Faith and Culture
I am one of those people who like the idea of being able to speak to secular people and engage our culture in matters of faith. I often read books or articles on this topic, perhaps my favorite being The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller.
If I’m being honest, however, I am not sure how effective I have been in dialoguing with people on these topics. I don’t think it’s necessarily a deficiency of knowledge, but perhaps I have not done a good job of initiating these conversations; or maybe people in general are not that interested in these things.
The Ministry of Family
Honestly, I think my marriage and family have had a much greater impact on others around me. For most of my kids’ lives, they have gone to public schools in the Nashville area, and we have gotten to know a lot of families through these connections. Over time, I noticed that my children and their friends saw our family as being different than most. Though we are far from perfect, I think they witnessed a husband and wife who truly love one another and enjoy being together. Our children have often seen that difference as well. We have certainly had our ups and downs and no one would accuse us of being “picture perfect,” but still—we seemed to stand out to some of them.
In Ephesians 5:21-6:4, Paul instructs the believers about having a Christian marriage and household. Now, I understand that this passage often gets derided for being antiquated and not meeting the politically correct standards of the 21st Century Western world. But before we dismiss this passage, let’s make sure to (a) read it in context, and (b) see the amazing and compelling truths we find here.
Historical and Literary Context
First, we begin with our own context. We live in a society where men have been portrayed in pretty awful ways for the last several years. Can you name a sitcom in the last 10 years that has a male figure that you want your son to emulate or your daughter to marry? Why should men lead the family?
Secondly, in this passage, Paul talks a lot about responsibilities but says nothing about rights. For a husband or father to demand respect misses the whole point of the passage.
Third, in the Greco-Roman world, it would have been normal to address the responsibilities of those on the lower strata of society (women, children, slaves). What is unique about Paul is that he calls on the husbands, fathers, and masters to exercise loving leadership. They are responsible because they will be held accountable before God and because everyone is an image-bearer of God and equal in Christ. (See Galatians 3:28.)
A Compelling Vision
Do you know what image God chose when He wanted a picture of Christ and His sacrificial love for His Bride, the Church? You guessed it. Marriage How sacred. How divine. How beautiful! A marriage and family seeking to live out the vision of Ephesians 5:21-6:4 (imperfectly at times) will be a persuasive testimony in a society desperately seeking a compelling vision to follow.