeping watch or guard suggests that God envisaged such a need.
I would suggest that there are two aspects to this. First of all, God created the world knowing that we would rebel and fall. It seems reasonable to me that he would build into the creation order the necessary protections for when we should fall and danger would enter the world. We can see this in the way that creatures are provided with the protections of stings, teeth, claws and camouflage. So part of the answer might be that although God didn’t expect men to take responsibility for protecting against natural enemies and danger immediately that he planned for it from the start.
However, The Creation and the fall of humanity happens within the context of a wider cosmic battle. By Genesis 3, Satan has fallen and his desire is to bring down the whole of creation with him. So, Adam’s immediate responsibility was to guard Eden from this enemy. Indeed, I would argue that what we see in Genesis 3 is his failure to take responsibility and step up to his duties. That husbands, fathers and elders are asked to take responsibility for provision and protection today is not about our strengths and abilities. It’s not because we have proved ourselves successful. Rather, it is partly as a reminder of our failure to take responsibility and as an act of grace that God continues to entrust us with the responsibility.