In this excerpt from a message at Ligonier’s 2001 National Conference, Susan Hunt describes the role of the Christian wife and mother.
The redeemed helper who is married knows that her marriage is to be a gospel picture to her children, her covenant community, and to the world. In order for it to be so she knows that her husband must be the first beneficiary of her capacity for community and compassion. She knows that he must see the brightest reflection of her redemption. She also knows that her marriage is not just about her. She knows that an individualistic approach to marriage and motherhood levels those high and holy callings to the trivial and the temporary. But, that a covenantal perspective elevates them to the authentic and the eternal. She knows that her children are not just her own. They’re gifts to the community. This means that she does not keep church at a distance, but she understands the inner dependence of her family and the family of families. She knows that her children need to grow up as a part of this larger family.
As covenant children, she knows that they are privileged to live and move among the company of the redeemed, and she teaches them to assume their covenant privileges to this community. She knows that if they are planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish. That they will bear fruit in old age, that they will stay fresh and green. The Westminster Confession of Faith says that “Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife; for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed.” I’m saddened by the isolationist approach of many young Christian families. I know that their motive is noble that they want to protect their families, but in fact it leaves their families vulnerable and alone, and causes their children to be individualistic and selfish.
There’s a beautiful picture of covenant life given in Numbers chapter 2, after the completion of the tabernacle, and we read in Exodus how the glory of Lord came upon the tabernacle. Here was the visible manifestation of God’s covenant promise to be their God and to dwell among them. But where was the tabernacle? In Numbers 2, we read “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron ‘The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family.’ ” Each family was connected to the family of families as they lived around the distinguishing characteristic of community life: the presence of God in their midst.
If any mother had complained to her husband that she didn’t like the neighbors in the tent next door and that their children were being a bad influence on her children, and their family had packed up their tent and wandered through the desert alone, they would have been weak and vulnerable. Worse, they would have distanced themselves from the glory. Living coram Deo means living in community.