God has designed that society exist in families, in families. God designed the family. God created man and woman and said, “Make families.” God repeated that, first of all, when He said that in Genesis 1 there was Adam and Eve. And then after He had destroyed the whole world and came back to Noah, he reiterated that command in the ninth chapter of Genesis, “Make families. Make families. Fill the earth.”
Families are the unit that passes on truth and righteousness from generation to generation. Families are the units that provide discipline and instruction, and therefore create civilization. They hold society together. They provide, as a Chinese proverb says, “Shade for the children” – one generation plants the trees; the next generation enjoys the shade.
We are living in a time when one would wonder whether any shady trees are being planted for future generations. There’s a generation of young people, even Christian young people today, who are afraid of the prospect of bringing children into the world. Our culture not only allows for the destruction of the family, it aids and abets it. Our society makes laws to destroy the family; we see them all the time. We are living in a culture where all taboos have been abolished. There’s only one taboo left, and that’s the Bible and biblical morality. Fornication and adultery abound at a pandemic level; and for those people who do get married, divorce is a ready aid to get them out of that marriage.
We’re all aware of the fact that we have a wholesale rejection of male headship, male leadership. We have a feminized culture: working mothers; latchkey kids; abortion, millions of children being killed in their mother’s womb. That’s been going on for decades. Pornography not only is abundant, but it is protected by free speech. We have a dominant media that pollutes people’s minds with entertainment that is corrupt. And then we have social media where people can exploit themselves, corrupt themselves, and corrupt others. It is pandemic. The culture will not offer any solutions; it will only escalate the corruption. And while this is what this sinful world has chosen, it has become divine judgment.
According to Romans 1, when God judges a society, there will be a sexual revolution, followed by a homosexual revolution, followed by reprobate minds where there’s no way back because thinking is so corrupted. And if you were to identify where thinking is most aggressively corrupt, you would probably have to answer outside the entertainment world itself, in the universities, which have the responsibility to educate the next generation. This culture offers no solution; and indeed, this culture is now under the judgment of God and catapulting at a rapid rate into hell. I understand why people look at all of this and wonder how it’s going to be for their children and their grandchildren. The culture has no solution.
Seemingly, many in the church are unwilling to step up and provide for people a true biblical understanding of sexual relationships, marriage, and the family. So what I want to do for you and for us is to just look in the Word of God and put together an understanding, a framework for understanding marriage and the family, and raising children the way God has designed it. And I want you to turn in your Bible to the sixth chapter of Ephesians, because I just want to set this passage in your mind, and then we’re going to go a lot of places. I have no idea how far we’ll get; I’ve put down a lot of things to talk about.
Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. Fathers [or parents] do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” That’s a summation of what the New Testament teaches.
You find almost an identical passage in the third chapter of Colossians as well. And as you can tell by looking at that passage, it draws on the Old Testament, so that nothing has changed. This is a reiteration and clarification of what the Old Testament says. God has already established His divine pattern for the family.
As I said, it’s difficult today for the church to define this with the precision that the Bible demands because the church, the contemporary church, is so eager to absorb the world, and to make worldly people feel comfortable; and return to clear, precise, exact, demanding, biblical commands regarding marriage and the family would threaten churches that are trying to capture the world. So let’s start with where we need to be and what we need to understand. Let me give you five things that are foundational.
Number one: children are a blessing from God. Children are a blessing from God. That’s where you have to start. They are not a problem, they are not a trial; they are a blessing from God.
God blessed Adam and Eve, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” Early civilization understood that, even after the Flood. When that was repeated, people understood that children were a blessing from the Lord. In fact, not to have children was a disaster in the minds of people.
In the twenty-ninth chapter of Genesis, for example, Rachel was barren. “Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, ‘Because the Lord has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.’” It’s as if not having a child would cause your husband not to love you.
“Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, ‘Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.’ So she named him Simeon. She conceived again and bore a son and said, ‘Now this time my husband will become attached to me because I have born him three sons,’ and she named him Levi…She,” in verse 35, “conceived again and bore a son and said, ‘This time I will praise the Lord.’” Not until she had a fourth son did she believe she could stop longing for something and be satisfied. Children were a blessing from the Lord. It was a kind of shame in her mind not to have many children.
Chapter 30 says, “When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die.’” “‘Give me children, or else I die.’” Then she came up with a stupid plan, as you know, and wanted a kind of surrogate child.
God was gracious to her, down in verse 23, “She conceived and bore a son, and she said, ‘God has taken away my reproach.’ She named him Joseph, saying, ‘May the Lord give me another son.’” It was as, almost as if one child wasn’t enough; it was. The desire of the heart of a mother to have many children, because children were stated by God to be a blessing.
Listen to Psalm 127, verse 3: “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”
It was actually a kind of personal reproach, a kind of shame not to have children. Certainly, there were some for whom God did not design children. But as a general matter, children were a blessing; and not to have children was to be unblessed.
Second principle to understand: parenting is a blessing. This is partner with the first point. Parenting is a blessing.
There are three times in the Proverbs where it talks about a son making a father’s heart glad. Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct a son, and he will give you rest. Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” Children are a blessing, and being a parent is a blessing.
A third principle: parenting is measured by the parents and not the children. Parenting is measured by the parents and not the children.
What do I mean by that? I simply mean the principle of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he’s old he will not depart from it.” Really, children are a testimony to parenting.
We live in a time when the focus is on the children. The focus should be on the parent. Now, what does that mean, “Raise up a child” – or train up a child – “in the way he should go, and when he’s old he will not depart from it”? It isn’t a guarantee of salvation. It’s just an axiom. It’s just a truism. It’s just a self-evident truth – children become what you raise them to become. That is a general fact.
A New Testament equivalent of that would be Luke 6:40, “When a man is fully trained, he will be like his teacher.” You will be responsible for shaping your children. They will be what you lead them to be. They will become what you allow them to become. They will take the shape that you have provided for them in your parenting.
Nothing you do guarantees their salvation; that’s not what that is saying. But it is saying your children will be the products of your parenting; and that’s why I said that third point is parenting is measured by the parents – not the talent of the child, not the beauty of the child, but the effort of the parents.
So as you look ahead and you say to yourself, “I don’t know if I want to bring up a child in the world that is coming, or the world that exists,” remember this: in any occasion, in any world, any child will grow to be whatever it is that you shape that child to be. Parenting is a nonstop responsibility. There are no coffee breaks. There are no vacations, because it’s so important. It can’t be a part-time job. That’s why working mothers can be such a disaster.
A fourth thing to think about with regard to that, and it’s obvious: parenting is the child’s most powerful influence. Parenting is the child’s most powerful influence. It’s more powerful than the culture. It’s more powerful than peers. It’s more powerful than media, because parenting can control all of that. It is a full-time responsibility.
In fact, if you go back to Deuteronomy, chapter 6, you will remember that built into the start of God revealing to His people His law again – which He does in the book of Deuteronomy as they get ready to enter the Promised Land, the familiar words of Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I’m commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” That’s the sum of all the commandments, “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.”
And then verse 7: “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” That’s parenting; it’s nonstop, nonstop.
“You bind them as a sign on your hand,” so that they basically affect what you do. You put them as “frontlets on your forehead,” so that they effectively control what you think. That’s the symbolism there. “You write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,” so that when you come in and you go out, the law of the Lord dominates everything. This is how parents have the greatest influence.
Keep in mind that the children of Israel, at this point in time, were living in the middle of paganism. The paganism was so bad at that time that God had told them when they went into the Promised Land to literally kill the nations that occupied the land. They didn’t do that, and so there was this constant battle with a corrupt culture.
The history of Israel, frankly, is an object lesson about the dangers of not teaching your children, of not having the law of God dominate your children, of not teaching them, of not talking about the law of God when you sit down – when you walk, when you lie down, when you rise up – making it what controls your behavior, what controls your thinking, and your coming and going. Obviously, Israel failed to do that, even though they were commanded in Deuteronomy 6.
If you come over to, for example, one generation later – just one generation – to Judges chapter 2, verse 7, “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel.” Joshua, of course, led them into the land. Verse 10: “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.” That generation failed to do what they were told to do – teach the law of God to their children so that they would love the Lord their God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might. That whole generation failed in their parenting.
Verse 11, here’s the next generation: “Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals,” – literally worshiped the false lords – “and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; and thus they provoked the Lord to anger. So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and Ashtaroth.”
One generation, given a clear command: “Take the law of the Lord, which had been given to Moses and was given again a second time” – Deuteronomy – “teach it to your children.” They didn’t do it. They turned to the gods of the Canaanites – a pattern in the life of Israel repeated again, and again, and again, and again; and we all know the terrible, tragic history that resulted.
I guess the sum of it is in Judges 21:25, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Sound familiar? That’s American culture; that’s the world we live in. And we are there for the same reason that Israel was there.
The people of Israel lived in this sea of paganism. They were told what to do to protect themselves: to teach their children. It was a full-time responsibility, and it had to be going on all the time, not only by precept, but by example – “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.”
Children are a blessing. Parenting is in itself a blessing. In fact, a family is measured by the parenting. Whatever you do is going to decide what kind of child you have; and parenting is, by God’s design, the child’s most powerful influence. It is a full-time responsibility, built in at the very start of God’s law; and when ignored, tragedy upon tragedy – not only the decline of a family, but the decline of an entire culture.
And that leads us to a fifth sort of foundational truth: parenting is God’s plan for man. Parenting is God’s plan for man. The exception is not to be a parent. Is that sort of obvious? Because if you don’t have parents, you don’t have anymore people. Parenting is God’s plan.
To say that is to say marriage is God’s plan, marriage is God’s plan. God designed us as sexual creatures, sexual beings, and that can only be fulfilled in a union between a man and a woman in a life-long marriage. Anything other than that is devastatingly corrupting.
In 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, you might want to look at that as we continue to sort of construct our understanding along this line. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, Paul says, “Concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.” He means in a sexual way. But you’re going to have a hard time with that, so he says, “But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.”
You can’t have people with sexual desires running around without spouses. Sometimes when people say, “What do you think the biggest problem in the family is today?” I have answered this way: “Singleness.” Singleness is a big problem. You don’t have marriage. You don’t have children. What you have is immorality.
Paul goes on to say in verse 9, “If you don’t have self-control…marry…better to marry than to burn with passion.” We have a society of single people pushing, pushing, pushing marriage off, off, off, off into some nebulous tomorrow. Epidemic singleness is deadly to the family; it produces massive immoralities in all directions. It is a sign of selfishness.
Nearly fifty percent of the population in America over eighteen are unmarried. Looking at this statistic another way: only about fifty percent of the households in America are couples who are married. And the most common household in America, the most common household in America since the year 2000, is a person living alone. Millions of unmarried people living alone and hooking up. That kind of behavior has increased a hundred percent since 1990. Nearly fifty percent of all births now are illegitimate.
Ninety percent of Americans in this survey of the Harris Poll said, “Society should value all types of families equally, all types of families equally. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a man and a woman, whether they’re married, or whether they’re same-sex.”
Such situations, said ninety percent of the people surveyed, have no effect on the children. So the solution for the United States government is to cave in to immorality, sexual vice, deviation, homosexuality; and rampant lust dominates the culture. And, “Oh, by the way, if you do happen to get pregnant, kill the baby.” We need to understand that God has designed people to have families, to have families.
As Christians and as the church, we need to lead the world in upholding marriage and children as God’s most precious blessing in all of human life. Look, first of all, marriage is the grace of life, right; it’s what the New Testament says. Secondly, children are a blessing from the Lord; and the promise is that you raise them in the correct way. When they’re old, they will demonstrate that way that you have poured into their lives. This is God’s design. Christians can’t be so selfish they don’t want to get married; and a lot of people don’t want to get married, because around the bend they might see somebody better. It’s time for Christians to stop interrupting God’s plan for children by staying single. Get married; be a husband; take a wife.
And among Christians, I think that’s still, for the most part, initiated by men. Men would like to think that maybe the women would come after them. But Christian women are more modest, I think, and men need to lead in that. I don’t know what Christian men are waiting for. There are many sweet Christian ladies that they could care for and love as Christ loves His church, and with whom they could raise godly children who would be to them supreme joy.
At the creation, do you remember the statement, “It’s not good to be” – What? – “alone.” Marry; bring up children; bring them up to know the Lord. So that would be a kind of foundational perception that I want to set in your mind.
Now I want you to go back to Ephesians and we’ll just kind of talk a little bit more about what this text specifically says. First, it talks about the submission of children, and then it talks about the submission of parents – both submitting to God’s design. Verses 1-2: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise).”
Do I need to say that children need to be taught to do that? They don’t come into the world ready to do that; they come in the world as reprobates – little, beautiful reprobates; but reprobate. They come into the world as fallen sinners bearing Adamic nature and Adamic guilt. But let’s just look at this in particular. Children, they must be taught this. But children are to “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
What do we mean “children,” tekna? It doesn’t mean tiny babies; it doesn’t mean little children. It means any child who would still be classified as a child, which would mean any child who is in the home and has not yet started their own adult life – broadly speaking, all offspring still under parental care, still under parental care. In fact, it doesn’t really apply to the smallest ones because you really can’t command them. They don’t have a faculty to even comprehend that. It refers to those who are old enough to reason.
And by the way, this is the only command in the Bible to children; this is it: “Obey your parents in the Lord.” This kind of obedience is so essential for civilization. Society holds together in some kind of a cohesive, sane way – and safe way when children obey their parents.
In fact, that is in the commandments in Exodus 20: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” In other words, if you don’t do that, you could die. If you don’t do that, you could die.
And that’s reiterated in the next chapter of Exodus, chapter 21, and verse 15: “He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” Verse 17: “He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”
Capital punishment for a child that strikes a parent or curses a parent. Repeated in the twentieth chapter of Leviticus, verse 9: “If there’s anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his bloodguiltiness is upon him.”
The next verse talks about the man who commits adultery with another man’s wife – same penalty. The death penalty is to be applied to children that don’t obey their parents. This is how urgent this matter of obedience is. To raise a generation of people who can make a real civilization requires that children obey parents. That’s just absolutely foundational.
Look at the book of Proverbs for a minute, and let me just show you a few things here, as we can kind of continue our Bible study. Proverbs is really truth passed on from fathers and mothers, but particularly fathers, to their children. So verse 8 of chapter 1, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching; indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck.” In other words, there’s a beauty in a child that receives parental instruction and obeys it.
In chapter 2, verse 1, “My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding.”
Chapter 3 begins the same way: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.”
Chapter 4: “Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding, for I give you sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction. When I was a son to my father, tender and the only son in the sight of my father, then he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.’” In chapter 4 again, verse 10: “Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many.”
Chapter 5: “My son, give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding.”
Chapter 7, again: “My son, keep my words…treasure my commandments with you.” Not only obey them, but treasure them. “Keep my commandments and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye.”
Same chapter, down in verse 24: “Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words of my mouth.”
In chapter 8, verse 32: “Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, for blessed are they who keep my ways.” And it goes like this all through this wonderful section.
You find in chapter 12, verse 1, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Not only should you obey, but you should willingly accept the discipline that drives you in the path of obedience.
Chapter 13, verse 1: “A wise son accept his father’s discipline, but a scoffer doesn’t listen to rebuke.” There’s little question that this is at the heart of this entire book of Proverbs. So important.
Chapter 15, verse 5: “A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible.” Do you want to be a sensible child? Do you want to grow up to be a sociable adult? Then you listen to your father’s instruction and you accept your father’s discipline.
And one more, in chapter 28, verse 7: “He who keeps the law is a discerning son.” “He who keeps the law is a discerning son.” The negative side: if you curse your parents, if you strike your parents, the death penalty. The positive side: listen to them, learn from them, accept the discipline that comes with instruction.
In Luke 2:52 there is an interesting statement with regard to our Lord, but it gives us some categories in which we can think about children. Luke 2:52, “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Children must be ruled, they must be disciplined, they must be taught, because they lack four things: they lack wisdom, they lack stature, they lack favor with God, and they lack favor with men. In other words, they are deficient mentally, they are deficient physically, they are deficient socially, and they are deficient spiritually – and that’s all of it. They are just plain deficient. It takes a nonstop, concerted effort to move them out of those deficiencies into a place where they receive wisdom and grow to strength – favor with God, favor with men.
God cares about the social aspect of life, about the physical aspect, about the mental aspect, as well as the physical aspect. So you want your children to be obedient. You understand that when they come into the world, they’re deficient. Their social skills are nonexistent. They just scream about whatever they want. They fight; they argue. They go places and do things that you don’t want them to do. They have no social skills. They have no spiritual understanding. They are weak and vulnerable, tossed to and fro. They have no wisdom and no discernment.
So what you’ve got is a little reprobate sinner that is utterly deficient in every area of existence, and your responsibility – before God and your great joy – is to eliminate those deficiencies. If you don’t do that, you get the kind of man, Proverbs 30:11 talks about, “who curses his father and doesn’t bless his mother.” You get the kind of man who “mocks a father and scorns a mother.” And Proverbs 30:17 says, “The ravens of the valley will pick out the eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, and the young eagles will eat it.” That’s pretty graphic.
So what do you do as a parent? You have the responsibility, and the joy, and the priviledge, and the command to raise children to be obedient. That means you have to be the instrument that God uses to help them increase in wisdom, stature, favor with God, favor with man.
You want your child – let’s go back to Ephesians – to obey, to obey. Teach your child to obey. That’s the only command, to obey your parents. Academics, not that important. Athletics, not that important. Fashion, not that important. Looks, not that important.
Obedience, all-consuming. “Obey,” hupakouō, literally means “to hear under, to submit, to submit.” It’s a present imperative, and it’s the idea that they habitually obey you. And I will just tell you: this is how, in one sense, simple parenting is. All you’re trying to do is raise an obedient child – a child that learns obedience because the consequences are so painful, the consequences of disobedience.
But there’s another aspect of it. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.” What does that mean, “in the Lord”? What does that mean?
Colossians 3:20 adds, “Obey your parents in everything in the Lord” – in absolutely everything in the Lord. What does that mean? As if you were obeying Christ. As if you are obeying Christ.
That’s an amazing thing. You’re really teaching children to obey, not because of you, but because of God. Your authority is a delegated authority; it’s passed down to you from heaven. Why should you do this? Because “this is right.” There’s a novel idea: something’s actually right.
There’s a right thing, and it’s obedience. The word is díkaion, which is “righteous.” It’s “righteous” – used often of God, often of Christ, and often of us, when speaking of our righteousness in Christ, our justification. It’s “right.”
Children who disobey violate the Lord; they violate God’s law. This must have been a challenging thing in the early church, because Jewish children were forbidden to believe in Christ. Probably pagan children were forbidden to believe in Christ, and they were being introduced to the gospel. What were they going to do?
Well, what did Jesus say? Amazing, He said, “If you want to follow Me, you may have to hate your mother and hate your father.” That’s Luke 14. And in Matthew 10 He said, “If you love your mother or father more than Me, you’re not worthy to be My disciple.”
Here’s the one place where children do right when they disobey – that is, when they obey the Lord and the parents are commanding them not to do so. That’s a rare exception. Apart from that, the first duty of a child is to obey. So you teach your children to obey. And if you do that, when they’re old, they’ll be obedient.
The second duty, then, in verse 2 is to “honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise).” “Obey” is duty; “honor” is attitude. “Obey” is duty; “honor” is attitude. You don’t just want obedience. You don’t want a furious child obeying you with an angry heart. But this attitude corresponds to the act of obedience.
The obedience of a child should contain honor, and that, of course, comes right from the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:12. You are to raise a child who’s both obedient to parents because he realizes that parents have delegated authority from the Lord to bring the most blessed life possible to them, and at the same time, to have an attitude of honor toward father and mother.
Patricia and I used to talk a lot when we were raising our children about disciplining for attitude. We disciplined our children far more for attitude than we did for action, because they were more prone to think they could get away with an attitude than an act. We could prevent the act; we couldn’t prevent the attitude. Discipline for an attitude is as important for discipline for an act if you want a child that is obedient and reverent – reverent toward parents as the representatives of God, with the delegated authority to raise them to know and love God and live in the fullness of His blessing.
So this is really the fifth commandment – verse 2 is the fifth commandment – and it’s the first commandment that has to do with human relationships. The first four have to do with God – Exodus 20. This is the first one that has to do with human relationship. When you move into human relationships, the first thing you run into is parents and children. This is so essential because it comes with a promise.
Look at verse 3: “So that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” This is the first commandment “with a promise.” This is the fifth commandment – it’s the first one that deals with human relations. And it’s the first one “with a promise.” Godly children, obedient children who honor their parents, will not have their life shortened by chastisement; they will not have their life shortened by divine judgment. They will live a long, full, rich, blessed life.
That’s what you want for your children, right? That’s your desire for your children. And though when the command was first given to the people of Israel – there were physical promises to Israel attached to it about being in the land – there are still promises attached to it or it wouldn’t be repeated here. This is for all believers, and this is not tied necessarily to the land of Israel, but “you will live long” – not in that land but – “on the earth.”
I don’t know about you, but I would like my child to live a full life, wouldn’t you? It doesn’t guarantee a number of years, but what it does guarantee is that your life won’t be shortened by divine discipline. This is absolutely essential.
Now, I want to close by saying in order to bring your children to this point, you have to exercise some firm discipline. Let’s go back to Proverbs again, and I’m going to just show you a few things that you’re familiar with.
Proverbs 3, verse 11: “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” God does it. God disciplines. This is repeated, isn’t it, in Hebrews. “Every son the Lord loves He disciplines.”
In chapter 10 of Proverbs, a familiar verse, 13: “On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.” It not only tells you what to do, it tells you where to do it. Hit them on the back. That’s why God put ample padding in that location. That’s “a rod.” That’s a rod to the back of a child who lacks understanding.
In the nineteenth chapter of Proverbs, verse 18: “Discipline your son while there is hope.” “Discipline your son while there’s hope, and do not desire his death.” Wow. If you don’t discipline your son, it shortens his life. You love him? Discipline him.
Proverbs 22, verse 15: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” That’s what I was saying, that they’re born foolish. They’re fallen. “The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” That, friends, is a promise. You want to drive foolishness out of your child? Physical punishment from an early age, as soon as that foolishness becomes apparent and defiant.
Chapter 23 of Proverbs, verse 13: “Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol” – from the grave. All of this is saying if you want your child to live a full, rich, blessed life, it’s going to take some serious, painful discipline – corporal discipline. Of course, if you want to destroy the family, you make that illegal.
Proverbs 29, verse 15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom,” – Listen to this – “but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” And then in verse 17: “Correct your son…he’ll give you comfort; he will also delight your soul.”
I’m not going to take you through Proverbs again, but if I were to make another trip, I would just let you know this, Proverbs says this: “An undisciplined child is a grief to his mother, a rebel to his father, a sorrow to his parents, a disaster to his family, a disgrace to his parents, a humiliation to his parents, and an abuser of his parents.” So it’s essential to have an obedient child, and it’s necessary so that “it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” Quality of life – “well with you.” Quantity of life – “long on the earth.”
So let’s go back to where we started. Children are a blessing from the Lord. Parenting is a blessing. Parenting defines the family, not the child. Parenting is the greatest influence your children will ever have; it has to be by divine design. And parenting is God’s plan.
So you may look at the world ahead and say, “Oh, I don’t know if I want to get married.” You’re going to end up postponing this race of life, postponing this high and glorious and delightful calling to be a family.
Lot’s of things threaten the family and the future, but I think very often an evangelical church’s singleness is the greatest threat. We just need to ask the Lord to humble us and to give us a heart to find a partner who loves Christ – and raise children.
You say, “Oh, the world is going to be” – the world has always been the same – Right? – always been the same. You can provide the protections that you need for your children; that’s what parents do. But this is God’s design.
We need more good Christian marriages, and we need more wonderful Christian families. We have so many here at Grace Church. The world needs more. The world needs more. And you have nothing to fear, because this is a divine calling. You do it in the power of Christ and the strength of the Spirit, and the Lord will use it to make your family a blessing.
We have been privileged, Lord, as we come to the end of this day, to enjoy a wonderful, fruitful day of fellowship and ministry together. We have been again exposed to Your Word on so many levels today. How rich we are. How blessed we are to have the truth and not be floundering around like people in the world trying to figure out what’s right, what’s true, where hope lies, where the answers are – how to live, how to love, how to marry, how to parent.
It’s all laid out for us, and it’s all just loaded with promise. It’s just loaded with promise: a loving marriage – a husband who loves his wife; a wife who submits to her husband; children who are taught and disciplined to be obedient; parents who bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord find the richest, most fulfilling life. It is well with them – quality of life. And they can live long on the earth – quantity of life. Life at its fullest and life at its most complete is found in this wonderful gift of the family. Help us, Lord, to seek Your purpose in this regard.
Lord, we know that there may be some who have been given a gift for singleness, who have no such desire; and if that is a gift from You, may they do, as the Scripture says, devote themselves continually to You unencumbered. We’re so grateful for those who have been so gifted and called; and they are a blessed part of our family as Your children.
Lead us, Lord, as we think about these things in the weeks to come. And as people beyond our own church hear these truths, would You do a work in many hearts? For Your glory we pray. Amen.