As our country has gradually moved away from its Christian roots and the culture those roots produced, the results have been amazing. I can remember distinctly what family life was like 50 years ago, Christian or non-Christian, and the contrast to today’s families is dramatic.
For example, I recently visited with a friend, a young single adult, who had just babysat the six-year-old daughter of a young Christian, regular church-going family. The daughter had no idea what “authority,” “obey” or “respect” even meant, and she initially was completely out of control. Her rebellious will was totally uncrossed, This would have been unheard of two generations ago in any family, Christian or non-Christian.
However, as my friend explained to her that she would have to do exactly what she was told to do because my friend had been given that authority by her parents as her babysitter, she was fascinated. The concept of any authority structure whatsoever was totally foreign to her.
She responded to this “new idea” very well, as some children will (though not most!). She was unconsciously looking for some limits, some fences, for she knew, intuitively, at six years old, she was not capable of running her own life. She had been crying out to her parents in her heart, “Help me” as all children are. That is not conscious for young children and they all need to have the rebellion that lies in every little heart firmly and unyieldingly addressed. That is a parent’s job, not the babysitter’s!
All children desperately need parents who 1.) firmly demand explicit, immediate obedience to the parent’s commands, and 2.) love their children more than they love themselves—firmness and compassion are the hallmark of the kingdom of God. Both of these tasks are absolutely necessary, but most parents are not aware of their existence and certainly not their importance. How can we as parents learn how to rule in our homes in such a manner that these two characteristics define our families?
I firmly believe at the heart of our nation’s 21st century moral decline is the failure of parents to “bring them (their children) up in the training and admonition of the Lord,” and the promise from God is that ‘when they are old they will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Parenting is the first opportunity most of us have to rule in God’s kingdom, and the Bible teaches that family rule is the proving ground for learning to rule in other areas. For example, in 1 Timothy 3:4, 5, Paul tells Timothy that a prospective elder must be “one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence, (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?).” Being a successful ruler at home is an indication that one may be ready to rule well as an elder in the church.
So, for most of us our first experiment in the laboratory of kingdom ruling is our families. We as men are given authority to do so: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). This does not mean that every man has authority over every woman, but in the authority structures in God’s kingdom, (civil government and church as well as the family), men, not women, are given the responsibility to rule (Isaiah 3:12, 1 Timothy 2:12).
This obviously flies in the face of everything believed in the world today about male-female relationships, and to say this publicly brings scoffing, laughing, ridicule, and exposes one as being a completely “unwoke” troglodyte who is sexist, tyrannical and hates women, even if you are one yourself!
We must understand that these modern-day attacks on family authority structure and even sexual identity are direct attacks on God Himself and His created order, saying, in essence, “God will not rule over me and tell me anything, even how to view sex!” “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us’” (Psalms 2:2, 3).
How should a Christian, who only wants to live his life in peace and raise his children as he wishes, react to this current situation? A couple of generations ago there would have been an outcry from the famous “silent majority” that would have never allowed today’s takeover of the culture by the militant, anti-Christian progressives.
However, today the church is reaping the fruit of 100 years of societal retreat, and the majority of them have withdrawn in fear and helplessness in the face of the current situation, and they have ensconced themselves behind the stained glass windows of their church buildings. They have complied with “the less odious” aspects of the progressive agenda, i.e., renouncing “patriarchy” (male leadership), spanking children, condoning homosexual relationships, etc.
Paul clearly calls this “being conformed to the world,” forsaking, even actively rejecting the biblical injunctions concerning the family to embrace what is often just the opposite. These biblical features of family life, so reviled by our culture today, are presented in the Bible, not as options but as THE biblical way to experience family life, the way of the kingdom.
If the hallmark of the kingdom is firmness and compassion, then the mechanism, or how the kingdom works, is 1.) responsibility, 2.) authority, and 3.) accountability. These personal traits are not emphasized in today’s society but they are all three on full display when “Thy kingdom comes.” They function, not by our resolve, determination, or strategic planning, but spontaneously, naturally and even subconsciously by the grace of God loosed in our lives! Next week I want to investigate these tools God gives us to rule for Him and what they each mean in family life.