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How to accomplish a Successful Family Life - Rev Sajesh Mathews, Chennai

Ephesians 5:21-33

This is the right time to reflect about Family since it is being distorted with the influences of global standard of life style. Indian society is influenced by the sub-cultures, modernization and the global culture. People who live as homosexuals and lesbians claim themselves as family as well as the single parents who adopt children without married relationship claim that they have family life. Hence, the concept of family is being changed in our society. So, we need to focus the significance of Family life in all our meetings with due respect.
As we all know, Family is the essential unit in the entire social formation. Society is a web of relations between individual members. The definition of Family is set in various ways in different societies, but the crux is the same. Its definition can be found in any book of Sociology, but it is much more than a mere definition. It is the unit which binds husband, wife and children to celebrate, to enjoy and to have fellowship as they stay together as a family unit.
We’re in a crisis at the moment. Our world is turning towards an idea of marriage and we hardly reflect about marriage but talk more about relationship which may be the influences of western culture which does not focus about marriage because of the divorces and broken relationship within their communities. Even though context is the same in our society, we should give more emphasis about family life. Now in India, there are an increasing number of gay marriages and open marriages, broken marriages and sex outside of marriage that challenge the real family system in our society. As we celebrate family Sunday in our church we should not forget the fact that the Church consists with widows, orphans, divorced and divorcee who are the victims of family problems, who must be catered in our broader family relationship. That’s why today it’s more important than ever to be turning back to the Bible and reminding ourselves of how God intended marriage to be. Whether you’re a husband, a wife, single, married, a widower, a mother, a father, a friend or a child, we all should understand not just more about marriage, but understand more about God and his relationship with us.
Marriage is to be solemnized in the church because church is the holy place of God where we can feel and experience the presence of the God. Moreover we have a sacramental life. All the moments, good or bad, should be allied with sacraments. Marriage is sacrament in which bride and bridegroom join each other.

The Husband-Wife Relationship

Paul’s discussion in Ephesians chapter V appears to be a tension in this passage between a patriarchal practice and the modern outlook of family life. It is not the problem of the word of God but our understanding of it could be the problem. The text is very clear as it is linked with the relation of Christ and the Church. So there is only one model that can be followed. That is the relationship of Christ and Church and we should realize the fact that family life is not a contract but a covenantal relationship wherein Christ is the head of the family. Hence church (the bride) and Christ (the bridegroom) have the inseparable relationship so also the husband and wife should have the similar relationship.
The word ‘Submission’ that refers in verse 22 of chapter 5 is a misinterpreted word. The word "submit" means to arrange your life in subjection to another...” Here, Paul is not talking of submitting to an external authority. So the relationship is not oppressive or submissive and submission does not mean blind obedience or submission does not imply inferiority. In Christian marriage, submission is based on the unity and love of Christ with church. The husband and wife are essentially one body, one unit, just as Christ and the church are essentially one. The passage suggests that something more profound than a birth relationship is being established by this union. The man and the woman are one flesh in a way in which the parents and child are not. The wife's body does not belong to her alone, but also to her husband; the husband's body does not belong to him alone, but also to his wife (1 Corinthians 7:4)
The husband's submission implies by his sacrificial love and his love is to parallel with Christ's love in its sacrifice. ".(v.25)..and gave himself for it. . In today’s world many husband and wife merely understand the value of equality and mutual respect. It’s like a companionship where possessiveness, selfishness and ego have no place. The verses in Ephesians V instruct that the husband is to cherish his wife. This means that she is to be treated with tenderness and affection. This would mean that since love must be fed, there is to be a warm demonstrative love relationship.
When the bride and bridegroom join together in marriage, they LEAVE their parents and BEGIN a new life. They grow to be a NEW family unit. In other words, a new couple will detach from their old home. Two problems can happen here. Sometimes the parents find it hard to let their children leave when they get married. The role of the parent is to support their children as they start a new family life not interfere too much, but sometimes parents do more than support – they control that prevents the couple from cleaving together as they need to. The second problem is when the one or both of the married couple finds it hard to leave their old family, sometimes even after 20 years. Some people may still live with their parents after Marriage mentally. But regardless of how happy or sad their household was growing up, it’s important to establish our own family unit together.
In the selected passage, when Paul refers about love, he is not talking about erotic love. The word "erotic" comes from the Greek “eros”, a love that responds to the beauty of the other. Or it is not more than friendship love. The Greek word for this type of love is "philia," which is sometimes translated "brotherly love." However in today’s context the love between spouses should include friendship love. Sharing interests, having deep discussions, simply enjoying being in each other's company -- all these are vital parts of a good marriage. So love in marriage is not solely erotic, nor solely friendship.
.But it is “agape” When Paul writes, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church", (v.25), he uses the word "agape." Agape love is a love that gives, a love that has the other's interest at heart. So in marriage there is a place for erotic love, and a place for friendship love. But the greatest of all loves is agape love, a love that gives, a love that does not demand or hold onto rights, but has the good of the other at heart.
V. 28-30, another principle of the husband's love is loving his wife as he loves himself. It is a sacrificing Love which means to give over power to another. It is the opposite of selfish --it is s-e-l-f-l-e-s-s. "No man ever yet hated his own flesh..." If we do anything well, we know how to love ourselves. It is natural to be aware of how we project ourselves and appear to others that is just as we would never embarrass or belittle ourselves. In the popular novel Anna Karenina, Tolstoy draws on a dual story line to enlighten marriage. He compares and contrasts Anna's marriage with that of Levin and Kitty. Anna and her husband make mistake after mistake, eventually leading to the destruction of their marriage, while Levin and Kitty epitomize a good marriage. Theirs is not perfect; but they understand their essential unity Levin could not be offended with her because she was himself. Therefore the Love that is referred in Ephesians 5 has a deep meaning.

Parenting- Relation with Children

If it brings to a close without the reference of Children and parenting in Christian family life, this writing may not do its justice. It is the high time to reflect about parenting when children are not being properly nurtured in the changing world and parents are not being trained to look after their children. Now a day children seem to be a burden for the new generation parents. Increasing number of couples who deny having children shows or challenges God’s intention in his creation. They may have to sacrifice their Job or give up their carrier and promotions by having a child. But they should not forget the fact that their parents have sacrificed their life to see their children are grown with all the possibilities of life.
Following are the few ways by which parenting will be successful.

Parents are the role models for children. They will follow what you act rather than what you say.
Spend time with children and understand their feelings. Because active listening is very important.
Explore their talents and mold them to attain their goal.
Never underestimate your child or compare your child with anyone. Each child is gifted with lot of potential to improve their abilities. It is important that to develop a positive self esteem in the child.
Don’t advise all the time which will help the children to hate their parents. Don’t punish your children if it is not required.
Parents have to talk to children about sex, media and TV. They are to be taught how to watch it or search websites wisely.
Family atmosphere will definitely influence the children’s character formation. What you render at home about life, values, family, church, world and frustrated comments about family life will persuade their view points.
Parents must see that their children are assigned with some responsibilities so that this would create oneness in his /her mind. They must realize the financial conditions and struggles that you are going through.
Express your emotions and understand the children’s emotions. Let the children have the freedom to share what they have in their mind.
Your efforts to improve their spiritual growth will help the children ultimately.
Conclusion: "better ideas" or "new innovations" in the husband/wife relationship that we see in this world may help us or destruct us. But our focus needs to be clear and it should be based on strong faith in God and in his word. We need to renew our determination to practice scriptural principles in our married relationship. If both the husband and the wife put God first and keep Him there, God will ensure the success of their marriage. May God help us to fulfill the vision of Parenting and family life according to His will.


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