(Joseph K Stephen; Nov. 2012)
The family is the atom of society and yet we often treat it with contempt or complacency by not understanding God's purpose for it, and thus not fulfilling His goals. None of us would embark on any life journey in the dark, without a roadmap or without the necessary equipment unless one had no concern for their success. God has given us a clear pattern for the running of the family and a clear purpose for its function and yet too often Christians today look to worldly philosophies or their own pragmatic reasoning to run this fundamental building block of society. When the family fails, the church fails and the nation fails. This outline (with minimal commentary) looks at several of the most important aspects of the family, its purpose, its interrelationships, its vision, soelly from the truth revealed by God in His immutable and all sufficient Word.
God's Word the standard
• Pragmatism (trying to mix God’s standard with humanistic philosophy) living by faith in revealed truth (Prov. 3:5-6; Rom. 1:17; Rom. 4:3) vs. trying to find our way in the dark because we dislike or won’t believe God’s Word, favoring man’s godless wisdom (Ps. 1:1; 1 Cor. 2:6, 3:19; Luke 19:14).
• Deliberate vs. accidental - Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Pr. 24:3-4)
a) Head of the family (1 Cor. 11:3, Ephes. 5:23-24).
b) Physical and spiritual protector
• Abraham rescues his nephew Lot (Gen. 14:12-16)
• The children of Gad and Reuben fight but leave their children and wives in the protection of fenced cities (Numbers 32:6, 32:17-26)
• David rescues his wife, Abigail (1 Samuel 30:5-18)
• Job diligently watches, prays and makes sacrifice for his children (Job 1:5)
• Nehemiah tells the men to fight for their children, wives, and property (Nehemiah 4:14)
• practical lesson from the children of Israel. Consequence of not evicting the nations whom God told them to drive out from among them, they became an ongoing snare (see Deut. 7:16, Josh. 23:13, Judg. 2:1-3, Num. 33:55.)
c) Provider: (Gen. 3:19 - man's share of the curse was not work but the difficulty of work)
• But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Tim. 5:8)
• For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (2 Thess. 3:10)
• A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children A good inheritance is not just material substance but also a legacy of godly wisdom (2Corinthians 12:14; Proverbs 13:22).
d) Shepherd and teacher – know what and why you believe what you do – vigilance, diligence, communicator, visionary – long term vs. single generation – my household forever vs. temporal individualism.
• “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Gen. 18:19).
• Abraham - Isaac - Jacob - Joseph – Ephraim – Ephraim’s children to the third generation, at least 8 generations of faithfulness (not perfection). (Note Ephraim’s descendants went astray cp Gen. 50:23 vs. Ps. 78:9-11).
• Joseph commanded his family to carry his bones to the Promised Land before he died in Egypt in Genesis 50:25, Moses remembered this and took them with him from Egypt (Ex. 13:19). His descendants eventually buried them after Joshua’s death (Josh. 24:32), more than two-hundred years from the time of Joseph’s death. Will our grand-children even know or care what was important to us?
• Rechab Jer. 35 – multigenerational faithfulness of Rechab’s children (several hundred years to the time of Jeremiah) resulted in them having representation before God forever (cp Luke 16:10)! (Note wine was not the issue but multigenerational obedience was.)
e) God models the perfect father:
• strong tower (Ps. 144:2)
• shelter (Ps. 61:3)
• refuge (Ps. 9:9, 14:6, 46:1)
• protecting wings (Ps. 17:8, 36:7, 57:1)
• rock, fortress, deliverer (Ps. 18:2)
• hiding place and shield (Gen. 15:1; Ps. 3:3, 28:7, 32:7, 91:4, 115:11, 119:114))
f) God the Father also models the provider, as the Lord Jesus reminds us:
• “Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matt. 6:8).
g) Women were never left without protection. A woman was either in her father’s house, with a brother or relative, married, or looked after by the local church (Est. 2:7, 2 Sam. 13:20, Gen. 2:24, Gen. 38:11, Num. 30:3, 30:16, etc.). Lord Jesus example, committed Mary into John’s care from His cross (John 19:25-27).
h) Note contrast of God's care for women vs. perceived oppression as portrayed by media. (cp 1 Pet. 3:7 weaker vessel and 1 Cor. 12:22-25 bestowing more honour on the feeble vs. oppressing women for selfish objectives.
i) Man’s original sin was partly due to the abdication of his role to the woman.
• Christian shepherding has been delegated to the Sunday school
• teaching of life skills has been delegated to the state
• the provider role has been delegated in part or in whole to the wife.
• protector role is slowly disappearing as we send women to the battlefield, forgetting that men are to give their life for women and children (see Neh. 4:14).
• “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isa. 3:12).
• Take heed to the warning given to those in Israel who took their responsibility to train the next generation too flippantly: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (Hosea 4:6.)
j) The training we gain as fathers is essential for our qualification as an elder: “if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Tim. 3:5). Also cp 1 Timothy 5:1, how does one know how to treat a father? A mother? A sister? A brother? There is a distinction between all of these in the Scriptures.
a) Help meet to her own husband (Gen. 2:18-24) - how when employed by another man? That would make her his help meet.
• The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. (Prov. 31:11-12)
b) Home keeper (Titus 2:5) - that the word of God be not blasphemed.
• 1Timothy 5:14; Prov. 31:13-22 and 31:27-28).
• Note that modern views of the Prov. 31 woman being a woman with a separate and independent career from her husband are an attempt at reinterpreting Scripture using the modern feministic agenda, rather than the entire pattern of Scripture, and the testimony of history.
c) Bearer and main nurturer of children (woman's share of curse was pain in bearing children, not children themselves)
• He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD. (Ps. 113:9)
d) Minister of practical help in the church
• She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. (Prov. 31:20).
• Women providing for the Lord and His disciples (Luke 8:1-3).
• Peter’s mother-in-law serving (Matthew 8:14-15).
• Account of Tabitha, full of good works (Acts 9:36-39).
• Extremely practical role lacking in the church today because women are in the work force so there is no-one to do this practical work (1 Tim.. 2:10).
• Parallel to the father's role directly impacting his qualification as an elder, good works in the church directly impact a woman's qualification as a widow to receive provision from the church after 60 (1 Timothy 5:10.
e) Note on double curse today as men force women into the workplace outside the home and women seek to have the same role. Note that different roles does not mean inequality, just different roles - a division of labour, not in the corporation but in the family which is the basic atom of society.
• This should have a direct bearing on how we raise our children, i.e. recognizing God's ordained roles rather than training our children identically. This doesn't mean that men don't learn to cook or that women don't learn to fix a broken fly-screen, they may very well need to overlap in times of illness etc., but the normative pattern in Scripture is the recognition of the division of labour and the recognition of the creation order and headship. Again, not a measure of inequality but order, cp the trinity.
What God says about children
Modern attitudes toward children are anti-God – Ps. 127:3-5, 128:1-4 (Thus shall the man be blessed), Mark 9:36-37. Cp Mark 10:14 and John 2:15-16 only two instances of anger of the Lord, placing a great emphasis on what God thinks of children.
• women died to have many children vs. many women abort or prevent children and die to have a career.
• Rachel in her desperation said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.” (Gen. 30:1). She indeed died in childbirth with Benjamin (Gen. 35:18) but so was the desire and recognition of the importance of children.
• Hannah was so disturbed at her barrenness that Elkanah said, “Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (1Samuel 1:8).
• Rebekah’s family sent her off with this proclamation, “And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.” (Genesis 24:60).
• Luke 23:28-29: But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Note it says "they shall say", not that God says. In 70 AD people may have thought it better not to have to bring children through such trials but their motive was to save the children. These days it is often selfishness that drives this sentiment. Today, children are portrayed as a nuisance, a burden, something which stands in the way of a career or leisure.
• What about finances? Isn't it bad stewardship not to use birth control? Isn't it beneficial for the wife to supplement the income with her own independent career? If God gives the increase (which He does), that is, no child is an accident but a gift from God, won't He supply for the need provided we are obedient? (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; 2 Timothy 2:20-21; Proverbs 6:6-8, 13:4, 10:4, 12:24, 12:27, 20:4, 22:29, 27:23, Psalms 37:25; Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:31-33.
• While the Pro-life movement is a hill to die on, many Christians don’t realize that the Bible is against all forms of birth control except as outlined in 1 Cor. 7:5, where intimacy may be suspended for a season for prayer and fasting. The same attitude that desires abortion desires birth control. If we are truly Pro-life, we will, as Christians for 19 centuries, also be against birth control.
The foundation and purpose of marriage
• Marriage should be a picture of Christ and the church (Ephes. 5:25-33).
Biblical pattern for training our children
1. Education - Ephes. 6:4 paideia – complete training of mind and morals - character and skills founded on godly wisdom from the fear of the Lord, same word used in 2 Tim. 3:17 – perfect (mature), throughly furnished unto all good works. (Prov. 1:8, 9:10) (also see Deut. 6:4-9, 22:6, Sol. 8:2).
• Home education vs. state indoctrination vs. so-called Christian schools.
• Education – modern vs Biblical. Consequence of indoctrination – taught what rather than how to think - Socialism's success.
• Charles F. Potter wrote, "Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every American public school is a school of humanism. What can a theistic Sunday school's meeting for an hour once a week and teaching only a fraction of the children do to stem the tide of the five-day program of humanistic teaching?" ("Humanism: A New Religion," 1930)
• John J. Dunphy said, "The battle for humankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: A religion of humanity -- utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to carry humanist values into wherever they teach. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new -- the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism." ("The Humanist (1983").
• John Dewey said, “You can’t make Socialists out of individualists—children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.”
• Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “Submit yourself to the State, and my philosophy will liberate you from submission to intermediate authorities like the Church and the family.”
• Martin Luther wisely said, "I am much afraid that schools will prove to be great gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt."
• What about the Christian school? If indeed a school teaches all subjects from a distinctly Christian worldview, it still misses the point that in scripture, it is the parents who are given the primary task of training. In truth however, most Christian schools still teach their curriculums from a humanistic standpoint. They teach maths, English, History, and then Bible. You can't just add a smattering of verses to a Humanistic view of the world. Biblical education starts with the Bible as the indisputable foundation and builds upon it maths, language, history, etc. Faith is not separate to reason but faith is built upon reason - God's reason or man's reason. Most modern schools also age segregate the pupils according to the fraudulant humanistic philosophy invented by Ernst Haeckel and made popular by G Stanley Hall which claims that each stage of a child's development mirrors a stage of evolution (ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny) and thus mixing the different stages is incompatible. In scripture, Children were not age segregated or separated from their parents during times of public teaching, worship or meeting (Deuteronomy 29:10-12, 31:12 Joshua 8:35, 2 Chronicles 20:13, Ezra 10:1, Nehemiah 8:1-3, Matthew 14:21, 15:38).
2. Children’s Obedience, Honour and Discipline
1. siblings (unity vs. individualism)
• Prov. 7:4: Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
• Ps. 50:20: Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son.
• Absalom defended his sister’s purity and took care of her for the rest of his life (2 Sa. 13:1-20), and Jacob’s sons rescued Dinah and avenged her defilement (Gen. 34:1-27), so should brothers have a heart toward their sisters, to protect and cherish them, even as they should highly value and cherish wisdom.
Expectation of youth
• not perpetual immaturity -The Lord Jesus was responsible at 12 (Luke 2:42-47). Samuel served the Lord as a young child (1 Sa. 3:1). David went to war as a youth (1 Sa. 17:33). King Josiah began to reign at 8 and sought the Lord at age 16 (1 Chron. 34:3, Daniel was a young man when he stood before King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 1:8-19).
• Use strength and gifts for family economy and church help while preparing for marriage (1 John 2:14).
• Young women – under father until given in marriage – can help other families with little children – training for motherhood/hospitality not career: Gen. 34:9, 38:11; Lev. 22:13; Num. 30:3, 30:16; Deut. 22:21; Judg. 21:7; Ezra 9:12; Neh. 10:30; Ps. 78:63; Jer. 29:6; Luke 17:27, 20:34; John 19:25-27)
• Preparation for marriage – courtship vs. try before you buy.
• Disciple the next generation (rather than retire): Titus 2:3-4. Examples of:
b) Jethro (Exodus 18:7-24).
c) Joseph (Genesis 50:23).
d) Lois, Eunice and Timothy (2Timothy 1:5).
• Quiet time vs. all day consciousness and communication: Ps. 10:4 vs. Ps. 16:8, 119:97, 119:16, 119:18, 119:62, 119:147-148.
The Atom Bomb
The stark reality
Of the change in society
Cuts to the bone
When you look out your window
And there are no children playing,
No laughter or chatter,
No shouts or singing,
Where have the children gone?
A mother plays at home with her children
In a street of misfits.
Two women live one side.
A divorcee the other.
A childless couple behind.
There are no mothers to visit
And no playmates for her children.
The isolation is unkind.
On many a corner
There’s a childcare center
With children running riot,
Like Lord of the Flies.
When they first come, they’re sweet.
When they leave, they’re streetwise.
These are our future
What hope do they have?
No loving guidance
No one-to-one care
Imprisoned in this building
Out of Mum and Dad’s hair.
But what choice do we have?
Cost of living is high
Two workers for one.
This is progress
What a lie.
Who teaches the children
In these early years?
It’s left to the state
And influence of peers.
Parents are busy,
They just don’t have time.
Divorce rate is rising
And so is street crime.
What can we do
When truth is discarded?
God’s Word holds the answers
But from this we’ve departed.
Even the church has lost sight of His way,
And until it returns, we’ll see atomic decay.
Older women teaching younger
To be keepers at home,
To love their husbands and children,
And to value this role.
But men have played tyrant and women revolted.
Now society is crumbling and truth is assaulted.
Restore the family for our future’s sake.
What kind of leaders will our children make
If they’re left to the mercy
Of chaos and crime?
We’ll reap what we sow.
It will show in time.
A father providing.
Mother keeping the home.
And the love of God known.
The atom of society
Is the family alone
But when it is split,
It’s an atom bomb.