The attack on the family unit has never been greater. The prevalent influences of secular philosophy, psychology and sociology have driven the traditional family unit to the edge of extinction. Like a spiritual tsunami, the influences of moral relativism are rapidly eroding the confidence and faith of many Christians in Biblical foundational truths concerning marriage, family, parenting, etc.
The apostle Paul, in writing to the church at Ephesus, warned that, “You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind” (Eph. 4:17). It is a sad thing that many Christians are looking to the “broken cisterns” (Jer. 2:13) of the world to find answers for their domestic challenges. Jesus Himself said, “If the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matt. 15:14). Therefore, taking instructions from the blind guides of this world leads 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 Triune God. When God declares that, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24), the term “one” is translated from the Hebrew word ehaad. The Hebrew Shema states, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). The English word “one” used here is translated from the same Hebrew word ehaad. This divine relationship has equality within the structure of authority.
Solomon says that there are at least five benefits of enduring companionship (Eccl. 4:9-12). Thus many people seek a life-long partner to achieve these benefits. Ultimately, relationships are only as strong as the link that binds them together. Therefore, Solomon adds a third element that binds the husband and the wife together (Eccl. 4:12b) to create this mysterious union of being “one.”
This “third cord” provides the stable structure that binds and bonds the two individuals into the oneness that Scripture talks about. What is this “third cord”? Solomon gives the answer in Prov. 7:2,3 where he refers to the Word of God as a cord that should be bound continually upon our heart. Therefore, the third cord (God’s Word) should bind you together and guide you together. Furthermore, the apostle John testifies that God’s Word became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1,14). So in essence, the binding factor between the husband and the wife is Jesus Christ.
The Roles Given to Husbands and Wives
The Bible clearly sets forth the roles and responsibilities of both the husband and the wife. In Eph. 5:22-33, Paul 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 marriage but its deeper meaning relates to Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32,33).
Using Jesus Christ as the example, Paul emphasizes that unity is only achieved through submission and that true submission requires sacrifice (Heb. 12:2; Phil. 2:5-8). 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 is marital submission and sacrifice accomplished? Peter gives some wonderful practical guidelines in 1 Peter 3:1-9. Your marriage can be truly blessed if both husband and wife submit to the Biblical cycle of submission, love and respect.
The Book of Proverbs uses the phrase “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” (Prov. 25:28). This phrase can also be used to describe the heart of the family, which is the home. To live safely within this “city,” it should have both walls and gates.
Walls define boundaries and gates control access. In the time of ancient Israel, the elders of a city sat at the gates, and it was their responsibility to judge everyone and everything that entered that city. At the centre of every city was the stronghold, which would have been the high-value target of every enemy. Its protection was the ultimate responsibility of the 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 stronghold, which is the heart of your family. Each layer of the city is penetrated by entering through defined gates that have wise gatekeepers standing at the door.
Protecting Your Home
Today the attack against the family unit is aimed at the most intimate areas of our life. Most homes are truly “unwalled cities.” Instant and unsupervised intimacy is freely available to all family members. From the easily accessible worldwide web to the proliferation of personal communication and entertainment devices, the home is flooded 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 in the present world, the slogan 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. All of us have a responsibility to protect each other.
The Bible says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord” (Ps. 127:3-5). As such, parents are given the wonderful responsibility of raising them in the fear and knowledge of God. All children need at least six things throughout their life: provision, protection, direction, education, correction, and compassion. The world would try to influence and convince parents today to stop influencing their children with regards to Biblical standards of living. The world will say, “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. Whatever the age of your children is, 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. In raising children and being parents, there should never be a point after which you stop being the teaching, caring, protective parent of your child. Your children will always need good guidance regardless of their age, so why shouldn’t you as their parent be their first counsellor when it comes to seeking direction on the uncertain sea of life? Likewise, children should seek the godly counsel and wisdom from their parents. “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14b).
What Are You Teaching?
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 guide for a world that has lost its way. Where there is a wandering without purpose, the Bible offers light in the darkness (Ps. 119:105). You as the parent have this wonderful opportunity to plant the Word of God into the fertile hearts of your children. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
How do you achieve 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” (Deut. 6:7-9). What is the primary teaching device in front of your child’s eyes today? What lifestyle 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? Will you be imparting to them the baseless principles of this world like greed, self-centredness, pride, hypocrisy, falsehood, and immorality? Or will you be imparting the truth of God’s Word and wisdom so that from eternity’s standpoint, they will be truly blessed?
The Bible tells us that we live in perilous times (2 Tim. 3:1). Therefore everyone needs to constantly be on the guard, repairing our walls, and fixing our gates. Husbands need to truly love their wives. Wives need to respect their husbands. Parents need to lovingly lead and guide 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” (2 Peter 1:4b). We need to be diligent about the stewardship of our marriage, our home, and the 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” (2 Peter 1:8). Amen.