How is the Christian home supposed to function?
We hear and see so much about dysfunctional homes. ABC has a hit show called “Modern Family” of course their version of the family looks nothing like the Bible’s concept of the family and the home. From a biblical perspective the modern family is truly a dysfunctional home.
The home like the other areas of our life are to be be Christ honoring and God glorifying. The problem is that homes are made up of sinners. Sinners all share similar traits of selfishness and self centeredness. Our selfishness, the desire to have our own way inevitably leads to conflict in the home.
THE HOLY SPIRIT FILLED HOME
The context of these verse is Paul’s teaching that you and I as believers are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As I’ve said for the past few weeks, the filling of the Holy Spirit is to be lived out in the everyday routine of life. The majority of our lives are lived in the normal ebb and flow of life. The filling of the Spirit in the life of a believer certainly can impact unbelievers as they see us respond and react to life in a way that reflects our faith in Christ. But the filling of the Spirit can and should have an impact on other believers, in particular the believers that we live with as they see us react to life in the power of the Spirit.
THE FUNCTIONING CHRISTIAN HOME
In the passage before us this morning, Paul is going to teach us how the home of the Christian is to function. If you are a wife or hope to be someday he is going to teach you how you can honor Christ as a wife. If you are a husband or hope to be one someday Paul is going to teach you how you can honor Christ.
Before we get into the details of what Paul has to say here, I’d like to point out that behind Paul’s words we have the example of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the church.
For instance in verse 23 Paul writes “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church…”.
In verse 25 Paul writes “Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”
In verse 29 we read “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”
Therefore if there is any doubt in our minds as to how we are to respond to each other in the home, we can look to the relationship that Christ has with His bride, the church and pattern our actions after his.
Let’s begin with…
A WORD TO WIVES
Let’s read verse 22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ladies you’ll be glad to know that Paul directs the majority of what he has to say about the relationship between the husband and wife to the husband. But he begins with a word to the wives.
Paul instruction to the Christian wife is to “submit to your own husband.”
Let’s review what we learned last week about submission. Submission does not mean that the one who submits is inferior. The example of that was Jesus. Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father. That did not make Jesus inferior to the Father.
We also said the submission is not absolute. Meaning that the responsibility to submit ends when submitting would disobey the Word of God. The husband can never force his wife to do something that would cause her to disobey the Lord in the name of submission.
Submission is the relinquishing of one’s rights for the sake of another. Remember it came from a military word that meant to rank under another. The kind of submission that Paul is calling us too places the emphasis on the willing submitting of ourselves in obedience to the will and the word of God.
Dr. MacArthur writes: “That is, the submission is to be a voluntary response to God’s will in giving up one’s independent rights to other believers in general and to ordained authority in particular and in this case the wife’s own husband.”
Paul’s instruction to the wife is to submit to her husband, but let’s not forget a very important part of what Paul says and that is the last part of the verse where he says “as to the Lord.” What does Paul mean by that? What Paul is saying is that your submission on the human plane is to your husband, but on the spiritual plane you are actually submitting to Christ. The responsibility of the Christian wife is to submit to her husband in the same way that she would to Christ.
Now, if the husband fulfills his responsibility to love his wife in the same way that Christ loved the church then the wife shouldn’t have any problem submitting to her husband. The problems begin when the husband wants the wife to submit, but he doesn’t want to love.
Why does it takes the power of the Holy Spirit for a wife to submit to her husband? Believe it or not there are times when the husband is not going to love his wife in the same way that Christ loved the church, yet she is still responsible to submit to him, because in submitting to him she is submitting to Jesus Christ.
When the wife submits to her husband, even when he isn’t loving her the way that he should that is another powerful testimony to the power of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit in her life.
John MacArthur writes: Wives are to submit even when their husbands are disobedient to the word, [that] they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior”. Instead of nagging, criticizing, and preaching to her husband, a wife should simply set a godly example before him showing him the power and beauty of the gospel through its effect in her own life. Humility, love, moral purity, kindness, and respect are the most powerful means a woman has for winning her husband to the Lord.”
How Did We Get Here?
Why is it even necessary for Paul to have to teach wives to submit and husbands to love and children to obey?
The reason Paul has to teach us these things can be traced back to the first family, Adam and Eve.
When Adam and Eve rebelled against God and listened to Satan instead of listening to God that decision changed everything.
The marriage relationship, the relationship between husbands and wives and parents and children were corrupted by the fall. When Adam and Eve fell, when they rebelled God’s natural order was destroyed. The way the world was supposed to function was derailed. One of the consequences of the fall was that the relationship between husbands and wives and parents and children were radically changed and not for the better!
The fall brought God’s curse. Both the man and the woman were cursed. To Eve God said “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband and he will rule over you.” That is a description of the conflict that from this point forward would plague the relationship between husbands and wives.
Now, the word desire as it is used there in Genesis does not mean what we would ordinarily think it means. The term comes from a word that means to compel, urge, or note this “seek to control over”.
To help us gain a better understanding of this word we don’t have to look any farther than Genesis four. In Genesis four God is speaking to Cain who had murdered his brother and said “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
What did God say the intention of sin was? Sin’s intention was to control Cain, and to control each one of us. Sin’s goal is the total domination of our lives. In the fall everything was corrupted and that included our desires.
The result of the curse was that the woman would now want to control the man, to try and dominate the man. What would be man’s response to this? He would seek to try and rule the woman, he would try and dominate his wife.
The curse that God pronounced changed the dynamic that existed between not only Adam and Eve but between all men and women. This is truly where the battle of the sexes began.
Because of our sinful nature man’s desire is to dominate their wives, and to put them under their feet. The woman’s desire is to rule over their husband. We’ve all heard of domineering wives, or maybe we’ve heard the phrase “she wears the pants in that family”. Neither of those things are said as compliments. When this is true you are witnessing the results of the fall.
The only way that the effect of the curse can be overcome is through the application of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. As the man and the woman are filled with the Spirit the husband begins to love his wife as Christ loved the church and the wife begins to submit to her husband as to the Lord.
Warren Wiersbe comments on this passage and he wrote: “Paul gives two reasons for this command: the Lordship of Christ and the headship of man in Christ. When the Christian wife submits herself to Christ and lets Him be Lord of her life, she will have no difficulty submitting to her husband. This does not mean she becomes a slave for the husband is also to submit to Christ. And if both are living under the Lordship of Christ, there can only be harmony.”
Wives are to submit because of the Lordship of Christ, which is the primary reason, but also because of the headship of the husband.
Look at verse 23 “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”
Authority and Leadership in the Home
There are two issues here. Authority and leadership. As we talked about a few weeks ago the fallen flesh doesn’t like authority. The flesh, the natural man wants to rebel against any and all authority. But we couldn’t exist without authority.
Where does authority come from? Authority is a gracious gift from God that brings structure and order to our lives. Authority properly administered can be and should be a source of blessing for us. Submission has nothing to do with authority, but it does govern the operation of authority. In other words unless there is submission to authority, we lose the blessings of authority.
The second issues has to do with leadership. When Paul teaches us that the husband is the head of the wife, he is teaching us that the husband is to provide leadership for his wife. Who should lead the church? Jesus should lead the church. Is the fact that Jesus is the leader of the church a bad thing? Obviously not. In the same way when the husband leads his wife as Christ leads the church it‚Äôs not a bad thing. The problem arises when that leadership is misused and abused, or is absent.
The leadership and the authority of the husband can be traced back to creation. This is what God intended when God first created Adam and then from Adam he took the rib and created Eve.
John Piper writes: “When the Bible teaches that men and women fulfill different roles in relation to each other, charging man with a unique leadership role, it bases this differentiation not on temporary cultural norms but on permanent facts of creation. In the Bible differentiated roles for men and women are never traced back to the fall and woman into sin. Rather, the foundation of this differentiation is traced back to the way things were in Eden before sin warped our relationships. Differentiated roles were corrupted, not created by the fall. They were created by God.”
This entire passage has as its underpinnings a recognition and and an acceptance of the roles that God has created each one of us for. As John Piper said these roles were created by God as the norm for his creation. Because of the fall we want to throw off the roles that God created us to fulfill. The husband’s role in the home is to lead. The wife’s role in the home is to submit. The children’s role is to obey their parents.
We need to recognize that an acknowledgment and an embracing of our roles has nothing to do with our worth or our equality.
Listen to what the Bible says about each and every believer. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 ESV)
Each and every believer has equal access to the blessings and the promises of God. Each and every believer has equal privileges with God. God never treats any of his children as the proverbial red headed step child. We are all equal in the eyes of God.
But when it comes to our roles and how we are to function we must also understand and embrace the roles and how we are to function. As I’ve been studying this passage for the past couple of weeks I keep coming back to the character of God. God loves us, and God desires what is best for us. God knows what will help us experience satisfaction and joy. So when God asks the husband to fulfill his role and lead God knows that is what is best for the husband, which will also be best for the wife and it will also be best for children which will make for a functioning home.
When God asks the wife to submit and to fulfill that role in the home and to function as He has created her to function that is what is best for the wife, and that is what is best for the husband, and that is what is best for the children and that is what is for her to experience the joy and the satisfaction that comes from obedience.
What is the motivation for the wife to submit to her husband? Look at verse 24
“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:24 ESV)
The motivation for the wife’s submission is the same as the church’s submission to Christ. He is the head of the church, as the head of the church he leads the church, he provides for the church, he protects the church. In the same way the church submits to Christ so to should the wife submit to her husband.
Remember all of this is said in the context of each one of us being filled with the Holy Spirit. In our own strength apart from the Holy Spirit wives will have a hard time submitting, husbands will have a hard time loving and leading. With the result that the home will not function in the way that God has designed it to function. We won‚Äôt experience the blessing the home could be, rather we will experience the pain and heartache that comes from disobedience. And yes, many times innocent people get hurt.
How can we as believers have a functional home, a home that brings glory and honor to God and is a testimony of our faith in Christ?
Our homes will reflect the image of Christ as we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. As we live day by day by the power of the Holy Spirit husbands will lead and love his family as Christ loved the church, wives will submit to her husband just as she is submitting to Christ.
The result will be we can regain just a little bit of the paradise that was lost at the fall.[/sws_author_bio_ui]