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Biblical Models for Family and Community

Time to call out some false teachings. The biblical model for marriage, family and community is about individuals drawing closer to God, working in unity with one another, and loving one another.

circle model
Our God reigns. God's followers serve mutually.

Some have said that men and women are equal while assigning women to roles that are subservient and powerless. Complementarian theology is based on the idea that God prevents women from certain roles at home, church, and society, based on their gender. Egalitarian Christians believe that God has gifted believers uniquely and that people of all genders must follow God's call to speak, teach, and lead, as they are gifted.

venn diagram
Venn Diagaram: God's Call; Personal Gifts

Women do not report to men; they report to God. God is the head of the family, not man. Jesus provides the example of sacrificial love and servant leadership for both partners to follow. Men and Women both need to approach God individually, and this brings them closer to each other.

Men and Women are both commanded to provide for their families. Men and Women are both told to be gentle, kind, loving, and nurturing. Men and Women are both called priests who can come boldly to God, and who can show others the goodness of God. Let us stop human labels to limit a person's activities. I write more about Peter's view of marriage here.

Model of God's image

All genders are made in the image of God because in God there is no male nor female. When the Bible says God made humans in the image of God, male and female, it means that each human reflects the full image of God. An individual is not a partial reflection of God. Marriage is not required to reflect the full image of God.

The Bible tells all believers, men and women, to seek after the fruits of the spirit. Believers are called to be self-controlled and gentle, bold and courageous, regardless of gender.

God calls all believers to use their talents and gifts, whether it is teaching, speaking or interpreting.

God is the leader of the family

God is the head of each believer and the head of our marriage and families. Jesus is the sole mediator between God and humans. As we draw nearer to God, we can draw nearer to our spouse. Paul tells all believers to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21), following the Greco-Roman model of wives who submit to husbands (Ephesians 5:22). I write more about Ephesians here.

God is the leader of the family
Jesus is the sole mediator for each person to approach God

Christ is the head of the church, being the source or beginning of the church, just as a spring of water is the head or source of a river. I explore many biblical references to head and cornerstone here.

Jesus himself provided a model of serving one another when he washed the disciples' feet at the Last Supper. Each follower of Jesus needs to model Jesus in serving one another. Jesus showed that love is more important than laws.

When God is the ruler of our hearts, he is the leader of our marriage, church, and community. God commanded Christians to be his image, to represent God to the world, to be caretakers of the earth, to serve, give, and provide for one another. By loving one another we show that we belong to Jesus.

When Christ shelters his people, any other umbrella comes from man

Harmful Teachings

The teachings that husbands save or sanctify their wives or shelter and protect their wives are not biblical. God is our saviour, sanctifier, shelter and protector.

Seeing a husband in the role of God is idolatry. The harmful illustration of the husband's control over wife and children came from Bill Gothard, who taught that the husband was the protector and authority. This unbiblical teaching has enabled a power imbalance in marriage that has led to abuse. I explore how the church may have misunderstood Paul's writings here.

Likewise, the teaching that marriage follows the example of a hierarchal Holy Trinity is false. Jesus is our Lord and God. Seeing Jesus as less than God is unbiblical. Portraying Jesus submitting to the Father as a one-way hierarchy opposes the historical truth of Christian orthodoxy. The Bible shows Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus (John 14:11). It is mutual. I discuss the historical view of the Holy Trinity as three equal persons here.

Wayne Grudem bases subordinating women to men using his view of the Trinity as a hierarchy. This idea is a heresy compared to centuries of orthodox Christian teaching that the Trinity is one God made of three equal persons. Read more about the Trinity here.

The Trinity provides a model of equality, with each individual of the Trinity being equal, using their unique gifts. It is as a circle of equals, not an authoritarian power structure, that we attract others to God. In another post, I provide biblical references showing women and men are equals.

I hope that these images and biblical excerpts demonstrate the true biblical model for marriage, family, and community.


Elaine Ricker Kelly uses her experiences as a woman in business to inspire and empower women at home, church and society. She was an investment and insurance advisor for thirty years, has three grown daughters, and is passionate about writing to encourage girls and women in leadership. Elaine R. Kelly lives near Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, with her husband and lap dog. She and her husband have hiked the 900 km Bruce Trail and enjoy hiking, nature, tennis, music, history and culture.

Books by Elaine Ricker Kelly:

Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold - biblical fiction offering hope and healing to anyone who feels forgotten, belittled, or out of place.

The Sword: A Fun Way to Engage in Healthy Debate on What the Bible Says About a Woman's Role - provides 104 flashcards with an objective, memorable look at the rationale for diverse views on gender roles.

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