Fatherly Firmness

H. L. Bruce
Colorado Spring, Colorado

God intended that the father in the home exercise his physical and spiritual competence in being the head of his family. He said with regard to Abraham, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him . . ." (Gen. 18:19) We would do well to note that his children and household did not command, rule and dominate Abraham, but rather he commanded them.

When we turn to the New Testament and examine the subject of household leadership, we find an element of consistency in the course previously mentioned from the case with Abraham. To make the long story short and get to the point, God's order is for the other members of the family to be in subjection to the husband as head of the family. The apostle Paul taught, being guided by the Holy Spirit, that the man is the head of the woman (See I Cor.11:3.) The wife is to respect and be in subjection to her husband. She is to obey him (Eph. 5:22-25). It is a pity that some wives do not recognize and respect this. Consequently they demonstrate their improper regard for their husbands by trying to command, rule and dominate them. When such is the case, husbands should exercise their role of competence and properly exercise themselves as head and leader in the family as God has ordered.

Today many fathers lament the fact that they do not receive the respect and gratitude from their children that they should. Fathers should realize that they will not receive the respect that they should if they project a weak, cowering and incompetent role in the family. They cannot give in to every desire of their children and at the same time obtain, sustain and maintain their respect. Fathers, if we would like to know how to be reverenced by our children, the answer is quite simple. We need to have a good hickory stick, a board or a belt, and not be afraid to use it, if and when it is needed. Note what the apostle Paul wrote, "Furthermore we have had fathers in our flesh which correct us, and we gave them reverence . . ." (Heb. 12: 9). If you fathers want your children to respect you, (and who does not?) you know how to obtain it: correct them when they need it. If you do not correct them when they need it, rather than respect you, they will disgrace you in time to come. Fathers, why not exercise your God-given position as head, leader and corrector of your children and start them out on the right road and help them to sustain their direction through trials and temptations of youth and adolescence.

King Solomon said, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Prov. 22: 15). "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Prov. 13:24). Yet there are those who, in the name of modern psychology, would have us believe that it is the wrong thing to do to ever punish our children. We would do well, like the Ephesians of old, if we would burn certain books and depend upon the instruction from Divine inspiration.

I, personally, have no doubts but what one of the reasons for anarchy and a lack of discipline in our society today is because of the weak fatherly image projected by so many. We find ourselves fretting about the passing of some kind of law that will rid our society of what it is becoming. The place for the correction is not on law books. The place for the needed training to begin is at the knee of a devout mother and across the knee of a determined father.

All men are not alike. Today there are fathers who know their, responsibilities in home and family life and occupy it. Yes, there are some fathers today who exercise themselves as heads of their families. On the other hand, some allow themselves to degenerate, into nothing more than mere stool-pigeons or figure heads in the family. I have known of instances where men were the laughing stock of the community and even the congregation, merely because they allowed their children and wives to control them. There are even some gospel preachers whose families have disgraced them because they did not have the courage and competence to take the lead at home. There are even some elders of the church which are 80 dependent on the apron string that it is laughable. A man who will not rule his family should never become an elder of the church. (See I Tim. 3:4-5.) If one is already an elder of the church and his family start ruling him, he ought to resign and let someone have the "work" who will respect what God says.

Yes, husbands need to be the heads of their respective families and not allow their families to take control of them. If they allow their families to lord it over them they are violating the teachings of God's Word. Sometimes it is necessary for children to be put in their places with a strong unyielding hand, and told to stay there. When a childish, sobbing fit is pitched to get one's way, they need to know that it will not work. It is the job of the parent to see that it does not work.

All young people are not alike. I believe that I know some of the very best to be found. However, to do our fine young people an injustice and mar their good image, a bunch of spoiled brats have sprung up. A strong armed father with the courage, competence and conviction to use a board when and where needed could have prevented much of what our generation suffers. Until we recognize this and face up to our responsibilities, we need not expect conditions to get much better.

Where there is a strong, firm, godly, fatherly image in the home, there is a good secure and well disciplined family. Where the fatherly image is weak, compromising and a sissy one - the family is robbed of much of its well being. A family deserves the strength and security which goes with a spiritually strong, caring and godly father. Fathers, such will not be forced upon us. We must exercise our role. We need to fear the Lord and help our families to do the same. We need to command the respect of our wives and children. We need to use discipline on our children, when necessary -- or they will break our hearts later on.

Wives respect your husbands. Children obey and honor your parents that the Lord be obeyed and pleased. Husbands, do you maintain the position in your families that the Lord requires?

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 8, pp. 5-7
December 24, 1970