18 Wives, submit 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 provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
Viv Blows a Raspberry
When my mother, Viv, was in her mid-twenties she became a Christian. She immediately joined a Bible-study group in order to grow in her new-found faith and this passage was the topic of discussion. When my mother read about wives submitting to their husbands she blew a raspberry. “I am not submitting to him.” However, the passage began to work on her and she saw that in submitting to my non-Christian father, she was submitting to Jesus. One night, when the two of them had almost gone to bed, my father remarked that he could really do with a curry. Seeing an opportunity to serve Jesus, my mother stayed quietly downstairs. She cooked up a late-night curry and brought it up to her husband. He could see that something had changed.
My mother was always my father’s equal. However, the commands of Paul give men, women, and children different roles to play in the household. If we are all equal, should’t our roles be indistinct or even the same? Paul wrote his directions to a society which gave absolute power to the head of the family, or patrafamilia. He could have members of his household killed and could often rule with a rod of iron. Paul neither affirms or discredits the Roman way of life, but he does promote harmony in the home. If his directives were followed a mutual love, respect and teamwork would break out in the home. This is the primary concern. The household was seen as the basic building block of society. If the home lacked harmony, all of life would lack harmony. So, the supremacy of Christ was first to be applied to the home. If the members of the household focused on Jesus, their own agendas would be submitted to his.
There are many reasons people fight for power and control in the home. Many times the wars are fought because of fear. However, one of the great questions a member of a household can ask is, “How do I help remove fear? How can I help to make the house a self place?” One person in the house needs to take the first step toward selfless love, servant leadership and sacrifice. So, the emphasis is not on who gets to rule and who gets to serve. The emphasis is on whether the home is aligned with God and functions in a smooth way which shows God’s glory.
In all of our roles in our households, help us to bring peace. Let us love, submit, lead, and respect as you require of us. May our homes shine as beacons in a dark world.
- What is the role of the man of the house?
- What is the role of the woman?
- Is a person’s role in the house dependent on them fulfilling their own role first?
- What is your role in the house or room that you share with others?
- How has your family been an example of peace to those in the neighbourhood?