Summary: What happens in our families infuences what happens in our culture. If ever there is a place for quality relationships, it's the family.
“Building Quality Relationships: With Family - Living With Order in Your Home”
If I asked you if you thought you could subscribe to the Communist Manifesto, you’d probably be inclined to say “No,” even if you didn’t know what it contained. And if I asked you if our government should subscribe to it, you’d probably say “No.” But here’s some reality. The Manifesto states, “We must rid ourselves of the burgeois claptrap about the sacredness of the family, especially about the hallowed relationship of husbands and wives and of parents to their children.” It then goes on to propose the methodology by which to accomplish this lessening of family importance: shift the responsibility for raising children from the family to the social institution. (1) While we may think we’d never adopt communistic principles, this one seems to have crept into our nation and culture in a major way.
What happens in our families influences what happens in our culture. If ever there is a place for quality relationships, it’s the family. So it’s no surprise that the Apostle Paul includes the family in his list of relationships in his Ephesian letter. The first thing to notice is that FAMILY LIFE MUST BE SEEN IN THE CONTEXT OF MUTUAL SUBMISSION. Let’s review for a moment. The section we’re studying begins in Eph. 5:18 where Paul says we are to be continually filled with the Spirit. When we are, we begin to relate to one another through spiritual behavior and language, we live with an attitude of gratitude, and we submit to one another out of reverence for Jesus Christ. That mutual submission is to be seen in all our relationships – including marriage, work, and family. So FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS ARE PART OF GOD’S ORDERING OF THE WORLD. Mutuality is part and parcel of creation. Everyone and everything is subject to someone or something.
So how did God set up this family mutual submission? It is based on the fact that OUR FAMILY CONCEPT DERIVES FROM GOD’S. In chapter 3:14-15 Paul wrote, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family (from whom all fatherhood) derives its name.” Family derives its name and very being from God our Father. So just as God cares for His family we care for ours. His pattern is our pattern. Paul, in fact, continues by stating what He prays for from this Father (16-19 NLT): “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” The family is the primary place where God’s love is communicated, modeled, and experienced. Family life is built through submission to God’s design and will.
Therefore the parent-child relationship is built through submission to God’s design and will. Let’s look at childhood in this light. CHILDHOOD MUST BE SEEN IN THE CONTEXT OF MUTUAL SUBMISSION. Just as the husband and wife build their marriage through a particular mutual submission (5:21-33), so, first, children – and youth – are to share in a particular submission. (6:1-3 CEV) “Children, you belong to the Lord, and you do the right thing when you obey your parents. The first commandment with a promise says, 2 “Obey your father and your mother, 3 and you will have a long and happy life.””
Children and youth – always remember that OBEDIENCE IS REASONABLE AND EXPECTED. Let me pause for a moment to make something clear so no one misunderstands what I’m about to say. If there is any kind of abuse from a parent to a child this does not hold – I am not saying that no matter what, even in the middle of abuse, a child needs to obey. If there is abuse, children and young people, know there is help and you have a right to it. With that exception set aside, we can say that obedience is reasonable and expected. While the fact that God said it should be enough reason to submit and obey parents, it’s important to understand how God has built this obedience into the fabric of life. Obedience is, first, SPIRITUALLY RIGHT. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Paul quoted the 10 commandments as the basis of his words: “Honor your father and mother…” The Israelites had spent all those years in slavery, so even though they lived in family units, their lives were owned, run, and controlled by the ruling powers of Egypt. But now they were free and God wanted them to invest in and establish a new order for living – a new order that would not only bring vibrancy and stability to their lives but to their society as well. So God told them that they were to invest in growing a stable family unit. But how to do so was the question. The Hebrew word in the commandment for ‘honor’ means ‘to give weight to or make weighty with respect.’ In the ancient world a heavy person was more than likely an affluent person and thereby was to be honored and respected. So the sense of the command to ‘honor’ indicates ‘to prize highly, care for, show respect to, and obey parents.’ History shows that the Jews caught this principle. From the Old Testament right up to today, the traditional Jewish family structure has always been built on order and stability that gave them strength and discipline. At the very heart of this structure was a high reverence and respect for parents and older members of the family.