A Believers' Baptist Church Distinctive:
the role of Family
Role of Men
The Bible is clear that men and women are equally God’s image bearers (Genesis 1:27) and therefore equal before God and in relationship with one another, and also that they are fellow-heirs in the Christian life, equal in their spiritual standing before God (1Peter 3:7; Galatians 3:28).
The Bible is also clear that men and women, who are equal with respect to creation and redemption and therefore share many things in common, are called to different and equally important roles in marriage and the church. God Himself has determined distinctive roles for men and women in order that thereby they may fulfill the creation mandate that He has given to mankind (cf. Genesis 1:28; 3:15-19). Within the creation mandate, God has called men to serve as leaders in marriage and the church, and women to submit themselves willingly to that leadership, as they labor together in their distinctive roles (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 2:12; 3:1-13).
It is good to keep the perspective roles of men and women in light of Genesis 3. “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’” In short, God speaks about what is unique to her as a woman, namely, being a mother and a wife. To the man He speaks of the difficulties he will have in his toil (i.e., while seeking to subdue the earth) to secure bread (Genesis 3:17-19) “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Here God defines what is the main calling for man, namely, the responsibility of earning the primary finances for his wife and family (1 Timothy 5:8).
Role of the Husband as Leader
Scripture makes it clear that a husband must be a leader of his home and have healthy control of his life. 1 Timothy 3; in speaking of two church leadership positions filled by men, teaches that an Overseer and Deacon must manage his family well. Verse 5 specifically says, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”
Furthering this understanding, Ephesians 5:22-24 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Again, in 1 Corinthians 11:3, Scripture says, "But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
A simple definition of Leadership simply means influence. Therefore, a biblically-based husband should influence his family. Husbands are not dictators, but should influence their wives and families in a`ccordance with biblical teaching. They should exemplify, with their voice and their actions, attributes that bring glory to God and value to their spouse and family. The fruit of a good biblically-based husband is a strong, confident, spiritually mature wife and family.
Role of the Husband as Protector
The role of the husband in the Bible should also encompasses provision and protection. A husband will never influence his wife if he does not care for her. He can demand and she may follow as a result, but he will never truly have her heart unless he provides for her needs, cares for her well-being, and protects her both physically and spiritually.
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19).
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7).
In no place does Scripture teach or endorse that women and children be considered second rate or inferior to men. Instead, He finds them so precious that He asks for special care to be given them; a care that only biblically-based men can provide. Women are very capable of taking care of themselves. However, God did make men and women different and thus due to the physical nature and strength God gave men, He has charged them with the protection of their families.
The physical nature and strength of a man is to be managed with grace and gentleness. God did not create men to lord over women nor did he create women to simply wait on men. He made them both to complement each other through healthy companionship.
Role of the Husband as Companion
The role of the husband in the Bible is fulfilled through the heart of companionship. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
The relationship between a husband and a wife is meant to be one of love, respect, and support. They are to help each other. This idea is introduced at the beginning of the Bible in the story of the creation of Eve. Adam needed a companion, a suitable helper, yet one could not be found until God created Eve. Genesis 2:20-24 says, “…But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
Through their companionship a husband and wife work together as a team to develop and grow a family. God’s plan was that every home operates under the specific roles of both a husband and a wife and that through this they raise healthy children who honor God with their lives. Ephesians 6:1-3 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ —which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’” Children are blessed through the honor of their mother and father working in unison to train them up in the way they should go.
Role of Women
The Old Testament and women.
In the creation account of Genesis 1, God’s first word on the subject of men and women is that they were equally created in the image of God (v.27). Neither received more of the image of God than the other. So the Bible begins with the equality of the sexes. As a person, as spiritual beings standing before God, men and women are absolutely equal.
Despite this equality, there is in Genesis 2 a more detailed account of the creation of two human beings that reveals differences in their God-given functions and responsibilities. God did not create the man and the woman at the same time, but rather he created Adam first and Eve later for the specific purpose of being Adam’s helper. Eve was equal to Adam, but she was given the role and duty of submitting to him. Although the word “helper” carries very positive connotations--even being used of God Himself as the helper of Israel (Deut. 33:7, Ps. 33:20)--it still describes someone in a relationship of service to another. The responsibility of wives to submit to their husbands, then, was part of the plan from creation, even before the curse. The first books of the Bible establish both the equality of men and women and also the support role of the wife (see Exod. 21:15, 17, 28-31, Num. 5:19-20, 29, 6:2, 30:1-16).
Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s command resulted in certain consequences (Gen.3:16-19). For the women, God pronounced a curse that included multiplied pain in childbirth and tension in the authority/submission relationship of husband and wife, Genesis 3:16 says the woman’s “desire” will be for her husband but he shall “rule” over her. In Genesis 4:7 the author uses the same word “desire” to mean “excessive control over.” Thus, the curse in Genesis 3:16 refers to a new desire on the part of the woman to exercise control over her husband--but he will, in fact, oppressively rule and exert authority over her. The result of the fall on marriage through history has been an ongoing struggle between the sexes, with women seeking control and men seeking dominance.
Throughout the Old Testament, women were active in the religious life of Israel, but generally they were not leaders. Women like Deborah (Judges 4) were clearly the exception and not the rule. No woman was a priest. No legitimate queen ever ruled Israel. No woman wrote an Old Testament (or New Testament) book. Isaiah 3:12 indicates that God allowed women to rule as part of His judgment on the sinning nation.
Jesus and women.
In the midst of the Greek, Roman, and Jewish cultures, which viewed women almost on the level of possessions, Jesus showed love and respect for women, Though Jewish rabbis did not teach women and the Jewish Talmud said it was better to burn the Torah than to teach it to a woman, Jesus never took the position that women, by their very nature, could not understand spiritual or theological truths. He not only included them in His audiences but also used illustrations and images that would be familiar to them (Matt. 13:33, 22:1-2, 24:41, Luke 5:8-10) and specifically applied His teaching to them (Matt. 10:30). To the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), He revealed that He was the Messiah and discussed with her topics such as eternal life and the nature of true worship. He also taught Mary and, when admonished by Martha, pointed out the priority of learning spiritual truth even over “womanly” responsibilities like serving guests in one’s home (Luke 10:38).
Although men in Jesus’ day normally would not allow women to count change into their hands for fear of physical contact, Jesus touched women to heal them and allowed women to touch Him (Luke 13, Mark 5:25). Jesus even allowed a small group of women to travel with Him and His disciples (Luke 8:1-3), an unprecedented happening at the time. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene and sent her to announce His resurrection to the disciples (John 20:1-18), despite the fact that women were not allowed to be witnesses in Jewish courts because they were considered liars.
In Jesus’ treatment of women, He raised their station of life and He showed them compassion and respect in a way they had never known. This demonstrated their equality. At the same time, however, Jesus still did not exalt women to a place of leadership over men.
The epistles and women.
In the Epistles, the two principles of equality and submission for women exist side by side. Galatians 3:28 points to the equality, indicating that the way of salvation is the same for both men and women and that they are members of equal standing in the body of Christ. It does not, however, eradicate all differences in responsibilities for men and women, for this passage does not cover every aspect of God’s design for male and female. In addition, there are many other passages that make distinctions between what God desires of men and what He desires of women, specifically with family and within the church.
The family and women.
While Christian marriage is to involve mutual love and submission between a believing man and a believing woman (Eph. 5:21), four passages in the New Testament expressly give the wives the responsibility to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22, Col. 3:18, Titus 2:5, 1 Peter 3:1). This voluntary submission of one equal to another is an expression of love for God and desire to follow His design revealed in His Word. It is never pictured as demeaning or in any way diminishing the wife’s equality. Rather the husband is called to love his wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25) and to serve as the leader in a relationship of two equals.
While husbands and fathers have been given the primary responsibility for the leadership of the children (Eph. 6:4, Col. 3:21, 1 Tim. 3:4-5), wives and mothers are urged to be “workers at home” (Titus 2:5), meaning managers of the household. Their home and their children are to be their priority, in contrast to the world’s emphasis today on careers and full time jobs for women outside the home.
The church and women.
From the very beginning, women fulfilled a vital role in the Christian church (Acts 1:1- 14, 19:36-42, 16:13-15, 17, 10-12, 18:1-2, 18:24-28, Romans 16, 1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Tim. 1:5, 4:19), but not one of leadership. The Apostles were all men; the chief missionary activity was done by men; the writing of the New Testament was the work of men; and leadership in the churches was entrusted to men.
Although the Apostle Paul respected women and worked side by side with them for the furtherance of the gospel (Romans 16, Phil. 4:3), he appointed no female elders or pastors. In his letters, he urged that men were to be the leaders in the church and that women were not to teach or exercise authority over men (1 Tim. 2:12). Therefore, although women are spiritual equals with men and the ministry of women is essential to the body of Christ, women are excluded from leadership over men in the church.
Men and women stand as equals before God, both bearing the image of God Himself. However, without making one inferior to the other, God calls upon both men and women to fulfill the roles and responsibilities specifically designed for them, a pattern that can be seen even in the Godhead (1 Cor. 11:3). In fulfilling the divinely given roles taught in the New Testament, women are able to realize their full potential because they are following the plan of their Creator and Designer. Only in obedience to Him and His design will women truly be able, in the fullest sense, to give glory to God.
The Role of Children
Reading through Scripture God helps us understand the purpose and roles of children in the family.
1.) Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord
(Colossians 3:20). In Ephesians 6:1-3 he adds to a similar statement the Old Testament command and promise that goes with it. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
2) The knowledge of God is passed on through the children.
Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart ;and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
Psalm 78:5,“For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should teach them to their children, 6 That the generation to come might know, [even] the children [yet] to be born, [That] they may arise and tell [them] to their children, 7 That they should put their confidence in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandment.”
3) Children are a blessing.
Psalm 127:3-5, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate.”
Children bring much joy into our lives. It is amazing to watch children’s love for life, wonder at the world around them, and happiness over simple pleasures. Children from the eternal perspective, teach us a lot about trusting the Lord and walking with Him. They prod us to think less of ourselves and learn to love sacrificially. They reflect us and we see both the good and bad in ourselves which prods us on to greater holiness. Their very presence causes us to be more careful how we act, what we say and even how we think.
Document largely originated from Grace Community Church Sun Valley, CA