In the last Two Edges of the Sword blog we looked at the first way a woman is her husband’s “helper,” as she is described in the creation story in Genesis 2:18: “And the Lord God said, ‘It isn’t good for man to be alone; I will make a companion for him, a helper suited to his needs.’” In mankind’s battle with Satan for dominion over the earth, the woman’s role will be to love her husband by creating a home for him and their family, no matter how modest or unassuming it may be. It will be a place where her husband can relax and recharge his batteries for the next day’s battle in the world. He knows that at home he is respected and appreciated, because he has loved, protected and provided for his family with agape love, sacrificing his own personal comfort and desires for them.
This is his wife’s calling as his helper, and is underscored in Ephesians 5:33: “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Notice that here the husband is called to love his wife, but she is not admonished to love him in return. The word for love all through this famous chapter on husband wife relations is agape, and a woman is never called to love her husband with agape love. That is the unconditional, sacrificial love he has for her, whether she loves him back or not. She is called to only love him with phileo love—a tender, affectionate responding love, not an initial, unconditional one. She responds to his agape with her phileo.
This is the message of Titus 2:4, 5: “(Let the older women) admonish the young women to love (phileo) their husbands, to love (phileo) their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”
This week, our topic is how a woman “loves her children.” Doesn’t she naturally love them? Why does she need to be admonished to do so?
Children, the warriors for the kingdom of God in the next generation, are most effectively trained in the home by the parents. Line upon line, precept upon precept, this training constitutes potentially the most far-reaching ministry those parents will ever have (truly “loving” them), because their influence, their deposit in the lives of their children, can reach down through the generations in their posterity.
Modern technological society, with its emphasis on impersonal function rather than personal relationship, has subtly communicated the perception that a day-care worker or some other surrogate parent can do as good a job of caring for a child as the parent can—maybe even better if they are “trained professionals.” Someone else can take the kids to Little League, or dance rehearsal. Somebody else’s mother can be a teacher’s aide at school. They will do just as good a job as you would, or so the reasoning goes.
That might be true, if parenting required only the function of meeting physical needs. However, there is much more to parenting than that. Children who have grown up knowing that they are more important to their parents than anything else (and to a child, this is communicated by “being there”) are eager to adopt their parent’s values and philosophy of life. They do so very naturally, because God has built into them a desire to be like their parents.
On the other hand . . .,
Those who know in their hearts that they were not at the top of their parent’s priority list because they are both gone all day, will often look elsewhere for direction for their lives and even sometimes actively reject their parent’s lifestyle. There were needs other than physical ones that were not met for them because the home was not utilized fully as a place of ministry to them. Ministry is not teaching, simply the transfer of ideas, though there may be teaching involved. True ministry is influence, influence parents are not aware they inevitably have on their children, for good or ill, just by their presence with them.
Generally, the majority of a child’s conscious, waking hours are spent at school, so it logically follows that the most effective hours to influence that child are where he is being educated, and the top purveyors of that influence are his teachers. As children spend those hours with them, day after day, they are unconsciously inculcating their teacher’s values, lifestyle and worldview, instead of that of their parents, much more than simply the subject matter they are teaching.
The father is in charge of his family and its direction, and he is responsible to God for its well being, including the training of his children. The following factors are important for him to consider as he bears that responsibility.
1.) Is it wise to have my child in daycare from ages 1-3, pre-school at 4, and public school from 5-18? First, this will mean that my child, during all his formative years, will be in the care of others who don’t love him like my wife and I do, although they will spend more waking hours with him during the week than we will.
2.) Education cannot be neutral; there is not such thing. All education springs from a worldview, and that worldview will represent and spring from the religion of the teacher. The religion of the public education system today is Humanism—man is his own god. That is true, officially (de jure), in our Constitution (the ultimate authority in our nation is “We the people,” not Jesus Christ), but has become true experientially (de facto) just in the past few decades. Do I want my child learning, absorbing and growing in a humanistic system?
3.) Whatever I do, it is my responsibility. I have been given by God the authority to make all decisions for my child and I alone will be held accountable by God for the results.
Very subtly, our culture has transitioned from a Christian one, based on biblical law, to a society based on constantly shifting, humanistic rule that determines its own secular laws we must live by, representing whatever Congress decides is “reasonable,” i.e., abortion, gay-marriage, etc. Our children, who for decades went to public schools that represented a solid cultural Christian consensus, are now imprisoned in a system that has betrayed us and is out to steal our heritage.
But Christians are fighting back. The past few years have seen the homeschool movement explode. Parents are realizing that they are the ones uniquely equipped to teach their children, and even uneducated, insecure parents can do the job beautifully, particularly in the important foundational early years. All that is needed is a willingness to learn and a realization that their love for their child will trump “professionally trained” teachers who don’t love their child every time.
Under the leadership of their husbands who are vitally involved in the education process as they are in all the family’s activities, and in cooperation with other families with a similar vision, the homemaker wives will carry the brunt of the hands-on daily educational responsibility. They will do the “heavy lifting.” This is a classic example of what the older women in the church are to teach the younger women about “loving their children.” Lord, make it so!