Bringing Up Children in the Lord (Part 2): The Home in Which Children are Raised

Bringing Up Children in the Lord

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…” (Genesis 1:27-28).

God’s plan from the beginning was for a man and a woman to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). By God’s design, the bringing forth of children would be carried out in marriage (Genesis 2:24). Unfortunately, this does not always work out – either through sin or tragedy – then single parents or other caretakers are left to do the best they can for the children. But the Scriptures emphasize marriage and the home. We must as well.

God’s Plan for Marriage

God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24). This was also to be a lifelong relationship. Notice what Jesus said when asked about divorce:

And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate’” (Matthew 19:4-6).

While the Pharisees wanted to emphasize the potential reasons for repudiating one’s mate, Jesus emphasized the permanency of marriage. Though He certainly gave an exception – fornication (Matthew 19:9) – He highlighted the rule: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6). “Marriage,” as God designed it, “is to be held in honor among all” (Hebrews 13:4).

In making marriage between a man and a woman, God also gave husbands and wives different roles in that relationship:

  • The husband is the head of the wife, the wife is the help meet – Paul told the Ephesians, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24). In the beginning, God gave Adam his wife to be “a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). The husband is the head of the household; the wife submits to him and supports him in his work.
  • The husband works to provide, the wife focuses on the home – After sin entered the world, God addressed Adam and Eve individually, highlighting the different roles they – and all couples who followed after them – would have in His plan. He spoke to Eve about her responsibility in bearing children (Genesis 3:16) and to Adam about his responsibility to work and provide for his family (Genesis 3:17-19). While men would be working outside of the home, Paul said that women were to be taught to be “workers at home” (Titus 2:5). For some people, the question will immediately come to mind: Does this mean that it is wrong for a woman to work outside the home? There is no specific prohibition against it. A woman can work outside of the home if she can do so without neglecting her God-given responsibilities. But we should not be so quick to defend the concept of working women that we ignore Paul’s instruction as if it were outdated. Priorities must be kept in order. Women are to be “workers at home” (Titus 2:5). Those who fail to fulfill their responsibilities in the home are wrong, whether they work outside the home or not.
  • The husband disciplines, the wife nurtures – This is also a point of one’s primary responsibility. In speaking of discipline in the home, the Hebrew writer said, “Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them…” (Hebrews 12:9). When Paul wrote to the brethren in Thessalonica and wanted to describe the care he showed them, he used the best example of a compassionate nurturer that he could – a mother. “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Mothers, by nature, tend to be more nurturing. Fathers are repeatedly described in God’s word as providing corrective discipline.

However, though they have different roles, the husband and wife both work together in raising children. Paul wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). When he gave qualifications regarding the care of certain widows, Paul said, “If she has brought up children…” (1 Timothy 5:10). Raising children is a challenging and important task. Both parents need to be involved!

Furthermore, the Lord’s intention is for children to be born to married couples. This becomes clear when we consider the Bible’s condemnation of fornication.

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

God designed us in such a way that children are conceived through sexual relations. This was how the first child was born: “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain” (Genesis 4:1). This is how children have been born since. Sexual relations are only authorized within the confines of marriage. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Sexual relations outside of marriage are condemned as fornication (1 Corinthians 6:16-18).

Given what the Scriptures teach about fornication and divorce, it is clear that God desires for children to be born to and raised by a mother and father who are married to one another.

The World’s Different Plans

When we look at the society in which we live, it is clear that many do not respect God’s word. As so many pervert God’s plan for marriage, they believe that their preferred alternate arrangements are just as beneficial for raising children. Notice some of the alternative home arrangements that the world has invented:

  • Same-sex “marriage” – Currently, there is a growing movement advocating for the acceptance and legalization of same-sex “marriage.” But regardless of popular opinion or human law, marriage is for man and woman (Matthew 19:4-5). Besides this, homosexuality is clearly condemned in the Bible as sin (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10). A home which has been established by a same-sex couple is not a suitable environment for the raising of children.
  • Polygamy – As homosexuality becomes more accepted, the next attack on the divinely-arranged institution of marriage will likely be polygamy. When Jesus quoted from Genesis 2:24, He made it clear that marriage is for one man and one woman: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). God does not authorized three, four, or more becoming “one flesh” – only two.
  • Divorce – We read in the book of Malachi that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Jesus condemned divorce for every cause but one – fornication (Matthew 19:9). Yet people divorce today for any number of reasons. Not only are they disregarding the words of Christ, but those who are parents are also disregarding the welfare of their children. When children are not raised by their mother and father, they suffer for it. Sometimes this is unavoidable because of some tragedy, but too often it occurs unnecessarily because one or both parents decided that their marriage was not to be “held in honor” as the Lord said it should be (Hebrews 13:4).
  • Living together unmarried – This is another common arrangement for households with children. Though both parents may be present, they are not married to one another. Such fornication is plainly condemned (Hebrews 13:4). This type of arrangement only encourages children to disregard God, His word, and His plan for the home as they observe the example of their unmarried parents.

With all of the above being so common in our society, it is often difficult to find those who truly respect God’s plan. As homes are corrupted and destroyed, children suffer as a result.

Besides all of the changes that man has made to the organization of the home, the world also places great emphasis upon sexual activity outside of marriage. This results in the high number of out-of-wedlock births in our society. This is not God’s plan (Hebrews 13:4)!

Even among those households that have children being raised by both their married mother and father, there are those who do not believe that there are distinct roles for men and women (we have already noted the differences). Many are offended at the idea of a husband being the head of the household (Ephesians 5:22-24), while others are offended by the concept of the wife focusing on domestic affairs (Titus 2:4-5) – even among Christians!

Why did God design the home to have a mother and a father raising children? It is not because of some sort of “affirmative action” style “fairness,” as if two women raising a child is unfair to men who would want to do that as well. No; rather, it is unfair to the children for adults to disregard God’s plan for the home. Notice what Paul told the Corinthians:

However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman” (1 Corinthians 11:11).

There is an important principle stated in that verse: Men and women need each other; they complement one another (Genesis 2:18). Children need a mother and a father. God designed men and women to be suited to the roles He gave them. It was not an accident, but purposed by Him.

The Parent/Child Relationship

Finally, what does the Bible teach about the nature of the parent/child relationship?

First, the parents’ job is not to be the child’s friend. Remember the words of the Hebrew writer: “We had earthly fathers to discipline us” (Hebrews 12:9). Such discipline “for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful” (Hebrews 12:11). Too many parents neglect discipline because they are afraid that their children will not like them for it. There is certainly nothing wrong with parents wanting to have a good relationship with their children, but parental responsibilities must be met.

Second, the parents’ job is not to be the child’s enemy. Paul told the brethren in Ephesus: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Parents are not to antagonize their children, provoking them to anger. Discipline, when it is dispensed, ought to be for the good of the child and should not be carried out in anger.

Third, the parents’ job is simply to be parents. That is what children need them to be. This important work must not be neglected. As we continue in this series, we will discuss more about how this is to be done.

Conclusion

God created the home in the beginning. By His design, the home is where children are to be raised. While there may be circumstances that arise – either through loss or sin – that result in other arrangements (single parents, other family members as caregivers, etc.), we must not lose sight of God’s plan and seek to follow it in bringing up children today.


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