Church Education Trust

Christian Belief

ST008/7 The Ethics of the Home.


The Ethics of the Home.

The idea of "home" seems to be natural only in countries and cultures with a Christian background, though this does not mean that every family and house in these countries is by any means a home in the true sense of the word. The subject will probably be best covered under the headings of Marriage, the Christian Home, and the Christian in the Non-Christian Home.

(i) Marriage.

In a short study of this nature on Christian Ethics, there is no need to spend time on the question of monogamy. The marriage of one man to one woman should theoretically be held sacred. In this age, however, it needs to be emphasised. As the marriage service declares "it should not be entered into lightly or inadvisedly". The couple should be sure that they truly love each other and that their coming together is in the will of God.

They should come together wiithout any other thought than that they are pledged utterly to each other for life. Divorce in the New Testament is clearly frowned upon and at the widest interpretation is allowable for one reason only - the clear unfaithfulness of one of the parties.

1 Corinthians 7 seems also to infer that, even if there should be a separation, there should be no marriage to another. This raises the very real problems of the present day, where divorce can be obtained so easily legally, and where so often men and women are married, divorced, and married again before they become Christians, while the ideal must be kept in mind and maintained, it seems that every case must be dealt with before the Lord according to its own merits and circumstances.

(ii) The Christian Home.

The importance of a truly Christian home cannot be overestimated. It is a place where the love and grace of the Lord are, and where children can be nurtured and brought up in the midst of Christian love and teaching in an atmosphere of moral rectitude. Home is the place where we are free, but that freedom must not be carried too far. All in the family must love and respect the needs, desires and limitations of the others.

The family altar is important and it is necessary that the family pray together; all the events and circumstances of the family should be related to Christ and His interests.
The mutual love and consideration between husband and wife needs to be carefully fostered, and as well as strict fidelity the one to the other, the tenderness and courtesy of courtship should be maintained.

The blessedness and restfulness of a true Christian home can only be continued as there is a real interest in each other's affairs; each should look constantly for common thoughts, interests and joys and each should always be willing to sacrifice for the other. The husband ought to take his rightful position as the head of the house, but this does not mean that the man is in any sense an innately superior being to the woman, he is not a "better sort" of being.

It is only because he is better fitted to lead the family because of his constitution and because of the fact that he is the one who normally has to face the world as a whole and make contact with it. Marriage, however, is a partnership and should always be so. Decisions should be made together after prayer and consultation.

Lee in his "Elements of Theology" has a good passage on this subject, "Some may talk of man's superiority by nature, but that is only a dream of the imagination. The doctrine here advocated, is not based upon man's supposed superiority, but upon nature's law of adaptation.

Man is doubtless superior to woman in some respects; as a general rule, he can stand under greater weight, run with greater speed, and clamber over rocks and mountains with greater ease, but in point of all that can delight the eye of God and holy angels, he is not women`s superior. But he is better adapted to the sphere our doctrine signs him, and she is better adapted to the sphere assigned her by the same doctrine.

The natural qualities of women, aided by their position in society, tend powerfully to develop correct moral and religious principles; and immorality is less frequent, and piety more common among them than amongst men. The position of woman as the subject of the conjugal and maternal relations, gives her the almost entire control of the care of each successive generation in the earliest periods of its existence.

From her the first impressions on the susceptible Mind of infancy are received. The infant character is moulded and modified in many respects by her hand, her gentleness, whether exalted or grovelling, is the school of childhood. In this maternal school we take our lessons; under this discipline we form our characters for time and eternity. The maternal office is, therefore, an office of the greatest dignity and usefulness and challenges our highest admiration and esteem." (p.390).

Correct relationships between the members of the family are also important. The New Testament clearly teaches the necessity for discipline and for children to obey their parents. It as clearly shows that parents should be kind, just and understanding. A true love for the honour of God and for the very best and highest for the children should govern all.

Love should be the ruling principle in all relationships. Parents have a duty to provide for the physical, material and spiritual welfare of their children, and children in return should show true gratitude and give obedience, respect and reverence to their parents. It would seem to be destructive of right relationships in the home for the disagreements of the parents to be ventilated before the children.

(iii) The Non-Christian Home.

Many a Christian has to live in a home where there is no other who shares his faith and a word is necessary as to how a Christian should, live in such circumstances. Three basic considerations in this connection ought to be mentioned.

  1. 1 Separation - the believer must adhere to his Christian principles and always put God first.
  2. Love - there must be a real and practical love shown to the other members of the family; a rightful share must be taken in the duties and running of the home; putting God first does not mean forsaking this side of the matter.
  3. Influence - the influence of the believer in the non-Christian home can and should be very real, especially is this the case where the lone Christian is the father or the mother; the responsibility is a great one.

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