This fall season at CAM will be deeply focused on the family. On Sunday, we’ll launch a new series through the book of Ephesians titled, “God’s Design for All Time” and at our Wednesday evening Believer’s Service we’ll discuss, “The Faithful Family” learning what the Bible says about husbands, wives, children, roles, and obedience.
The stats are staggering. We live in the century that has strangled the family to death. One recent Orange County poll pegged the divorce rate at 74%. We’ve all observed the frightening rash of teen conducted shootings. Millions of children are now on psychotic drugs simply because no one will discipline them. Abortion rates continue to rise, gay marriage has attempted to redefine God’s design for purity and procreation, child support rates rise, kids live at home until forty years of age because they despise work, and feminism leaders such as T. Grace Atkinson write, “Marriage is a legalized servitude and family relations are the basis for all human oppression.” A recent study from Harvard Medical School postulated, “Mental illness and sociopathic behavior will continue due to the breakdown of the family…”
It’s chaos. Sociologists, psychologists, and supposed marriage and family experts are scrambling for answers…
God already gave the answer – It’s the family – A father who humbly and sacrificially lives out his role as leader, protector, and provider, placing the needs of the family above his own, a mother who is devoted to God, to her husband, and to her home, washing the children in the truths of Scripture, and children who receive fair instruction and discipline to obey while in the home, and continue to honor their mother and father after moving out of the home. In weeks to come, I’ll share thoughts on each category, but today let’s begin with Paul’s words to men.
MEN MUST BE MEN
In reality, to sound the alarm to a darkened world does no good. The Bible is clear that men without Christ are of depraved mind, darkened in their understanding, separated from the life of God (Eph 4:18). The awakening must begin with men. And, it must begin with men inside the Church, those who call themselves followers of Christ.
Because of the pragmatic culture of the American Church, men expect the Church to entertain them the same way football and beer commercials do. Men, attend church on average one time per month, and often do so because their wife guilted them. These same men hit the club with friends, drink all weekend, watch porn, cheat on their wife, and never crack the Bible with their children.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4
Note, that Paul assumes the father will be involved in the life of the family. Not jettisoned around on business trips all the time or impregnating women all over the map. An absent father is not a biblical father.
Secondly, Paul commands the father not to, “Provoke” or, “Exasperate” his children. What prompts a child be provoked to anger? Simply put, lack of consistency – The father who promises one thing, yet does something different, or who yells one minute, and attempts friendship the next. Inconsistency exasperates his child and provokes him to outbursts. An inconsistent father is not a biblical father.
Finally, Paul commands that a father raise his children, “With discipline and instruction in the Lord.” Sadly, most men, even Christian men, do not study the truths of God for themselves and therefore cannot pass the truth along to a family. Here is the basic breakdown. Even if a father is present and consistent, he must be consistent in the right things! Thus, the first requirement of biblical fatherhood is that the father get in God’s Word.
“Instruction” and, “Discipline” are two Greek words that provide the same goal with different paths. Instruction refers to mental and verbal training while Discipline refers to physical rules and chastisement. Therefore, in God’s design, the rules of the home should be communicated clearly FROM SCRIPTURE, supported through verbal training, and protected through physical chastisement, and each of these must always be done in love, upholding the child as more important than the parent, and with a stated goal to, “Raise adults, not children.”
Sadly, this final ideology, “Raise adults, not children” has fallen by the wayside and led to American catastrophe. Lazy parents say, “Let kids be kids” and what they mean is, “I don’t want to correct that now.” Thus, basements, welfare, hospitals, and college campuses are full of men and women in their thirties who are still just, “Kids being kids.” For millennia, children were adults by age twelve and expected to study, work, and become capable citizens.
If a father has been absent or inconsistent, he will tend to swing one of two sinful ways – The first is to be an over-lord or “Authoritarian”. The authoritarian is loud, proud, and tough, using strength to mandate obedience. On the opposite side of the spectrum from authoritarian is the insecure, “Buddy-Dad” who refuses to discipline his child out of fear that he’ll lose relationship.
Both extremes lead to disaster. The authoritarian dad breed’s rebellion while the buddy-dad breeds contempt. Thus, Paul says, set your standards of biblical obedience, expect them be met, be present to consistently train your child in these standards, discipline when necessary, and above all else walk bonded in love.
I recently heard of a Pastor who did not want to, “Burn out” his kid on religion. So, he stopped forcing the family to pray at home, stopped reading the bible at home, and even stopped asking his children attend Church with him unless it felt good to them. Other than the obvious theological errors behind this reverse psychological manipulation towards salvation, there are clear biblical errors.
Just as Paul commanded fathers be consistent, the book of Deuteronomy says:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand….” (Deut 6:5-7)
Israel ignored the command, and as we all know, their nation collapsed far from God. Recently one of their phylacteries (the small box containing these truths which Deuteronomy says were to be tied on the hand) was found in the Dead Sea Caves next to words from the prophet Hosea, which read, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Now, that’s frightening. The people were given a command to pass along Scripture to their children, they ignored the command, the nation collapsed, Hosea wrote, “God warned you”, and both parchments were found side by side…
The Pastor I mentioned has made a tragic mistake! He’s made the same mistake that prompted Israel fall from God’s grace. Instead of binding God’s Word upon the conscience of his family, allowing God determine the consequence, he’s attempting to save his family by human philosophy and psychological wisdom. Friends, that is impossible. Do not make the same grave mistake! No man is ever saved by anything other than the gospel. To withhold the Bible from your children is not only sad, it is damnable, and something for which you’ll give account in heaven.
Men, be your child’s giant today. They’ll learn more about God from you than anyone else.
Resources for Further Parenting Development
- “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Ted Tripp
- “The Family” by John MacArthur
- “Child Training Tips” by Reb Bradley
- “Preparing for Adolescence” by James Dobson