In Ephesians 5, Paul calls us to submit to one another as Christ submitted to the cross. As we submit to Jesus and one another, and model this in our families, we begin to get a sense of God’s kingdom coming in our lives. Our lives aren’t about power plays and levels of authority, we are called to share, support, encourage, and love sacrificially.
We could learn a lot from the rule of Saint Benedict. For the monk, life is all about collaboration and mutual submission. The rule says: “Monks no longer live by their own judgment, giving in to whims and appetites, rather they walk according to another’s decisions and directions.” Love, without obedience to limits and rules of conduct, is shallow love. It’s thin love. It’s not thick enough for these important relationships. Love without some wise limits and rules of conduct is unable to really give (except when it meets my needs or makes me feel good).
The rest of this post might read as a film review because I want to use an excellent film to illustrate my point. A couple of years ago, my wife and I went to see John Krasinski’s thriller, A Quiet Place, in theaters. Some of our young adult children had recommended it to us. This movie really surprised me—and you’d have to not be paying attention to miss the number of religious themes in this absorbing film.
It’s basically an alien invasion movie (the kind of movie I’ve loved since I was a little kid). And we quickly learn that a whole host of terrible, devouring creatures have come to earth. And these creatures have been decimating the planet. The few people who have survived thus far have learned the secret—the key to survival is silence. The aliens are blind but have extraordinarily acute hearing. If you make a sound it’ll likely be your last. And so, the movie is about a family, the Abbots, who go about their lives in a way that could only be described as monkish. They have no conversations above a whisper, they use sign language, and they spend their days doing quiet work at books or in the fields.
In one noteworthy scene, the Abbots are gathered around the dinner table silently preparing to eat together, as they do everything silently because of the imminent threat of mortal danger if anybody makes a sound. So, they are noiselessly passing food to each other using beds of lettuce as plates because regular place settings would be far too loud. And then there comes this powerful moment where the family all joins hands and closes their eyes and bows their heads for several moments in silent but fervent prayer, as a way of saying grace and expressing gratitude, of recognizing their good fortune and blessings. It’s a moving scene. There’s no mention of God that I remember, but this moment seems imbued with a holy recognition that God is providing for and protecting their family in the midst of chaos.
What is marvelous to behold in this movie is that in this prayerful, quiet, loving atmosphere, even with the threat of death constantly looming, we see a generous and mutually self-sacrificing family flourishing. The mom in A Quiet Place is pregnant, and even though the whole family realizes that a wailing, loud infant coming into the world would be immediately heard by these terrible creatures, the story unfolds as a film that welcomes life even into the worst of worlds. The movie is full of scenes of submission and sacrifice for each other. I recommend watching it just to consider these themes in your own family life.
How could sacrifice and submission change your relationship as husband and wife? How could it transform your relationship as parent or son or daughter? In the challenging chaos of 2020, how can you love the people better in your own home? In what ways could you take Paul’s words to heart and model Christlike submission and sacrifice in your family? May God bless your family today.