My wife and I recently attended the wedding of a young Christian couple in Oklahoma. One neat thing they did during the ceremony was tie together three cords, which symbolized the strength that a “cord of three” has (Eccl. 4:12). A marriage that is knotted together with three strands, husband, wife, and God, is not easily broken. If God is put at the center of the marriage covenant, chances of life-long unity greatly increase. Such a concept applies to the whole of the family structure as well.
In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus he described the bond that should tie the family together. It starts with the husband and father. He is to love his wife “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (5:25). Jesus displayed unconditional and sacrificial love for His church. As a father, he is not to “provoke” his children to anger, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (6:4). The goal of any parent should be to teach them about Christ and His will for them.
Next, Paul says that just as the church is subject to Christ, wives are to be “subject” to their husbands in everything “as to the Lord” (5:22-24). The church is part of the body of Christ, and so too is the wife part of the husband. However, just as Christ is the head of the church, the husband is the head of the family according to God’s design.
Lastly, Paul tells the children to “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (6:1). Children increasingly grow more independent the older they get. They may even show a bit of defiance. Nevertheless, God expects them to be obedient to the ones who are caring for them and trying to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Such principles are not always easy to put into practice. However, did you notice the common thread in all three? It is the Lord! With Christ being that bond which ties the marriage and family together, it is possible. Interestingly, the more that each of these is done, the more we are “filled up in Spirit” (5:18)! Implementing God’s will in the family means we are ever strengthening that knot.