House Church Talk - ruling well his own house

David Anderson david at
Fri May 7 19:08:35 EDT 2004

Brother Jonathan Lindvall writes:

>This recent controversy seems to have started when someone was
>concernedabout the announcement of speakers for the Southern House 
>Church Conference.
>They found a nine-year-old article of mine, still on my website
><>, on the
>qualifications for leadership in the church, and expressed shock at my 
>They gave a synopsis of a couple of the conclusions, without explaining
>howI came to those conclusions. Although this is legitimate, when the
>conclusions don't flow with the mainstream, they will seem extreme.
>And in this case I was portrayed as being extra-biblical, legalistic, and
>judgmental. I hope the following explanation clarifies what it is that I
>am suggesting, and that saints can see I am not imposing my
>understanding on others.
>Let me clarify a misconception. I didn't say anything about having to
>have been homeschooled to be an elder. (By the way, most of my own
>education was in public schools, for whatever that's worth.) What I
>suggested is thatif a man's children are enrolled in a school where 
>someone else can rule themcontrary to his wishes,
>he is not "ruling his OWN house well."
>Similarly, I suggested that if a man's wife is employed by someone
>who can tell her to do something against his wishes, he is not ruling
>his OWN house well.

 Hi Jonathan,

It is good that you have sought to lay aside the above-mentioned 
misconceptions. There is nothing more irritating than having your 
position misrepresented. 

It appears that we have strayed somewhat from the original topic which 
pertained to women and those whom Jesus chose to serve. I have therefore 
changed the topic to something more relevant and encourage others to 
likewise when needful.

Yes, there is an unmistakable and natural connection between house 
churches and households. Upon that we all can agree. I'd say that you 
have given this relationship much thought than I.

Your article entitled "Is Being a Homeschool Father A Prerequisite to 
Being a Church Leader?" brings a number of questions to my mind as to 
it's content and the manner in which you now reference it as unimposing 
and merely suggestive. Truth is always imposing - never suggestive. I do 
applaud your hearty attempts to present your judgments without being 

The essay begins and immediately answers the question posed by it's title 
in the most unambiguous terms:

--- "Recently I have had the privilege of discussing with the elders of 
three different churches some conclusions I have come to regarding the 
qualifications of leaders. Based on the list of qualifications of bishops 
and deacons in 1 Timothy 3, I have concluded that someone whose children 
are educated in government (or even private) schools is scripturally 
unqualified to hold either of these leadership offices." --- end quoted 

Therefore, most all the church leaders, present and past, according to 
you are/were unqualified and thus essentially illegitimate. Regardless at 
how you arrived at this conclusion, surely you can understand that the 
vast majority of active church leaders would feel attacked and belittled 
by such a statement. So, I wonder, should the remaining unqualified ones 
step down? Actually, I believe all should step down from their offices, 
too, but for different reasons than these.

I do favor and participate in exclusive home schooling and certainly 
recommend it. I am delighted that others have that opportunity as well. 
However, it would seem to me that IF having certain kinds of debts and/or 
enrolling one's child outside the home under a teacher "who can....", or 
allowing one's wife to work for someone "who can tell her to do something 
against his wishes" constitutes "not ruling one's house well" - these 
exclusions would not have been omitted in the long lists of requirements 
for church leaders. (A requirement, btw, is not a condition nor a 
prerequisite, though many interchange the two concepts in discussions as 

You see, I have to wonder where additional leadership prerequisites will 
end. Another brother will maintain that moderate alcohol usage should be 
a disqualifyer for service. Another, that the prospective leader's wife 
must have a particular hairstyle or must wear certain apparel. Another 
may maintain that a legitimate church leader must arrange the marriages 
of their children. Another will maintain that having a TV should bar a 
potential elder. Etc. In each case these could also claim "new light" and 
regard themselves as "watchman" who must warn others. In each case they 
would show Scriptures to allegedly support their views and with that how 
the father's headship has been supplanted or diluted.

I have no doubt that you are seeking to protect the church offices but if 
you are raising the requirements beyond scriptural directives, then the 
effect is that qualified ones will become unqualified and sidelined. The 
laborers who are few already will become fewer.

I take it that when you write about teachers and employers "who can..." 
that you mean "who will..." or "who might..." "Can" refers to ability or 
possibility - not to permission. Would you enlarge upon that detail as 
don't want to presume what you have in mind.

Either way, it only raises difficulties for me. Why would a Christian 
woman desire to work for such an employer in the first place? Are you of 
the opinion that if one's wife is not working for an employer who CANnot 
ask her to do improper things, then such employment outside the home is 
OK and would not disqualify her husband from holding church offices?

Would the husband, himself, fail to rule his house well if employed by 
someone "who can tell HIM to do something against his wishes" or is that 
rule applicable only to women? If so, then all Christian men who desired 
to be church leaders would have to be self-employed, it seems. Would not 
military service for them or their sons also put them into a similar 
relationship where their parental authority "can" be compromised? 

What about higher education after home schooling? By "private schools" do 
you mean Christian private schools, too? How about private tutors? Even a 
private tutor is in the position over the student where he "can" 
(ability) influence the child in an unapproved way. Sunday School? 
Sports? Scouts?

Here's some irony I seen over the years. The irony doesn't pertain to 
you, Jonathan, just strange stuff I've seen...

Ever noticed how many men who plead for the sole role of home educator 
turn all the responsibility over to their wives?

Here's some more: Those who advocate "patriarchy" rarely note that many 
of the greatest patriarchs couldn't even qualify as a lowly deacon in 
their "family churches." 

I attended a "patriarchy" conference several years ago, and attempted to 
connect. The main speaker, Phil Lancaster, actually taught that a women 
should never be allowed to suggest that a specific song be sung by the 
group because that would be taking the husband's authority. Is it any 
wonder that the accusation of "control" comes up?

Here's some more irony: The text under discussion concerns two necessary 
sphere's of normative Christian activity - home and community. 
Nevertheless this passage has been used by some to justify moving into 
one sphere only - the family. In the family-only sphere, the parents must 
naturally become all things to the children, usually at the cost of 
completely disassociating with others. These, who keep everything in the 
family, "of course," WOULD gladly associate with others except for the 
fact that the others don't "rule their own houses well" by keeping 
everything in their families." Thank goodness that I have only witnessed 
a few cases like this.

Here's the point: By putting one's own interpretation upon "ruling your 
house well" you can justify disassociating yourself with just about 
anyone. In the cases I did witness, it appeared more like a crass refusal 
to love.

Ruling, btw, is an unfortunate translation in this text. The same word is 
translated as "maintaining" elsewhere, if I recall and I don't have time 
to look it up now. As in "maintaining good works." Maintaining one's 
household well, then maintaining the household of God, is more in keeping 
with the mutual submission which should mark the Christian community.

As I have time, I'll submit some data to show that the early Christians 
and Jews routinely availed themselves to schools outside of the home. It 
would also be good to look at the place of the teacher /pedagogue 
/guardian in New Testament and what authority was transferred to him. See 
Galatians and 1 Corinthians. As always, feel free to offer a rebuttal or 
to bring opposing source material. It is surprising for me to see how 
little there is on the subject of schooling in the NT. Even the early 
church fathers, those who were right there at the beginning, had some 
disputes about it. Let's tread lightly.

     David Anderson

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