The Family Is Attacked By The Enemy Because It Displays The Order And Submission Of The Trinity
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
There is order in the family just as there is order in the Trinity. The order shows that the participants are co-equal but with different roles. In this case, the order is that the husband has a role of authority over the wife and children. The wife has the role of authority of advisor to the husband and authority over the children. The children have the role of learning the roles of authority of the wives and husband. The husband’s role is not one of tyrannical dictator, but rather the orchestrater of the plans and purpose of the family unit towards success in all things they set out to accomplish under the watchful and guiding efforts of the Spirit of God.
The key – the glue that holds this all together – is mutual submission. Without submission, the family as a God-appointed organization will fall apart and fail. The good news is that the Bible shows us how there is perfect submission in the Trinity of God, and to watch Jesus Christ’s example of this to learn the skills of submission and obedience to ensure the survival of the Family.
Wisdom for Wives
Paul starts out his instructions for Christian households with the hardest yet simplest command first – that wives submit to their husbands. The enemy hates the concept of submission. This can be seen in the first chapters of the first book of the Bible – Genesis – when the serpent plants seeds of doubt as to the character and nature of God in the ears of Eve, telling her that God is withholding something precious and valuable from her – the ability to be like God. And the curse of sin reflects this, since women now desire the role of their husbands in family and life – to be in charge over everything. And while it is certain that there are women who are more than capable of wielding authority (take the God-appointed judge of Israel Deborah for example…), the role assigned to women is as man’s helper.
The desire to serve self over others is key to sin. When we desire to serve ourselves at the expense of others, we reject the love that God desires each of us to understand and obey:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
God is love. He desires that each of us display his love – agape love – towards others and Himself. God has wired women to be able to display this type of love to others. It was only fitting then that the enemy would try to corrupt what God instituted in the beginning. Satan, hating God, unable to touch God, did the only thing he could – he tried to get women to stop loving, and in this particular case, convince Eve to stop submitting to God and her husband. By eating the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, Eve chose self-glory and abandoned her God-given role as the beacon of love and submission that she was intended to be.
Jesus Christ, as part of His mission on Earth, was to set straight our understanding of the Father by displaying Him (His character) to the world. And Jesus did so through submitting to the Holy Spirit of God and the Father. He did this to show us that this was how it was to be in the beginning. It is only through submitting to the assigned and ordained roles that God places each of us in that we properly reflect His order and completion.
When women submit to their husbands through the execution of their innate ability to display unconditional, volitional, and sacrificial love towards their husbands in a respectful, submissive manner, they radiate the message that God intended and bring Him greater glory, restoring that which is lost to selfishness through the three primary influences:
- The Flesh
- The World
- The Devil
and the three primary attack vectors:
- The Lust of the Eyes
- The Lust of the Flesh
- The Pride of Life
Help for Husbands
Paul goes on to give husbands the key through which they are able to enable their wives to reach their full potential in Christ – to love them.
This is a simple concept that is not innate within men. Men are wired for respect, not love. Ask men whether they would rather be respected yet hated, or loved and disrespected, and most men would choose the former over the latter. God recognizes this, and gives husbands the key to their wives’ hearts – they must love (agape) them as Christ loves the church, laying down his life for hers.
When husbands love their wives, they are putting their wives’ best interests over their own. They are looking to ensure that their wives are taken care of first, and that their needs are fully met. When husbands love their wives in this manner, it is easy for their wives to submit to their husbands and respect them – the wives are being placed above the husbands in all things except for his duty to God. What wife can complain that her doting, loving husband who seeks the best for her when he is acting in this manner? Is this a cause to hate, despise, ridicule, nag, and otherwise disparage and disrespect him? May it never be so!
Coaching for Children
God gives children a simple directive (the verb hupakouete is an imperative command) – obey your parents in everything. This is a training that will yield a great harvest of righteousness in the lives of children. Obedience to their parents sets a pattern that will translate to obedience to God. Additionally, obedience teaches submission.
When children allow themselves to be taught through obedience and submission, they are more likely and able to transition these skills into their adult lives. And as mentioned above, submission is the key to the hearts of both men and women. Obedience is the hallmark of love towards God. In all of this, these two skills prepare you to live life to its fullest.
When children refuse to be trained by submission and obedience, we see the fall its ignoble display. Seeking to grasp the forbidden fruit, it is not until long after the taste of the fruit leaves the mouth that the consequences of those decisions begin to haunt the one hungry for self-fulfillment. But thanks be to God in Jesus Christ, for His blood atones for all our sins, and gives us the second chance no one deserves.
Failings of Fathers
There is a final warning to fathers concerning their children. In the pursuit of training up a child in the way they should go, Father are to be very careful that their desire for respect is kept in balance with the needs of the children to grow and learn. Fathers don’t have the innate ability to gauge when they are being too strict. In their minds, obedience should be complete and immediate – a show of respect. But just as anyone learning a new skill will tell you, it takes time and practice get good at it.
And while fathers need to be on their guard so that they don’t exasperate their children in their attempts to guide and teach them, they should also be wary of the manipulative sinful nature of all children to appear outwardly compliant while inwardly harboring hate, bitterness, and dissent. Relationship is the key to influencing your children. A child is more likely to respond to a parent that has a solid relationship with them than one who thinks their father either doesn’t care about them or won’t make time for them.
There is a story about a man and his son that goes something like this: a man and his son went fishing for a day. They cast their bait out on hooks, but the fish just weren’t biting. They finally went home, and each wrote in their diaries. The man wrote,”We didn’t catch a thing all day. The day was a complete waste of time.” The son wrote, “I spent an entire day with my dad. It was the best day of my life!”
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Are we submitting to each other in our families the same way that Christ submitted to the Father and the Holy Spirit?
A short prayer of presentation:
Father in Heaven, You have shown us Yourself through the life of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant me the ability to submit to You completely and without reservation, that I may serve You in the manner that You desire and be obedient to Your every command. Help me to accept the role that You have assigned to me in my family. Give me the strength, wisdom, and words so that I can fulfill Your will as You greatly desire. Help me to overcome my innate, sinful tendencies that I may embrace Your goodness, compassion, mercy, and grace, and help my family to succeed so that it will be a beacon on a hill to all who see. May others praise You because of the example of my family. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.