Defending the Familyby Ron Matsen
The attack on the Biblical family unit has never been greater. The pervasive influences of secular philosophy, psychology, and sociology have driven the traditional family unit to the brink of extinction. Like a spiritual tsunami, the influences of modern moral relativism are rapidly eroding the confidence of many Christians in Biblical foundational truths concerning marriage, family and parenting.
In writing to the church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul warned that “you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind.” Sadly many Christians are still looking to the “broken cisterns” of the world to find answers for their domestic challenges. Jesus said, “If the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Therefore, taking instruction from the blind guides of this world destines you to failure.
The institution of marriage was created by God before the fall of man. Designed within the relationship of marriage is a structure that reflects the unity of the Trinity. When God declares that, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,” the term “one flesh” is translated from the Hebrew word ekh-awd. The Hebrew Shema states, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” The English word “one” used here is translated from the same Hebrew word ekh-awd. This divine relationship enjoys equality within the structure of authority.
Solomon wrote that there are at least five benefits of enduring companionship. Thus many people seek a life-long partner to achieve these benefits. In the end, most relationships are only as strong as the link that binds them together. Therefore, Solomon adds a third element that binds husband and wife together to create this mysterious union of being “one.” This “third cord,” as he describes it, provides the stable structure that binds and bonds the two individuals into the oneness that Scripture talks about. Where is this “third cord” found? Again, Solomon gives the answer in his collection of Proverbs, where he refers to the Word of God as a cord that should be bound “continually upon your heart.” Therefore, the third cord (God‚s Word) should bind you together and guide you together.
The Bible clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of both the husband and the wife. In chapter 5 of Paul‚s Ephesian epistle, he gives one rule for the wife and one rule for the husband. Paul then goes on to show that the underlying truth in this teaching relates not only to thriving within a marital relationship but its deeper meaning with respect to Christ and the church.
Using Jesus Christ as the example, Paul points out that unity (being one) is only achieved through submission and that true submission requires sacrifice. There is a Biblical cycle of submission and love that can grow increasingly tighter and tighter over time, which ultimately results in true oneness in marriage. Where there is submission, love is the reward. Where there is love, submission is the reward.
How are marital submission and sacrifice actually accomplished? Peter gives some wonderfully practical guidelines in chapter three of his first epistle. Your marriage can be truly blessed if both husband and wife submit to the Biblical cycle of submission and love.
The Book of Proverbs often uses the idiom of a walled city to speak of the heart of an individual. Solomon said, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”
This idiom can also be used to describe the heart of the family, which is the home. To live safely in this “city,” it should have both walls and gates. Walls define boundaries and gates control access. It is interesting that, in the time of ancient Israel, to sit at the gates was considered the privilege of the elders of that city. They had the responsibility of judging everyone and everything that entered. At the center of every city was the citadel, or castle keep, which would have been the high-value target of the enemy. Its protection was the ultimate responsibility of these gatekeepers.
Our homes should operate like walled cities that protect their inhabitants. Imagine your home as a walled city with many concentric inner walls leading ultimately to the castle keep, which is the heart of the family. Each layer of the city is penetrated by entering through defined gates that have wise gatekeepers standing at the door.
Today a hostile invasion is storming into our homes aimed at the most intimate areas of our life. Most homes are truly “unwalled cities.” Instant, unsupervised intimacy is freely available to all family members. From the snare of the easily accessible world-wide-web to the proliferation of personal communication and entertainment devices, the home is overwhelmed with instant access to show and see all manner of intimate material.
Intimacy should be based on trust, trust should be built on commitment, commitment should be established by experience, experience should be gained through exposure, exposure should be obtained by contact, and contact should be made through personal relationships. Sadly, the cry for personal freedom is drowning out the call for personal accountability. Married couples have the responsibility to protect each other. Parents have the responsibility to protect their children. We all have a responsibility to protect each other.
The Bible tells us that “children are a blessing from the Lord.” As such, parents are given the awesome responsibility of raising them in the fear and knowledge of God. All children need at least these six things throughout their life: provision, protection, direction, education, correction, and compassion.
The world would like to convince Christian parents today to stop influencing their children with regards to Biblical standards of living. Their motto is “let the child make up its own mind.” The world wants your children, and it will take them from you whenever you decide to give them up. No matter the age of your children, you will still be older and therefore wiser than them. Never, never give up your responsibility as the chief influence for good in your child‚s life. Age should not force a threshold of parental disengagement defined simply as the point after which you stop being the teaching, caring, protective parent of your child. Your children will always need and seek good guidance regardless of their age so why shouldn‚t you as their parent be their first port of call when it comes to gaining direction on the uncertain sea of life.
Who is really teaching your Children?
The Bible is the ultimate authority on what is right and wrong.
The Bible is the best resource for gaining insight and understanding. The Bible is the best road map in a world that has lost its way.
Where the worldly paths of life meander without purpose, the Bible offers light in the darkness. You, as parent, have this awesome opportunity to plant the Word of God into the fertile hearts of your children. Solomon promises, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
How can you accomplish this with your children? Moses told the parents in Israel concerning the Law of God,
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
What is the primary teaching device in front of your child‚s eyes today? What life-style legacy will you leave your child? Children are the message that every parent sends to a generation they will not meet. What message from you will your children carry?
The Bible tells us that we live in perilous times. Therefore everyone needs to be constantly on guard, repairing our walls, and fixing our gates. Husbands need to truly love their wives. Wives need to honour their husbands. Parents need to lovingly lead their children. Children need to respect and obey their parents.
We need to “be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” We need to be diligent about the stewardship of our marriage, our home, and our children God has given us. We need to continue to grow in the knowledge and wisdom of the Word, “for if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen!
1 Ephesians 4:17
2 Jeremiah 2:13
3 Matthew 15:14
4 Genesis 2:24
5 Deuteronomy 6:4
6 Ecclesiastes 4:9-12a
7 Ibid; 4:12b
8 Proverbs 6:20-22
9 Ephesians 5:22-31
10 Ibid; 5:32,33
11 Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 2:5-8
12 1 Peter 3:1-9
13 Proverbs 25:28
14 Psalm 127:3-5
15 Psalm 119:105
16 Proverbs 22:6
17 2 Timothy 3:1
18 2 Peter 1:4b
19 Ibid; 1:8