Pleasing Jehovah as a Family
“You wives, be in subjection to your husbands . . . You husbands, keep on loving your wives . . . You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.”—Col. 3:18-20.
1. What is a basic need for a family to be pleasing to Jehovah, but what obstacle has to be faced?
A BASIC need for a Christian family that desires to be pleasing to the Creator is to be obedient to properly constituted authority. What is your view of authority? A reading of newspapers and magazines, watching television news programs or listening to radio news reports provides abundant evidence that worldwide there is a defiant attitude toward authority. This attitude can easily influence an individual’s thinking. On the level of the family it can cause great disturbance if a person’s view of obedience to authority is shaped by events happening around him day by day.
2-4. What questions face families when it comes to recognizing authority?
2 If you are a husband and father, how do you view your exercise of authority in the family? Is it your feeling that the head of the family, the husband, should have the absolute say in matters related to the family, and that it is your right to rule your household? Or, would it be more pleasing to you just to let your wife exercise headship responsibilities so as to maintain peace in the family circle?
3 If you are a wife and mother, do you chafe under the authority exercised by your husband? Do you find it difficult to accept the way in which your husband exercises authority in the family? Do you find yourself rebellious, demanding liberation from such authority?
4 If you are a boy or a girl, how do you view the authority of your parents, be it your father, your mother or a guardian? Do you find yourself willingly submitting to their directions? Or do you fight against their authority? Do you demand independence and freedom from their authority?
5. What relationships are affected by a person’s view of authority?
5 A person’s view of authority and his submission to it have a deep and lasting effect on his relationship with the Creator, Jehovah, and with others, both in the everyday world in which we live and in the family relationship. Hence, it is good to know just how those claiming to be Christians today should react to authority, especially as it relates to the family arrangement. We should want to please the Creator as a family.
THE FAMILY ARRANGEMENT
6, 7. What command did Jehovah give to the first human couple, and what role did he purpose for the woman?
6 To begin with, Jehovah God, our Creator, is the One who originated the family unit. It began in Eden with God’s command to the first man and woman to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:28) To this day the family unit continues to play a most important role in the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose toward the earth.—Eph. 3:14, 15.
7 We are told that, in the first family arrangement made by God the woman was made to be a complement to the man, not an inferior creation in any way. Rather, the woman was created to play a supportive role as the helper to her husband. (Gen. 2:18) Together they were to bring forth children and form the family unit.
THE ROLE OF HUSBAND AND WIFE
8. (a) How was authority to be exercised? (b) What was to be the man’s view of his wife?
8 For a family to be pleasing to the Creator, it is necessary to have order and direction. The first human couple were told to “have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:28) The man, Adam, was the first human creation of God. Because Jehovah is the Almighty God and the Creator, he has the right to say how authority is to be exercised on the earth. God determined that authority would flow through the man to the woman and then to their offspring. (1 Cor. 11:3) From the Biblical account it is evident that this authority was not to be exercised in a dictatorial or authoritarian way. Note the expression of Adam upon seeing for the first time the complement God had created for him: “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen. 2:23) This beautiful expression does not give any indication that Adam was to be a dictator over an inferior. He said that the woman brought to him was ‘bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh,’ something to be cherished and cared for even as his own body. Many centuries later, the apostle Paul wrote to Christians, giving directions on how a man is to love his wife and care for her. He said: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it.”—Eph. 5:28, 29.
9. (a) What attitude should a woman have toward her husband? (b) How are both parents to handle the raising of children in the family?
9 Jehovah purposed that man should be the head of the woman. (Eph. 5:23, 24) The woman, as man’s complement, was to be treated with dignity and love, so that she, in turn, could have “deep respect” for her husband and could willingly be “in subjection” to him. (Eph. 5:33; 1 Pet. 3:1) The two, working together, were to produce offspring, passing along to them by word and example what was pleasing to Jehovah so that the family arrangement would have his blessing. As God later indicated, in exercising authority over their children the father and the mother are to refrain from irritating their children. Rather, the children are to be raised in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah. They are to be given Christian discipline and instruction. (Eph. 6:4; compare Proverbs 1:8, 9.) Parents are also called upon to use the rod of correction when necessary. (Prov. 13:24; 29:15) While we have but briefly touched on the responsibilities of husband and wife, it is clear that the arrangement of Jehovah is that, within the family, authority is to be exercised with love and in fairness.
10. Because of a desire for independence, how do many young people react, and what is the purpose of the information to follow herein?
10 The news media and other sources in our day have filled the minds of people with the desire for independence. Many young people rebel against any supervision of their lives by their parents or any other authority. While it is true that the father and mother have much responsibility in properly exercising authority in the family, children, too, have responsibilities. It is because of the need for strong, spiritually healthy family units that please Jehovah that we will consider some problems relating to children, as well as appreciation for authority and proper submission to it on their part.
11 “Honor your father and your mother”: The apostle Paul in discussing this, the fifth of the Ten Commandments, said it was “the first command with a promise,” namely, “that it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.” (Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:2, 3) A child claiming to be a Christian is under obligation to be obedient to the command to honor his father and mother. How does a child render honor, or esteem, and manifest respect for his parents? Certainly that child must show love for his parents and appreciation for the effort they are making to care for and train such a child. Children have to learn to respect the judgment and decisions of their parents. (Prov. 22:15) Even when the children may think their individual rights are being interfered with, they are obliged to be obedient to their “parents in union with the Lord.” (Eph. 6:1) If children are to “endure a long time on the earth” and have Jehovah’s approval for a future life, they must honor their parents.
12. (a) What authority of one’s parents, or guardian, must be recognized in order to please Jehovah? (b) How do one’s contemporaries sometimes view those who maintain virtuous conduct? (Prov. 1:10-16)
12 Recognition of authority: Closely akin to the honoring of one’s parents is the recognition of authority, the parents’ right to set certain limits and to determine what their children may or may not do. Submission to authority is often very difficult for children and may cause many disputes in the household. As mentioned earlier, the news media and other sources often present information that undermines parental authority, encouraging youths to demand freedom from parental authority. A case in point is the attitude taken today toward promiscuity. This situation has developed to the point that often young men or women who maintain virginity are thought ill of by their contemporaries. Such persons consider those holding to the Bible’s high moral standards to be lacking in some way, to be unattractive, “out of it” as far as their so-called friends are concerned.—See 1 Peter 4:4.
13. At times, how do some laws of man serve as an encouragement to wrongdoing?
13 Some governmental laws actually serve as an encouragement for young women to engage in loose conduct by providing for abortions without parental consent. One 15-year-old girl pointed out that a doctor had refused to pierce her ears without parental permission but that the Supreme Court of the United States had ruled that a minor girl may have an abortion without permission from her parents: Recently one doctor, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association about efforts to broaden advertising of contraceptives, declared: “I am appalled at the willingness of medical professionals to accept promiscuous sexual conduct—and even to promote it. . . . I believe we should invest some of our resources in learning to promote responsible and healthy sexual practices, including abstinence and fidelity.”
14. How should boys and girls wanting to please Jehovah view parents who try to safeguard them from immorality?
14 The pointed counsel of God’s Word at Ephesians 6:1 is: “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous.” Obedience requires recognition of authority. Parents are charged with the responsibility of raising their children in the ways set forth in God’s Word so as to be pleasing to him, and that Word forbids promiscuity, loose sexual conduct. (Ex. 20:14; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10) If children have parents who are interested in their being safeguarded from the immoral world, those parents deserve the loyal support of their children. Rather than chafing under the authority of such parents, the sensible, God-fearing child will follow the Biblical advice to be obedient to them, knowing that this has divine approval, is for his or her own good and promises a secure future.—Prov. 3:1, 2.
15. What is so serous about refusing to show subjection to the authority of one’s parents?
15 To refuse to show subjection to one’s parents is to be disobedient to Jehovah God. Just as Jehovah has set out his rules and regulations for the governing of the human family, so he has given parents the right to set out upright regulations—house rules, you might say—for the conduct of the family unit of which the children are a part. If those rules and regulations are not contrary to the Word of God, children are obligated to be obedient to the authority of the parents.
LOVE IN THE FAMILY
16, 17. (a) For a family that wishes to please Jehovah, how important is love? (b) What pointed counsel does Colossians 3:12-14 contain? (c) For Paul’s counsel to the Colossians to be effective, what is recommended?
16 Love of one’s family: For Jehovah to be pleased with the family unit, there must be love shown toward one’s parents. Husbands are told to love their wives as themselves, and wives are to have deep respect for their husbands. All, parents and children alike, should carry out toward one another the kingly law of love. (Jas. 2:8) The apostle Paul gave some pointed counsel on this matter when he wrote: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.”—Col. 3:12-14.
17 Those are not just words to be read or parroted out of one’s mouth. They are the sayings of holy spirit that are to be considered seriously. It is recommended that everyone reading this material go over each one of those Christian requirements. Ponder over them. Think about them in relation to the family of which you are a part. How do Paul’s words affect your relationship with your husband, your wife, your father, your mother or others in the immediate family? Are you pleasing Jehovah in each of these ways mentioned by the apostle? A person cannot conform his life to those words of counsel and at the same time be crying for independence from parental rule or engaging in shouting matches with his or her parents. Nor can parents deal in such a way with their children. The happy family that has the blessing of Jehovah must deeply, seriously and regularly consider the admonition found in God’s Word, so as to imitate the “Hearer of prayer,” who by holy spirit inspired such words to be written.—Ps. 65:2; Eph. 4:31, 32; Col. 3:15-17.
18. What sobering facts do we face today, leading to what questions?
18 Whether there is both a father and a mother in the household, or just one parent, the admonition and the responsibility are the same. Sad to say, however, there is an intense, and sometimes successful, effort being made by Satan to break up families, to divide and conquer. Each person reading this material should bear in mind that the Devil goes about “like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Pet. 5:8) Will we allow him to break up our family unity that is so pleasing to Jehovah? Will we succumb to a spirit of independence, one that says: “I do not have to listen to my parents; I will do as I like”? Pursuing such a course can cost us happiness and bring God’s disfavor.
19. How does a Christian family come to enjoy Jehovah’s blessing?
19 If we are to enjoy Jehovah’s approval—and, after all, he does hold life and death in the power of his hand—we have to support authority as he has constituted it within the family arrangement. It is to our advantage to subject ourselves to it. Only then can true happiness and contentment be found. Because of promoting family unity and harmony, we may seek to have applied to us the blessing King David of old spoke about when he said: “Who may ascend into the mountain of Jehovah, and who may rise up in his holy place? Anyone innocent in his hands and clean in heart, who has not carried My soul to sheer worthlessness, nor taken an oath deceitfully. He will carry away blessing from Jehovah and righteousness from his God of salvation.”—Ps. 24:3-5.
WHAT WILL YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THIS DISCUSSION?
• Why is your view of authority involved in achieving family happiness?
• What Bible verses outline the role of the husband and the wife in a Christian family?
• What good effects are there when children honor and recognize the authority of their parents?
• How can working to increase family love help to counteract forces that tend to divide many families?
• From what has been discussed, what area will you work on so that your family can be more pleasing to Jehovah?
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Jehovah purposed that husband and wife complement each other and that they be united in serving him
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Youths, are you genuinely interested in your role in the family? Parents, do you deal with your children according to God’s recommendations?