The Obedient Family
This writing concerns the God-ordained family authority structure - the authority relationship between family members. I will state right up front that this is meant for those of you who are only interested in finding favor with the Lord. If you have some competing agenda - don't waste your time here. Since you have come to this "remote corner of the kingdom" and are reading this article, it is fairly likely that the Lord has already taken you where this writing goes, but if He hasn't, you will quite likely struggle with what you read. You may look for but you will not find theological tricks being utilized here, and there are no mistranslation issues or difficulties of apparent contradictions. The rejection of what I write here will simply be that which is caused by the deceitfulness of sin. We all have been and are deceived by sin. That's no secret. The goal is to be able to respond with repentence when we are confronted with it, or, more accurately, convicted of it by the holy spirit. I pray you will be blessed in the reading of this study, and that the holy spirit will complete the work in you for which it has been sent. I pray that you will know the truth and that as it becomes yours, you will not only walk in the freedom but take it to others who so desparately need to be delivered from the bondage of sin in this matter.
Because the scope of the subject of family government and the associated subject of gender roles is broad, I've only undertaken to address the very basics here. Should the Lord tarry and move me in that direction, more shall follow in the matter of gender specific commands that concern behavior and appearance.
From one perspective, this study addresses the matter of conflict resolution; which need arises whenever there is a conflict of wills or disagreement among family members. If the solution for all conflicts was to be some form of compromise, it would be necessary that all conflicts first COULD be resolved by compromise. Many cannot. One will must rule. The God ordained system of government for all social structures is strictly hierarchical. The only other option for government is to let the stronger dominate the weaker by some combination of physical strength, strength of will and intelligence/cunning. That form of government is a might-makes-right model, exercised on either an individual level or the group level. Majority rule is a model we are being taught to think of as a peaceful and mature means of government, but the carnal human nature must still be dealt with and the will of the majority must still be forcably imposed upon those not willing to submit. You see, majority rule is still a matter of the strong ruling the weak, it's just a case where the strength is in numbers. The majority rule and the "let's compromise" delusion are the common models for family structure in the culture I'm familiar with. At least that's the way it often looks. But I think you'll agree, if your culture is like my culture and you're honest about this, the way real conflicts of will are resolved reveals a hierarchical structure. Today, since the use of physical strength is out of fashion, the person with the strongest combination of will and intelligence/cunning wins. Usually it's the woman. Sometimes it's one or more of the children. Right? And that would be just fine if it weren't for one little almost insignificant detail. The man.
Well, actually, if one has a care about what our Creator and our Judge has ordained, the man is not supposed to be insignificant when it comes to the family government. He has been made the head of the wife. He is to govern his family. Sure, sure, we in the church have heard that before. But, looking around I must ask - have we really?
Some key verses: (NASB)
18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.
Colossians 3:18 and 20
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.
Note: Verses 2 and 3 are quoted from Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16.
G5293 hupotasso hoop-ot-as'-so; 1) to arrange under, to subordinate 2) to subject, put in subjection 3) to subject one's self, obey 4) to submit to one's control 5) to yield to one's admonition or advice 6) to obey, be subject
G5219 hupakouo hoop-ak-oo'-o; 1) to listen, to harken 1a) of one who on the knock at the door comes to listen who it is, (the duty of a porter) 2) to harken to a command 2a) to obey, be obedient to, submit to
Let's first consider the child's position. The child of whichever gender is under the authority of both the parents, the father and mother. Let me emphasize that the responsibility to impose the will attends authority. (See Romans 13:1-7 - by the way, the word in verse 1 translated as "in subjection" is hupotasso) When there is a conflict, the parent has the authority and therefore the responsibility to forcibly impose their will. As seen in the following verses, it is a plain fact that Yahweh expects force to be used as required.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
Is this fair to the child, some of you may ask? This is not about fair, it is about obedience to Yahweh's commands. It is not about what seems good in the eyes of the carnal man but what is good in the eyes of your Creator and Judge. See Hebrews 12:5-13 for more about discipline.
While on the subject of force, the manner of exercising authority doesn't seem to be addressed as directly in the husband/wife relationship as it is in the parent/child relationship. Given what we do read in the Bible, it seems apparent that husbands should limit the use of the rod to children and utilize non-physical means of discipline for a disobedient wife. I'm not ignorant of the fact that there are women who make demands of men that they use force to restrain them. I believe these women are in need of deliverance from demonic influence. A woman should be able to restrain herself, and a man should be able to exercise his authority over his wife by means other than physical force.
Let's consider for a moment what you have read in Ephesians 5 about the Lord's will concerning a wife's behavior towards her husband. The language is clear enough if we can accept what it says. "Be subject to" means "be subject to." It is stated more explicitly in verse 24, "As the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything." Does the church ever have any authority over Christ? Does the church ever have the authority to dictate the parameters within which the Lord may or may not act? Does the church ever at any time or in any circumstance have the authority to overrule or revoke the Lord's command decisions? Is it proper for the church to attempt to exert any means of controlling influence over the Lord? Obviously, no. How, then, should the wife be in relationship to her husband? The same way the church should be to Christ - the way the obedient church is.
Ladies, when you rule over your husband, you assume the Lord's own role, who is the rightful head over your husband. It takes genuine trust in the Lord to let Him have the responsibility He claims is His.
Men, when you are subject to your wife, when you allow her to take authority over you, you assume a child's role. She is your wife - not your mother. Grow up! This, too, takes genuine trust in the Lord to assume your assigned role.
For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church.
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
I Corinthians 11:3
This is the God-ordained line of authority or rule. God, head of Christ, head of man, head of woman. Children are placed under the parents.
I'd like to address the children for a moment. Children are under the authority of their parents. Where there are two parents, the wife is under the authority of the husband and therefore the Father's will for the children supercedes and overrules any previously or otherwise expressed will of the Mother. As a child, you have a responsibility to recognize your father's authority over your mother, whether your mother recognizes it or not. Ephesians 6:1 includes the phrase - in the Lord. Children, obey your parents in the Lord. If your mother directs you to disobey your father, you have a choice to make. Remember, you, too are accountable to the Lord for your behavior.
There's an example in I Peter 2 that compares the way a wife is to be to her husband to the way of a servant with his/her master.
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
I Peter 2:18-3:7
I Peter 3:1 begins, "In the same way…" So, in what way are wives to be submissive to their husbands? In the same way servants are submissive to their masters. This comparison is really obvious and the meaning apparent because the simple and fundamental basis of the servant/master relationship is the authority issue.
In the above passage, the primary argument or excuse any servant or wife would offer in response is addressed - perceived unfairness or unreasonableness. Didn't Y'shua give us the ultimate example of the proper behavior for a servant? Remember, he was the suffering servant from the garden of Gesthsemane until his death on the cross. This is how the wife is to bear up to unjust treatment by a husband - as a martyr. Why would a woman want to submit to her husband, even if and when he is unreasonable? Because this finds favor with God. It worked for Y'shua, didn't it? The more tangible or concrete benefit to the submissive wife is the promise that the husband being disobedient to the word may be won by their obedient behavior. How is the woman able to submit to her husband, even at times bearing up to gross injustice? How did Y'shua bear up? What, you don't feel like being a martyr? Okay. Forfeit God's favor. Women, if you want to please the Lord, He will help you. It is only by having steadfast faith in God that you could possibly submit to your husband as a servant to the master.
You may have noticed by now that the carnal mind seeks any reason to excuse itself from obedience to God's law. It strives to find an extreme case which might seem to be an exception to the rule, which makes God's law, then, unreasonable, and therefore an easy thing to rationalize disobedience.
The reference is made in the above passage to Sarah's behavior toward her husband Abraham. Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him her master. Ladies, a promise is made that you are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. Sarah is exalted for her willing submission - not demeaned. Submission to your husband exalts you! Giving way to fear causes women to fail to submit to their husbands. This fear is a lack of faith in God's ability and willingness to properly address the subject of your concerns, and a taking of what is rightfully His upon yourself.
I now want to address one little point you may have missed. I will repeat I Peter 3:1-2 here.
1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
I Peter 3:1-2
The "without a word" part is what I want to address, because this is a woman's most effective lever of control in getting her husband moved from where he is to where she wants him to be. The nag. The biting wit. The sharp tongue. What recourse has a woman without a word? The promise of God to a woman of faith to intervene on her behalf. Does the Lord really expect a woman to avoid using words and limit herself to her chaste and respectful behavior? Ask Him, if you can't read the inference. Can a woman restain herself from using words to confront, rebuke, manipulate or humiliate in order to exert a controlling influence over her husband? Only with the Lord's help - but yes, she can. Can a husband actually be won by the observation of his wife's chaste and respectful behavior? Only with the Lord's help - but yes, he can. A word of caution to you women who have a habit of wearing down your husband with many words to get them to respond to your desires. The Lord is absolutely able to “nag” your husband all by Himself without any verbal intervention or body language or any demonstration of disapproval on your part.
Although you may feel that the greater rebuke has come upon the woman in this writing, the greater rebuke comes upon the men. Men, you are responsible for conceding authority to the woman wherever she has assumed it. Sometimes strong action must be taken, otherwise consequences come upon your family. If you assume your assigned role, you will be blessed, as well as your whole family. If you neglect to govern your family, they will suffer for your sin. Teach and rebuke and disipline - and live the example of love.
Obedience is a love issue.
23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."
Obedience is a behavior issue. We obey only if our behavior conforms to the Lord's commands. We disobey if our behavior does not conform to the Lord's commands. Locking this down even further - ignorance is not an excuse.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
If you are being led by the Lord in a conviction that it's His desire for you to walk forth in humility as a witness to His authority, don't expect to be drawing on the support of family, neighbors, or your church family. It may be a lonely path, but you will have a steadfast companion in the Lord. He is good!
- What is the doctrine / practice of our culture, both religious and non-religious?
- Is what we see taught and practised conformity to Yahweh's commands?
- What would a family look like if the members were obedient to Yahweh's commands?
- Do our lives conform to Yahweh's commands or rather to the culture?
- Have we been deceived about Yahweh's expectations of us in the role we have in our earthly family?
- How have we been deceived - by the deceitfulness of sin?
- Were we willing to be deceived?
- Are we willing to have our eyes opened - to repent of our sin and determine with resolve to obey?
- What do we risk by obeying?
- What to we stand to gain by obeying?
- Are we willing to take the risk, saying - not my will but thine be done?