THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY
From A Holiness Perspective
Below are several foundational scriptural principles upon which a Christian family must be based.
A Home Or Family Is Deliberately Built
“Through skillful and godly Wisdom is a house [a life, a home, a family] built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation]. And by knowledge shall the chambers [of its every area] be filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:3-4 Amplified). According to this scripture, a home or family is built. It does not just haphazardly happen, it is not accidental or coincidental—it must be deliberate built. It consists of builders—specifically two: a husband and wife.
Families that are not built upon the foundation of marriage are in trouble from the start. God can salvage them, because, thank God, He is in the salvage business, but that is not what He originally had in mind. He had in mind a married couple, man and wife, committed to the life-long project of building a home, with Him as the Head, according to His blueprint. Anything less is on shaky ground and will need extra help.
A Family Reflects On the Builders
From the Apostle Paul’s instruction to Timothy in the New Testament, we derive several important principles regarding the building of a godly home. Although it is given in reference to ministers, these same principles apply to all Christian homes:
“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim 3:1-7KJV).
The Christian's home life is very significant because it is a fairly accurate reflection of who we really are on the inside, down on the most basic level of human life. Our preaching, teaching, spiritual gifts, and beautiful exteriors may show the world how we are on Sunday at church, but our families show just what we are like on Monday through Saturday at home. Every weakness of character or doctrine will be unerringly reflected in some manner through our family members and their behavior. The way we are at home is actually the way we truly are, great gifts notwithstanding.
Thus, our family is a fairly true and accurate reflection of our doctrine, our wisdom (or lack of it), our every day beliefs, practices, and opinions. The family reflects the soundness and health of the relationship between husband and wife. Our family is a reflection of our own inner character because we pass down all our strengths and character flaws automatically, without even thinking.
Every weakness the husband and his wife possess is reflected in their family in some manner. Whatever qualities we are missing from our own character or convictions we cannot possibly pass down to our children, thus meaning that those qualities most likely will be missing in our children, too. A family is only as strong as the two people—man and wife—who create it.
A reflection never lies. It truly mirrors what actually exists. A family full of weaknesses is a sure indication of predominating weaknesses within both parents themselves. (It is never a one-sided affair.) By the same token, a family full of strengths is a sure indication of predominating strengths within the parents. Weak parents do not produce strong children, and truly strong parents do not produce weak children.
Often, parents refuse to believe that the embarrassing character flaws and weaknesses they see in their children or that exist in their families are direct results of some lack of character within themselves. Although the character flaws in the children may not always be exactly the same character flaws seen in the parents, they are still directly caused by some character flaw in the parents.
For example, because a child turns out to be rebellious does not necessarily mean that the parents also are rebellious, but it does mean that the parents had some character flaw (perhaps permissiveness, inability to express love, lack of wisdom, fear, lack of conviction, erroneous beliefs, inconsistency, etc.) that caused or allowed the child to become rebellious.
Or, because a daughter may turn out to be promiscuous does not mean that the parents themselves were promiscuous, but it does mean that the parents did something wrong or failed to do something right that caused or allowed the girl to grow up possessing a deep need and craving to look for love in all the wrong places.
Whatever the case may be, whether the parents want to admit it or not, a child with pronounced character weaknesses and behavior problems is still a reflection of something greatly wrong in the parents and the family itself. Children are unerring reflections and products of what they live.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
The main principle involved in building a home and raising children is the axiom that the input determines the output. What goes in is what comes out. In the computer industry, this is known as “garbage in, garbage out.” In the Bible it is known as the law of sowing and reaping: “Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be… mocked. For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap” (Galatians 6:7 Amp). And in another place, “Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships, (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character” (1 Corinthians 15:33 Amp).
If we read the complete passages around both of these scriptures, we will see that the principle is if we sow to the flesh, i.e., live and make family decisions according to what is most pleasant to or easiest for our flesh, we shall reap corruption, heartache, tragedy, and everything else associated with death. But if we sow to the Spirit, we shall reap good results and everything that is associated with life.
Thus, for example, if parents fail to discipline their children because they just can’t bear to make their children unhappy, this family will reap corruption—a group of uncontrollable, spoiled, and character-less children. Whatever we do, for any reason, that is not according to the spiritual principles of God’s wisdom and Word, is fleshly behavior that invariably leads to very negative results.
Children are what we parents make them or allow them to become. We keep emphasizing this point because too many of us parents create little monsters that we refuse to accept responsibility for. For sure, the child certainly did not make himself into a little monster, nor was he born that way.
There is no such thing as a “good” child or a “bad” child. We parents make them “good” or “bad.” But really, like pets (excuse this metaphor), they are either "trained" or "untrained" in the correct manner in which to conduct themselves. As ignorant little babies, they arrive here as semi-blank slates, possessing not much more than their basic personalities and their natural innate selfishness, on which we parents write messages every day in every way. What the children turn out to be is therefore the direct consequence of the following factors:
(1) Our own character strengths and weaknesses;
(2) Our own ability (or inability) to love;
(3) Our own consistency or inconsistency;
(4) Our own healthy marriage relationship (or lack of it);
(5) Our own wisdom or ignorance;
(6) Our own philosophies about child-raising, God, other people, and life in general;
(7) Our own personal habits and behavior modeled before the child;
(8) Our own treatment of the child and others in the family;
(9) Our own attitudes towards the child and others; and
(10) A myriad of other obvious and not-so-obvious factors we ourselves are ultimately responsible for.
Children are products of the environment the parents create or allow others to create. What we input or allow others to input into our children determines what our children will output. If we have a certain output that we desire from our family, then it is critical that we know exactly what kind of input is required and what kind of input must be avoided. The sobering truth is that we are completely responsible, even if we do not know what to do.
So, although God can forgive us for having unknowingly made a little monster, we parents still should admit that the whole thing is largely our own fault. “A child left to himself brings his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). The question is, why was he “left to himself,” i.e., allowed to grow up following his natural selfishness? How did he spend eighteen years in his parents’ home, under their daily tutelage, and still manage to remain unsaved, untrained, and undisciplined in character?
Train Up A Child In the Way He Should Go
Since output is determined by input, then great care must be taken regarding this input—what it is and how it is input. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). This passage contains two principles: (1) “Train up a child,” and (2) “In the way he should go.”
So first of all we must know what it means to train a child. Training is not merely teaching or talking or bringing them to Sunday School. Training means to mold and shape them until the behavior, attitudes, and character you desire becomes part of them.
Second, if we are going to train a child, we must have some idea of what is meant by the phrase, “in the way he should go.” Every child is trained into some type of behavior, but not all are trained in the way he should go. Most are trained in the way they should not go. So we need an idea of what is the right way and how to achieve it.
Last, there is the promise: “When he is old he will not depart from it…” This is a promise, and it can come true. Many Christian parents do not believe this, however, and will emphatically tell you so. They then point to dozens of people who supposedly trained their children in the right way, but whose children proceeded directly to mess up their lives and live far away from God. They offer this as proof that the scripture does not mean what it appears to say.
The Christian’s Family Should Be A Blessing To All
In Genesis 12:3 (KJV), God promised Abraham, "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Of course, this referred to Jesus Christ coming through Abraham's family, but a kernel of truth can be gleaned here that applies to all Christian families.
When God saves a father and a mother and they place themselves under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, He places a call on the lives of every member of the family. Both of the parents should be dedicated to making “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth” a reality, and the children should be keenly aware that they are involved in the same life purpose.
This is because the Christian's entire family should be a blessing to all around. A neighborhood with a Christian family in it ought to be a blessed neighborhood. A family practicing holiness and entire consecration to God should radiate love and spiritual benefits in various ways throughout the church and community. Every family member—parents and children—should be fully involved in some way with Kingdom building. They should all know and fully embrace the guiding motto every sanctified Christian must have: Ain't no business but God's business, and we are going to do it together.