Speakers at this week’s Southern Baptist Convention alluded often to a family theme, sometimes with colorful analogies about what a “kingdom family” might look like.
The SBC pledged this year to build such families with a pre-convention rally and introduction of a new standard for biblical families. Tom Elliff, head of a blue-ribbon Council on Family Life, said the “Seven Pillars of a Kingdom Family” focus can “strengthen existing families and virtually divorce-proof the families of future.”
In a Pastors Conference address, former SBC president Adrian Rogers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, described the family as being under attack by Satan.
“Satan is a home-wrecker,” Rogers said. “He has leveled all the artillery of hell against the home. Because Satan knows if he can hurt us at home, he can hurt us all over.”
Rogers compared the husband-wife relationship to the cultivation of a flower. “A flower needs to be watered and cared for,” he said. “Joyce and I have been married for many, many years, but the honey hasn’t gone out of the honeymoon in my marriage. I love cell phones. On my way home from the office I get her on the phone. I say this is Lovemobile No. 1 calling in. Sensitize your lips, I’m almost there.”
Rogers said God made men and women to be different, both physically and emotionally. Women are weaker physically than men, he said, but not inferior. Women are more relational, while men are goal-oriented. Women are more emotional, and men are analytical.
“God made a man to be a provider and a protector,” Rogers said. “Women are built for having babies, not fighting battles. It’s insane to put a woman on the front line in a war.”
Children, Rogers said, “are like arrows in a quiver.”
“Arrows are intended to be shot at the enemy,” Rogers said, describing his own children’s roles in Christian service. “I made a covenant with God when my four children were born … that I desired they be used as arrows against the enemy.”
Danny Akin, a member of the SBC Council on Family Life, gave a “Kingdom Challenge” theme interpretation, in which he described ways that God created men and women differently:
“When it comes to the way God made a man and God made a woman, a man, he’s very much like a dog, and a wife, a woman, she’s very much like a cat,” said Akin, vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“What does it take to have a happy dog? Three things: No. 1, feed him. No. 2, play with him. No. 3, praise him. Tell him ‘You’re such a cute, wonderful little puppy dog’ and you’ve got a happy dog on your hands,” Akin said.
He continued: “How do you have a happy husband, ladies? Three things: No. 1, feed him. No. 2, oh yes, play with him. No. 3, praise him. ‘You’re such a cute little wonderful husband. I just love you and think so much of you. You’re so sweet and precious.’ Ladies, that’s all it takes.”
“But gentlemen, your wife is nothing like a dog. … Your wife is like a cat. Think about it: You’re standing in a room one day and you look in a doorway and there’s a cat. You eyeball that cat and that cat eyeballs you. And that cat may move in your direction. Before you know it, it’s rubbing up against your leg, being sweet and purring. You get kind of brave and you pick it up and you hold that cat and it purrs in your hands and you put it down and it runs out of the room. You say, ‘Man that was a nice cat. That was a sweet cat.’ Thirty seconds later that same cat appears in the doorway. You look at it. It looks at you. And suddenly it jumps at your face and tries to claw your eyeballs out.”
“Same cat, but something happened a few seconds ago that radically altered that cat’s disposition, and now it’s a different tabby. It’s a different kitty altogether.”
Later, Akin read two lists he said a friend shared with him that he described as insightful and humorous.
“Is it cat or is it a woman? It may be both, after all: No. 1, they usually do what they want; No. 2, they rarely listen to you; No. 3, they’re totally unpredictable; No. 4, when they’re not happy they whine; No. 5, when you want to play they want to be alone; No. 6, when you want to be alone they want to play; No. 7, they want you to cater to their every whim; No. 8, they’re moody; No. 9, they can drive you nuts and cost you an arm and a leg, and No. 10, they leave their hair everywhere.”
“What about a man and a dog? It seems to be that we’re talking about both. After all: No. 1, they lie around all day sprawled out on the most comfortable piece of furniture in the house; No. 2, they can hear a package of food opening a half a block away but they can’t hear you when you’re in the same room with them; No. 3, they leave their toys everywhere; No. 4, they growl when they’re not happy; No. 5, when you want to play they want to play; No. 6, when you want to be alone they still want to play; No. 7, they’re great at begging; No. 8, they’ll love you forever if you’ll just feed them; No. 9, they do disgusting things with their mouth and then try and give you a kiss; No. 10, they can look dumb and loveable and all at the same time.”
At the pre-convention Family Life Rally, Dennis Rainey of Family Life Today congratulated Southern Baptists for their family emphasis, contrasting it with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“For the past generation, the past 40 years, Protestant evangelicals have allowed a cult to position itself as the ‘family friendly’ denomination in America,” Rainey said. “Ladies and gentlemen, that is wrong. You as a Southern Baptist, by taking this stand here tonight, are setting a course for this denomination that I predict will change the very courses of your churches for the generations that follow.”
Prior to the rally, Elliff wrote an article suggesting that biblical principles for a Christian marriage include that mothers should stay at home.
“Particular attention should be given to the specific roles established in the Scripture for the husband and the wife in the areas of provision and management,” Elliff wrote in the June issue of Facts and Trends. “The husband should be vocationally focused and able to provide for his family. The wife should not be burdened with the necessity of working outside the home for the marriage to proceed.”
Asked about that statement by a reporter at the convention, however, Elliff said he wasn’t talking about working wives but shiftless husbands.
“What I was trying to say,” Elliff said, “is that too many times a prospective husband says, ‘I want you to marry me and support me until I figure out who I am.'”
Elliff added that while no Bible verse says wives must stay home and husbands go to work, he believes one parent needs to be home to take care of children. And in most cases, he said, it should be the wife.
“Generally speaking, there is a kind of nurture mothers give to children that is different from what their fathers can give,” he said. “Men and women are different. Thank God for that.”
One woman served on the eight-member Council on Family Life, Marcie Coleman, a pastor’s wife and homemaker from St. Augustine, Fla. The remaining members, in addition to Elliff and Akin, are Jim Futral, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention; Mike Hand, associate pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Okla.; Bob Oxford, president of Industrial Gas Service in Denver; Forrest Pollock, pastor of Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.; and Ruffin Snow, pastor of Tri-Cities Baptist Church in Conover, N.C.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.