EULESS, Texas (BP)–An article appeared in USA Today on June 13 titled, “‘Father’ means more than household master.” The writer, Patricia Pearson, asserts that fathers are essential for healthy and proper growth of children. She notes that a host of studies persist in pointing out that kids do better socially, emotionally and intellectually when dads are present. But, Pearson continues, one of the problems not addressed in America is how men define fatherhood.
Pearson makes a point that reaches to the heart of America. The question also reaches to the heart of Christians, and we must ask, “Is her understanding of fatherhood compatible with what God says in his Word?”
Without doubt, dads do make a difference in the lives of their children. But the Scriptures are clear that fathers make a difference in the lives of their wives as well. We must go to the Scriptures and determine what God says about being “the family man.”
It is clear in Ephesians that the relationships between a man, his wife and his children should emulate Christ and his church — emulate Christ’s love, submission, respect, sacrifice and dedication/devotion.
Perhaps most importantly, being a family man takes leadership. The apostle Paul gave the Ephesians a model to follow by comparing the relationship of a husband and wife to that of Christ and the church. The husband was to be the leader. Paul used the term “head” in Ephesians 5:23 to designate the responsibility of leadership. The term undoubtedly referred to the matter of authority. To Paul, authority was given in order to fulfill responsibility. For Paul, responsibility without authority will not work.
The authority over the church is Jesus. The authority over the woman is the husband. So, Paul was saying that the ultimate responsibility for the home was the man. And Paul gave the specific responsibilities the man should live out.
First, he was to lead his wife and children in purity of life. Jesus was the role model Paul gave. And what an example! Jesus was “unblemished” and “pure.” He had given himself to sanctify the church. Not only should the man lead his family in purity, but also he should provide for his home. “No man ever hateth his own flesh, but he nourisheth and cherisheth it” (Ephesians 5:29). So, Paul’s emphasis lies in the fact that the man should lead his family into a wholesome experience of life where the basic needs were provided and purity was sought.
From the text, we see the kind of leader Paul had in mind. The husband was to be a loving leader. Paul designated the characteristics of this love. First, it was to be a sacrificial love (Ephesians 5:25). Let’s look at the text: “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” The husband was to love in the same manner, as we see in Ephesians 5:28: “So ought men to love their wives.” Second, the love was to be a supreme love, as we see in Ephesians 5:31. The family love is the greatest love and loyalty known to man. Paul said that the love a man has for his wife is to be unrivaled by any other.
Paul declares to the church at Ephesus (and thereby, to Christians today) that this kind of love is like the Savior’s love. It is releasing! The Savior’s love never enslaves but always releases us to become all that God intends for us to become.
When we ask God to grant us the grace and strength to become loving leaders in the home, our relationships with our wives will grow, deepen and transform into God’s vision for marriage. As loving leaders, we will base our lives on the Scriptures, providing a positive example for our children to follow. We will dedicate ourselves to the development of our children’s character, and the character of the family.
When God begins to transform us into loving leaders, we will know what it takes to become a “family man.”
For more of Dr. Thomas’ resources, visit LifePoints, at www.firstonthe.net .