Sermon – January 1, 2017
The people in your family are sometimes the most difficult people you will have to deal with. They are people who are supposed to love and care for you the most, which makes their failures (and yours!) all that much more difficult to withstand. How are we to best arrange our families, to avoid many of the pitfalls and difficulties that damage and destroy lives?
1. Wives, submit
The NT’s insistence that wives submit to their husbands is one of the most cultural insensitive commands in the NT. This makes it all the more important to understand. Wives are to be submissive, but this neither makes them inferior nor silences their voice. Wives are to trust the leadership of their husband, all the while aiding that leadership with wisdom and influence.
2. Husbands, love
What is to keep husbands from domineering their wives? Love. Anyone who wishes to insist that submission of a wife leads to a form of abuse is not allowing the NT to speak, but cuts it short. The husband’s decision making process should always prioritize his wife’s needs and desires over his own; whether those needs and wants are linked to his career, his toys, his physical desires, or even his ministry.
3. Children, obey
It is not for nothing that Paul centers the attention of the family on the husband-wife relationship. Children are not the center of the family, contrary to much of the practice of our culture. The focus for the children is to obey their parents, this pleases the Lord because it models their relationship to him.
4. Fathers, encourage
Again, it is demanded from men that they not abuse the power and responsibility that they have been given. Here the balance is given in the father-child relationship. While the children are to obey, the father is not to move his children to anger, to be a pest and an irritation to them. He ought to seek to make their obedience easy.
Families are not easy. They can provoke the worst in all of us. So, let us take God’s wisdom to heart. This is not meant to be burdensome on wives, husbands, or children. Rather, the commands given here are meant to be freeing, allowing families to mitigate both the presence and effects of sin in all our lives.