REVIEW: “The Christian Home”
Title: The Christian Home
Author: Paul Shirley
Publisher: Independently Published
Year: 12 September 2019
Available: $9.99 on Amazon
Length: 119 pages
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)
We live in a society that is rapidly becoming untethered from the age-old truths of Scripture. Day in and day out, we are told that right and wrong are what we decide. Truth is an ever-shifting conversation, not an unchanging bastion of actual fact—and one that is wholly dependent upon the whims of wicked men.
In the meantime, immorality runs rampant around us. The culture to which we are confined indulges itself in every possible perversion known to man. The God-ordained institution of matrimony has been thrown out the window. Virtues such as purity and personal integrity, which were once held in high esteem by even secular portions of civilization, have been utterly rejected in favor of all manner of deviancy and degeneracy. The roles of man and woman, not only in the home, but with regard to their very definition, can no longer be clearly determined for fear of retribution from opposing parties.
The state of things in America has spiraled so far south, that those persons who may have once been the first to condemn this madness are now completely silent on the matter, or worse, the quickest to defend it. Moreover, the vast majority of pastors and shepherds in America, afraid to lose their little empires and kingdoms on this earth, have compromised with the culture, to such a degree that the lines between the culture and the church are now virtually indiscernible. Even for those few who desire to combat such rank evil, the temptation to resort only to the application of manmade philosophies overrides much of their effectiveness.
More than ever, the family’s role in society is a topic that desperately needs to be addressed from a biblical standpoint. And in his recent work, The Christian Home, Paul Shirley sets out to do just that. Founded upon the truth that the Scriptures are sufficient for every area of life, he lays out the historical and scriptural provisions for functions of husband, wife, and child within the home, returning once more to those ancient truths, which formerly undergirded all of society.
Shirley orders and organizes his work around the text of Scripture. Indeed, at first glance, it is immediately apparent, even to the general reader, that The Christian Home is essentially a series of written sermons, which aim to accurately and faithfully exposit the text of Ephesians 5:22-6:4.
The introduction lays out the central premise of the book:
“The Christian home is a sweet grace from the Lord, but it can also be a significant struggle to marriage. Maintaining a spiritually healthy marriage and raising spiritually-minded children is not easy. In a fallen world, with fallen influences and fallen inclinations, family life can be a frustrating life. However, God did not design the family to produce frustration; the frustration arises when you depart from God’s design…This study of Ephesians 5:22-6:4 is especially aimed at helping you make sure that your home is ordered according to God’s design. By taking you back to the Scriptures, I pray it will also help your own spiritual growth and motivate you to plug into a church where these truths are faithfully taught.” (p. 1-2)
With this in mind, Shirley moves on to a general glance at the whole text, focusing upon the necessary ingredients for a spirit-filled family. What follows is an examination of the submission of godly wives in Ephesians 5:22-24, the necessary requirement for husbands to shepherd and love their wives as Christ also loves His church in Ephesians v. 25-30, the essential union of these two offices in v. 31-33, and then the obligatory obedience of children in Ephesians 6:1-3.
In the concluding chapters, Shirley lays out a series of biblical principles, which are requisites for faithful shepherding (primarily directed at the father), and the importance of renewing one’s mind in the face of fatigue (chiefly for the mother). The final chapter (the importance of which cannot be overstated) ties it all together, by directing the Christian family to engage as frequently as possible with the activities of the local church. Shirley sums up this nonnegotiable point with the following admonition:
“You cannot submit to your husband as the church submits to Christ if you are not a submissive member in a church. You cannot love your wife as Christ loves the church if you don't love Christ's church enough to consistently show up on the Lord's Day. You cannot shepherd and instruct your children in the ways of the Lord if you are not being shepherded and instructed by the leaders the Lord has placed over you. If you are not committed to the local church, you will not grow in your own Christian life, and you cannot expect to thrive as a Christian home.” (p. 97-98)
Lastly, he proceeds to call the family to prioritize the church, prepare for church, and participate at church on the basis of Hebrews 10:23-25:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
In simple, yet by no means simplistic terms, Shirley unashamedly sets forth the scriptural model of the home and all its affairs, without any deviation from the text at hand. The roles of the husband, wife, child—and their relation to the local church and everyday life are fully expounded upon and defined in such a way, so as to make no room for misinterpretation. No concession is made for Adam’s rebellious race, and the cultural norms of our day are not even accounted as worthy of consideration. The book is closed. The standard is God’s standard, and there is no room for discussion.
On this matter, the Bible is indisputably plain. Authorial intention on the part of the original authors through whom God worked has rarely been presented more profoundly than in this issue; and as such, no argument, under any circumstances, can be made on the grounds of a faulty interpretation. And since Shirley’s ultimate (and only) authority originates solely from the pages of Holy Scripture, any points which seek to contest his exposition must contend against the authority itself, which is, admittedly, a formidable task in any situation.
Repeatedly, he encourages his audience to examine their lives, with the aim of discerning whether or not they are bound in complete submission to the dictates of the Bible. His authority is not his own opinion or the culture’s constantly-changing conviction, but the Word of God. In short, he has approached his task with the mindset that Scripture is not only the inspired, inerrant, and infallible rule for faith and practice—but also thoroughly sufficient to address every situation which might possibly arise.
Thus, for all faithful Christians who desire to live out the commands of their Lord to the fullest degree, the case has never been more certain: if you reject Shirley’s overarching premise, which goes out of its way to ground itself in the exegesis of the original text, you reject the very Word of God, and to Him, you will give an account.
In an age where far many too many pastors and shepherds prefer to dispense with their own opinions of ‘what works’ in the family, Paul Shirley’s The Christian Home stands out as a notable example of a faithful treatise to the Biblical model of how a believing household ought to conduct itself.
I cannot form any estimation of the seriousness with which my opinion will be received, but I must entreat you all the same: whether you are a young couple seeking counsel in matters of life and godliness, or even one not yet united in the bond of holy matrimony, this is an essential work, deserving full acceptance, for all who aspire to faithfully direct their family-life in submission to the Creator of Heaven and earth, whether now or in the distant future.
This is a work that could feasibly be absorbed in one sitting, and in a personal sense, I found it to be a breath of fresh air, when set against its many fellows. Paul Shirley isn’t one to waste time dispensing with the details. His style and substance are both down-to-earth, wholly biblical, and simple enough for the most ordinary of folk to comprehend and articulate.
A proper study and understanding of Ephesians 5:22-6:4 is mandatory for every True Believer. There are no exceptions. This is the rule. From the beginning, even to the end. In Hosea 4:6, the Lord God tells the sons of Israel, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children. The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame.”
In a world that is falling faster and faster into the insanity of iniquity, it is critical, more than ever, that all should be ready in and out of season to give an account and adequate defense of the truths of the Scriptures they claim to uphold—even more so in a topic that remains a hotbed of controversy at virtually every level of society. In their elevation of the fear of man over the fear of God, far too many have compromised where they should have stood resolute. Too many have fallen into appalling apostasy when forced to take a stand for or against the Word of the Lord.
Paul Shirley’s The Christian Home gives you the tools you need to combat the culture on the matters of matrimony and family, should the occasion ever arise. Are you suitably prepared to defend your Lord to the utmost, or will you also fall to the same sin that has taken those who came before us?