Chapter 8 IN THE HOME



Alexander R. Hay

To the women of our congregations to whose faithful ministry so much is owed.

Chapter 8 IN THE HOME

God is perfect love, and it is with the wisdom of perfect love that He endowed the man and the woman with their special qualities. They are one and yet different; so much alike and yet in many ways not alike, needing each other both because of their likeness and their difference.

God did not make them to live and work apart, but to be a team – yes more than that, to be “one flesh”, actually welded into a bi-partite unit. We have seen that the great purpose of their existence was the manifestation of love. To express the nature which God had given him, man could not live alone. He needed a companion in love’s work and he needed to be able to create beings to love. So, as we have seen, God “took from man’s innermost being” and “built” a woman to be his companion, “flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.” Therefore we find that the unit of society in God’s order is not the individual but the family.

The husband and the wife are not two self-sufficient beings united to cooperate. They are dependent one upon the other. Each possesses qualities, abilities and potentialities that the other does not have but needs. Their ministry together can be accomplished only by a fusion of the two individuals. Each makes an equally important contribution. And both express themselves equally in the children to whom their union gives life.

Order and Government

We have seen also that order is essential to happiness and accomplishment and that government is necessary for the maintaining of order. So God gave to the man the qualities necessary for government. He is responsible to exercise that government upon the earth and in the home.

We have considered the fact that this does not mean that no qualities for government and management were given to the woman. She has a sphere of authority and responsibility in the home that requires a high order of ability.

The differences of temperament and character between the two and the reasons for them are not always understood. To ignore them or set them aside is to court consequences that may bring unfortunate or even disastrous results, causing unhappiness and frustration. There are tasks that a man is not fitted for and tasks that a woman is not fitted for. Either may be forced to a certain extent to undertake them but they will do so under a considerable handicap.

It is not difficult to illustrate these differences. If a man were placed in the position where his wife took the responsibility for facing the world, maintaining the home and governing it, and he was dependent upon her, his character would suffer serious damage. Psychologically he would be placed in a position in which he would degenerate mentally and morally. The effect upon a woman, however, when she is dependent upon her husband, is entirely the opposite. It provides for her the situation in which the highest and noblest qualities of her character develop and find their fullest expression.

If a woman takes the upper hand in the home, taking the initiative and making the decisions, she places herself in a sphere in which her true character will suffer harm. Its finer qualities will be warped and the woman who develops will be as much an unnatural misfit as the man who would take a woman’s place.

A Christian wife who was naturally energetic and quick in making decisions, had a husband who by nature was more cautious and slow. Almost without realizing it she virtually took control. Her husband, being of a pacific nature, gradually gave in and relinquished his responsibility in many matters. The result was that his character seemed to weaken. He began to lose interest in his home and even was showing indifference in spiritual things.

The wife saw this and grieved over it, not realizing that she was the cause. She spoke to a servant of God about her husband, seeking his help. She said, “I am obliged to take the responsibility and make the decisions because my husband will not do it. He does not fully accept his responsibility towards the children, leaving it to me.”

The servant of the Lord understood the situation and gave her the following counsel. “Stop making the decisions, quietly wait for him to make them, obliging him thus to take his place. Hand over the reins to him.”

She had the grace to do so; her husband began to accept his responsibility, his character developed in a manner that was surprising to her, he became active spiritually and the home changed to one that was normal and happy.


Again we would point out that the Scriptural injunctions to husbands and wives in this respect place no small part of the responsibility upon the wife. The wife is counseled to obey her husband “in the Lord.” (For references see end of chapter 2.)

To what extent should a wife obey her husband? This is a question that is often asked. The answer is not hard to find. It is based on the same rule as all obedience. When Peter and John were commanded by the authorities in Jerusalem not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, their reply was, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.” For the application of this principle God will be faithful to give the light and guidance necessary to each one of his children in every circumstance. It must be remembered that it is on his grace and working that we must depend and not on our own wisdom and strength. And there is no situation beyond his wisdom and power, although often it takes time to bring his will to pass.

Special Problems

There is an old Scottish saying that, “There is a woman to match every man.” It is true in more ways than one. God purposed that it should be so in the true sense. In fallen man we find it so still, but both man and woman have inherited equally the effects of sin and suffer equal damage in body, temperament, emotions, mind and character.

It is just as possible for a man as for a woman to be bossy, lazy, irritable, selfish, quarrelsome or unfaithful. Always there is the need for the manifesting of the grace which the Lord gives. Often one does not see one’s own defects. As we have seen, a wife may give the very situation she herself is creating in the home as the excuse for not giving her husband his place. Not infrequently she does not realize that she is bossy, sharp-spoken and critical.

A woman who is not truly happy with her gender, unconsciously may be continually seeking to assert her equality with her husband by nagging at him, correcting him, arguing and trying to make her opinion and will prevail. This she may do while holding in theory the Scriptural principle of the headship of the husband.

However, a wife may have to face very real problems. How may she bear a true testimony in face of them? We cannot consider here in detail the many situations she may have to face, but we know that the woman in Christ has all his infinite wisdom and strength at her disposal. No matter in what circumstances she is placed, she can always say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The principles of the overcoming life are always the same for all God’s children.

A special problem faces women whose husbands are not believers. Paul refers to the former in 1 Cor. 7:13-16, counseling those with unconverted husbands to remain with them and seek by the testimony of their lives to win them to Christ. This counsel would not be given by the Spirit if all grace and wisdom were not to be available to such wives.

The Lord gives grace and He undertakes in such situations. One in such circumstances asked our counsel. Her husband was not a believer. Naturally he did not and could not take his place as head of the home in Christian things. The question was asked to what extent the wife should seek to take the place which her husband was not occupying. The answer was that she should not seek to take his place. She could not do so. Her responsibility was to be watchful that she truly fulfill the part which God had given her as a Christian wife and mother. Doing that she could look to God with perfect confidence to undertake in the part she could not do. This she did and the result has justified her faith.

The unconverted or carnal Christian husband can create great problems for the believing wife. Our experience in such cases however – and we have seen many – is that God’s promise to give grace sufficient is true. Day by day He will minister grace, overrule, give wisdom and in his own way lead on to the carrying out of his will. But this is always dependent on one thing – the grace of the Lord must be truly manifested in the Christian wife. The difficulties and problems can never be a reason for not manifesting it.

There is only one way to win to the Lord an unbelieving husband – through the love of Christ. And that love must be seen by him in the wife. There is a false love that is superior, condescending, censorious. It must be real love, humble, patient, seeking in every detail to be to her husband all that he needs, giving him the true affection of her heart. There is no more powerful means to bring him to the Lord. It is the only way that God draws men.

Real love will be understanding – it realizes that the unbeliever has a true difficulty in understanding the believer’s thoughts and attitudes and desires. They are bound to be strange to him. Of course, principles must never, under any circumstances, be compromised. But true love and the upholding of principle are not irreconcilable – actually the two, if they are true, must go together. We have known many cases where an unbelieving husband or wife has been won for the Lord, but we have known not a few also who have been hindered from finding salvation by un-Christian attitudes or actions on the part of the believing wife or husband, or by a zeal that was not Spirit-guided but was impatient and unwise.

Should a Wife Take a Job?

There is another circumstance which may create a difficult problem.  It may be necessary that the wife cooperate to augment the family income. It may not be possible for the husband, because of ill health, or because of the economic conditions prevailing, to earn sufficient for all the needs of his family.

The passage from the last chapter of Proverbs which we have quoted in a previous chapter speaks of the virtuous wife making and selling cloth, planting a vineyard and selling its fruits and so helping in providing for the needs of her household. In the circumstances prevailing in Israel at that time, in an agricultural community, that wife’s activities were normal and natural. She was a farmer’s wife, cooperating efficiently and wisely in the  work of the establishment.

This example is of great interest because it reveals principles. All the activities of the wife were in and around her home. They did not take her out of her home, preventing her from fulfilling her responsibilities as a wife and mother. Her children would have her with them in the home. For a wife to take employment which requires her to be out of her home, leaving her children without her, is not right. It is contrary to her basic responsibility to her home and to her children. A home ceases to be a home in the true sense when the wife and mother is not in it. It is she who makes the home.

The modern practice where the wife as well as the husband go out to work, leaving the children in the care of others, or to fend for themselves, is contrary to God’s order. It is contrary to nature’s order. The woman who does so is seriously failing to fulfill her duty. It may mean more money to spend on entertainment or more luxurious living, but it robs the happiness which the true home is intended to provide. It robs the children of that which is indispensable to them and works disaster in their character and in their lives. It is one of the chief contributing causes of the delinquency among children and young people that is such a serious problem today.

The Woman’s Power

A woman’s natural sphere of influence is the home. It gives her the activities and the background for which she is peculiarly fitted. Indeed, so powerful is her influence in the home that, although she is not at its head, usually a believing wife with an unbelieving husband can far more easily maintain a Christian testimony in the home than can a believing husband with an unbelieving wife. We have seen women in such circumstances, in spite of many problems and difficulties, bring up children, all or most of whom came to know Christ as Savior. A converted man cannot maintain a truly Christian atmosphere in his home if his wife is unconverted, no matter though he forbid the introduction of worldly things. The woman is in the home all day and it is she who creates the atmosphere in it. If she is irritable, selfish, such will be the atmosphere and nothing can make it cheerful and happy. If she is gracious and kind, it will be a place of fellowship and refreshing. If she is a spiritual woman, manifesting her Lord, his presence will be real.

In this regard there is a great significance in what happened in Eden. It was the woman in the home who first sinned and then led her husband into sin. The great influence of the woman made itself felt from the beginning. Adam failed in his headship in the home, influenced by his wife, and he suffered the consequences of that failure. But what took place illustrates clearly the great power for good or evil that the woman can wield. Eve failed in her responsibility in her home and she suffered the consequences.

Guarding the Home

There have always been forces arrayed against the testimony of the home. Satan, the enemy of God and of all who would live godly, strives to undermine the witness of the Christian home, break its harmony, lead to the compromise of its standards, and introduce the ways and attitudes of the world. The woman, because of her place in the home, can exercise a great influence in this regard and bears a great responsibility.

In these modern times it is not sufficient to close the door of our home to anyone or anything that would defile; radio and television can bring to ear and eye a constant flow of everything that is good, doubtful and evil. What God warned man against in Eden was, “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil” – the unholy mixture. The world is full of this unholy mixture and in the believer’s home it must not be allowed to enter. The believer’s home, just as the believer’s heart, must be closed against it.

Radio and television are not in themselves unholy. They can be used mightily for the spread of the Gospel, making it possible to reach with God’s Word into homes where no preacher could enter. But they can be used in the same way by Satan to introduce his message into the Christian’s home.

We have been in Christian homes where television was watched for hours. At first it had been purposed that all that was not pure and true would be excluded, but gradually they had become careless and did not always turn it off at the end of a good program. It is easy to become gradually accustomed to that which at first would shock us, and Christians and their children in their homes sit and watch as sin is depicted in all its phases. In the home where that is done there is a different atmosphere – the influence of the world is felt and the presence of Christ is restrained. That is the atmosphere in which the outlook and character of the children are formed. Surely it is too big a price to pay!

To Maintain Purity

God’s Word says: “But fornication and every kind of impurity, or covetousness, let them not even be mentioned among you, for they ought not to be named among God’s people. Avoid shameful and foolish talk and low jesting – they are all alike discreditable… Let no unwholesome words ever pass your lips… There was a time when you were nothing but darkness. Now, as Christians, you are Light itself. Live and act as sons of light… Have nothing to do with the barren, unprofitable deeds of darkness, but, instead of that, set your faces against them… Therefore be very careful how you live and act” (Eph. 5:3-4; 4:29; 5:8-12, 15 – Weymouth).

The Contaminating Mixture

Every way of the world leads to compromise – to the deadly mixture of the Tree of Good and Evil. In the movies and the theatre there is this mixture. Mixed with that which is acceptable there is a strong emphasis on that which appeals to the lower nature of man, because it is good business. It is impossible to frequent these shows without learning and becoming conditioned to much that is debasing, to attitudes regarding sex, adultery, divorce, married life, crime of all kinds and morals generally that lower the standard of the Christian. The mind and heart of the Christian cannot escape the pollution. To expose children to it is to have them grow up with standards and attitudes that are of the world and not of the Christ whom we follow. Unless the Lord delivers them later from that influence, the fruit will be inevitable.

There is deep wisdom in what Paul wrote about the guarding of the purity of the Christian’s thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8).

A Christian who in his work is in the midst of companions who are ungodly in life and talk may look to God to preserve his heart and mind pure. But if we allow the world’s life and talk to enter our home and we sit and are entertained by it, can we ask God to keep us unspotted from it? We can look to the Lord in faith that our children be kept from that which contaminates when they have to go out to school and college among those who are not the Lord’s, but if we accustom them in their own home to see murder, theft, debauchery, immodesty, flaunted sexuality, unfaithfulness, seduction, deception, beer and tobacco commercials, beauty mixed with falseness, riches mixed with self-seeking, art mixed with corruption, ambition mixed with cruelty, pleasure derived from lust, adventure sought in gangsterism, liberty equated with license, sin made to appear respectable – then what is our position before God as parents entrusted with the bringing up of our children in the fear and knowledge of God?

What they see day by day in their own home gradually forms in their thinking a warped conception of life, accustoming them to the ideals and actions of the lowest strata of human life – to that which is criminal, bizarre, sub-normal, crooked, lewd. They come to think that that is how the world lives, that that is normal life and that entertainment consists largely of watching it. And this outlook has been given them in a Christian home because the world’s entertainment, an unholy mixture, was admitted as a constant companion. Their parents provided it for them – their parents who at the same time told them that such a life is wrong. Thus the children are taught that true values are but theoretic and that the world’s corruption can be tolerated.

The Christian woman should remember that it was Eve who first hankered after the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and who first introduced the evil mixture into the home. It is in the godly woman’s power today to do much to prevent that contaminating mixture from invading the home.

Other Dangers

Radio and television are, of course, not the only ways by which the world may enter the Christian home. There are many others. The printed word is a blessing that God has given to man, books, magazines and newspapers bringing instruction, information and recreation, but it also can be the means of spreading all that is false and evil. More and more it is difficult to find printed matter that is not tainted. The publishers of books, magazines, comics and newspapers feel it is to their advantage to spice their publications liberally with the unholy mixture. The popular magazines of the day introduce as much suggestive sex as they dare, and even Christian readers become conditioned to their standard. What place has such printed matter in the home in which Christ dwells?

(For the horrific story of Ted Bundy, including his own testimony – given the day before being executed in the electric chair for crimes that started with soft-porn comics when he was twelve, go to e-booklet “The BIG Difference”

Good Literature

However, the negative attitude of excluding whatever is not good is not sufficient. There must be the provision of that which is good. There is literature that is informative and wholesome, that gives pleasure and instruction and, as far as is possible, it should have its place in the home. Good literature is a strong antidote against bad literature, as well as being a valuable formative influence upon mind and heart. While harmful influences must be excluded from the home, good influences, that really satisfy, in literature, music, art and companionship, must be provided. When there is not that provision a vacuum is created into which it is easy for the harmful to enter.

Parents are continually faced with the question of how far to permit their children to partake in that which may be considered borderline, in school and when they are with others or invited to other homes. Much of the burden of vigilance falls upon the mother and it is necessary that she continually seek the guidance and wisdom of God. One thing that helps greatly is to keep always in mind very practically the fact that God’s wisdom and will are in his Word, that we must know the principles it lays down and carefully obey them. Every problem should be taken to God’s Word. The temptation often is to begin reasoning the matter out, considering the pros and the cons. Then we decide according to the best of our wisdom, not realizing possibly that compromise is involved and some spiritual principle set aside. Obedience to God’s wisdom seems hard at times, but He has not given us liberty to judge whether to follow it or not. We must believe, trust, submit and obey.

A Subtle Error

An attitude has been spreading in some Christian circles today that is in accord with the spirit of the times and the general lowering of spiritual and moral principles. It reasons that the pleasures and ways of the world – the dance, movies, theatre, alcoholic drinks, extreme fashions, make-up, etc. – may be indulged in so long as a true fellowship with God is maintained in the heart. It is just the old Corinthian argument which Paul answered. The carnal Corinthians were justifying themselves saying, “Not being under the Law, all things are lawful unto me.” On this ground they claimed liberty to indulge in carnal things. Quoting their words, Paul answers them, “All things are lawful for me – but not all things are good for me. Though all things are in my power they shall not bring me under their power. Meat is for the belly and the belly for meat (another of their arguments) – though God will soon put an end to both; but the body is not for fornication but for the Lord: and as God raised the Lord from the grave so He will raise us also by his mighty power” (1 Cor. 6:12-14, Conybeare). Their argument is that we have natural appetites and we are free to satisfy them. Paul’s answer is that the body was created for God’s glory, not for indulgence or abuse.

These are subtle arguments. They offer an easy way, avoiding some aspects of the Cross. They offer liberty, soothing the conscience where the heart desires to join the world in indulgences and pleasures. They rob the Christian of the experience of the deeper, complete oneness with Christ that is God’s purpose for him (Jn. 17:21-23). They rob Christ of the full communion He would have with the one who is his. They open the ways of temptation before the Christian and before the children in the home.

Coinciding with the lowering of the Christian’s standards of conduct there has been a lowering of the standards of the world’s conduct. Moral standards and safeguards, which the world considered necessary, are abandoned and that which would not have been tolerated a comparatively few years ago has become commonplace. This has been due in great part to the lowering of standards by Christians. When the salt has lost its savor the restraint which it exercised on the world’s corruption is removed.

The lowering of standards always affects the home. It is in the home, in the first place, that the standards are lowered. The home means the woman in the home. It means that she has lowered her standards. And that means the children in the home. The standards that are presented to them are lowered.

And so we have broken homes, disunited homes, homes where discipline is not exercised, children that are disrespectful and disobedient, teen-age delinquency.

Those who advocate this attitude to the things of the world today argue in justification that there are many Christians who, while strictly abstaining from these things, are, nevertheless, spiritually cold and unfruitful, therefore the abstaining from these things does not help to produce spirituality – therefore there is no harm in participating in them!

Such reasoning is fallacious. For instance, the Pharisees engaged frequently in prayer, yet they were spiritually cold and unfruitful – therefore (by the same process of reasoning) much prayer does not help to produce spirituality – therefore there is no benefit in praying much and no harm in praying little!

The trouble with the Pharisee was not that he prayed and the trouble with the unspiritual Christian who abstains from worldly things is not in his abstinence. The trouble with both is exactly the same – the one offered God prayer, and the other separation, as works. In both it is the ‘worship of Cain.’ It is a work of the flesh counterfeiting the work of the Spirit. It is a simulating of the fruit of true fellowship with God to hide and condone the fleshly heart beneath. It cannot bring spiritual life. God rejects it.

Prayer and separation in themselves do not bring spiritual life. But true spiritual life will inevitably produce prayer and separation. They must be the products of spiritual life; otherwise they will be false. Instead of being the manifestation of life they will be the manifestation of death. The Pharisee is always with us. And have we not all to guard our hearts against the sin of the Pharisee?

Is there not something of the Pharisee in the reasoning that would persuade our conscience that the things of the world are not corrupt and not wrong and that we may indulge the secret desire of our heart to do them? Actually that was the argument used by Satan in Eden to persuade Eve to take of “the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Satan said it would not bring death. But it did!

We are not without examples of the effect of such a position. When the Church has ceased to practice separation from the world, has spiritual life been maintained? Has there been the continuance of vital fellowship with the Lord? It has always been a symptom of spiritual declension, leading into further coldness and unfruitfulness.

In the experience of the Church through the ages it is abundantly clear that true spiritual life and fellowship with God has been neither to the Pharisee nor to the one who compromised with the world. Both, equally, have lost the intimate communion with the Christ of Calvary which comes, as He taught, only through denying self and taking up the Cross in all that it signifies.

God’s Word could hardly be clearer or more emphatic regarding separation from the world: “You adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. But God forbid that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (James 4:4; 1 Jn. 2:15-17; Gal. 6:14; 1 Jn. 5:19; Jn. 17:14).

Consequences of Erroneous Thinking

One who has been led into this fallacious reasoning that opens the way for participation in the practices of the world, said, “I have liquor on my table because I want my children to become accustomed to its right use so that when they grow up they will not be tempted to abuse it.” It seems incredible that a Christian man would take such a position, and yet it is an entirely consistent and logical outcome of such reasoning.

Fallacious reasoning leads to further fallacious reasoning and to blindness. How does that father know that none of his children has the weakness that will almost inevitably produce an alcoholic? If it turns out that one does have it, who will carry the terrible burden of blame? This is no imaginary danger; the proportion of potential alcoholics is not small. And suppose that all his children escape this danger, what about the Christian’s responsibility in regard to the effect of his example on those who succumb to the curse – even though he call them ‘weak brethren’?

And what company does the habit of drinking lead into? Should a Christian father prepare his children for association with such company? The evil and misery that liquor has brought to men, women and children and the sin and vice that is its inevitable product are well enough known. Yet a line of fallacious reasoning can so blind Christian parents that they will decide that they should expose their children to it.