Laura Ingalls Wilder is known for making the observation that “home” is the nicest word there is. Indeed, there is an inherent beauty and sweetness to the idea of home that can almost be felt in the sound of the word itself. Surely this is because that lovely place of shelter, comfort, belonging, and becoming that we call home finds its fullest actualization in our God who is himself inherently hospitable. He is the ransomed sinner’s very home. So it is that as we seek to provide an echo of that hospitality in our own families through the artful cultivation of the home, the warmth of his love is channeled through us, spilling out onto all who are welcomed under our roofs.
This calling to be a conduit of God’s love is a task worthy of careful consideration. Building a home that glorifies God – a home where its traditions, its daily rhythms, its family roles, and its priorities are informed by and constrained by Scripture – is something that takes intentionality and it is not done without concerted effort.
Indeed, we are given some sober advice in the book of Proverbs as we seek to do this very thing. Here we are told that while the wisest women build their homes they can also easily become instruments of destruction by way of their foolish words and actions (Prov. 14:1). “By wisdom,” we are told in Proverbs 24:3-4, “a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” The principle in these proverbs should not be understood as referring to mere physical blessing, but rather to the more imperative (and at times elusive) atmosphere of blessedness that we have the power to either cultivate or thwart within our homes. We see through these and similar proverbs that the successful building up of a family is done only through God-dependent wisdom. It is an act of humility as we continually turn our attention to the Creator for direction.
This brings me to an extremely practical and perhaps surprising application of the doctrine of sola scriptura: a God-glorifying home is built upon the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God. In other words, a Christian home is built upon sola scriptura. Now I can imagine that when a young woman prepares to enter marriage and she and her fiancé begin dreaming of their future home, “sola scriptura” is a phrase that rarely comes to mind. But if they are Christians, then they are very likely to speak of glorifying God with their future family. The question they will face throughout their marriage will then become how they will fulfill that desire.
Many couples will be quick to turn to tradition for the answers. They will remember the homes they grew up in and seek to emulate their parents’ style of homemaking and child-rearing. Or perhaps they will turn to our romanticized notions of family life in the 50’s and 60’s. Some of these appeals to tradition will be rewarded as far as they conform to Scripture, but many practices handed down to us from our parents or society (no matter how “wholesome” they may be) will be extra-biblical. This doesn’t mean that they are inherently wrong or unhelpful, but only that they are not constraining in the same way that Scripture is.
Other couples will be tempted to find guidance from the very loud voice of popular culture, though it is often at odds with the Word of God. Still, others will rely on their own feelings or “sense of what’s right.” They will subject Scripture’s clear teachings on the home to their own judgement, inadvertently proclaiming themselves the ultimate authority in their homes rather than the God who entrusted this sacred task to them.
Truly, the voices of tradition, culture, and self can quickly hijack our good intentions if we are not careful. If we desire to have homes that echo the goodness of God we must have homes that are ordered by his Word. Accepting the Bible as our sole, final authority and recognizing its sufficiency to direct our steps will protect us from dishonoring the Lord while simultaneously freeing us to creatively exercise dominion within our homes that is uniquely fitted to our families.
For this reason, every woman who seeks to build a Christian home must consider what it means to do so by sola scriptura. Jesus said that those who hear his words and do them are like a man who builds his house on the secure and steady foundation of rock. This is exactly how a wise woman builds her home: by reading God’s Word and applying it in every way to its cultivation.
Editor's Note: This originally published at Credo Magazine.