Commit to Christ’s Lordship in Family Obligations
- Commit to the total and absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of your life, understanding that Christ’s lordship is inseparable from all aspects of the believer’s life.
- Commit to the total and absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ in all areas of your life, including family obligations.
- Emphasize biblical gender roles with believing fathers taking the lead in modeling Great Commission Christianity and taking the primary responsibility for the spiritual welfare of their families.
These aspects of committing “to the total and absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ” are related to submitting to Christ’s Lordship in the home. We should totally commit to Christ’s absolute Lordship over our family obligations. Specifically, believing fathers should take the lead “in modeling Great Commission Christianity and taking the primary responsibility for the spiritual welfare of their families.” How, then, starting with fathers, should each member of the household commit to Christ’s Lordship in the home?
Husbands and Fathers
Men should take “the lead in modeling Great Commission Christianity.” They should take the “primary responsibility for the spiritual welfare of their families.” How should husbands and fathers go about doing this, though?
Paul is very clear in Ephesians 5:25-28 that husbands are to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. … In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Peter goes even further in 1 Peter 3:7 to command husbands to “live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” Fellow sisters in Christ—or even brothers—do not get hung up and all bent out of shape over women being “the weaker vessel.” Peter does not demean women—rather, he honors them and commands husbands to honor their wives “since they are heirs with you of the grace of life”! Husbands, commit to Christ’s Lordship in the home first by honoring your wives. You will not be the God-glorifying leader in the home that God wills you to be if you do not honor your wives and love them “as Christ loved the church” because, as Peter reveals, your prayers are hindered by not honoring them!
What would this love and honor for your wives look like, though—how would you show this love and honor daily? Husbands should lead their wives in devotionals. Husbands should lead one-on-one prayer with their wives. As I’ve harped since starting this blog last year, we Christians are to “set [our] minds on things that are above,” as Colossians 3:2 commands us. Setting our minds on things that are above involves more time in prayer and God’s word, not less. In addition to personal prayer and Bible study, husbands should lead their wives in a joint time of prayer and Bible study as often as possible. And if you say, “That’s not possible,” then you need to reorganize your priorities. In a way, you are responsible for your wife’s spiritual welfare. She certainly will not grow in the faith as much on her own as she would if you took the lead and discipled her as you should—“even as Christ loved the Church.”
Fathers, you must go a step further than husbands who aren’t fathers. In addition to discipling your wife, you are also responsible for the discipleship of your children. Just as you have a prayer and Bible study time with your wife, you must also have a time of family Bible study and prayer. This will look different for every family depending on the children’s ages and personalities, but husbands and fathers should be like the apostles and refuse to neglect “prayer and the ministry of the Word,” (Acts 6:4) which is applying the Bible to life situations, in your own families.
Wives and Mothers
“Emphasize biblical gender roles with believing fathers taking the lead …”
Those words would make a worldly feminist seethe. Some godly women, too, would even be taken aback by these words because
faced with passive husbands, many women have assumed the role of spiritual leader in their homes. Their attitude has been, “If I don’t take charge of spiritual growth in our home, it won’t get done!” For these wives it is a challenge to relinquish control of their families and to embrace their biblical role as complementary helpers for their husbands. (Paul Renfro, Perspectives on Family Ministry, 75, emphasis mine)
God made Eve as a “helper fit for” Adam (Genesis 2:18). The wife’s status as helper by no means diminishes her value or worth—on the contrary, Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:15 that married women “shall be saved through childbearing.” (This troublesome phrase is rightly interpreted by Towner in the NIV NT Commentary: “Paul urges these Christian wives to re-engage fully in the respectable role of the mother, in rejection of heretical and secular trends, through which she may ‘work out her salvation,’” p. 235). Paul goes even further in describing the biblical role of wives and mothers in Titus 2:3-5.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Young wives and mothers are to be “self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands.” Wives are to do this so “that the word of God may not be reviled.” When Christian wives and mothers don’t submit to their husbands, when they aren’t kind … even when they’re not working at home, the word of God is, to an extent, reviled. I will note here that working at home doesn’t exclude out-of-the-home work—the Proverbs 31 woman, a model of godly womanhood, worked outside the home—but “working at home” does mean that out-of-the-home work does not lead to the neglect of domestic duties. Also on p. 235 of Letters to Timothy and Titus, Towner writes
the role in which the Christian wife is to persevere so as to actualize salvation (“you shall be saved through”) is the traditionally valued domestic role typified by childbearing.
Biblically speaking, then, wives should be “submissive to their own husbands.” They should let their husbands take the lead—encouraging them to if need be—in the “spiritual welfare of their families.” But under their husband’s leadership, the wife/mother should also contribute to the discipleship of her children. (I will cover the discipleship of children in greater detail in the next post.)
Children submit to Christ’s Lordship in family obligations by obeying their parents “in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). Unless a parent’s command directly defies the Bible (or the child’s wisdom—if the child is an independent adult), the command should be obeyed.
In these ways family members can commit to Christ’s Lordship in family obligations and emphasize biblical gender roles in a family’s spiritual welfare.
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