Biblical Authority in Families Gen 1-3 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Today, we begin a series of lessons on the family. Since God created the family, we will begin our study with the original family to learn about the basic structure and requirements for a godly home.
Gen 1:26-27 God created man in his own image, male and female. He said, “and let them have dominion.” Several things to notice here. First, authority comes from God. Second, the authority that comes from God is used to subdue (bring into subjection, bring under control) the earth [Gen 1:28]. Third, this authority was not given to Adam, alone, but to “them,” the men. “Them” is a reference to Adam and the men of his offspring that would follow him.
In case, you are wondering whether “them” refers to the male and female, in the relationship of husband to wife, he is in charge [Gen 3:16 (after the fall); 1 Tim 2:11-13 (before the fall); Eph 5:22-24 (after the cross)]. Hers is to be a voluntary submission, “thy desire shall be unto thy husband.” He is to “rule.” Yes, it’s that way in the New Testament, too [1 Tim 3:4, 12; 1 Pet 3:1, 5-6; Heb 13:17; Titus 2:5].
In the relationship of parents to children, the “them” of Gen 1:26 could refer to the male and female, since children are to honor father and mother [Ex 20:12] and obey their parents [Eph 6:1-3]. Even Jesus was “subject unto them,” [Lk 2:51] referring to Joseph and his mother.
The first breakdown in God’s plan for the family was a failure in this line of authority. God commanded the man (Adam) in Gen 2:16-17. To command is to direct “authoritatively,” to have or exercise “direct authority.” The command was both positive [Gen 2:16] and negative [Gen 2:17]. And it was up to Adam to carry out this command in his family after Eve was created, and to carry it out to the letter. He had the dominion.
Notice how the devil questioned God’s command in Gen 3:1. He is took a direct shot at God’s authority, “Yea, hath God said?” Every sin starts with questioning or ignoring God’s word and, thus, God’s authority. And notice that the devil got Eve’s attention by questioning what she couldn’t have. They freely had everything in that garden. When Eve responded to the devil, she messed up the wording of the positive command in Gen 3:2, by leaving out “freely.” Then she messed up the wording of the negative command in Gen 3:3, by adding “neither shall ye touch it,” and changing “thou shalt surely die” to “lest ye die,” weakening the consequence of disobedience. Finally, the devil lied about God’s authority by adding the word “not” in Gen 3:4.
Sadly, Adam was right there “with her,” [Gen 3:6] and let this whole scene play out without stepping in, with his God-given dominion, and stopping Eve from disobeying God’s command. Adam failed to obey God’s authority and failed to exercise his authority over Eve. Adam didn’t submit to God and didn’t rule over his wife. Eve didn’t obey her husband and, thus, didn’t obey God.
Every breakdown in the family can be traced back to this problem of authority. Before you can expect obedience from your children you must display obedience to your Father and his commands. Dad, if you’re living in disobedience to God, your children will model your disobedience in their relationship with you. Mom’s, before you can expect obedience from your children you must demonstrate consistent submission to God and your husband. Your children will treat you like you treat these authorities.
As Cary Schmidt says, “How you live speaks longer and louder that what you say. Your model outweighs your mouth. Your parental authority is established upon your submission to the Highest Authority. How you respond to your Father comes right back at you from your kids,” [Passionate Parenting, Cary Schmidt, Striving Together Publications, p.16].