Last night, we had a great discussion in our small group. We are going through Andreas J. Kostenberger’s book God, Marriage and Family. Which, if you want the most thorough book on what the Bible says about marriage, roles, divorce, family, kids. This is the book. At least outside of the Bible.
The chapter last night was about what the Old Testament says about family, but focused specifically on the role of the father/man in the family. This topic usually goes one of two ways in conversations: it either holds the man up as a dictator which is the abusive side of this, or, it says that men should not lead because that is discrimination against the women.
The book lists 9 things that men did in the Old Testament when it came to marriage/family. While all of them don’t have specific application for today, many of them do. After each one I’ll share some thoughts.
- Personally modeling strict personal fidelity to God.Too many churches have taught a feminine version of Christianity. One that makes men out to be pansies. We have taken the adventure and risk out of faith and made it about what we know for certain and what we can control. In turn, men have run from churches. So, most men have no personal faith to pass on. So it starts with an understanding of what God calls men to and living that out. You can’t pass on to anyone something that you aren’t. Being a Christian should be so obvious that you never have to tell anyone about it. For example, I never have to say, “I’m a Steelers fan.” Everyone knows.
- Leading the family in the national festivals, nurturing the memory of Israel’s salvation. Men need to remind their families of what God has done for them in the past. When God saved you, when you were baptized, how God has provided for you financially and protected you as a family/couple. Keep this in front of your family.
- Instructing the family in the traditions of the exodus and the Scriptures. What immediately comes to mind is a Bible study. For us, we have tried to make this more natural. Katie and I have tried to take the ways we connect to God and share those with our kids. When we pray the office, we do this with our kids. I love music, so we use music to teach our kids about God. If you love to hike, take your kids hiking and talk about how God made everything. The lessons that stick with kids are the unplanned lessons. Pray with them, share with them what God is teaching you, talk through their questions. Ava was mad on Saturday because she had to stop swimming so we could do the baptism, so we had a natural opportunity to share with her what baptism was all about. She understood but still wanted to swim.
- Managing the land in accordance with the law. This can be taking care of the environment or paying your taxes, house payments, bills, etc. Do you fall behind consistently on your bills? What does that say about you? This gets into how you manage your finances. Now, in our family, Katie pays the bills, but I am a part of what happens and we talk about everything. I have not abdicated that to her.
- Providing for the family’s basic needs for food, shelter, clothing and rest. This is self explanatory, but one thought, do you make enough money to provide for your family? Sure, you could always make more money and there are more things you would like to buy. Maybe you need to tone down your budget so that you are able to live on what you make. What has to happen so you can live on one income? Here’s a great resource coming up at Revolution.
- Defending the household against outside threats. This is not just protecting your family from harm, it’s that, but so much more. Are you protecting your family from sin or are you bringing it into your house? Are you teaching your kids about what sin is, what to avoid or are you hoping they pick it up somewhere or the church does that for you since it sounds hard? Are you keeping your family balanced when it comes to the calendar? Too many families just do everything without thinking about it. But you may say, “My wife keeps our calendar.” That may be, but I’ll explain in a minute why that doesn’t matter and why that is a lame excuse for living a frantic life.
- Serving as elder and representing the household in the official assemby of citizens. Are you striving to be an influencer in your local church or are you sitting on the sideline? Remember, what you are, you pass on (read #1 again). If you are not involved at church in a group, serving, going to church, giving back to God financially, your kids won’t. It is that simple. If you don’t passionately follow God, don’t get mad when your kids don’t. It is no one’s fault but your own.
- Maintaining family members’ well-being and harmonious operation of the family unit. This one gets tricky. Think about it like this, if your wife has a conflict with your mom, whose side are you on? Some may say, “I’ll try to play the mediator so they can work it out.” Sorry, but that is unbiblical. When you got married, you became one with your wife, her problem is your problem. She may be wrong, but you will defend her position to the death in public. Now privately you can tell her, “You are wrong” but in public, she is right.
- Implementing decisions made at the clan or tribal level. When you make a decision as a family to get out of debt, buy a house, set a goal. It is your job to make sure it happens. If you get off track, you get back on track.
That list is overwhelming. We have not even discussed what a wife/woman is supposed to be and do. You may think, I don’t want to do those things. I wish you well when you tell God that. This is what the Scriptures call us, consequently, this is what God calls us to as men/husbands/fathers.
For me, it is something to shoot for, a challenge to rise to. I love that. I get to become this.
If you are single, what woman does not want a husband who does these things? If you are married, your wife is dreaming of the day you will become these things. If you don’t believe me, show her this list.
For some more great reading, The Resurgence has a series on Masculinity Reclaimed.