Wives are called both to love and to submit to their husbands. Their submission is not to be grudging or perfunctory but loving and willing. The Greek word for “submit,” hypotasso, conveys the notion of “placing oneself under” another person’s authority, which implies that this is done voluntarily rather than under compulsion. Ephesians 5:21-33 links wives’ submission with respect for their husband (5:22, 33). This respect ought to be freely given. Respect does not mean uncritical adoration, just as submission does not mean subservience.
The roles and responsibilities in a household according to Scripture – Fathers: Provide for family/children (2 Cor. 12:14) and ensure proper nurture and discipline (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21; Heb. 12:6). Mothers: Raising of children/motherhood (1 Tim. 2:15) and managing the home (1 Tim. 5:14). Children: Obedience to parents (Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20) and care for parents in old age (1 Tim. 5:8).
For Jesus, there is no better way to illustrate God’s free unmerited grace than pointing to a child. For unlike many adults, children are generally entirely unpretentious about receiving a gift. Moreover, “little ones,” that is, the least, regardless of age, are a repeated focus in Jesus’ teaching on discipleship (Mt. 18:5; Lk. 9:48). Indeed, God’s kingdom must be entered in a childlike spirit, a lesson that was yet to be learned by Jesus’ followers.
In the book of Proverbs…the “rod” of correction…is presented as serving three primary purposes:
1. As a means of disciplining a child based on parental love (Pr. 13:24).
2. As a way to remove folly and to impart wisdom (22:15; 29:15).
3. As a possible aid to the child’s salvation (23:13-14).
Principles of Parental Discipline:
1. To be effective discipline must be consistent.
2. Discipline ought to be age-appropriate.
3. Discipline must adhere to the biblical principles of fairness and justice.
4. Discipline should be child-specific.
5. Discipline should be administered in love and not anger.
6. Discipline should be future-orientated and forward-looking.
7. Disciple must be part of a relationship.
Limiting discipline to behavioral modification by a system of rewards and punishments may be effective in the short term, but may well lead to rebellion in the end. Children are not laboratory rats that can be conditioned by stimuli to behave in a certain way – they are precious and unique creatures of God, who has vested them with personal worth and dignity. If we respect and embrace this larger relational context, we stand a much better chance of reaping a relationship with our child that continues far beyond the childhood and growing-up years.
We learn from Jesus that we should not look down on children because they are not fully grown and hence are of lower social status than adults. Like Jesus, we should treat children with respect and dignity, as unique and precious creatures made by God and valuable in His sight. What is more, contrary to our national inclination that may tell us that we can learn nothing from children and that the relationship is strictly one-way from parent or adult to child, we should look at children also from the vantage point of desirable kingdom traits they may exemplify in a more pronounced way than we do ourselves.
It is critical that parents teach children the importance of obedience. Parents who neglect to hold their children accountable for rendering obedience fail them in that they do not help them along the path of Christian discipleship, of which obedience is a central component. Hence the primary importance of obedience is not for parents to receive their children’s obedience, but for parents to help children to learn to exercise obedience ultimately in their relationship with God.
Ministry to children, therefore, should be conducted in a humble spirit of service rather than in a patronizing manner, and should be viewed as a privilege rather than as an undesirable chore left to those rho are unable to attain to a higher calling.
Motherhood is not disparaged in biblical teaching; contrary to many in modern society, it is held up as the woman’s highest calling and privilege.
Older women are to cultivate virtue, yet not as an end in itself, but for the purpose of training young women. Nevertheless, it is impossible to train others in qualities oneself does not possess. There is a great need in the contemporary church for older women who are godly and who obey the biblical command to train young women in the faith. Many younger women long for more mature women to take them under their wings and to teach them how to live the Christian life, especially since many of them lack such godly models in their own family or live at a great distance from their own family. Notably, such training – usually involving private rather than public instruction – is to focus squarely on the domestic sphere.