A Godly Household
Our day speaks much of “family values,” as well it should given the breakdown we see of it throughout American and Western culture. It is one of the sadder legacies that the “Christian” west now lives with: broken homes, broken children, broken lives – all because we refuse to live according to the simple instructions from God’s word about how each person in the family should conduct him or herself. The pagan world in which Paul lived saw all the things we see today: marital abuse, child abuse, abortion or exposure of infants, homosexual behavior and transgenderism, adultery, pornography, fornication – it has always been with us. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10). But God calls His people to better things. I remember a wise woman telling me when I was but a youth, “Marriage can be heaven on earth, or hell on earth.” That’s what happens when you put two people with sinful natures in such close quarters – the possibility of hell. Marriage is a blessing of God, not only given to the Church but to all humanity. It is the fundamental organizing unit of society, which is why when families breakdown, societies breakdown.
But let us focus our attention on the “heaven” it can and was ordained to bring before the corruption of the world by sin (Genesis 2-3). Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. This is not a slavish obedience but a loving submission, nor is this command a result of sin, as some teach. It was built into creation: “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man” (1 Corinthians 11:8-9). There is no implication of inferiority of the woman. Indeed, what Paul commands is much better than the sinful arrangement in pagan society in which a husband and father had all authority even to abuse his family. Paul commands the headship of the husband out of love for his wife. Everywhere in Scripture the husband is commanded to love his wife – which is what a woman needs most, and everywhere in Scripture a woman is commanded to respect her husband – which is what a man needs most. Children (not wives) are commanded to obey, and fathers are commanded not to provoke them. Slaves (not commended in Scripture [1 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 18:11-13] but regulated) are to serve their masters as unto the Lord (as employees should), and masters are to be fair to their servants (as employers should). I say that these instructions are simple, not because they are easy to follow, but because they are easily understood. It is this humility and deference to one another built into family life that mirrors Christ’s relationship to his Church – and that would sanctify society, if Christians lived it.