What We Believe- Article XVIII, The Family, part 2

July 7, 2009

Today we will finish up our analysis of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 by looking at the final two paragraphs of Article XVIII speaking on the practical theology of the family.

3.   The Practice of Marriage

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

I love this paragraph.  For all of the flack that Southern Baptists receive as being sexist or chauvanist, I think that this paragraph accurately reflects a biblical theology of marital roles.  I know that this will not satisfy everybody, but I believe the way in which this paragraph has been set out makes it so that any issue someone has with the statement is an issue they have with the Bible.

We must never forget the first line.  Men and women, husband and wife, are both equally endowed with the image of God and thus of equal worth to each other and to God.  This is the key behind the biblical roles described in the remainder that is there to prevent the abuses that might come if left out.  From here, the rest is basically a solid reiteration of Ephesians 5.22-33.  I totally agree with all that is said here.  And since I am only a man, I must say that I believe my wife would agree with it too (and she isn’t the type that would let any abuse slip by).

4.   The Practice of Child-rearing

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

Finally, after defining family, marriage, and the practice of marriage, we come to child-rearing (which is the proper order, even though I myself failed to follow this route).  The paragraph begins with a strong pro-life statement.  This then flows into what appears to be a veiled admonition against divorce.  Next, we have an explication of Proverbs 22.6 (“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it“).  And then we round it out with a word to the children coming from the Ten Commandments.

This is certainly a necessary look into child-rearing, and to my tastes a sufficient one as well for a document such as the BF&M.  We don’t get any rules on what music our kids should listen to, if they can date, whether or not to home school.  All of the things which should be left to the conviction of parents with God have been, and I appreciate that.

So, that does it.  We have walked all the way through the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 as I have provided my own personal commentary on it.  Hopefully now we all have a better idea of the core, minimal beliefs that we as Southern Baptists should hold to.  Some parts of it I like, some I don’t, but all things considered, I find it to be a satisfactory document for facilitating cooperation among Southern Baptist churches across the country and around the world.  Thanks for reading along with me.