By William C. Sexton
God, the Creator and Provider of man, provides peace for those who allow Him to rule in their hearts! He rules through His word which is understandable and practical. He has basic teachings relative to the various aspects of the Family, which is the basic unity in society and in the life and development of each person's existence.
There are problems in the American family today, as there has always been problems in families; the solution is to be found in the scriptures, the New Testament in particular. We wish to examine three areas of trouble and make some suggestions relative to scriptural solutions.
Paul, writing to the church in Colosse, set forth some words worthy of our consideration relative to our duty in the family setting:
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teachings and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged (Col. 3:15-21).
The inspired writer, after instructing servants also, says:
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Jesus Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons (vs. 24-25).
"Peace" is a wonderful concept, a product that is desired by all. Such is man's, to possess only as he participates in letting the word of Christ "dwell" in his heart "richly" in all wisdom.
The realistic observer will take seriously the promise and affirmation that the doer-of-wrong will not escape the consequences and/or fruit of his/her behavior. With that picture of suffering in one's mind relative to the wrong-doer, one can appreciate the promise of "reward" to the Lord serving-person and, hopefully, such will motivate each to be careful that he/she is such a person. With faith in the accuracy of those statements, we encourage each to consider his/her role and performance in the family setting.
I. Disorientation: "lack or loss of ability to locate oneself." Due to the many conflicting ideas advanced and practiced today in our society, as we listen and observe, many are faced with confusion, disorientation! They have no "clear-cut view" of what is right and/or wrong.
1. Roles of the husband and/or wife. What is right? At one time, the husband brought "home the bacon," and the wife stayed "home and raised the kids." Such was expected and most of the time each person felt that such was the way it was to be; he or she who did not "fit into" that role was an outcast. However, there is so much said and done about that way being oppressive to women and unproductive to all, that many who would "like" to perform the old role, feel guilty and/or confused attempting to do what the many seem to think is the modern way of freedom.
Scriptural Solution: God recognizes the head of the family to be man (1 Cor. 11:2-3). However, man need not be one who dominates his wife. To stay home, just for the sake of staying home, and feeling miserable and unproductive is not necessary! There is a need to recognize and appreciate God's order, but it is not right for one to interpret His word one-sidedly, all in favor of man's freedom and woman's captivity; to recognize the order that the God of heaven has set and appreciate it is to position oneself so as to be happy in this life and productive at the same time.
2. Discipline of self and/or children. What is good and acceptable, to many is not clear. Many views have been advanced and the air is left filled with uncertainty.
Scriptural Solution: Hear the Lord: "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Cor. 9:27). "We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence" (Heb. 12:9). "If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons" (Heb. 12:8). Accordingly, observation of behavioral development manifest the necessity of discipline of self and those around us.
"Children obey" your parents, such is necessary for your benefit and those around you; so, the Lord has demanded it.
"Fathers, provoke not to anger," because such brings discouragement and harms the child's advancement; nevertheless, demonstrate the benefit of discipline in your own life and expect it from those under you.
Wives be faithful to your husbands, not giving yourselves to another, thereby breaking your bond with the one to whom God has joined you (Mt. 19:6-9).
Husbands love and protect your wives, be faithful to them, knowing that they are a part of you. The two of you became one, by God joining you together. To be unfaithful is to displease God and close the door to heaven (1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19-20; 1 Cor. 7:10-11).
If one is convinced that God's word is true and the standard that will produce happiness, he/she will accept and apply it. Then problems are solved, not once for all, but every one is faced and overcome according to the wisdom from above (Jas. 3:17-18).
II. Disorganization: "lack of meaningful or orderly relations"! The home is where people share in affection, concern, responsibilities, etc. Today's society has so many things going that the members in many families do not get together enough to share, exchange affections, and speak of their feelings toward each other.
1. Women are working and making more money, and issuing more demands. Often the husband develops interests which are not compatible with the partner. Consequently, hostility is more likely than mutual respect and honor in many homes today.
2. Children are sent off to schools where they are taught different ideas and God's word is often mocked; the schools often insist that they - the children - participate in things that take them away from home-teachings. Some homes begin to accept the school's and/or peer's standard instead of the one the parents have taught and cried to follow.
Time spent together is limited; action together is almost none, while each member develops different interests (job, recreation, etc.).
The family-members develop interest in other people, wanting to "live" as some say. Many turn to drinking, parties, activities, associations which destroy the need. So family closeness and concern are neglected till it is too late.
Scriptural Solution: accept the primary responsibility, which is to serve God first. One cannot do that without providing for his own family (1 Tim. 5:8). He who fails at this level, denies the faith and, in comparison with infidels, is on the lower end. It means much, much more to provide for the family than just the financial necessities! It includes the spiritual, emotional, moral, and community qualities and attachments.
III. Disintegration: "disruption of an organized system." Relationships established to be life-long-unions are being broken up at an alarming rate! Look at the listing in the local newspaper at the divorce cases filed and the marriage licenses issued; they often seem to be about the same in number. Why? There are many problems, perhaps. However, the lack of performance, wrong ideas as to what is to be expected, and unwillingness to be realistic and apply the scriptures stand high, I believe, in the list of causes.
Some Guideline Facts
1. God created man and woman for each other, and they are to stay together for life, once joined (Rom. 7:3-4; 1 Cor. 7:10-11)!
2. Expectations relative to romantic love, as being an everlasting high-pitched, continuous experience is unrealistic, unachievable! Yet, such seems to be expected by many. When something less is experienced, they are willing to give up and give in, running after the "impossible dream," only to learn too late that such is unobtainable!
3. Failure to work out problems when they develop will lead to an unbearable situation. Every relationship will develop problems and, if not attended to, will lead to a disintegration of that relationship. So, it is happening in America, often among those who claim to be "Christians." At times, the rationalization following the disintegration is to the end: God would not expect us to do the impossible - to live together or to live apart, without mates for a life-time (cf. Matt. 19:3-9; Rom. 7:3-4; 1 Cor. 7:10-11).
4. Love is essential to a happy marriage; but love alone is inadequate to hold such together successfully.
Scriptural Solution: Love and appreciation for God and faith that He has set forth a plan that is workable and desirable. Determine to make it work in your case; refuse to give up or in (cf. Psa. 19:8; Jas. 1:21-25)! When a problem arises, as such is sure to do, ask, "What is God's will in this?" (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17; Mt. 7:21-27). When that will is determined from a study and search of the word, apply that immediately (Jn. 13:17; Eph. 6:10-18; Heb. 5:11-14; 6:lff)! Make any adjustments, not expecting the other to do all the changing and adjusting! Deal effectively and persistently, making your contribution to growth together in God's way!
Beloved, problems will arise in your family relationship as well as in every other. Yet, such can be solved, when God's word is examined, accepted, and applied (cf. Phil. 4:13; 3:13-16). Whatever your role in the family, it is to your advantage and benefit to make your contribution! Are you doing that?
Guardian of Truth XXV: 10, pp. 155-157
March 5, 1981