The US Congress recently introduced the rules for their new legislative session. They struck gendered familial terminology (i.e. father, mother, son, daughter, etc.) from the House’s rules for legislators. The recent events of our nation reveal our void of fathers and mothers. This is just one more effort by the godless to further erode the biblical structure for families.
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:14-15).
“But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXTS
When we think about Fatherhood and Motherhood we need to sweep out the clutter. These roles are not optional add-ons which you can discuss with the dealership. They aren’t social constructs which support the oppression of victims. They aren’t the evolutionary development of our species ability to babble some sounds and then linking them with our immediate ancestors. They aren’t interchangeable parts of machinery.
Your father and mother are earthly shadows of cosmic realities. God is your Father, the Church is your Mother. That is the evident in these two texts from the pen of Paul.
In Ephesians 3:14-15, Paul bends his knee to God the Father; every family derives its name from God’s Fatherhood. You don’t have family without fatherhood, and you don’t have any of it without God the Father and Creator. In Greek, you can’t say family (patria) without saying father (patera). In other words, God’s Fatherhood fills the world and fills our earthly families as the inescapable reality. In Him we live and move and have our being.
Furthermore, God has taken a bride for His Son, our Lord Jesus, and she is our Mother. Paul, while making the case that we are delivered from the bondage to sin which the mosaic Law revealed, he uses the imagery of Hagar and Sarah. Two mothers: one a slave, one a free-woman. Which one is your mother? Mother Kirk is a fertile mother, because she is marked by grace and thus life springs from her; whereas Hagar (the bond-woman/Sinai), brings bondage and death (Gal. 4:26).
CHILDREN OF PROMISE
Children who grow up without parents or with unmarried parents are faced with a deck of statistics stacked against them. With few exceptions, their lifetime income is significantly lower; their education level will not go as high; their likelihood of being abused and then abusing in turn shoots through the roof; their prospects are bleak by almost every metric. Children were not intended to exist in a covenantal void. Scripture is concerned with bastard children, which is why it placed heavy penalties on rape, pre-marital sex, and adultery (Cf. Lev. 18), as well as provision for the care of fatherless children (Deu. 16:11, Ps. 68:5).
So, if you are a father or mother, you must not think of your duty as being in a separate container from your marriage vows, and the consummation of those vows. You are a husband and a wife first. The potency of this covenantal love produces children. Your children are children of a promise, even as believers the whole family are children of the Promise.
COVENANT DUTY OF FATHERS AND MOTHERS
So Fathers are first husbands which are called to be faithful to their promise of loving and cherishing. Mothers are first wives which are called to faithfully fulfill their vow to submit and obey.
A father which exhibits for his children that he doesn’t beam with delight over their mother (Is. 62:5), isn’t attentive to her (1 Pt. 3:7), doesn’t shower her with love (1 Ti. 5:8) will teach them to railroad her (Pro. 10:1). Husbands love their wives practically by full bank accounts, full cupboards, full closets, and full wombs.
Mothers which run down their husband in front of the kids (2 Sam. 16-23), swerving the opposite direction he is leading (Eph. 5:22), or criticizing his leadership at every turn (Pro 21:19) is teaching her children to be lawless rebels. Wives respect their husbands by bearing his name, and being his glory; she demonstrates this respect practically by not being an indecipherable code to get into, but by being ready for him and responding to him in all spheres of their relations (sexually, directionally, financially).
Lazy, inattentive husbands and bitter, nagging wives are teaching the children more than just how to be unpleasant humans. A sin-riddled marriage is presenting a false Gospel, and marred understanding of God the Father, Christ the Son, and His Bride.
It’s vital that we see that Fathers and Mothers are cosmic categories. Husbands show their children how Christ laid down his life for the church. Wives show their children what joyful obedience to Christ should be. Not only are you teaching them about Fatherhood and Motherhood, but also the glorious Gospel of sacrificial love, responded to in joyful response.
COVERED IN SAWDUST & FLOUR
These covenantal duties are not pie-in-the-sky intangibles. Rather, these spiritual duties are earthy, and are covered in sawdust and flour.
In Scripture, fathers name; a fathers’ word carry great weight. Fathers provide and protect. Fathers represent God to their families and their families to God. Father’s correct and teach. Fathers sacrifice and intercede. Fathers rule and lead. Fathers head their home.
Mothers respond to this headship by being fruitful. Indeed without the Father, she cannot bear fruit. As the one who bears and nurtures new humans she is to be held in high honor. They are to be fountains of the sort of wisdom which might be worn proudly around the neck of their offspring (Pr. 1:8-9). They are to be industrious, and laugh at all the troubles which are around the bend (Pro. 31:25). Mothers give glorified life and nourishment that is provided by the Father.
ADOPTED AS JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST
In Reformed theology we generally emphasize justification and sanctification. We blast through the mega-phone that you are not saved by your works of righteousness, you are justified in God’s sight only because of Christ’s righteousness and death in your place. We exhort each other to holiness and growth in sanctification because God has set us apart to be a holy people. But we must not gloss over the fact that one of the terms which is frequently included in NT descriptions of salvation is adoption (Gal 4:4-7).
>God the Father, by the redeeming work of His Son, has delivered you from bondage to the law of sin and death. This isn’t like one cruel slave-master defeating another cruel slave-master, and your just caught in the crossfire. Rather, Paul tells us that you are no more a servant, but a son. In other words, you now have a share in the inheritance which belongs to Christ Jesus: resurrection life, everlasting joy, unending glory. You have been adopted as sons. Your Father in Heaven has given to Mother Kirk the Bread of Life and the Wine of Relief, and she has spread a table for the nourishment of her children. The children of grace and glory.