The Home, as God Intends it
The oldest institution known to man is the home (Gen. 1; 2). The antiquity of the home is seen in the fact that the home is vital to civilization. God is the author of the home and has sought through his word to regulate, mold, and form the home to where it is an ideal place for the legitimate fulfillment of the physical, social, and emotional needs of men and women (Gen. 2: 18 ff.). The home is also the perfect arrangement and environment for the upbringing of children (Eph. 6: 1-4). Alas, there are many problems in America regarding the home. A growing number of sociologists and historians are telling us that the traditional home in America is on the endangered species list. Most social ills facing our wonderful and once strong country stem from problems in the homes across this county.
The most recent government census (2000) reveals some interesting facts and figures to all that are interested and have the courage to read the signs and warnings. The census told us that unwed people living together jumped 71. 7 percent during the 1990's.
According to the census, single women raising children grew five times faster than married couples raising children. David Murray, director of Statistical Assessment Service, a Washington based think tank, said, "We are on the verge of a brand new experiment in American life, where a significant portion of young people will not know the family structure of a married father and mother." An article appearing in The Orlando Sentinel, May 15, 01 stated, "The latest information shows the American family in a continuing state of flux, with an increasing number of people living together outside marriage and more single women raising children." Some, in a manifest effort to find something good to say regarding the findings of the census report, state that it does appear divorce is on the decline. What they fail to factor in, though, is that marriage is on the decline, more people are just living together! Another alarming fact emanating from the census is: "The growing number of unmarried partners, which reached 5. 5 million in 2000, also includes same-sex relationships and older people living together, but those numbers won't be available until further census releases" (Orlando Sentinel, May 15, and 18, 2001).
In view of the signs and warnings, it is especially urgent that we study the home as God intended it to be. I shall attempt to herein accomplish this task by examining the home as a training ground and some threats to the home.
The home as a training ground. Some of the most wonderful and meaningful words in our vocabularies are home and family. When we think of the home, we think of love and security. Some of the most unselfish love that we will ever experience in our entire life is witnessed on the part of a loving father and mother as they dedicate themselves to the protection and nurturing of their children. However, the traditional home of the fifties is rapidly changing, for the worse, I might add.
Children are to be nurtured and trained in the home. When God created the animal kingdom, He placed within the animals an innate instinct, if you will, to nurture and train their offspring. God also intends that humans exercise great training when it comes to their offspring. "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," Paul enjoins (Eph. 6: 4). The word translated "nurture" is the Greek noun paideia. W. E. Vine comments thus on paideia:
"Paideia: denotes 'the training of a child, including instruction;' hence, 'discipline, correction,' 'chastening,' Eph. 6:4, RV (AV, 'nurture'), suggesting the Christian discipline that regulates character; so in Heb. 12:5,7,8 (in ver. 8, AV, 'chastisement,' the RV corrects to 'chastening'); in 2 Tim. 3:16, 'instruction.' See INSTRUCTION, NURTURE" (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
It will be observed that "nurture" implies affection and true love and also involves training, education, and discipline, too often absent in the average home in America. More and more Americans do not attend service on Sunday and do not provide spiritually for their children. How sad!
Children are to be taught to honor and respect their parents. The scriptures teach, "Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" (Eph. 6: 2, 3). Parents should be revered by their children, not viewed as peers or simply friends. "Honor" also involves physical remuneration. Another growing problem in America is the aging population. Government is expected to provide for this increasing segment of our society. However, God places the responsibility on children (see Matt. 15: 4-6, I Tim. 5: 4, 8).
It is in the home that children learn the first lesson in obedience. Paul commands, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right" (Eph. 6: 1). The biblical home is structured (Eph. 5: 22-6: 4). The Bible teaches discipline, both of an instructive and punitive nature (cp. Prov. 13: 24). Children must be provided guidance and rules to be followed. When these rules are violated, proportionate punishment must be exercised. In some areas, we are approaching anarchy and, I submit, much of this rebellion begins in the home, due to either the lack of structure or the reinforcement of discipline.
In the home, children are taught the fundamentals of Christianity. Timothy had from an infant been taught the things of God by his godly mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 3: 15, 1: 5). Jesus, his authority and church, should be an ever present theme in the home, both in teaching and in practice (Matt. 28: 18; Eph. 1: 22, 23). Children must be taught the nature and value of material things (Lk. 12: 15). Respect for God should begin in the home. Young men should be taught the importance of fatherhood and being a provider and leader in the home (Eph. 5: 24 ff., I Tim. 5: 8). Young girls are to be taught their role as a wife and mother and the art of home making (Eph. 5: 22 ff., Tit. 2: 4, 5). It is in the home that young people learn of marriage, as they observe their own parents (couples who just shack up are sending a terrible message to their children). They learn of the sanctity, dignity, and purpose of marriage and home making. The children learn all these matters not only by the verbal teaching of their parents, but also by the good examples their parents are to set for them (cp. Deut. 6: 6-9).
Some threats to our homes. One has only to look around to see the many threats to the home as taught in the Bible.
The sanctity of the home is being destroyed. It seems that the devil has marshaled all his evil influences and directed them at the home. The matter of shacking up is definitely an insult to the sanctity of the home. Just living together belittles the holy nature of the home, in the first place. The statement of living together out of wed lock is, "we do not care enough for each other to commit and we do not care that our children are illegitimate!" Same-sex marriages are going to become more common, I predict. Lesbians and homosexuals in general forming a "marriage" is reprehensible in the sight of God, such is "an abomination" (Lev. 18: 22, Hebrew, a strong odor to the nostrils of God).
Parents shifting their responsibilities to others. Big Brother (the government) is now in the children raising and "home" providing business. Many due to their inability to responsibly act, are forcing government more and more into the role of parents. "The school is not the place for sex education, but parents are not teaching their children at home," I have heard many times as principles and teachers have explained to me the matter of sex education in the schools. Godless humanism has become a part of many school curriculums, replacing the principles of honesty taught in the Bible. Parents are allowing the public schools to provide their children with religion, which happens to often be atheism in the form of organic evolution. The church has also become the substitute for the family. While the church is valuable, God never intended for the local church to act as a substitute for irresponsible mothers and fathers (I Tim. 3: 15).
The flagrant disregard on the part of couples for the God given sphere and roles involved in biblical marriage. The husband is the head, the wife in submission, and the children submit to their parents, this is what the Bible irrefutably teaches (Eph. 5: 22-6: 4). Many families today, alas, are in a state of total chaos as they reject God's teaching. Women are so busy in pursuing their secular careers and the men are busy being one of the boys. Children are often left at home alone to entertain themselves by watching the filth that is too often seen on television and videos.
Beloved, since God is the author of the home, He knows what is needed for the home to not only survive, but to also prosper. It is not too late to restore the home, the root of so many of the societal problems that are tearing down our wonderful country. It all begins with you and me as individuals. Let us make the home a place that our children will cherish when they grow older and can use to help them model their own homes. (For related reading, see "The Modern Family," simply click on to read.)