For the Family’s Sake: Chapter 5, The Home’s Weight-Bearing Beams

When I was reading this chapter I thought about some issues we’ve had in the building industry here in recent years. The availability of housing hadn’t kept pace with the growth of the population and this led to an upsurge in the building of residential high rise apartments. Unfortunately, many of these new apartments have been found to have serious defects. Speed of construction, lack of oversight, deregulation and other factors have contributed to this problem. Individuals bought them in good faith only to discover later on that there was a serious water leak or a wall had begun to crack. There was one case a couple of years ago where a whole high rise apartment block of residents had to be evacuated because of the danger posed to the building by structural defects. In some cases the construction companies went bankrupt and the owners were left with no compensation and large bills. They bought in good faith; the building defects were not noticeable until people moved in and pressure was placed on the infrastructure.

‘A confident, balanced life is built on a ‘sure foundation’ with a strong infrastructure (weight-bearing beams.)’

We all need the right sort of stability and as a tree needs its roots so our everyday lives need a home, a proper ‘place.’ It might not be the home we dreamed of having and we might have to do the best we can with what we have, but nevertheless, the home is the basic building block of society.

We’ve been in our present home for twenty-two years. It was structurally solid when we bought it but regardless, it has been necessary to maintain it. There’s always something that needs to be done but it’s been mostly wear and tear with the occasional upgrade when necessary. All this has taken time and has had a cost.
Making a home takes time, too and costs us something.

Aside from an actual building or place, a home is made up of the people in it and they bring about the atmosphere of the home. Although the author starts off with the husband and wife relationship, many of the same principles can be applied to other situations.
She discusses some important aspects about the role of husbands in this chapter. She recognises that we live in a flawed world but the basic Judeo-Christian model where the young family has the support and protection of a good father is important. In a life-giving home we share responsibility and serve one another although,

‘Homes work best when someone is the contented keeper of the home life.’

Homemaking takes time and work; it has to take priority over other things. I appreciate that the author doesn’t make hard and fast rules about who does what in the home but looks at homemaking as a team effort with a balance to be found in each individual situation.

‘In the biblical view, when we marry (one man, one woman), the “team leader” has been designated. The structure has a head or leader for as long as this family unit lasts – the husband. We’ve seen that this is not hierarchy in the way we normally think of power structures – that one individual has more worth, insights, or strengths than another. In the family one person accepts the final responsibility for the welfare and good of each member. This is a privilege – and a burden too. In the “prow-of-the-ship” example, a prow gets battered by the force of stormy waves. In families where the husband has died or has abandoned his responsibilities in some way, the woman takes on the “prow-of-the-ship” position. She has to be the shepherd and will suffer a new hardship if the husband’s headship was a reasonably good one.’

Whoever is in this role of leadership is under a higher authority – God’s – so there is no place for tyranny or dictatorship. Unfortunately, leaders, both male and female, have used their positions of authority in domineering, selfish ways. Christians have Jesus who is ‘gentle and humble of heart,’ not just as our model of what servant leadership should look like, but also as a final authority in our lives.

As I was thinking about structural defects in the building industry, I thought about the ‘personal structural defects’ that negatively affect our home lives. Maybe we had a poor example of family life as we were growing up and this has given us a flawed view of home life and relationships. Lack of trust, isolation, sickness, poverty and even overabundance of material goods, can negatively affect our homes. Relationships need upkeep just as homes do.

‘Just as a seed can be “choked with weeds” so that it cannot mature, our home life can be “choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures.” (Luke 8: 4-15)’

Struggling with too little that is safe, decent and good in the home or suffocating under the weight of too much of everything are like the weeds in the parable Jesus told in the Gospel of Luke.

When I went back to Scotland with my husband and two of our children in late 2019, my cousin took us to one of the areas where my Mum grew up. We went to a block of tenements which looked okay at first sight but on getting closer we saw that most of the windows were smashed or boarded up and there was a look of general neglect. He told us that you could purchase an apartment there for a pittance but they were inhabited by drug running gangs and nobody would buy them.

I thought this was such a sad waste. How could families survive in such a place?
Communities are important and so are decent living conditions.
If you’ve read Edith Schaeffer’s book L’Abri, you will understand the role that home played in Susan Schaeffer’s life and her belief that our homes shouldn’t be selfishly guarded or allowed to become self-centred places.

‘We’ve been deceived into thinking that our worth has to do with success or status. Both men and women are influenced by this false view of our significance, which leads to a sort of slavery to achievement.
There is a sweetness in a well-lived life that escapes this confusing tyranny…a freedom to be clear about what really matters in life…the freedom to walk in a middle, balanced path, with self-confidence to choose what is best and right in our circumstances.
Such a confident, balanced life is built on a “sure foundation” with a strong infrastructure (weight-bearing beams). This stable life provides the toughness needed to survive the storms.’

There were many ideas in this chapter and what I’ve written is some of what stood out to me. What were your thoughts on this chapter?

4 thoughts on “For the Family’s Sake: Chapter 5, The Home’s Weight-Bearing Beams

  1. I think what stood out to me the most this time as I read the book was the importance of the points on pages 73 and 74 about team membership and the way teams work, particularly in the Biblical view of marriage. My dear husband is not a Christian but he has always shouldered the burden of providing for our family and I know that he sees it as a privilege, for him alone, as mentioned on p.73 too. The fact that we work well as a team means that I can rely on him and he can rely on me (we do our fair share of work each), and because I ultimately rely on God, the foundations of our home are solid and strong. In the last 4 years, when we have had to raise our granddaughter unexpectedly, that foundation gave us all confidence and I definitely appreciated having him around with her so small. The model of Jesus, focusing on others, is one that we both try to follow in our home and it is more balanced. The other thing that is important is that making a home takes time, effort and sacrifice and someone must do it.

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    • There’s such an emphasis on individuality in the West, even in families, which is so different to many other cultures. I think the idea of team work is so important in the home but also in Church and business. It’s much safer than having a one man band and much more endurable for any undertaking. I was at a team meeting today for the Kid’s Ministry at Church and the importance of sharing the workload was a key topic. A person can be in charge but they need others around for support & wisdom.
      There are some things that my husband ‘looks after’ such things as our finances – I’m careful with money but don’t like to think about it. He has a business mind and I don’t, but he always discusses anything financial with me anyhow. In other families we know the wife looks after the finances because that’s what she’s good at. I’m just happy I can concentrate on other things I’m better at. 🙂
      It was also a real help to me to know that my husband supported me with raising our children & they knew that they would be answerable to Dad if they made life difficult for me when he wasn’t home. Really helps when you have 4 boys who are bigger than you.

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  2. I think that Susan did a great job of pointing out in this chapter that the role of headship of the Father is both a privilege and a responsibility. One to be approached with the humility of Jesus as the example. When a Father embraces this role in a biblical way, the whole family benefits from the protection and stability that follows. The wife has the freedom to flourish, and together they give the infrastructure that builds a strong home.

    “This stable life provides the toughness needed to survive the storms.” … so true!

    Liked by 1 person

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