Roles in Family
By Johannes P. Setiabudi and Nova
Last month we studied God’s design for
marriage. Well, after the ceremoni(es), honey moon(s), you may think … what
next ? From that on, a family is being formed, a Godly one. It doesn’t matter
if you (can) have any children or not, you are still forming a Godly family. You
have to bear that view in mind along with your life after marriage. So, then, we
ask the question … what is Godly family? What are the roles in a Godly family?
This paper will discuss each role and why God designed it to be that way.
Marriage as has been discussed last month is a
covenant between a man and a woman for a lifetime. But, the principle of
covenant should not be taken as a padlock or a deadbolt where it means we stuck
forever with no way out. Rather, it should be viewed as a link between two
persons who interact with one another interactively.
As we read through Paul’s letter to the
Colossians, we can see that God has a design for human relationship. He does
this by making roles or structures of authority. This shouldn’t be taken as
that God approved anarchy or abusive mentality/attitude, it’s the other way
around. He knows that human are depraved and fallen. He knows that we will abuse
it, therefore He made it clear to us. So what God says about marriage?
"A covenant is not a padlock on the
relationship. That would make marriage a prison. A covenant is rather an
elastic link between two hearts. When they move apart, a tug reminds them
they belong." 1
The passage talks about male headship in marriage.
This is not about male chauvinism, as a matter of fact it rejects male
chauvinism. Paul made it clear that men and women are equal in their essential
identity, which is child of God. This passage also says clearly that the only
man the woman should subject to is the husband, not every man.
"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is
fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not harsh with
them." Colossians 3:18-19
In the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11:3), the
Paul starts with Jesus’ relationship the Father, which is always true. He
brought this in order to stress that male headship in marriage is also important
and true for all time. In the same way we see Jesus’ submit to the leadership
of the Father, husband is the leader in the family. Notice that Jesus and the
Father along with the Holy Spirit form The Trinity with equal in Deity. We
should not take this off our mindset when we are thinking our relationship in
marriage. Husband and wife are equal in their humanity. Of course, husband
should be subject to Christ authority. 2
What is the conclusion of this argument? Husband
should use this authority to love and to serve God, including loving and serving
his wife and family (Ephesians 5:21-33). Notice that the word ‘love’ in Eph
5:25 is from ‘agapate’or ‘agape’. In vs. 28, 29 Paul gives an analogy
that is perfect. Just as Christ loves the church not simply because as it were
His body, but indeed the church is His body, husbands should love theirs wives.
Husband and wife is one body just as God has united (vs. 31).
So what? What is this all about? Is it about a
chain command? God to the husband, husband to wife, wife to kids, kids to the
maid, maid to the pets, etc? No! Absolutely not! So then, what is headship?
"For a man to love his wife is to love
himself." 3 (Gen 2:23)
Sex, what is sex in a covenant
relationship? Paul Stevens put it this way,
"The husband is called to renounce
headship as rule and to see his headship as nurturing sacrificial love. The
wife is called to renounce her desire to overmaster her husband (or to
desire his rule), and she is called to give him respect, submission and
honor as though he were head over her … Each will do this, not as a mutual
contract, but as a covenant grace-gift ‘out of reference for Christ’ …
Headship is not hierarchy … Headship is not rule …Headship is not an
authority role … [instead] Headship is being first in a relationship of
equals … first in honor… little more responsible for the relationship
… first in nurturing, loving and building the relationship … first in
initiation …first in providing for the wife and children". 1
It is God’s design that sex has to be done in a
marital context. If not, it can destroy your relationship with God, your
significant other (not others) and it can damage you in a unique way that no
other sin can. It is primarily because we violate God’s design for sex. God
will not damn us to hell or will condemn us with severe punishments, etc. It’s
merely the result of not reading the manual correctly. 9
"Intercourse [or sex] is to the covenant
what the Lord’s Supper is to salvation. It expresses and renews the heart
covenant. If the symbol is not backed by a full covenant, it is merely a
powerless, graceless act." 1
Ray Anderson writes,
From this point we may assume that the
"sex" we are talking about is not premarital sex. But a wedding or
marriage should not be used to justified sex. If so it will create a separation
between love and sex. Both have to complete each other, not as a substitute to
each other. Generally, women need to be psychologically ready and stable to
enjoy sex, where men don’t. Men can enjoy sex while he is angry, but it’s
not case for women. "…men must have sex to reach fullness of love while
women must have love to reach fullness of sex".1
"It is quite clear that the couple have
come under the ‘command of God’ through the act of sexual intercourse,
questionable though it may be under the circumstances. What is required is
obedience to this command through the negotiation of the appropriate wedding
contract. Failure to follow through in this way then places the man and
woman in jeopardy due to disobedience … Theologically, marriage – not
the wedding ceremony – constitutes the contextualization of sexuality as
both an implicit and explicit will to coexistence".7
Sex is also a tool, an avenue for us to move
outside our boundaries, sex meant for ‘us’ not ‘me’. 1
Sex by all means also resulted in a deeper understanding of oneself, because
marriage requires us to give one another as a unique person in a unity with our
"… be fruitful and increase in
number" Gen 1:28 tells us that sex is the tool for married couple to create
children. But, it is wrong to say that every act of sex/intercourse should be
resulted in procreation or a child. So then, what is the purpose of sexual
intercourse? Gary DeLashmutt in one of his teaching put it this way,
"The primary purpose of sexual intercourse
is neither procreation nor self-gratification! It is the unique expression
of sharing my being with my wife (husband) in the context of committed
personal relationship of self-giving love—with both of us united with
Christ in a love relationship" 6
According to Anderson, there are three aspects
of the role of parenting.
|To recognize and affirm the humanity of the
child. A child or an infant is not a subhuman. It is already a complete
human being, and parents need to provide a healthy environment where
children can grow in love that is communicated in the form of actions and
verbal. By doing this parents try to open their child’s eye unto God,
since God is love, and whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
|To create and sustain the personal life of
the child. A child personal life is depending on its physical life.
Therefore parents are responsible to actively act in this area by providing
its needs and providing protection. As the child grows, he will be able to
make his own decision, but it’s still parent’s role to affirm and
sustain his identity.
|To contextualize and historicize the self as
existing before and with God. It is also a parent duty to let a child know
that he is a part of the history and he has to be responsible for it. A
child will never always be innocent, it’s denying human depravity by doing
so. However, parents need to do this in the context that is by grace. God as
a perfect parent is the best example for this.|
So, how should parents do those stuff?
Paul summarizes 3 aspects of parenting here, love,
discipline, and teach. 4
"Do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord"
Ephesians 6:4 .
Teach … teach through
instructions. Each human being has a role in God’s plan, and it’s parent’s
duty to help them discover it. From an early age, parents should help their
children to develop good habits, such as work. Parents should teach and train
their children so they will like to work. God is always at work, and a lazy
Christian does no good for God. From work and labor, it will produce obedience
and idleness will produce troubles.
Teach trough examples … children are good
followers, and they follow their parents. Be an example, it serves a better
teaching than any others. 4
Love … parents, spare your time
with your children. It doesn’t mean that parents must stay at home all time
etc, but instead, you can do your stuff with them. Most parents won’t hesitate
to fulfill their children daily necessities, but how about time? We need to
provide the environment where they can value their relationships with their
parents enough that alienation from them is unnatural and undesirable. Provide
quantity, quality and regular time with children. 5
Discipline … discipline is an
addition to love, not as a substitution. Discipline has to be child oriented,
since parents are doing these for them. Parents should discipline their children
in order to help the children become the person God wants them to be, not what
the parents want them to be. Discipline also has to be age appropriate. It will
become silly and abusive if we ignore this fact. We don’t want to spank a
teenager, or make a baby stays in the room without fresh air for a day.
Punishment has to be age appropriate in order to deliver the message well. 5
Spirituality … just like the
parents, the children are also spiritual being, design to enjoy relationship
with God. As parents we need to nurture them in order to understand this. Family
as the smallest structural unit has to be the first influence in a child
development process. So, what can parents do? Parents should constantly discuss
faith with their children in a relax manner. The form of discussion may differ
as methods, but the main idea has to be the same. Sharing the love of Christ has
to be done verbally by sharing the gospel. Praying with and for them is very
important. Be careful not to make this just as a ritual in your home, but
instead, enjoy this time together with the children.
some children, that word is really making them nervous. How about you? There are
only two direct commands regarding children in the bible (Eph 6:1 and Col 3:20)
and both of them contain the word ‘obey’. We may have some questions in our
head that say, "God, should I obey my parents? They are human beings, who
are also sinful. I only want to obey You, no one else". Paul made it clear,
we must obey our parents, no exceptions. If we study the context of the
passages, they are in the context of ethical issues. So abusive attitude and
such are not included. Obeying our parents is an imperative from God, so by
obeying our parents we obey God. This is also valid even though your parents are
not believers, or you can make your own decisions, or they make the wrong choice
or decisions. Why? Because it’s the way it is written in the bible. However,
this ends when children reach an age where they are culturally approved to be,
for an example, when you get married, or your parents die, etc. Paul doesn’t
specifically address the issue if the parents are not Christians, but he
refrains us to make the obedience to be conditional. Greg Jao, one of the
writers in IVCF writes,
Well, what does it mean to obey in bitterness? Eph
5:21 says that we should do everything below it as "out of reverence for
Christ". This statement underlies everything we do. We are subject to
Christ’s authority and children should do this in love to Christ as well to
their parents. Jesus Himself is a good example for this. He waited 30 years
before doing His first miracle, which He did in obeying Mary, His mother. God
requires submission in order for Him to delegate authority to human.
"I could not control my parents’
unfavorable response to my desire to do ministry, and their response was not
my responsibility. My responsibility was to choose how I would respond to
them … with grace, obedience and humility". 8
What if my parents want me to do something
different than what God wants? We should be careful about this, we should think
it through, prayerfully and with the knowledge of the Word whether or not they
are in contradiction. If we don’t like what our parents want, it does not mean
that it’s not what God wants. Often times God wants us to do something we
dislike at all. Our first priority is to obey Christ, and this loyalty is in the
context of discipleship. Therefore, if there are some commands that are in
contradiction with our discipleship issues, we may not obey them.
Honor. The fifth commandment and Eph
6 contains this word. In obeying or disobeying our parents, we must do it in
honor to them. What does it mean to honor our parents? It’s showing respect to
parents as they play their roles as parents, showing dignity and acknowledging
their higher place, communicate and respond to their care and wisdom in the
community. Giving honor does not require worthiness. As has been explained in
the previous paragraphs, obedience has to be done in honor, not with bitterness.
Sometimes honor means letting the parents know that they are wrong. It’s quite
a unique situation, but it’s reality.
"It is impossible to create a
hard-and-fast rule to determine when disobedience is required. However,
because of our perceptions often are clouded by our own resentments, desires
and passions, we need to engage in extensive prayerful reflection,
thoughtful conversation with believers of various cultural backgrounds and
ages, an in-depth and honest assessment of the issues and our desires, and a
careful study of Scripture before choosing to disobey our parents" Jao
As well as parents have to spend their time,
children need to do so too. Don’t just come to parents asking for money, but
share your life with them. For the children who have been a grown up, you have
to understand that it is quote hard for the parents to lose you. Share your life
in Christ with them. Pray for their healthiness and their ability to keep
striving for Christ’s glory. If your parents are not believers yet, pray that
God will open up circumstances for you to share the gospel, for others as well.
Pray that God will always provide environments where they can see the love of
Christ. Forgive them for all the things they did for or to you, just as Christ
has forgiven you. Do all this in love, as just God as the perfect parent has
loved us, His children. Remember this that the fifth commandment is the first of
human related commands, obey and honor your parents, in love.
Wives, be subject to your husband, obedience is
the way to communicate love. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loves the
church. Relationship between husbands and wives should be like Christ and the
church. Parents, love, teach, discipline your children in righteousness.
Children, obey and honor are the most important and the first commandment.
|Read Ephesians 5:21-6:4 and do and
inductive of it.
|Memorize these verses: Colossians 3:18-21,
a quiz will be given in the next meeting.|
|Stevens, Paul, Married For Good, IVP 1986
|DeLashmutt, Gary, A Biblical Framework for
Marriage, Xenos Christian Fellowship 1998
|Wood, Skevington A. , Expositor’s Bible
Commentary vol. 11, Zondervan 1978
|Christenson, Larry, The Christian Family,
Bethany House Publisher 1970
|DeLashmutt, Gary, A Biblical Framework for
Parenting, Xenos Christian Fellowship 1998
|DeLashmutt, Gary, Christianity & Human
Sexuality, Xenos Christian Fellowship 1998
|Anderson, Ray, On Being Family, Eerdmans 1985
|Jao, Greg, Honor and Obey, "Following
Jesus Without Dishonoring Your Parents", IVP 1998
|DeLashmutt, Gary, Christian Distinctive #2,
Xenos Christian Fellowship 1998|
Relationship with Paul:
|Not too close.
|The people have heard of him (3:2).
|The gospel may has been shared here (4:3)|
|Paul put the foundation for the church in
Ephesians on his second journey (Acts 18).
|Possibility if many converts.
|Paul tells the foundation of God’s vision
and design for a healthy ekklesia and Christian living.|
|Salutation (1:1, 2)
|Doctrine: The Implications of Christian
|Prayer of Intercession (1:15-23)
|Life From Death (2:1-10)
|Jews and Gentiles Reconciled (2:11-22)
|Grace and Apostleship (3:1-13)
|Knowledge and Fullness (3:14-21)|
|Practice: The Application to Christian Life
|The Unity of the Church (4:1-16)
|The Changed Life (4:17-24)
|Christian Behavior Patterns (4:25-5:2)
|Light in the Lord (5:3-20)
|Christian Relationship: Marriage (5:21-33)
|Christian Relationship: Parenthood (6:1-4)
|Christian Relationship: Employment (6:5-9)
|Into Battle (6:10-20)|
|Vs. 21, submit to one another
|Vs. 22, 33, wives, be subject to your
|Vs. 25, 33, husbands, love your wives|
|Vs. 23, God’s imperative, as Christ is the
head of the church.
|The relationship between husband and wife
should be the same as Christ and the church, and since Christ is the head,
husband is the head of wife.
|Christ id the savior, so husband must give
protection to his wife as a result of love.
|Vs. 28-31, for after marriage husband and
wife become one in flesh and nobody would ever hate his own body/flesh.
|"head" – "kephale",
superior in responsibility(s)
|"love" (vs. 25, 33) – "agapao",
|vs. 26-27 talk about "ekklesia"|
|Children should obey and honor their parents
|Father (parents) should not exasperate their
children, instead they should bring them up in discipline, training, and
instruction to the Lord.|
|The context is about Christian Family (vs. 1)
|Paul is paying more attention to the inferior
(child, woman, slaves)
|Vs. 2, first commandment most likely implies
the order of importance
|Vs. 4, training, discipline, nurture –
"paidea" and instruction in righteousness – "nouthesia"
which means verbally, and this includes encouragement also.|
Quiz, Roles in Family, June 27th 1999
Name: _________________________ Grade: ______
1. List the roles (in family) that are mentioned
in Colossians 3: 18-21.
|____________________ and ____________________|
2. Use ONE of 4 verses you memorized in respond
to this statement, (ref. and quote)
"I only need to obey several things I like
from my parents".
3. How should husbands relate to their wives as
Paul describes it in Ephesians 5?
(1 or 2 sentences is enough, if you have the
verse(s) reference, that would be great)