(9) Family Worship Distinguishes Gender Roles

The Puritans said the benefits of family worship are so great they are “impossible to describe.” Nonetheless, in this series I’ll be attempting to highlight ten of its advantages.

The ninth benefit of homes gathering daily to read Scripture, sing and pray is that it distinguishes gender roles.

Why doesn’t mama preach?

A child may ask his father why women shouldn’t preach from the pulpit or pastor a church. He replies: “Because Scripture forbids it” (1Tm. 2:11-12; 1Cor. 14:34). Then he asks why mother or his older sisters sometimes teach the Bible story in family worship. He says: “Because the Bible encourages it” (Titus 2:4).

Family worship vividly applies the many Scriptural passages that speak about the roles of men and women.

The woman’s role in family worship

Scripture encourages women to help teach the family at home. Timothy was taught the Bible from his youth (2Tm. 3:15). These lessons didn’t come from his father, who was an unbeliever (Ac. 16:1), but from his godly mother and grandmother (2Tm. 1:5). The command to “train up a child” in the Scriptures is for both parents (Pr. 22:6).

Though women should not formally teach the Bible to an assembled group of Christian men, they may teach anyone in informal settings. Priscilla sat down with her husband at the kitchen table and helped teach Apollos in Acts 18:26. The woman at the well taught the whole town in John 4:28-30. Even there, however, she wasn’t leading. Women shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or make comments at Bible studies. The family will see this at home worship.

The man’s role in family worship

Men are to lead family worship. If he is absent or opposed to Christianity, this job falls to the mother. But in most cases, he must guide the family spiritually because he is the leader of the home (Eph. 5:23-24; 6:4). Where else can the family see his leadership role on display so vividly than in family worship? Scripture even uses this as a qualification for pastors. If a father cannot even lead the worship of his little congregation at home, he will not be able to lead the worship of his congregation at church (1Tm. 3:5).

But what if the man of the home…

  1. …isn’t a Christian and is disinterested in Scripture? Then the wife and mother should faithfully lead family worship herself and take encouragement from 1 Corinthians 7:14. “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife.” This means that a believing wife can have a tremendous spiritual influence on the unbelieving husband. He will see the change in character of his wife and children. He will hear the Bible stories while clicking through ESPN in the other room. “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband” (v. 16)? You don’t, so keep on teaching.
  2. …isn’t as good of a teacher as the woman? Mother’s gifts in the Scripture may call for her at times to do the majority of the teaching. But the man can still “lead” his family in worship by gathering them together and emphasizing the importance of the Bible, prayer and singing. Being the leader doesn’t mean you must direct every item of the program (Ex. 18). Moreover, virtually any father and husband can read through a text of Scripture and then open it up for discussion afterwards. Families today don’t need brilliant sermons from Dad. They need him there…all of him.
  3. …isn’t around most of time? Depending on the reason, it may or may not be his fault. If ball games, work or other gatherings are prohibiting the man from being home in the morning or evening, he and his wife need a powwow to make necessary changes. If being absent can’t be helped (e.g. 3rd shift; military; sickness), he can still communicate to his wife  and children how vital it is to have daily family worship. Technology today makes this easier than ever.

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