A couple years after Phillip and I married, I had a vision which was potent with spiritual lessons. In my vision, I saw a pregnant woman dressed in black walk up the center aisle in an empty church. When the woman got to the front of the church, she turned around and stretched her right arm straight ahead pointing with her finger and saying, "Every man to his own house."
After much thought and prayer, Phillip and I came to realize the meaning of the symbolic representations in my vision. We recalled that a "woman" in Scriptures represents God's People in the Old Testament (Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:20; 31:32; and "the church" represents the "Body of Believers" in the New Testament (Ephesians 5: 22-32). Understanding these symbolic terms tells us that the "black dress" and "empty church" must represent dead works of omissions, trespasses, and offences exempt of the white purity of the Spirit of which God does not hear prayers or songs (Isaiah 59:2). The "pregnancy" signifies the life-giving birth of Altruistic Believers in Christ who allow God to complete His Workmanship within their own individual lives (Ephesians 2:10). The "center aisle" is God's Truth "rightly divided" (understood) in plain language; and the "message" is directing the "man of the house" to his own home as the priest and leader of his family. Family comes before organizations; as does individuals within families!!
When God created Adam and Eve He said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24. In reality this verse is saying that each couple, including their children, are a separate home unit within their own house. When sin entered this world, God ordained the husband/father to be the priest of the family in offering sacrifices for their sins thus pointing forward to the coming Messiah who would be the Ultimate Sacrifice for the Salvation of all who would accept His Gift of Eternal Life (Job 1:5).
Public convocations (worship) began when the Israelites, of a totalitarian Theocracy under God, left Egypt to go to the Promised Land. Since the whole nation was traveling together, God instructed Moses to build a tabernacle so that He could dwell among them corporately (Exodus 25:8). The sacrificial rituals were then transferred to the priests of the tabernacle (Exodus 28, 29); then later to the temple King Solomon built (2 Chronicles 5). God continued to support corporate worship throughout "Old Testament" times (Old Covenant), even encouraging the people to rebuild it when it was destroyed by the Babylonians (Book of Haggai). However, when Jesus died on the cross as the Sacrifice for all peoples thus fulfilling all the types, symbols, shadows, and vacuums (hidden Freedom of Grace Paul would come to write in the New Testament) of the Old Testament, the curtain (veil) in the temple which shielded the people from looking upon the Holy of Holies where the Presence of God dwelled was torn from the top to bottom, thus exposing the Holy of Holies as Christ had ended all the ceremonies which pointed toward Himself as the Holy of Holies and that particular religious system (Old Covenant) ended, therefore was no longer in effect as Jesus instituted the New Covenant of Grace (Matthew 27:51; Luke 23:45-46).
When Jesus talked to the woman at the well, she asked Him which temple she should worship at. In response, Jesus answered: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and Truth." John 4:24. Stephen confirms Christ's words in Acts 7:48-49 (WEB): "However, the Most High doesn't dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says, 'heaven is my throne, and the earth a footstool for my feet. What kind of house will you build me?' says the Lord; or what is the place of my rest?'" Furthermore, Jesus assures us that "the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:21. These facts are all sufficient confirmation for us to know that God does not require public convocations (worship and praise) for humankind to communicate with Him from that time to the NOW of today. As He also instructs us to pray in secret, and "your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." Matthew 6:6 (WEB).
According to historical facts, the early Christians met together in their homes for the first 200 years or so instead of in a "church building" or synagogue (Colossians 4:15; Romans 16:5; Philemon 1:2; 1 Corinthians 16:19). Jesus said, "No one can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day [last days have been ever since Jesus was on earth]" (John 6:44).
At the age of five I surprised my mother by asking, "When are we going to have a vacation from church?" Of course, I was not aware of all the facts herein mentioned, but I believe that God was preparing me, at that young age, to understand the true meaning of individual worship and an intimate, personal relationship with God; being and doing praise, honor and glory towards building a holy life; which means in essence - filled with good works or God-aspiring innspirational deeds directed from on High (Galatians 5:22-23; James 1:26-27).
It is interesting to note that the four meanings of the word "church" in The Revell Bible Dictionary, by Lawrence O. Richards is as follows: "(1) Christians of all times and places, the mystical Body of Christ; (2) the interdependent ministering community of believers world-wide; (3) Christians in a particular city or province; (4) a group of Christians meeting together regularly, a local congregation."
The intimacy between husband and wife is a God-Given Gift where no third party should be allowed to come between and interfere either by force, intimidation, domination, divisive affection, or negative effectivities. It is the privilege of every home to be a haven of rest for the entire family. Someone has said: "Home is the comforting rest to harbor the soul." And how true that is. Put another way, the American Indians say, "Chief in tent make peace in tee pee!" And Christ said, "know this, that if the goodman [of God ordained allegiance] of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up." Matthew 24:43 [lps]. Godly homes are sacred!
The husband and father of the family represents the characteristics of The Heavenly Father Who has compassion on his children (Psalm 103:13); is forgiving (Matthew 6:14-15); manifests love (John 3:16); provides for his family (Philippians 4:19; Luke 11:13; instills faith in God (Hebrews 11:6); and encourages trust (1 Peter 5:7). The role of the wife and mother of the family is to be respectful by her aid and assistance; and supportive as help to meet her husband's requirements of God (Ephesians 5:33; Proverbs 31:10-31).
Every king of his home has the basic power of authority over it. Every queen of her home has empowerment attuned of God's Will and Mindfulness of the combined masterfulness of the whole entire family. God doesn't lie nor can He fail!! The man doesn't lie in his God-given responsibilities, nor does the woman fail in her's!! Together, their integrity is set to overwhelm them with receiving continuing blessedness, and not to beset themselves apart from God to receive a cursedness from anyone or anything outside of it. But that doesn't mean it cannot lie or fail from the insides of itself.
"Children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.... Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them." Psalm 127:3-5 [lps]. Parents are responsible to train their children (Proverbs 22:6); and children are admonished to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-4). However, when the children become the age of accountability or young-adults [knowing right from wrong], they are free to make their own choices whether for good or evil; and the parents are no longer responsible (Ezekiel 18:20).
A community, city, state, and nation is as strong as its families; and when family members are considerate of each other, committed, truthful, moral, trustworthy, etc., the whole nation prospers (Proverbs 11:11). If not, the whole nation is in jeopardy of spiritual relevant malevolent behaviors.
The idea behind forming a religious organizational standard or normalcy of moral persuasion has been/is/would be to gain power of control; even though God no where or how constrictively demeans any individual for having or attributing his/her good-standing relationship of quality or values in, of and by [their] particular plentipotentiary involvement with His Sovereignty. In fact, the early followers of Jesus' teachings were identified as "Galitarians." Remember now, Jesus' whole mission of coming to the earth was all consummated within 200 miles walking distance in and around Galilee, and the native inhabitants were first to catch the fire (God Fearing Message) of all He proposed to whom and which believed that He was Absolute Truth from the Bosom Of The Heavenly Father's origination. Lesson learned: look to or at people for your personal well being and get failure! Look to or at Jesus - The Christ Who shows by example and succeed above and beyond every lure!!
Religious leaders often make it a point to appeal to the women and children of the family and ignore the man of the house as an unlearned nobody; thus drawing the affections and respect of the wife and children to the church dressed in religious garb, instead of encouraging the family members to uphold the husband and father within and throughout his very own house by the innate abilities God instilled within him. By doing this, the man's ability to "share the rule" within his own household making little effect upon the wife and children having come to believe the lie - "he must be a wimp." God forbid!
We have personally seen many ungodly behaviors among "churched" people all in the "name of religion"; for which the Apostle Paul says, "let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints." Ephesians 5:3 (WEB). Just one example. Many times the husband and father discerns the quasi and pseudo characteristics of church leaders and members as they quote: "families that pray together stay together" as God's Word speaks clearly to pray for one another. As a result, the husband/father chooses not to participate in church attendance for he usually knows the needs of his family better than any one else. We encourage any reader that challenges this statement, to confirm this fact with the "him" of his own home! The wife, on the other hand, is naive (as was Eve) to the stigmatized trap set for her and the siblings, especially in parochial narrow-minded settings and establishing as Godliwised.
This diametrically opposed circumstantial situation calculated towards denigrating with misapprehension leaves the wife and mother to believe or think her husband isn't "religious"; so she staunchly continues to attend with the children and even encourages them to "pray for daddy so he'll come to church." This poses a diarchy, and when confronted with favoritism from the "church group" she feels her husband is out-numbered, therefore, she narrows her opinion of her husband as extreme, some sort of despot, for holding the wife and/or mother responsible to meet the practical application to the dibs of sharing more prime time and re-creative availability with the entire family. The wife becomes attached to the socialized circumvented proxy atmosphere and the contentious attention she receives from presumptuous replacement as a digest of so-called leadership and formulated members, that gradually she comes to admire and respect the "preacher" and other men in "church positions" far above her own husband.
This is a real threat of bedevilment to a solid God Ordained, Spiritually True, Dignified Real Marriage. Out of an ignorant, but delinquent respectfulness; the husband may remain quiet, not openly opposing his wife's church attendance without him; but his inner spirit is as broken as of a whipped dog, and, even regarded as one himself by pharisaical headmasters of demise - because God's original intention was for the man to be the head of his home (the strong man of safety and protection), and when the wife runs ahead of him instead of remaining beside him, it creates a dethronement to the marriage relationship, thus the family tie that binds.
If, on the other hand, the wife would choose to exert a God-like influence within the home atmosphere and spend Sunday mornings, or worship periods, with her husband praising, honoring, and glorifying God right there where it is regarded as "holy-mating" - instead of leaving him alone at home - to "go to church," both her, her husband, and siblings would have God's approval upon them as God considers the marriage institution honorable and of great value (Genesis. 2:18-25; Genesis 24; Hebrews 13:4).
After all is said and done - remember not to forget - marriage is the first and most honorable institution given of God to humankind; and should always be given first-place-personal-attentive-commitment which is as a fortress against anyone/anything that may attempt to threaten that sacred union - come the pretensions of hell or high-water. Both will harmoniously chime, "Get behind us, Satan, you'll find no entering wedge from your tool-box here, because what God has joined together no personating demon of hell is allowed to enter," be he/she is ever so much a religionist - as was Satan - who fell from Heaven. See Isaiah 14:12-15.
Family confidences are to be kept within the privacy of each home circle; and all outsiders who and which meddle their misfortunate inventions and delusive divisives, will reap adverse effects - if not immediate, as God's timing, assuredly God will have His Day (Matthew 19:6).
The Bible warns that "if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." 1 Timothy 5:8 [lps]. Many church-goers are denying their own family members of their spiritual, physical, and/or social needs because of their own self-centered ego vanities. In so doing, God says that they have also denied their faith in God as worthless.
The instruction given to husbands may also be applied to the relationship of each member of the family: "You husbands, in the same way, live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman, as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life; that your prayers may not be hindered." 1 Peter 3:7 (WEB) [lps].
We personally know a preacher of one churched system who and which angrily knocked his own aged father to the ground without apology. In a matter of years, and being in perfect physical fitness, this particular "preacher" was struck by an automobile in the middle of daylight and killed instantaneously. Yes, God knows the disrespect-fulness exhibited within and throughout each home circle!
When marriage vows are taken for real, the parties are not to arbitrarily separate one from the other, or claim the legal marriage document is "just a piece of paper." Speaking of the intimacy of marriage, the Apostle Paul says: "Let the husband render to his wife the affection owed her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife doesn't have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn't have authority over his own body, but the wife. Don't deprive one another, unless it is by consent for a season, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and may be together again, that Satan doesn't tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (WEB).
This counsel may be necessary in certain appropriate instances, to give needed space and time for the couple; so they may come back together with more mutual understanding of togetherness in God.
God's Word is clear in giving examples and guidelines for purity of thought and action (Genesis 39:9; Proverbs 6:20-35). Marriage was intended for a long-lifetime, with the exception of adultery (Matthew 19:6-9; Matthew 5:28; Proverbs 6:25). Adultery is ordinarily considered only within the physical, but adultery can also be of the unequated spirits of unbelief and/or the unacknowl-edgeable willful/mindful/feelings of both souls wanting each their own ways instead of God's Counsel. Each one of us are wonderfully and marvelously made by Almighty God (Psalm 139:14); and are God's property first and foremost, whether or not that is ascertained, is an individual willful matter.
A weak, pseudo marriage is based solely upon glamor/enamor which eventually "runs out"! Domestic violence frequently stems from one or more of the four passionate personal competitives of: (1) love of money; (2) love of power; (3) love of sex; (4) leisure. It is said, "the little foxes spoil the vines," and these are competitives that can stretch the norms towards excessiveness, thus putting so much stress unworthily upon real relationships - that the "ship" gets a hole in it - and sinks!
The foundation of a successful marriage is based on the principled practice of love, not on feelings (Ephesians 5:21-33). According to Christ's teachings He wants us to build our lives upon substance illustrated with the parable He told about a wise man, which built his house upon a rock instead of sand (Matthew 7:24-27).
Both the husband and wife should keep this in mind in all their relationships as to how each may build the other up in the Lord. Instead of criticizing and finding fault; it would be well if they would secretly commit the flaw, error, weakness, or problem to the Lord, and ask Him to help them cooperate with Him in His plan for each of their lives. God would certainly guide both the husband and wife to live in harmony with each other as He has promised: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him [her] ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him[her]." James 1:5 [lps].
The blending of two lives together can be likened to the welding of two pieces of iron; thus the husband and wife "are welded" to become one in spirit, soul and body within their peculiarities and idiosyncracies of diversities as they give each other holy consideration as belonging to God first and foremost, and then each other.
Quotation Credits. Scriptures quoted from the World English Bible are in the Public Domain, and are indicated as (WEB). All other Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version. Where the author has inserted explanations within the quoted text, they are indicated as [lps].
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