How to Establish a Christian Household, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I gave a basic definition of a household and what makes it distinctly Christian. With this foundation, we’re well on our way to figuring out the nuts and bolts of establishing a Christian household. But first, let me give you a basic example/test of whether or not you have a household at all.

Depending on your own circumstances you may have to use your imagination for this, but the basic question is, “Do your children need your permission to date/court/engage in a romantic relationship?” If you have a true household, the issue of who else gets brought into it is significant. If a father doesn’t actually give his daughter in marriage, then it indicates that his daughter in no way belongs to his household. If it’s purely ceremonial, then something is off.

2 Paths to Christian Households

The first, and easier, path to having a Christian household is to establish it that way from the start. Husband and wife are both on the same page regarding the rule of Christ in the home and children are brought up to know the Way. Once the foundation is laid, the house can be built up pretty quickly with the right structure to it. And while this path will not be devoid of any obstacles, at least the expectations are clear from the start.

The second, and harder, path to having a Christian household is to realize the necessity of doing so halfway down a different road, which means turning around, undoing a lot of stuff, and getting to where you should have been all along. But don’t let that stop you. If you are ten years into a marriage and starting to realize that what you really have is a few sinners living under the same roof and chasing their own agenda, then you should start where you are at.

If you are on this second path, you will have to exercise more patience. You will exasperate your children if, after you have been discipling them to be good little heathens for the past 10 years, you suddenly demand them to act like good little Christians. You may have to gauge the speed at which you move based on how much whiplash you are causing. But what will help the whole enterprise is if you, without saying a word, become more present for your family. If your kids notice that you are less interested in yourself and more interested in how they are doing, or if your wife begins to notice that her husband is getting easier to live with, then the whole enterprise has a pretty decent shot of success.


Since Christian households have a structure, an easy place to influence your household to become Christian is by intentionally, prayerfully, humbly, and cheerfully accepting the role that you are meant to play. This means going back to the basic designations of husband, wife, father, and children and following the household constitution.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

Ephesians 5:22-6:4

A Christian wife is commanded to submit to her husband. A Christian husband is commanded to love his wife in the same way that Christ loves the Church. Christian children are commanded to obey their parents. And a Christian father is commanded to raise his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

No personality test is needed. No compatibility surveys required. These are basic commands and fundamental roles meant to establish structure in the home. In a home where the obedience of children is not required, truth and virtue are not communicated from generation to generation. In a home where a wife does not submit to her husband, the Lordship of Christ is not evident. In a household where a husband/father treats his family as a means to achieving his own pleasures, the spirit of Christ is absent.

Depending on how many household members are believers, at minimum you – dear reader – can do your part. I doubt anyone has gotten past reading the Ephesians passage quoted at length above if they are not a believer, which means you can adopt your God ordained role in your household even if others do not. A husband is to love his wife whether or not his wife is lovely or loveable, and a wife is to submit to her husband (insofar as it does not conflict with her obedience to Christ) whether he is worthy of such obedience or not. If you happen to be a minor in your household and you have unbelieving parents, honoring them instead of defying them is in your job description.

In other words, start with yourself.

Practical Steps to Take

Start by memorizing and praying about the role you have to play in your household. Depending on the age of your children, it might be appropriate to read a key passage regarding the Christian household once a week and even having a family project to memorize those passages.

Communicate your desire to live as a Christian within your household to your household. While this might seem like setting yourself up for failure, it’s better to be clear about what you are doing. If you are one of those who are coming around to establishing a Christian household late, it is wise and loving to tell the other members of your household what you are doing. Such a conversation from a husband might look like the below:

I want to let all of you know that lately I have been thinking more about what it means to be a husband and father, and that I realize I haven't been doing a good job of it. So I want to apologize to you all for that and ask for your forgiveness. I am beginning to understand that I will have to give an answer to God one day regarding the kind of husband and father I have been. I hope you will see a difference in me over the coming months and that means that there may be some changes in how our family functions. I would appreciate your support and prayers and please feel free to talk to me about these changes. 

The basic idea is to know, establish, and communicate what your household is all about. Or at minimum, what you perceive your role in your household to be. Establish the standard, and then learn to love the standard.

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