CAP – Study 8 – Institutions – Family – Family Hierarchy
As we become more familiar with the idea that we are here for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God – right now and right here on earth – how exactly do we do that? This study begins the process of addressing that question.
· The family was the first institution for carrying out God’s purpose.
· The family as an institution is temporary.
· The family operates through a hierarchy designed by God.
· The family is the chief agency of God’s dominion.
The following is from Gary North’s “Unconditional Surrender”
The family was the first institution. It was based on an oath, but one announced by God. “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28). That was a covenant oath between God and mankind. It was an oath because it was God’s vow regarding what men and women would do in history.
As an institution, the family is temporary. It does not extend into eternity. “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). Its purpose has to do with history, which is cursed (Genesis 3:17-19). It is supposed to be a blessed institution, established for the glory of God.
It is common in every society. Conservative political philosophy in the West has always said that the family is the central institution of society. Jesus taught otherwise. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthey 10:34-37). The church, as the bride of Christ, is the central institution. It will extend into eternity. (Rev.21:22) The family will not.
This fact does not affirm the central tenet of liberal political philosophy: The state as the central institution. The state also will not extend into eternity, for its only biblically valid function is to suppress certain forms of public evil. “For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he bears not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil” (Romans 13:4).
Man and woman were created as a functioning team. Their task was, and is, to subdue the earth to the glory of God (Genesis 1:26-28; 9:1-7). This is the task of dominion. It is basic to the very being of man to fulfill this assignment. As punishment for man's rebellion, God does not allow man to completely fulfill this command. An eternal longing, a feeling of impotence, will gnaw at every rebel's mind forever. Adam was created first. He was assigned the preliminary task of naming (classifying) the animals before he was given his wife (Genesis 2:19-20). Man completed this assignment, and then God gave him a wife. This indicates that a woman is given to man to help him fulfill his calling before God. Paul put it this way: "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man" (I Corinthians 11:8-9). At the same time, they are now a functioning unit under God: "Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God" (I Corinthians 11:11-12). Originally, the woman was made for the man, but all children emanate from both man and woman. All are under God. There was, and is, a hierarchy. God is absolutely sovereign over both men and women, but He establishes His chain of command through the husband. Peter wrote: "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands" (I Peter 3:la). Again, "Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement [terror]" (I Peter 3:6). Husbands owe their wives righteous judgment and support. "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (I Peter 3:7). Paul's lengthy statement concerning the mutual duties of husbands and wives compares this relationship with Christ's love for His church and the church's responsibility to the one who loves her. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself.”(Ephesians 5:22-28). Given the perceived necessity of Paul and the other writers of commanding wives to submit to their husbands, and telling the husbands to love their wives we should expect to find the opposite in life: Disobedient wives and unloving husbands. God gave strict orders to Adam to refrain from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tempter approached Eve first, in his successful attempt to foment a revolution. Adam, in turn, carried his revolution to God. He also ate. Satan knew what he was doing when he began his revolution by undermining the family hierarchy. He cut the chain of command at its weakest link, the woman. Peter spoke of the wife as "the weaker vessel" (I Peter 3:7). Paul said the woman was deceived by the serpent, but the man was not deceived (I Timothy 2:14). Adam was the stronger link. The family hierarchy extends downward to the children. Paul repeats the familiar refrain: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: For this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged" (Colossians 3:18-21). This chain of command is designed to reflect God's relationship to the creation a hierarchy of functions, but without any superiority or inferiority of being which means that the Christian view of marriage upholds both sexes without confusing the two. Functional subordination does not imply ethical inferiority. It simply means that mankind as a collective unit is composed of different sorts of people, and there can never be functional equality between men and women. Their tasks are different, and for mankind to fulfill the terms of God's dominion assignment, men must respect the differences God has built into the sexes. Men are functionally superior to their wives in a way analogous to Christ's functional superiority over the church. The church will never be functionally superior to Christ.
The family is God's specially designed unit. It is designed to extend God's visible sovereignty over the face of the earth. The family is the chief agency of dominion. Dominion is its task.