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Biblical model of family necessary for country’s survival, says Patterson


WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–America could be living out its final chapter in the annals of history unless the biblical model for the family is restored, Paige Patterson predicted Nov. 5, citing an atheist historian’s conclusion that the demise of 21 of the world’s greatest civilizations culminated in part from the breakdown of the home.
“The dissolution of this entire society and indeed of our entire world order is tied to the future of the home,” the president of the Southern Baptist Convention declared during his weekly chapel address in Wake Forest, N.C., at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also serves as president.
“Who is going to be the champion of the home?” asked Patterson. “… If you’re looking for any political party to champion the cause of the home, you’re looking in the wrong place. … If the home is going to have a champion in this last day, it is going to be the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Taking his cue from the Baptist Faith and Message article on “The Family,” adopted at the June 1998 Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Patterson said a godly home includes three components: a husband who “loves his wife as Christ loved the church,” a wife who “submit(s) herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ,” and children who “honor and obey their parents.”
“How can you have a problem in a situation like that? queried Patterson. “You can’t. They’re in the business of ministering to each others’ needs. Selfishness is put aside and (no one is demanding personal rights).”
Patterson read “The Family” article, which his wife, Dorothy, helped write, and took time to address misinterpretations that have arisen from this addition to the Southern Baptist Convention’s statement of faith.
Many media pundits blasted the SBC for the language of the article, which called for the wife “to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.” Patterson said the media overlooked the fact the article stated several times women are of equal worth with men before God.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that evangelical Bible-believing Christians believe that women are not equal to men,” responded Patterson. “So any submission that takes place is voluntary. It is not something that is (demanded of) us from above. (Yet) it is something that we voluntarily do.”
Reading from 1 Peter 3:1-7, Patterson continued with his expository preaching series through the book of 1 Peter while addressing the biblical issue of submission.
Patterson said the language of “The Family” article has been misconstrued by its critics. He said the original Greek word for “submit” is a military term which does not imply the person submitting to authority is not of equal worth.
“The first thing to notice is that it is not common only to women as they relate to their husbands. It is a term that has already been used with reference to … those who are a part of a state and how (they) are to respond to our leadership in those areas.”
A woman is the essential complement to a man, Patterson continued, referring to the Genesis account that Eve was created for Adam because without her he was incomplete. Reading from the Baptist Faith and Message’s article on “The Family,” Patterson stated further: “The husband and wife are of equal worth before God since both are created in God’s image.”
In a society that values appearance and position more than substance and character, Patterson said godly women are those who have realized that “true beauty to God is the hidden person of the heart.” True beauty is defined in the heart, he said.
While acknowledging there is nothing holy or spiritual about “looking [pale and dour],” Patterson said if women desire to be beautiful and elegant before God “[they should] cultivate the characteristics of a meek and quiet spirit and be in voluntary submission to your own husband,” in accordance with the biblical instruction of 1 Peter 3:3-5.
Ultimately, Patterson said, the home can not be all that God desires until the husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church. “You know why some of you have such feeble, anemic walks with God is because you are not honoring the first person God put in your life.” Patterson said a husband is instructed in Scripture to honor his wife. “And God will never hear and answer your prayer positively until you get to be the husband you are supposed to be.”
Addressing pastors, Patterson said a man can not do the will of God properly if he does not value his wife above everything other than the gift of salvation and place his home ministry above his church ministry. Patterson said this does not, however, provide license to neglect the church of God.
“I had rather have a pastor who is a great husband and a good father than to have a pastor who is [only] a good pulpiteer and a wonderful servant to the flock,” said Patterson. “If you fail at everything else in life at least you will have achieved one thing by the grace of God and you will be a godly husband and a godly father and your whole family will rise up and call you blessed.”

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  • Lee Weeks