B75 - Honor the structure in a family
‘The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God’ – 1 Cor 11:3.
God is a God of order as seen in 1 Cor 14:33.
He has laid down the order – God at the top, followed by Christ, then man, and lastly the woman.
The Greek word, ‘head’, is kephale. It is used to represent cornerstone head, ruler, or lord. The Greek word, ‘man’, is aner and indicate a male human being, a man or a husband.
In 1 Tim 5:14, Paul counselled a woman to ‘manage their households.’ It is as if the woman is the Chief Operating Officer while the man is the Chief Executive Officer.
Even Jesus (Yes, the Son of God) learned to submit to his earthly parents while he was on earth. Luke 2:51 says,
‘And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.’
The Greek word is hupotasso and it means subject to, submit, or put oneself into subjection. If the Son of God could do that, what does it tell us about ourselves?
In Western societies, we might see this model being challenged. Yet, this is the model prescribed in Scripture by God.
It may be politically incorrect but within a household, the man is the person responsible for the well-being and the final decision making of the family. Nonetheless, it does not afford a license for the man to be domineering, unkind and dogmatic.
It is also not a situation for uncalled-for, mean conversations too.
If a man loves his wife and a wife submits to her husband, there would be perfect harmony.
On a practical level, in a modern society where both husband and wife might be working in order to maintain a household, if a man loves his wife, then it will be a natural thing to assist in housework. Even if a wife does not work but is, for example, looking after the children, then love must compel a husband to be involved in keeping the house.
Please also see B32 – Submit to one another. See also B4o2 and B403 – A woman.
B76 - Keep sex sacrosanct
Heb 13:4 makes it quite clear,
‘Let marriage be held in honor among all and let the marriage bed be undefiled.’
Sex is solely between a man and his wife; adultery is a sin and a no-go zone.
In the Old Testament, Mal 2:15, it reads in the NLT version –
‘Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth’
Please also see S126, Engage in unnatural sex.
B77 - Do not use sex deprivation as a weapon (for married couples)
The Apostle Paul was never married but in 1 Cor 7:4-5 says,
‘For the wife does not have authority over her own body but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self control.’
What was Paul saying? The Apostle Paul was telling his readers that a wife and husband should never use ‘deprivation of sex’ as a weapon and that ‘deprivation’ should only be for a short time and with good reasons too.
To married couples – sex is often a powerful healer.
B78 - Honor a man as the head of a woman (within a household)
Within a household, a man is the head of a woman. We have decided to make this more explicit in the context of a politically correct world.
For more information, please refer to B75, Honor the structure in a family.
B79- - Do not divorce unless (for married couples)
Jesus said in Mark 10:9,
‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’
In Matt 19:8, Jesus explained that Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of heart. It is never God’s plans for married people to divorce except in the case of marital infidelity.
In the Old Testament, Mal 2:16 (NLT) reads –
‘“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”’
In fact, the Apostle Paul used the marital relationship to show the sacrificial love of Christ to His church in Eph 5:21-33.
And in 1 Cor 7:10, Paul spelled out clearly the Lord’s intention:
‘To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord); the wife should not separate from her husband.’
The key principles are as follows:
- Marriage is sacrosanct,
- God hates divorces,
- The Bible only lists TWO reasons for divorce as seen below,
- Marital infidelity is a justified reason for divorce,
- The second justifiable reason is if one spouse becomes a Christian and the other party decides to leave the marriage despite the former trying his/ her best to preserve the marriage (1 Cor 7:15).
To believers who are thinking of divorce, Christian legal experts have suggested a separation first to give each other time to consider the issue. Christian counselling, through the help of a relevant third party, will always be useful.
B79 – Do not divorce unless … should be read alongside with B357 to B368 – Handling Offences.
A lot of issues in our lives comes out of our inability to handle offences even in a marriage situation.
B80 - If you have divorced and remarried (for married couples)
Recognize that divorce has been permitted by Moses because of the ‘hardness of hearts’ (Matt 19:8).
GNT uses the term, ‘so hard to teach’ or ‘stubbornness’. The Greek word is sklerokardia and can be translated as obstinacy or as someone who refuses to be receptive to God’s inworking of faith.
The latter does, indeed, sound very serious – ‘someone who refuses to be receptive to God’s inworking of faith.’ And it is serious as it impacts our spiritual walk including grieving of the Holy Spirit (B13 – Don’t quench the Spirit).
To believers who are divorced and possibly remarried, divorce is not an unpardonable sin but one that has consequences. God continues to love but we must understand that divorce is never his intended choice.
B81 - Separate if you have to but remain unmarried or be reconciled (for married couples)
This is the case of a decision by both parties to separate possibly because of ‘irreconcilable differences’. Please refer to B79 and B80 – Divorce, to get a complete picture.
In 1 Cor 7:11, the Apostle Paul made it clear,
‘But if she does (separate from her husband), she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband, and her husband should not divorce his wife.’
(PS: Vice versa is also true).
This might be tough to a lot of couples who have been separated but if you are asking for Scriptural guidance, then we have to abide by these words.
The message of faithfulness is a critical one as God has always used the analogy of a marriage to his relationship with Israel. God has, and will always, remained faithful to Israel despite her unfaithfulness.
2 Tim 2:11-13 reads,
‘If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself.’
One of the world’s greatest evangelists, the late Kathryn Kuhlman, a lady who moved in the supernatural of healing, was one such person. She divorced her husband and yet ministered powerfully in healing crusades. But she never remarried.
We are not endorsing divorce but we are showing how one godly woman lived out the truth established in 1 Cor 7:11.
Please also read B13 – Don’t quench the Spirit.
B82 - Separate but decide to remarry someone else (for married couples)
Mark 10:11 – Jesus said,
‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’
Matt 19:9 explains that if it is a case of infidelity, then divorce is an acceptable option. Otherwise, in the context of the Bible, it is the same as adultery.
The language is plain for a believer who is marrying a divorced believer.
Read B79 to B81, Divorce and Separation, to get a complete picture.
Obviously, adultery is not an unpardonable sin if repentance is involved. But there are always consequences.
B83 - Stay married to a non-believing spouse (for married couples)
There are non-Christians who become Christians later in their lives. Then, what do they do with their spouses? Do they stay married to them or can they annul their marriages?
1 Cor 7:12-16 provides a guideline that a Christian should stay married to his/ her unbelieving spouse UNLESS the latter chooses to depart.
- v14 – For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children (and that is the key), would not be holy and now they are holy.
- In addition, v15 suggests that the believing spouse might end up saving the non-believing ones.
We have seen the positive impact a Christian has on being faithful in such a marriage despite having an unbelieving spouse. We encourage these believers to stay faithful in their marriages and trust God.
God always honors faithfulness because God is faithful (2 Tim 2:13).
B84 - Remarry is permitted for widows and widowers (for married couples)
B85 - Submit to your husbands (for wives' only)
‘Likewise, wives be subject to your own husbands so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.’
It is a form of lifestyle evangelism through submission, where our lives show forth who we are as Christians. Read B32 – Submit to one another.
In a perfect scenario, the wife submits to her husband while the husband loves his wife. The Apostle Peter acknowledged that a perfect scenario might not happen at first. Hence, Peter suggested that the wife should initiate the process by ‘submitting to her husband (NB: Not any man)’ in order to win him over.
Submission does seem like a negative word in the modern-day context. NLT uses the word, ‘accept the authority of your husbands.’ The Greek word is hupotasso and it means placing oneself into subjection. It is a voluntary thing and requires humility, a decision that acknowledges the final decision might not come from oneself. It is a giving up of oneself.
Jesus repeated the concept of marriage as
‘the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh’ – Mark 10:8.
A preacher cheekily said that most people understand the concept of ‘two being one flesh’ but the question that they post is, ‘Which one?’
In submission, we are not to rebel nor even quietly acquiesced. We are to recognize that God has placed a structure, B75, Honor the structure of a family, and there is order in the kingdom.
If a wife struggles to submit, it might be worthwhile to go to God in prayer and read the Scripture. It might also be worthwhile to find a godly Christian mentor (an older woman who walks close with God) to discuss these issues further.
B86 - Respect your husbands (for wives' only)
‘Let the wife see that she respects her husband.’
Some translations use the words ‘reverence’ (KJV) and ‘fear’ (ISV). The Greek word is phobeo and it means ‘dread’, ‘fear’, or even ‘terrified’. It is in recognition of the position of authority held by the husband in a God-ordained structure.
Again, it is a Biblical model and may not match with what the media preach. What does ‘respect’ mean? Consider these:
- A wife respects the leadership of her husband,
- She respects his maleness, and respects him that he is a man,
- She respects his provision; it is true that in a modern society, sometimes a woman earns more than a man. In those cases, continue to respect him in other areas.
- She respects his name and helps him to gain a good reputation.
- She respects his parenting and disciplining of children.
- She respects his accomplishment; to a man, accomplishments are big things. She soothes him when he is not doing well.
- Finally, she respects his home – A man’s home is his castle.
B87- Honor your wife (for husbands' only)
1 Peter 3:7 reminds husbands to
‘live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel …. So that your prayers may not be hindered.’
This is one area that impacts on the prayers of husbands; that is, if husbands fail to honor their wives.
The Greek word, ‘honor’, is that of time, that is, what has value in the eyes of the beholder. It is effectively telling husbands to treat their wives as valued partners in the marriage.
All good men will consult their wives before they make decisions, especially major ones, and all good men do not ignore the counsels that wives give liberally. Wives always bring up different angles as compared to their husbands simply because women in general are more intuitive by nature.
The word, ‘weaker’ probably refers to physical rather than mental strengths. It is the Greek word, asthenes, and it means without adequate strength, possibly frail or feeble. Of course, there are always exceptions when a woman might be stronger than a man.
B88 - Love your wives and give yourself to her (for husbands' only)
Eph 5:25 says,
‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up to her.’
It is not a one-way street of submission. It requires love and what greater love than this when Christ gave up his life for the church.
It means a willingness of a husband to drop his own agenda because he loves his wife. While ‘submission’ could be construed as a negative word, it is counteracted by love of the husbands.
In a loving relationship, no husband who loves his wife will insist on unreasonable and negative submission but will rather actively consult with their wives to find common solutions.
B89 - Do not be bitter towards your wife (for husbands' only)
Col 3:19 says,
‘Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.’
That is, ‘do not be harsh’, ‘do not be embittered’ (NASB), ‘do not abuse her’ (CEV), or ‘do not be bitter’ (KJV).
The Greek word is pikraino, and it means make bitter or grow angry and harsh. What does it tell us? A husband should never be bitter to his wife to the extent of being angry and possibly abusive.
If love rules the life of a good husband to his wife, he will and can never be harsh to his wife. It might be for a careless (and sinful) moment and that will require repentance. Yet, the overall relationship should be one of love.
1 Cor 13:6-8 teaches us what love is. And if husbands ever forget what love is, it is well worth to read it over again or paste it in the bedroom.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Let husbands never forget to love because when they love, ‘submission’ by their wives will be seen in the context of unity – of the ‘two becoming one’ working together in perfect harmony, just like the Trinity.
B90 - Discipline and instruct them in the Lord (for fathers' only)
Eph 6:4 says,
‘Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; instead, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.’
The responsibilities of bringing up children fall squarely on the shoulders of fathers. The two things are ‘discipline’, and ‘instruction’.
The Greek word for ‘discipline’, is paideia and can be used as chastisement, correction, and instruction, that is, the instruction to train someone to reach full maturity.
The Greek word for ‘instruction’, is nouthesia and it means warning, admonition, and counsel.
A father is expected to be instructional and guide his child while at the appropriate time to also include warning and admonition. The objective is to bring up the child to fulfill his/ her full potential.
NB: The word, ‘discipline’, does not necessary imply the use of physical force like caning. There are other strategies to consider.
Almost all males can father a child; that is the easy part. But bringing up a child in the fear of God, that can be a real challenge. It is, therefore, always useful to sit at the feet of someone who has done fathering well and to learn from them.
B91 - Do not provoke our children to anger (for fathers' only)
Col 3:21 reads,
‘Fathers, do not make your children resentful. Otherwise, they will become discouraged.’
Eph 6:4 uses ‘provoke’.
The focus is on fathers. It is not the mother’s responsibilities when it comes to bringing up children. The word used is ‘provoke’ and ‘resent’.
Obviously, the disciples recognized that fathers can reach extremes in ‘provoking’ and therefore end up ‘discouraging’ their children.
Like marriages where there is a balance between ‘submission’ and ‘love’, in bringing up children, there is also a fine balance between ‘instruction’ and ‘discipline’.
B92 - When of age, children must decide for themselves
The story of the prodigal son is a powerful example of what we do as parents. Beyond a certain age, parents must release their children for them to ‘fly’ on their own.
Notice that in Luke 15, the father did not hold back his son but even let him squandered his money.
When children are of age, they must decide for themselves.
NB: But it does not mean that parents are helpless. As parents, we can and must continue to pray and trust God for their direction. Prayer is the one powerful thing that we can still guide ‘unseen’ events in our lives.
B93 - Be obedient to your parents (for children only)
‘And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.’
We must all remember that his earthly parents were nothing more than a conduit for the Son of God to come to be with us. They were not supernatural although they were obviously God-fearing.
Yet, Jesus chose to be submissive to them. Can you imagine that? What does it teach us?
The Greek word is hupotasso, and is found in B32 Submit to one another, and B85 Be submissive to your husband. It is ‘putting myself into subjection.’
Eph 6:1 says,
‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.’
The same goes for Col 3:20 which says,
‘Obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.’
The Greek word for ‘obedience’ in both verses is hupakouo or hearken to/ obey (what is heard)/ answer.
To obey, one must be prepared to submit. Obedience pleases the Lord.
Parents are not co-equals with their children. They have been assigned a task as found in B91, Discipline and instruct their children in the Lord.
B94 - Honor our parents (for children only)
Eph 6:2 says,
‘Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment of a promise).’
It does imply that dishonor may shorten our lives and bring destruction to the land; sin always brings destruction to the land.
Notice that here it goes beyond young children. And notice that it goes beyond whether they deserve honor or not.
The Greek word is timao and a value at a price is placed on it.
What does it mean to honor them?
Here are some practical suggestions from the Billy Graham Organization:
- Bring them to the Lord if they are not Christians,
- Pray for your parents,
- Love them,
- Help them through their difficult times,
- Exercise restraint in front of them,
- Value their world,
- Respect their age. Don’t mock their limitations and inabilities,
- Protect their individual dignity,
- Fulfill their essential joy. Find out what makes them happy and do it,
- Provide their basic needs. Don’t feast while they suffer,
- Forgive them.
NB: In the context of the Chinese culture, is ancestral worshiping the same as ‘honoring our parents’? Please see S9, Worship idols, for more information.