Family Enrichment Series

 

The family holds a place of great importance in the Bible.  In the very beginning, God's plan included the family as the first institution ever created.  It should be no surprise then that there is much in the Bible about how God would have his children behave in their homes, as spouses, parents and children.  These studies are designed to help christian families to bring glory to God in their homes.

And Two Became One

"I now pronounce you husband and wife. What God has joined together, let not man put asunder."

How many times have we heard these words while witnessing the joining in marriage of a friend or family member? Our hearts are happy for them. We wish and quietly pray that their union will be as enduring as either or both of them are. Yet we're troubled. We've seen so many marriages fail. Some seemed doomed before they started. Others fell apart shortly after the honeymoon. Still others dissolved after many years together. But we quietly pray because we know that some do last "until death does part them."

Is success in marriage merely by chance? Many believe that if two people are united in marriage and remain together for the rest of their lives they are simply lucky. I believe that success in marriage can be guaranteed. In order for the guarantee to be valid BOTH parties must view their union, as well as their respective roles within the union, as God does. That is, they MUST make God's Word THEIR final authority. To put it another way, both parties must be willing to make Jesus Christ Lord of their marriage.

In Genesis 2:23-24, with the creation of the first woman, we find the establishment of marriage. In Matthew 19, in defending the marriage union before the Pharisees, Jesus referred to this original marriage by saying, "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Therefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19:4-6)

There are certain teachings contained in the context of this statement that we will not address at this time. Our purpose here is to discover how two can become one.

First, notice that ONE woman and ONE man were created and brought together. (The homosexual relationship had no part in God's Plan for the family.) Notice also that the woman was made FOR the man (Genesis 2:18-22; I Corinthians 11:8-9). She was to be his companion and helper in life. The man was to function as the head of the union but they were both to rule as co-regents. (Genesis 1:28 points out that TOGETHER they were to multiply and replenish the earth; TOGETHER they were to subdue it; TOGETHER they were to have dominion over every living thing.)

Not only was the woman made FOR the man, she was made OUT OF the man, Man is commanded to love his wife as he loves himself. Why? Because "no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it." Eve was a part of Adam. She came from him. He could not hate her without hating a part of himself. This is the attitude God intended for a man to have toward his wife.

Second, they were to LEAVE their parents. It is essential that a leaving take place in order for bonding to occur. Many marriages are doomed because one or both maintain a stronger attachment for the home they came from than they do for the one they are seeking to build.

Third, they were to CLEAVE to one another. To be stuck together as if glued. The word cleave means "a bond which can't be broken." Two people glued in mind, in spirit, and in purpose so strongly that they become "one flesh." When man tries to dissolve a marriage, he is attempting to divide one in order to get two. But anytime "one" is divided the results will be less, not more.

Last, the marriage union is a joining together BY God. It was not to be disassembled by man. It is a sacred institution which must be viewed from God's perspective and not man's. Again, success in marriage will depend upon our willingness to let Jesus be the Lord of our marriage; to let God's Word, no, to EAGERLY ACCEPT GOD'S WORD as "final" on all matters. There is no room for pride. Instead, a spirit of humility must prevail. Our attitude must be that of our Lord's, "Not MY will but Your will be done." As the Psalmist said, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it." (Psalm 127:1)

Except The Lord Build The House

The development of a happy home, built on Christian principles, does not happen by chance. Although two people may become one by following God's plan for marriage, they still have the day-to-day life experiences that must be dealt with.

Jesus' statement in Matthew 7:24-27 takes on a special meaning when considering the everyday pressures of the home. Jesus said, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

Life is filled with problems and difficulties, even for the Christian. Success is determined, not simply by acknowledging that we are a "Christian family" but by considering and applying godly principles to our marriage when problems arise. Of course, when we consistently follow God's Word we will automatically have fewer problems. Yet problems such as stress, parent-child relationships, marital intimacy, etc., will occur.

The "wise" builder was wise because he built upon God's Word. Notice he dug deep. He really wanted his house (life/marriage) to survive the elements of nature (pressures of life/marriage).

The "foolish" builder didn't see the need to waste his time in digging a foundation. He wanted to get on with his life. He was in a hurry. Too big of a hurry!

Many today enter marriage in a hurry. They don't take the time and effort to "dig deep" into God's Word to identify their role in the marriage relationship. Instead they get caught up in the modern day trends of our society, which treat the biblical guidelines for the man and woman in the home as foolishness.

Beginning with the fall of man in the garden there has been a clear distinction between the man and the woman. Man was given the responsibility to rule over his wife, as well as to labor and toil in the face of hardship for his existence. The woman was given the responsibility to help the man. Though she might desire to rule the man, she was to be in subjection to him. Additionally, she was to experience great sorrow in life as well as sorrow and pain in child birth (Genesis 3:16-19).

We see these principles stressed in the New Testament also. The man is given the responsibility of being the head or authority figure in the home (I Corinthians 11:3ff; Ephesians 5:23). The woman is given the responsibility of submitting to, and assisting her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24). The scriptures also strongly imply that in meeting this responsibility, her place was to be in the home (Titus 2:3-5).

The man is also commanded to love his wife as Christ loved the church. In Ephesians 5:25-33, the husband is told four times that he is to love his wife. The last statement in this text is that the wife "reverence her husband". It may appear on the surface that the man has the easy part (loving his wife) and the woman has the tough part (reverencing her husband). But, "loving" like Christ loved may not be as easy as one might think. On the other hand when the husband loves his wife like Christ loved the church, reverencing such a husband is more easily accomplished.

These concepts may seem foolish to the world, but remember, God's foolishness is wiser than men (I Corinthians 1:25) and His thoughts and ways are far above ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Train Up A Child In The Way He Should Go

The year was 1965. Lyndon Johnson ordered bombing raids over North Vietnam. Race riots in the Watts district of Los Angeles left 35 dead. The top pop songs were King of the Road, Downtown and, if you were a Beatles' fan, A Hard Days Night. Both the United States and the U.S.S.R. had men walk in space for the first time. And, for the first time, my wife and I became parents! It was a great, but confusing year. As Charles Dickens would say, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

My wife and I had planned for and looked with anticipation to this time in our lives. We wished to be parents, and we wished to be good ones. But now, with the birth of our first, we were scared to death. We had brought a new being into existence. God had given this being a soul, an immortal spirit, and had placed it in our care. The words of Solomon took on a special meaning to us; "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) Reality began to set in. How were we going to accomplish this solemn and important task?

Raising and nurturing children to be strong physically, socially, and spiritually has never been an easy process. But today parents face challenges that families have never experienced before. This is not said to discourage having children, but to stress the need to give special attention to raising the Christian child in today's promiscuous and corrupt society.

An excellent guide for Christian parents to follow in raising and nurturing children can be seen in Luke's description of the growth and development of Jesus; "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)

To grow in wisdom is to develop intellectually. Wisdom is not only the accumulation of knowledge, but the ability to use knowledge properly. As children learn facts they need also to learn common sense and good judgment. This is accomplished when children are allowed and encouraged to pursue their interests. What does your child like to do? Are there some things that come to them more naturally than others? How involved are you in their educational process? Do you visit regularly with their teachers?

To grow in stature is to grow physically. The parent should provide an atmosphere that will enhance physical development. A proper diet, which provides essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, as well as an opportunity for adequate exercise is necessary for physical growth. Most parents are aware of these facts, but since eating, sleeping and exercise are things we do naturally it can become easy to overlook a special need that a child might have. Is your child's growth comparable to other children his/her age? Are our child's activities fairly well balanced?

The next two areas of child development need special emphasis because it is so easy for parents to neglect. This is the spiritual and social development of a child. The scripture states that Jesus increased in "favor with God and man." As a child increases in favor with God and man he is well on his way to becoming a sound emotional being.

A child's spiritual development occurs as the child is taught about God and what his relationship to Him should be. Parents do well when they introduce the child to God early in life. This can be done in various ways. Bible stories, daily prayers, and the singing of spiritual songs in the home are extremely important. This lets the child know that God is important to Mom and Dad; that Mom and Dad love God and depend on Him for their very existence. Taking children to Church on a regular basis is important, but letting them know why we do what we do in the church assemblies is equally important.

It would do well for parents to consider God's instruction to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Here Moses instructed parents to first love God with all their heart and soul, to put His Word in their own hearts, and then to diligently teach it to their children both morning and night, at work and at play, till it became an extension of their very being.

How much time and attention are you giving to the spiritual development of your child in the home? Do you take opportunity to apply God's Word when dealing with your child's problems? Do you have a plan?

A child's social development is also a part of the parenting process. Helping children develop the ability to work with and get along well with others is a responsibility parents should take seriously. Some children are outgoing by nature and seem to always interact well with others. Some however, are shy and timid and need extra help in this area. With the peer-pressure older children face today, it is imperative for children to learn early to deal effectively with others. Interaction with other Christians within your congregation, as well as with those in other congregations, can be very helpful.

Being a parent, even in today's world, does not have to be frightening. Understand that the parent's role is to help children grow intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. This may not always be easy. In fact it will often be quite painful, but in the end it will be fun and exciting. The Psalmist said, "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them." (Psalm 127:3-5a)