God established the family, and the home is the place where the family’s deepest needs are to be met. Therefore every home should be built on the Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. The family should have priority above business, pleasure and friends.
It should be highly valued and loved, and not treated like a restaurant or gas station where one fills up and leaves. As conflicts emerge, every effort should be made to resolve each one on the same day that it occurs so no one goes to bed angry. The apostle Paul declared, “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph. 4:26 NKJV). Knowing the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the key to unlock and resolve conflicts.
Three Marital Relationships
Scholars have presented different concepts of the family, including “open and closed families,” “functional and dysfunctional families” and “normal and abnormal families.” However, based on my own experiences and listening to Christian ministry, I find three:
1. The immature marital relationship. By “immature” I mean the relationship is laden with conflicts, discomfort, distress, resentment, anger and shame because of child-like behavior and apparent lack of a sense of responsibility by one or both spouses. For example, although the husband, wife and children are living in the same house, there is no display of headship.
The husband fails to take his God-given role as head of the family (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23), and the wife doesn’t assist him with his leadership role. The importance of this is seen in nature: any organism without a head is dead. As a result, each one in the family does that which is right in his or her own eyes, ignoring the needs of the others.
2. The mediocre marital relationship. In this relationship a moderate value is placed on the family system and some conflicts are resolved, but there is confusion about the roles in the relationship. This relationship has two heads, so there is a constant power struggle between husband and wife as to the leadership role. Any organism with two heads leads to confusion.
While it is often stated that “two heads are better than one,” that is only true if they are functioning together in unity. In the mediocre family relationship the husband and the wife both assume the role as head, and sometimes the oldest child will do the same over the other siblings. Hence, the leadership in the family is confusing and conflicting. This results in significant problems and a tendency to ignore or cover them up.
3. The matured marital relationship. Here we see each partner lavishing genuine love on the other. There is structure with open and honest communication. Peace and joy exist within the home, and when conflicts surface they are recognized and resolved in a loving and healing manner.
The husband is the head of the family, and as head he leads in a humble way – providing, protecting and pursuing realistic family goals. He does not think he is superior and his wife is inferior, but he simply accepts his role from God – that “the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church” (Eph. 5:23).
Therefore he loves and cherishes his wife who in turn recognizes his role and submits to him in love. The harmony displayed in the marital relationship becomes a model for the children, whose needs are also met within the family system. For this family, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). Real happiness does not depend on having much to live on, but having much for which to live.
The Families’ Desire
There is a heart cry for more “mature” family relationships in which peace, joy, contentment and love govern expressions and actions. Many families desire a happier family life and a closer relationship with God.
By Emmanuel V. John, adapted from “Resolving Family Conflicts – How To Prevent Break-downs And Breakups,” published by Overcomer Press, Owosso, MI; 1993.
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