Making God’s Plan Work in the Family

By Bill Hawkins

Trying to operate a divinely given relationship without following divinely given directions is never successful. Just as God has created the family relationship, He has also given rules in the Scriptures to regulate it. Many families today are either ignorant of them, or have chosen to ignore them, with the result being that their families are less happy and beneficial or completely wrecked.

The Family Is a Needed Relationship

When God said in Gen. 2:18, “it is not good that the man should be alone,” He surely could have made another sort of help meet for the man, but He chose to make woman. Then we learn from 1 Cor. 7:3-5 that both the wife and the husband are dependent upon one another for mutual needs. Since God has forbidden fornication and sanctified marriage (Heb. 13:4), He has by implication made the family the relationship in which children should be born, and has charged the parents with training them in His ways (Eph. 6:4). In this regard, most of us recognize that Timothy is a prime example of a Christian. Paul spoke on two occasions as though parental influence was a significant factor in making Timothy a Christian, speaking of “the faith which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice” (2 Tim. 1:5), and “from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures” (2 Tim. 3:15). In light of the human need for the family, is it any wonder that Satan is striving in his subtle ways to destroy it in our time by divorce, by “free love,” etc.?

Authority in the Family

Does any arrangement involving more than one person work as it should unless someone is in charge of it? We cannot expect the family to function properly without recognition by all members of the family that God has made the husband the head of the wife (Eph. 5:23-24) and both parents to be over the children (Eph. 6:1-2). It is not proper, according to worldly wisdom, for the wife to be in subjection to her husband, but it is the will of God. Neither is it proper, according to youthful Wisdom, for a child to submit to parents but it is according to God’s Word. This does not mean that the husband and father should do everything, but that the family is under his direction. He may give responsibilities to the wife in certain areas, and also to the children in like manner.

In spite of the fact that the Lord has made the parents to have authority over the children and commanded the child to obey the parents, we often see a kind of parental folly in these matters. I have never known a child who was completely, submissive on his own (while some certainly are more than others); this is something that parents must instill in them from birth without compromise. It does not take long for the parent to convince the young child by firmness that obedience to the parent is not only better, but also easier. This can never be done by foolishly allowing children to hit or fight back at the parents, to rail out disrespectfully, to argue with the child about whether he will obey, coaxing to obey, and other displays of weakness and compromise. Parents should certainly be willing to discuss matters of judgment and to be “reasoned with” by children but finally their judgment must prevail. After all, their age and experience is qualification enough for this and, as it has been said before, God’s way is for the parents to have the children not the children to have the parents. Parental folly sometimes occurs when one is persuaded by the Dr. Spock crowd that a child should not be whipped, or punished to obtain obedience. Not only will this system not work (look at society today), it also ignores Divine teaching. The American Standard New Testament renders Eph. 6:4 in this way; “and ye fathers provoke not your children unto wrath; but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.” Notice that chastening is part of bringing up a child. In Prov. 13:24, the wise man said, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

Benefits Accompanied by Responsibilities

The husband is charged to provide for the family’s physical needs (1 Tim. 5:8), to love his wife as his own self (Eph. 5:23), and to avoid harsh, unjust dealings with his children. Avoid being critical of everything and complimentary of nothing so as to provoke and discourage the child; calculate every action to bring the child closer to God (Eph. 6:4). According to Tit. 2:4-5 and 1 Tim. 5:14, wives are responsible to love their husbands and children, to be workers at home, and to guide the house by taking part in all phases of the child’s development. Many of today’s women are so deluded by the “glamor” of business, professional, and social activities that they neglect motherhood; there is no work more influential and important than that of a godly mother. The child’s responsibility is to submit to the parents’ efforts to bring them up in the ways of God and to understand why parents make decisions not popular to them.

Truth Magazine XIX: 29, p. 450
May 29, 1975