Sunday, June 15, 2014

Headship in the home. . .

A million years ago my grandmother gave my wife and I a print of the Norman Rockwell painting of dad sitting in a chair in his pjs, smoking a cigarette and reading the Sunday paper, while mom and the kids are dressed up and headed to church. I believe it is entitled Easter Morning.  I love it.  Not because of what the painting shows but because he captured so well what it means to abdicate headship in the home -- the primary responsibility of the dad in the first place.

Sin has distorted the headship of the home to be about things like hierarchy, fear, and right.  God intended it to be first of all and foremost a spiritual headship.  Just as Adam delivered to Eve the words of the Lord regarding the garden, so is every husband and father charged with the spiritual headship of the home -- speaking the word of the Lord, making known the Gospel of Christ, leading the catechism, and taking responsibility for church going.  Fathers who do all other things well and fail in this have abdicated their spiritual authority to others.  Fathers who do nothing else well but who lead, teach, and take responsibility for bringing their household to the Lord and His Church, are not complete failures.

Rockwell may have been prescient since the accusation of the church today is that it is feminine.  The majority of the people in the pew, the majority of those taking leadership positions, and the majority of those who teach the faith to children are women and not men.  No one is suggesting that women do nothing in this regard but we are challenging the men to take up the cause that God gave them as the spiritual head of the household.  Read Luther's catechism.  Read the Table of Duties.  Dads are not just providers and protectors, they are the voices of God in the home and they are called by God to demonstrate before their children the posture of faith and faithfulness to Christ.

My dad was not perfect.  He still is not perfect.   But he did raise me in the faith and provided an example for me by making sure we were in the Lord's house on the Lord's day.  There are many things he did in addition to that but everything else he did is in the context of this one essential task.  I know I am not a perfect father and, sadly, all my children are now adults so I have no time left to redress my mistakes.  I beg their forgiveness always for my errors.  But I praise God most of all that all of them are Christian, that they are in Church, participate in the work of the Kingdom, and are faithful at His Table.  It is the eternal gift any parent gives to their children (with the ministry and aid of the Holy Spirit, of course).