The Authority in the Home
18 June 2021
There is an oft-repeated joke that the husband is head of the household, but the wife is the neck that turns the head. We laugh at this because it is probably closer to the truth than we would like to admit. But the Scriptural truth remains that fathers are called by God to exercise authority in their homes (Eph. 5:23).
This headship has been affected by the fall (Gen. 3:16). That is why earthly examples, like the joke before, cannot show us what God intended for us as husbands and fathers. We need to look to Scripture to guide us towards fulfilling this role by God’s grace. This God-given authority has a pattern designed to help us understand the relationship between God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the church (1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 5:23). The order in which God created is also the basis for the father’s headship in the home (Gen. 2:20-22, 1 Cor. 11:8-9).
Scripture teaches us how this headship is to be exercised. Fathers are to lead their families lovingly and sacrificially, looking to Jesus Christ’s love for the church as his example (Eph. 5:25-29). This authority is to be exercised reasonably, not provoking anger, but strongly bearing the role of God’s representative to the family (Eph. 6:4). This requires us to be teachers, speaking forth the counsel of God in the Bible.
When teaching, we need to do it with enthusiasm. Our children will take notice of how we teach, showing whether it matters to us and not just an exercise of information exchange. The Word of God is alive and so we should teach it in a like manner (Heb. 4:12). We must take responsibility for teaching our family. The church should only be a supplement to our efforts, as it is the father’s responsibility to teach covenant children. We need to teach by example, for our children are always observing what we do. If it is inconsistent with what we teach, then our testimony to them can be a stumbling block. We teach by sharing our lives with our family. When we open our lives to our children, they will not feel awkward to do the same with us. Everyday life presents many opportunities to talk to our family about our Lord (Deut. 6:4-7). We do not have to wait for scheduled events to teach but seize the moment whenever it arises.
It may seem like a difficult task to live up to such a calling. But we should not give up, but immediately go before God in prayer and confess our failures. Then we must turn to Him daily for grace to help us fulfill our responsibilities, as we push forward knowing He is with us all the way. Let us reclaim our role as the spiritual leader of our family today.
Dn. Mervin Lin