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Akin: God's perspective, not culture needed for Bible's family passages
August 05, 2003
By Chris Turner

Danny Akin, dean and professor at Southern Seminary, tells an audience at Christian Family Weekend the Bible's passages in Ephesians that define family members' roles need to be grasped from God's perspective. Photo by Jim Veneman

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)--Husbands are to be the leaders of their families and love their wives as Christ loves the church; wives are to submit to their husbands; and children are to obey their parents -- commands straight from the Bible. But popular culture's influence on the church has skewed those clearly defined roles, said Danny Akin, vice president for academic administration and dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

"We need to understand the Bible and the practical application of it," Akin said as the featured speaker for Christian Family Weekend at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center, July 25-28 in New Mexico.

"Men abdicate their roles as leaders because it is often not politically correct to say they are to be the head of the family. As for submission, pop culture has highjacked the word and given to it the connotation of inferiority."

Akin said he chose Ephesians 5:21-6:4 as his text for the weekend because it clearly defines what a Kingdom family looks like.

He spoke three times throughout the weekend and divided the passage into three parts, addressing the roles of men, women and parent-child relationships. The word "submission" has drawn considerable attention since its adoption into the Baptist Faith and Message at the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Salt Lake City.

"Many people do not realize that the Ephesians passage is only correctly understood when seen as what God intended families to be from the beginning, before the fall of man," he said. "Those types of family relationships are only possible through a redemptive relationship with Jesus Christ.

"But because we have allowed culture to impose upon us the definition that submission means servitude and inferiority, we think we have to take that passage out or water it down. What we need is a biblical balance. We need to see these Scriptures from the perspective of how God defines the roles of men and women and not from our fallen, selfish perspectives."

Critics of the BF&M article on the family seldom mention the emphasis of the beginning paragraph that "the husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image." These critics also fail to note what the BF&M states about the role of husbands.

"A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church," Akin said. "He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect and to lead his family.

"If you look at Ephesians closely," Akin said, "there are actually more verses that relate to the role of the husband and his responsibility than ... the wife. My responsibility is not to make my wife submit to me. It is to love her as Christ loved the church. He died for the church. Do I love my wife that much? That is an awesome responsibility. I'm certain that few wives would have trouble submitting to their husband's God-given leadership if they were loved like that."

Women should take their example from Christ regarding submission, Akin said.

"The Bible says over and over again that Jesus and the Father are one," he said. "But Jesus said the Son does nothing apart from the will of the Father. We can conclude that if all parts of the Trinity are equal, then Jesus is in every way God. However, when He came to earth He determined to do the will of His Father. He submitted to the Father. It didn't make him inferior or subservient to God."

Akin said a man's leadership in the family should not be autocratic, but one that creates an environment in which family members grow spiritually. That environment is developed through unconditional love.

"Make it an act of your will to love your wives," he told husbands during his opening message. "It is an imperative. God does not give you a choice. Can you say that your love for your wife is helping her to grow spiritually? She is to be loved in such a way that she knows that God is the only person in this world who loves her more."

He said husbands could demonstrate their love by meeting the following seven basic needs of their wives:

-- The need for him to be the spiritual leader.

-- The need for personal appreciation ("Do you verbalize it and demonstrate your appreciation through your actions?").

-- The need for romance and personal affection ("Guys, sex is not romance to a woman. She wants you to connect with her heart, her emotions.").

-- The need for intimate conversation.

-- The need for honesty and openness.

-- The need for home support and stability.

-- The need for you to commit to your family first ("Not work or recreational sports.").

Akin said wives could honor their husbands through their submission to his leadership and by their admiration of him as a godly man.

"Ladies I can assure you that a great woman can take a mediocre man and make him good," he said during the second session, "and a mediocre woman can take a great man and bring him down to the level of mediocrity. That is how important your admiration of your husband is to him."

Five needs a husband has of his wife are:

-- The need for her admiration and respect.

-- The need for sexual fulfillment.

-- The need for home support.

-- The need for an attractive wife ("Ladies, this flows from your inner beauty.").

-- The need for you to be his best friend.

Akin said in his third message that it is much easier for spouses who love each other in this way to love their children as defined in Ephesians 6:1-4.

Twelve ways parents can demonstrate their love for their children are:

-- Enter into their world.

-- Love you spouse.

-- Give children discipline.

-- Look them in the eyes.

-- Touch them physically.

-- Spend time with them.

-- Listen to them.

-- Bless them with words rather than cursing them.

-- Have fun with them.

-- Nudge them out of the nest when it is time.

-- Admit to them when you're wrong.

-- Introduce them to Jesus Christ

"If we are going to have Kingdom focused churches, we need Kingdom-focused families," Akin said. "Sadly right now the divorce rate within the church is nearly identical to that in the secular world. I'm convinced that we will have healthy, divorce-proof families if we'll follow God's defined roles for members of the family."

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