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Bible helps husband, wife to build ‘a redemptive family,’ Ware says

LONGWOOD, Fla. (BP)–Men and women have different roles in the home and must execute their responsibilities faithfully if families are to operate the way God intended, said Bruce Ware, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

“A redemptive family is radically counter-cultural,” Ware said. “In the [Garden of Eden] before there was sin, it worked perfectly. When sin comes into the picture, it brings this distortion.”

Ware led a “Gender Roles in the Home” workshop during CBMW’s “Different by Design” conference at First Baptist Church of Sweetwater in Longwood, Fla., Sept. 8. Ware is senior associate dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Ware noted that men, in God’s design, are responsible for “loving, thoughtful, intentional leadership and over-arching spiritual direction” for their families.

“Embrace it,” Ware challenged the male participants. “Don’t shun it. Don’t abdicate it. Don’t neglect it. This is what God calls husbands and fathers in homes to do.”

As husbands, men are to love their wives as Christ loves the church, and as they love themselves.

“This kind of attitude counteracts the effects of the fall on men,” Ware said. “Instead of the fall producing in men either domination or passivity, what this restores is a sense of responsible, intentional leadership.”

Men are always to seek the well-being of their wives and to love them sacrificially, Ware said. “It restores the one-flesh relationship,” he said. “To neglect your wife, or to treat her poorly, is to do to yourself harm because you live in a one-flesh relationship with your wife.”

Men also are called to lead the way in prayer and devotion time, and to take measures to sanctify their wives.

“On the judgment day of Christ, husbands will give an account for the spiritual growth and development of their families in ways that their wives will not,” Ware said. “We bear primary responsibility and we need to be intentional in this.”

Listening is another important responsibility for husbands, Ware said. “Husbands are fools who do not listen attentively to their wives,” he said. “Take careful consideration of what she thinks and feels.”

As with their wives, men also are responsible for the spiritual growth of their children, Ware said. And fathers should be an authority figure to their children.

“Be to your children a voice of authority — a ruler in your home,” Ware said. “They need to obey you as dad. This has to be mandatory in homes. Your children will grow up and have attitudes of God that reflect attitudes toward their fathers in particular.”

But while being authoritative, Ware said fathers should be tender, loving and compassionate toward their children, and they should display love and honor for the children’s mother.

Women, meanwhile, must “embrace responsibility for respectful, joyful, willing submission and creative assistance in all matters of home and the family,” Ware said.

Referring to Ephesians 5:33, Ware called on wives to submit to and respect their husbands. Just as husbands loving their wives counteracts the effects of the fall, he said submission does the same thing for women.

“The fall introduced this illicit urge and tendency toward usurpation — bucking his authority,” Ware said. “What this [verse] calls for is respect for his authority and who he is as husband.”

The reason for such a response in women is because it mirrors the relationship of Christ to the church.

“For how much is the church responsible to submit to Christ?” Ware asked. “In everything.”

Women should recognize that submission is “Godlike,” Ware said. “Christ came in submission to the Father. It’s not only Godlike to be the authority. It’s Godlike to submit to authority.”

As mothers, women are responsible for displaying their respect to the children’s father, Ware said, and for requiring the children to respect and submit to his authority.

“Resist the cultural movement to mock husband and father as a mere buffoon,” Ware exhorted workshop participants.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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