“Choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in who land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15)
One of the customs we have at baptisms and new memberships is when speaking to a family, to address the vows that we take to the head of the household. Single men and women are their own households, sometimes a single mom is the head of her household, and where there is a married couple, the man is the head of his household. We recognize that this practice is not commanded explicitly in Scripture, and that means we need to be aware of particular dangers that could come along with it.
At the same time, the point is that we want to be training ourselves to think covenantally, that is, we want to think about ourselves as related to other people. Though we receive Christ and are baptized by ones, by God’s grace we are connected to other people. Because of providence, because of sin, because of the work of the gospel the biological family comes in many different shapes and sizes, but the Bible teaches us to think as much as possible about our identities in terms of the people that God has placed around us. We see this in Acts 16, when Lydia heard the gospel: her heart was opened, she believed, and she was baptized, but then her whole household was baptized along with her.
But it’s not enough to merely mouth the words head of household, covenantal thinking or whatever buzzword is in vogue and then think that you’ve done it. To think and believe covenantally means that you actually take responsibility for those under your care, for your brothers and sisters. It’s not just that you get to answer the questions at the front of the church or vote in elections. If you answer the questions, you’re responsible to know what the questions mean, to discuss them with your family, to talk about them, to learn more about what it means to follow Jesus.
It’s not enough merely to say “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord,” and put the cute plaque on your fridge. You must see to it. You must pray and teach and love and learn and seek counsel. So Ryan, as the head of your household I exhort you to not merely say that you will serve the Lord but see to it that your household does. Courtney, this doesn’t leave you in the shadows by any stretch. The proverbs say that the law of a mother is a crown on her son’s head. Ryan is called by God to lead His family in following Jesus, but you have glorious responsibilities too. But both of you undertake your responsibilities only because Jesus has taken responsibility for you first. And so central to keeping covenant as parents is constantly pointing to Jesus the only perfect Covenant Keeper, in whom we find all the grace that we need.