The Sovereignty of the Family

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 8, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

A proper hierarchy of social ethics must rank the institution of family second, immediately after the Imago Dei (Image of God). The family is the first institution created by God. Moreover, it is the institution closest to the individual. God seems to have ordered society with three different spheres of authority: family, church, and state. The Bible says, “The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1). He gives each sphere a different responsibility and authority to execute that responsibility.

For example, He gives the state the responsibility to “punish the wrongdoer” and “commend those who do right” (Romans 13:4, 1 Peter 2:14). The idea is that God is sovereign over even pagan rulers, and He uses them for His ultimate purposes even when they abuse their power. This does not mean that God endorses whatever civil authorities do, but that He uses them. Growth of state power tends to outstrip its actual authority, and that is when it is appropriate to resist tyranny and to civilly disobey. But even in our civil disobedience, we should also recognize the transcendent authority of God behind even bad leaders, which will ultimately all be brought down when Christ sets up His kingdom and authority over all the earth (Daniel 2:34-35). To execute these responsibilities, God gives the state a sword (Romans 13:4).

The church is another sovereign authority established by God. The Apostle Paul charged the elders of the church of Ephesus to “keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Hence, elders are to keep watch over the people in the church. The Bible also tells Christians to “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). To execute this responsibility, the elders of the church have the authority to expel someone from the church if they refuse to repent.

The family is structured similarly. God has instituted it as a sovereign sphere of authority. The fifth commandment is “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12). God has instituted the family as an authority directly, as neither an arm of the state nor as an arm of the church. The family constitutes its own sphere: “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3).

God has placed within most people a deep love and concern for their children’s well-being. They are literally an extension of husband and wife into the future. The tools that God gives to parents to execute their responsibilities are love and discipline. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1).

“My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
are the way to life.”
(Proverbs 6:20-23)

Some overlap exists between these spheres, but each must retain their God-given boundaries and responsibilities. The family is the most vulnerable of the three and therefore needs special protection. The state will always protect itself and expand its power as it has in every society since the beginning.

We see the Leviathan of State assuming authority and control over every area of our lives today. It does not submit to God and therefore acknowledges no boundaries. It is destroying the law in every area, but especially attacking the family. Progressive economic policies have destroyed the middle class all through the 20th century even until the very moment I write this. Marriage law, divorce law, homosexual “marriage,” child protective services, adoption law, government schools, etc. are vastly stripping away the ability of the family to function as God intended.

In this short introductory blog post, I can only point out the parameters without filling in much detail. However, the main area where the family has sole authority is in the education of the children. The church is the main ally of the family, and can help with instruction; however, the parents are responsible before God for the education and discipline of child-raising.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, God makes a covenant with the family. He gives to parents the responsibility to teach that covenant to the next generation. God owns the children! He has established the family for their care and education. Read more about that here, here, and here.

Sphere sovereignty is the basic form of American government and life. It is the basic view of Christians. But because we have drifted so far from God and His Bible, the state has assumed for itself the role of god in our lives. But that is next week’s blog post. Blessings, constant reader.

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