By What System Is Your Family Governed?
IT MAY seem a far cry from running a household to governing a country. The one appears so much less complex than the other. But closer observation reveals many similarities. After all, nations originally were expanded family groups. (Gen. 10:5) Many of the popular systems of government today find their parallel in modern households. We can benefit by examining some of these parallels.
Most of the Western countries profess democracy: rule of the people by the people. Under such rule, much emphasis is placed on individual freedoms. In staking their claims to freedom of expression and freedom to obtain what they desire, some individuals resort to protest marches and strikes, thus disrupting the lives of others. In some families, things are run very much like that, with every member insisting on ‘doing his own thing’ and making vociferous protests if he feels that he is being deprived of his dues.
Does this sound familiar? If so, you may have noticed that such a state of affairs does not bring happiness or result in strong family bonds. But thinking of the overall welfare of the family, and doing something about it, will bring greater personal happiness.
Many democratic countries have coalition governments. Because the largest party does not have an outright majority, it is deemed necessary to form an alliance, “a marriage of convenience” with a smaller party. In effect, this smaller coalition party acquires the power of veto. Without its approval, bills cannot be passed. It has the power to topple the ruling party from power by casting its votes with the opposition.
Some marriages function in a similar manner. The husband has the greatest say, but the wife uses her position to veto anything she does not like. When he proposes an unpopular step, she and the children may join in disagreeing. This weakens family organization to the point where the husband may just ‘let things slide.’ Under such circumstances, the wife may notice that the husband is not caring for certain responsibilities, such as disciplining the children. But she does not realize that she is greatly to blame for this situation. Rather than acting so as to weaken her husband’s authority, the Christian wife places herself in subjection to him. For his part, the husband should keep on loving his wife, and not be getting angry with her. (Col. 3:18, 19) The resultant stability will benefit all members of the family.
On the other hand, a wife can easily fall into the role of official opposition: pointing out all the things her husband should do, such as mending the roof, painting the house, repairing the automobile, mowing the lawn. Of course, she knows that these things are not expected of her. If she goes further and reminds him of all his faults and failings, she will convince him that she has no confidence in him. However, a marriage is too delicate a relationship to be treated in that way. In a family, every member must display confidence in the others. There are so many constructive things that can be done that it is unnecessary—and unloving—to show up one another’s minor faults. If you are looking for faults, look for those you can really do something about—your own.—Prov. 14:1.
Are we to conclude that absolute authority is vested in the hands of the husband and that he can do just what he likes? No, that is not what the Bible teaches. It does say that the husband is head of the household. (Eph. 5:22, 23) But is this a form of benign dictatorship such as some rulers try to exercise today? No, for a husband has limited authority. A Christian husband is subject to local and national governments, to the congregational elders and, most important of all, to God and Christ. (1 Cor. 11:3; Titus 3:1; Heb. 13:17) Moreover, the Christian husband and father is Scripturally required to exercise his headship in love.—Eph. 5:25-30, 33; 6:4.
In modern society, subjection is distasteful to many women, but a balanced view can change this. The one in authority has greater responsibility, and consequently more problems, than the one in subjection. A child is in subjection to his parents, but this is no hardship on him. However, his parents must see to feeding, clothing and educating him. Hence, the child’s subjection actually increases his freedom. The one in authority is subject to many demands. A mother has authority over her child. But when the baby is ill and cries incessantly, it is she who is subject to the baby’s needs and demands. A husband is head of a family. Yet he also finds himself subject to many demanding circumstances and obligations. Of course, a husband should never see the performance of tasks for his wife and children as an undermining of his authority. The stronger must help the weaker.—Rom. 15:1, 2.
The best governmental arrangement for men on a domestic, national or international level is theocratic government: God-rule. Until God’s kingdom exercises full authority over all the earth, Christians remain in relative subjection to whatever form of government holds sway in their part of the world. They do so without campaigning for reform or seeking to replace such rule. (Rom. 13:1, 2) Likewise, a Christian, when living in a home where Scriptural order is not followed by the head of the household, should not play a disruptive role. The Christian wife and children remain in subjection in all matters that do not violate God’s laws. (Acts 5:29; 1 Pet. 3:1) Their patient humility and relative subjection harmonize with God’s will, and sticking to their God-given role shows their trust in him. Also, by exercising headship in love, husbands show their subjection to God.
So, then, by what system is your family governed? Is it a “mini-dictatorship,” or does everyone ‘do his own thing’? Does the family head fulfill his God-given role in a loving way? Are the other members of the family cooperative, showing due respect? And are you personally following the example of Christ and his congregation? There is no doubt about it: Doing things God’s way will bring the greatest unity and happiness to your family.