He has denied the faith...

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. - 1Timothy 5:8

In a nation where the majority of citizens claim to have "a personal relationship" or to be "living a narrative" with Jesus at the center, how is it that babies keep being murdered at a rate of 1.3 million per year? How is it that women continue to take on more positions in which, by design and intent, they exercise authority over men? How is it that the family meal has died? That what my Dad called "that huckster" now owns the center of our living room and dying room? That no one practices hospitality any more—except perhaps at restaurants or hotels? That husbands love internet sluts instead of the wife of their youth? That one fifth of our nation's women now arrive at their early forties never having given birth to a child?

Really, the older I get the more sense it makes to me that the New Testament Epistles place such constant and heavy emphasis on simple (or should I say foundational) household matters. Do we really think that killing babies, women sleeping with women and men with men, children defying their fathers, mothers abandoning their children and home for a public life, husbands loving prostitutes instead of the virtuous wife God gave them, wives refusing to submit to their husbands and taking over the leadership of the church and state, smutty plays and drama and poetry, and spoiled cats and dogs are things unknown in the world of the early Christians?

Why, the Early Church fathers even wrote exhortations to their flock to go out and pick up the children exposed on the hillsides behind their homes, instead of wasting their money feeding dogs. Is this relevant to us, dear brothers and sisters—relevant at all?

True Christian faith cannot exist where the husband doesn't love his wife, the wife doesn't submit to her husband, the father and mother make orgasmic, but not unitive and procreative love; where the father fails to discipline and the mother fails to care for the children God has given them; where the children dishonor their father and mother, the family doesn't work, eat, travel, worship, and rest in the light and instruction of God's Word, and the poor and needy are not brought in to share in what should be the abundance of familial comfort and love. Such foundational things are the never-fail fruit of true Christian faith. After all, the just live by faith.

If ideas have consequences, Christian faith should always bear fruit. If Scripture is our only infallible rule of faith and practice, the fruit of Christian faith should start in the home with very organic matters. You know, lifelong, heterosexual, monogamous, covenantal marriage; being fruitful and multiplying so that God may receive His godly seed; husbands loving only their wives, and sacrificially; wives submitting to their husbands as unto the Lord, calling him "lord;" children honoring and obeying their parents; fathers giving themselves to their children without reserve, showing great tenderness, oozing with real affection; fathers demonstrating their love through discipline and never failing to instruct the family in the dogmatic doctrine of Scripture; and dinner tables and bedrooms always filled with life and love that breaks out past our human blood-lines to the poor and needy, weak and oppressed, travelers and homeless, the depressed, orphans, widows, spinsters, the frail and abandoned, sick and dying.

Tenderness, love, and affection intermingled naturally with discipline and belly laughs—that's the family life of sinners who have been plucked out of the wrath of God by His Only Begotten Son, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. Merriment, tears, hard work, submission, affection, honoring one another; and physical intimacy that is delightful and fruitful. Physical intimacy that is biblical. Physical intimacy that rises above mutual narcissism to an act of faith in God's provision for the next generation.

We love because He first loved us.

But of course, moderns turn everything on its head. Men with men and women with women instead of one woman with one man and one man with one woman. Promiscuity instead of fidelity. Prenups instead of a covenant. Pornography instead of the lovely breasts of the wife of one's youth. Day care instead of motherhood. And all of it as sterile as faithlessness can be.

Honestly, until pastors and elders exhort the members of their flock concerning home matters with the same words and boldness that characterizes the written record of the pastoral care of the early church known as the Epistles of the New Testament, doing it both publicly and individually ("from house to house"), no other aspect of our ministry matters. We cannot be faithful shepherds and remain blissfully ignorant of the affection and purity of our church's husbands, the submissiveness and domesticity of her wives, the obedience of her children, the fruitfulness of her marriage beds, the hospitality of her dining room tables and bedrooms, the biblical instruction of her children, and the care of her aged.

It would be good for each of us called to the office of shepherd to ask ourselves when the last time was that we were in a home speaking to a husband and wife personally about faith and holiness? And not nebulously, but following the Apostles by personally exhorting the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her; and personally exhorting the wife to submit to her husband in everything, not giving way to fear, but putting her trust in God.

Let judgment begin, and let it begin in the households of God.

Where there is no Christian home, there is no Christian faith.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Tim (& David),

Thanks for that. This I will print out, refer to and share. All I can say is - Amen.

I am not asking this to be contrary or rebellious. I am just genuinely curious.

How many wives call their husband "lord"?

>How many wives call their husband "lord"?

Just one--Sarah:

(1 Peter 3:1-6) 1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

>How many wives call their husband "lord"?

Actually, every time we submissively follow our husbands' leadership, we call them "lord". Perhaps we do not vocalize it, but our attitude speaks it. Maybe we're not leaving our homes and families to travel who knows where and live in a tent (maybe some are!), but we may be walking down a road by faith, not seeing the end, not knowing what will become of us. Maybe our husbands bring home guests without giving us a heads-up and we respond with cheerful hospitality. Maybe we have ideas about how this particular situation with this particular child should be dealt with, and he asks us to deal with it differently. No matter the case, submissively following requires faith not simply in our "lord" but in our LORD. (Don't we tell this to our children as we encourage them to obey us - that their obedience is a reflection of their faith in God?)

And, to tell you the truth, sometimes I do have to call him "lord" right out loud to remind myself where my heart needs to be. It's usually accompanied by a little smirk and a twinkle in my eye, which says to him, "You know I think you're crazy, but I'm with you, Babe!"

Now, Amanda, you know it was a teepee, not a tent.

Well, I wasn't going to name names.

Well said, gracious host. Sometimes we get so linked in with this and that and the other thing, we forget that the family, not the corporation, is the God-ordained institution.

Wow, Stephen! I never knew Abraham and Sarah lived in a teepee.

You must be reading from that "Dances With Wolves" translation. ;)

What are the marks of a Christian home of a single person? Same things?

I always accidentally call it a tent - but Stephen always ensures that everyone calls it a teepee.

Besides, many wives would love to live in a teepee!

On a serious note, I have been very blessed that as a new Christian I attending a Reformed Presbyterian church that showed me the example of hospitality, as CGS did as well.

There is something magical that happens when you have people in your home - somehow they truly know you and therefor see the closest example of what God's people are like. Many people begin to see something they have never known in their own homes. Expect then that people will want to become your adopted children. Whole families will sort of become your children (and often you the children of others). There's a 61 year old guy who I don't think any of us know if he's an uncle, grandfather or child in our home - he ends up being all of them at different times.

A clean home doesn't matter either, people notice something more than the clutter. Everyone can open their home in a way that is very biblical but something that in America with our Super-8s and Holiday-Inns we've missed.

Great things can happen. Four years ago a young man from our church came into our family, among other things, he worked with me on a real-estate investment we'd had, we met his family and took him with us on a small family vacation - and you know, this guy who became like a brother (since I had family who were the same age) ended up being there for us (when all the time he thought we were only there for him) when my family members were in all sorts of trouble and rebellion against God. God had sent us this kid, who we met at church who seemed to need us more than we ever needed him, to sooth the pain we felt at seeing family members ruining their lives.

My kids have gotten aunts and uncles they never would have had (and grandparents) and the guy who had been in our family for his entire college career told us that he had never thought he could ever tell his wife to stay home with the kids - he realized that he should expect a wife to do this and that a woman staying home is truly happy in that biblical role. Also, he had never seen a man work and maintain a home - something men need to learn as well. He saw things it took me years to understand about biblical leadership. I learned those things from various other Godly homes I was invited into.

Anyway, I hadn't thought much of it really - God did the good work that we barely saw, we just liked having him around (and hey, free labor) but by the time he left he said in a letter and I quote, "Your kids always thought of me as an uncle, I always felt more like one of their siblings."

I'll never forget that as long as I live and never undestimate the impact a family can have with their Christian home.

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