“What Does It Mean To Be The Head Of The Home” by John Macarthur

Here on The Lydia Center Blog we’ve been walking through a teaching series from Grace to You called: “God’s Design For The Family.” In this post, Pastor John Macarthur builds on the foundational idea of marriage as a union in which there is mutuality to describe the nature of the husbands headship over his wife.

Scripture makes it perfectly clear that men and women are spiritual equals in the sight of God. They have an equal standing in Christ and equal spiritual privileges, because we are all united with Him in the same way. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There is no second-class spiritual citizenship. In Christ and before God, there’s only oneness. We are equal. Men are not spiritually superior to women.

It’s nonetheless true (and perfectly obvious) that both Scripture and nature assign different roles and different functions to men and women. The Bible is quite clear in assigning headship in every family to the husband, not the wife (Ephesians 5:23). The responsibilities of teaching and leading the church are given to men, not women (1 Timothy 2:12). But women are uniquely and exclusively equipped to bear and nurture young children, and the fulfillment of that role assures that they can never be relegated to any second-class status.

Men are, as a rule, physically stronger (1 Peter 3:7 NKJV refers to the wife as “the weaker vessel”). Men are therefore responsible to carry the weight and the brunt of labor in order to provide for and protect the family. Scripture teaches that God designed the physical differences and the functional differences between men and women for a purpose—and that is why God clearly distinguishes the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives.

Remember, however, that while their roles are clearly different, the spiritual standing of men and women in Christ is perfectly equal. Even the biblical language of two becoming one flesh underscores the essential oneness of husband and wife in a way that rules out the very notion of inequality.

As the article goes on, Macarthur demonstrates from Scripture that the relationship of headship is modeled after the Father’s headship of Christ and Christ’s headship of the church:

First, God has given every husband a clear responsibility for spiritual leadership, and men dare not abdicate that duty. The husband, not the wife, is to be head of the family. That is God’s design. Within every home, someone must ultimately have the responsibility of leadership, and Scripture unambiguously assigns that duty to men, not women.

Second, the model for the husband’s headship is Christ. Christlike headship involves not only authority for spiritual leadership, but also the duties of care, nurture, protection, and self-sacrifice. In the words of Ephesians 5:28–29,

Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.

Read the full article here: What does it mean to be the head of the home?

“Mutual Submission” by John MacArthur

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Order and unity. Submission and equality. Difference and similarity. These are what theologians call antinomies: two things that appear to contradict, but actually do not, yet are difficult to hold together.

In Christian marriage this theological problem is painfully practical: men and women are not the same, but they are. Marriage is a relationship of authority and even obedience (1 Peter 3:6), yet it is also a relationship of mutual submission and mutual service. For the Christian, all of these things come together in seeking Christ-likeness. The more you and I are like Jesus the more these antinomies will not become contradictions!

John MacArther writes:

…when it comes to one-on-one interpersonal relationships within all those institutions, the principle of mutual submission must govern how each of us treats one another. Even the person in a position of authority must be Christlike in his or her dealings with all others—which, of course, still means esteeming others better than self. Again, Christ Himself is the model for what that kind of leadership looks like. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Mutual submission is the principle, then, that Ephesians 5:21 spells out: “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” To illustrate and further explain how the principle of submission is supposed to work in the framework of institutions where God has ordained authorities for leadership, Paul turned to the most fundamental of all human institutions, the family.

The full article from GTY here: Mutual Submission

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Contentment in Singleness: Look to Jesus & Live in His Church

The January 2016 edition of Orthodox Presbyterian Church‘s monthly magazine New Horizons includes an encouraging article for singles by Boyd Miller, pastor of Covenant OPC in Lagrange, Georgia. Pastor Miller is himself single, so he writes not only as a wise pastor but a good companion in singleness.

Some people do choose singleness, but many times singleness chooses you without your permission. Jesus reminds us that while some are eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom, many remain unmarried as a by-product of the fallen human condition (Matt. 19:12). Congenital disorders, unfaithful spouses, same-sex attraction problems, premature death, war, disease, paucity of like-minded believers, and “bad luck” all complicate and exacerbate the matter. Yet through, above, and against all the secondary causes of singleness, the sovereign hand of God’s providence remains for our good and his ultimate glory.

Yet, contentment in the middle of God’s providences is hard won. For our good? Yes. For his ultimate glory? Yes. Obviously good and glorious? No. Instead, contentment in singleness can be a great battle, “a terrible battle of the soul, with setbacks, fits, sighs, tears, discouragements, and even rebellious outbursts,” a hard-won virtue as the Spirit carries a person through “loneliness, rejection, and alienation.”

Miller’s prescription for such a malady is life in Christ: looking to him as our whole righteousness and joy. Singles are not going to grow in contentment by being told over and over to be content:

The law’s demand for contentment can produce a rebellious response from us, for discontentment is at work within us (Rom. 7:8, 23). “Wretched (single) that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24-25).

Therefore, when applying the tenth commandment, the church should direct her unmarried members to Christ, who willingly became single for us, that we (the church) might become married to him. In the fullness of time, the eternal Son of God became a single man, born under the commandment not to covet, and fulfilled that law with a life of sinless contentment. Now those who believe in him have a pardon for their discontentment and the graces necessary to endure suffering for him. When tempted to kick at the goads of providence or murmur against the unmarried condition, the gospel gives us many soothing glances at our beloved Jesus. Our Lord Jesus Christ provides us with delight in his person, work, fellowship, and promises. He assures us that, as the single believer increasingly treasures him, she also finds moments of peace in accordance with the law.

If the Father has not withheld his only Son, will he not also give me all things for this single life and eternity (Rom. 8:32)? Indeed, he does. The Lord graciously gives the single Christian his Spirit to comfort, console, and sanctify (Rom. 8:15–17). The Lord also provides us with his church as our new family in Christ, where we find many mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters in the household of God (Matt. 12:50).

Christ is the true Physician who came for the sick, not the well. Turning from our self-righteousness and remembering that he is our whole righteousness, we have the true, healing balm for the conscience, the blood and righteousness of Christ and his promise to aid the helpless. That constant cleansing we have before God’s holy throne, loosens the bonds of despair or pride from the Christian. And drawing from Christ by faith, we are both encouraged and challenged forward in the “terrible battle of the soul.”

As you can see, Miller’s article is a great theological encouragement to the Christian single, but he also gives some very helpful practical counsel:

…singles would do well to immerse themselves deeply within the life of the local congregation. Hospitality, visitation, fellowship, prayer meetings, and Lord’s Day worship provide wonderful avenues of blessing to those who find themselves without a spouse. I cannot imagine the single life without the loving fellowship of my local congregation.

And:

We need perspective as singles. In view of my sins, who am I to complain about my sufferings (Lam. 3:39)? We must take care to have no other gods before us. Marriage is not a god to be served, but a vehicle to glorify him. Singleness strengthens my empathy for others. Knowing loneliness, rejection, and alienation, we serve others who are deeply affected by a broken world. We look upon the homebound, the divorced, and the fatherless with compassion, as those who often view life ourselves from the outside.

Count it a privilege to serve as a single. Singleness can be a great blessing. Biblical and ecclesiastical history is replete with famous and eminently useful singles. Our minds are not divided between pleasing a spouse and pleasing the Lord (1 Cor. 7:32–34). During a season of trial for the church, Paul actually recommended that singles and widows not marry (1 Cor. 7:26–27). We do not know what a day may bring (Prov. 27:1). Distress and persecution by perverse and wicked men may visit the church in our nation and that may make singles an even greater asset to God’s people.

Finally, as a single man or woman, do not say in your heart, “I am a dry tree.” Rather, remember the Lord’s promise that those who love him by keeping his sabbaths and covenant shall receive an eternal inheritance from the Lord that is better than children (Isa. 56:3–5). The present sufferings of singleness are not to be compared with the glory to come (Rom. 8:18). Our inheritance is eternal in the heavens as we travel to a perfect world where there is no marrying or giving in marriage (Matt. 22:30).

Read the whole article here: Contentment in Singleness