Lets face it, some families are dysfunctional; that means that they are essentially not functioning properly; that means that they accept as truth the opposite of what a family should be. Nevertheless, even good parents are not exempt from messing up; every “good” parent will do and say the wrong thing soon or later. It should not surprise anybody, we as humans are spirit, soul and flesh; that flesh in particular does not go away just because you are now a parent. You can read all the books you want and take all the classes you want, you will still do and say the wrong thing every now and then.
In the complexity of parenthood, part of the problem is that, to start, many of us do not know our biblical role as parents. That reality becomes a foundational problem that will indeed mess-up everything else. I am glad that the Bible is not silent about this topic; the Bible has much to say about parenthood.
Now, this doing and saying the wrong thing will cause pain and only two things will help us overcome such pain, 1) love, knowing in your heart that your parents loves you and knowing that you love them and, 2) when you yourself become a parent and you, just like your old folks, attempt to be a “good” parent; then you realize that it is not easy!
Love should be at the center of families. Outside of crazy folks, people love their families; they want the best for their kids and they look out for them in their own way. But lets go a little further on this topic.
Let me start the heart of this article by stating that what I am about to say may sound weird, but biblically speaking, marriage is overrated, but family is not. If you don’t believe me when I say that marriage is overrated, take a moment and read First Corinthians 7 where the apostle Paul give us the reality of marriage over and over. Now, he is not advocating fornication and extramarital sexual activities and so on. Again, he is just presenting a real perspective of what marriage really is and what we will be facing.
In First Corinthians 7:28 the Apostle Paul goes as far as saying: “But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.” (NKJV) Nothing will make your flesh rise more than marriage! If you have been marry for more than a week, you know exactly what I am talking about.
In the Old Testament marriage had a few purposes, 1) for the multiplication of God’s people. God told both, Adam and later Noah, to multiply. 2) Marriage was important to preserve the children of Israel from the moral contamination of the world. That is why they were not supposed to marry outside of their own people. It was not a racist thing; it was with the purpose of keeping them holy and 3) It was very important to protect the genealogy of Jesus. Is it amazing that the genealogy of Christ is recorded all the way from Adam?
The worldly romantic ideas of marriage are not found in the Bible. As a matter of fact, parents were the ones determining whom their children were to marry. However, when it comes down to family, from the Old to the New Testament, family plays a vital role for our formation as Godly people.
Let me make a biblical point concerning the New Testament. Not caring for our families is consider worst than being a lost person according to First Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (NKJV) This verse alone should get our attention, but my focus is going to be on a portion of Scripture in the Old Testament. Abraham was chosen to be the father of the nation of Israel and the father of our faith because his commitment to family. Genesis 18:17-19 tells us,
And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (KJV)
God knew that Abraham was committed to teach the way of the Lord to his family. Can He say the same about you? Can He say the same about me? The way of the Lord is about teaching our kids justice and judgment according to God, not according to our opinion, our culture, the way we grew up, etc. Now lets look at three words on verse 19 in order to get a better understanding of what our responsibilities as fathers are:
- Command: From the Hebrew word, ṣāwāh: “A verb meaning to order, to direct, to appoint, to command, to charge, to be ordered, to be commanded.” This is so different from many liberal parents today who seem to let the children be in charge.
- Justice: Is the Hebrew word ṣeḏāqāh that speaks of “righteousness (What God accept as right), speaks of blameless conduct, and integrity; right actions, and right attitudes, as expected from both God and people when they judge.” This is a very practical definition because it deals with teaching our kids to act like they have some Godly sense.
- Judgment: From the Hebrew word mišpāṭ meaning, “A judgment, a legal decision, a legal case, a claim, proper, rectitude. The word connotes several variations in meanings depending on the context. It is used to describe a legal decision or judgment rendered: it describes a legal decision given by God to be followed by the people.” This could sound complicated, but it is not. This is about parents teaching their children proper decision-making based on God’s Word and not base on their own.
So, in the mix of our humanity, in the mix of dealing with our flesh through our marriages and in the mix of our mistakes and shortcomings, as fathers these are our vital responsibilities: “to command our children to act like they have Godly sense and to obey HIM.” Wow! This is a personal revelation even as I write these words!
For those who still don’t get it or don’t know how to start, God did not leave us without a system to follow. Deuteronomy 11:18-21 tells us exactly what to do and the promise attached to doing this,
18 “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. (NKJV)
We should have family devotionals; we should gather as brothers and sisters with other believers, but as parents, in our daily lives and daily routine we should be parenting. These parents that are always running, running and running and act like their kids soccer team, basketball practice, track competition or whatever else may be, is more important than God’s Word, are going to reap what they are sowing right now.
Families that never have time for meaningful conversations are lost in their own busyness; the devil have you in his hands by keeping you so busy that you don’t have time to teach anything of value to your kids. You don’t have time to command them and teach them to act like they have Godly sense and to obey God.
When you sit in your house, your children and you are on your phones; not even in the same room. We are all rushing in the morning, so no time to teach anything there. No time to take a walk and speak about the issues of the heart because you get off late from work and the children are involved in a million extracurricular activities. No time to teach when we lie down, because then we are so exhausted that all we want is to be entertained, watch TV, be on the phone, Facebook, etc. until we just fall asleep. The next day we will do it all over again until one day we realize that we never prioritized what was really important, “to command our children to act like they have Godly sense and to obey God.”
Whatever else we did, follow our career, even ministry, focus on whatever else, while failing to do what God tells us to do as fathers, will come back to hurt us and our children.
Now, understand that I am with you on this struggle. I have been working so hard to build a nice barbecue/garden area for us, as a family, to enjoy good food as we gather around the grill and engage in these conversations, but I have to tell you that I have totally fail in that aspect. Kids come grab their burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings or whatever else I have on the grill and inside the house they go, back to their phones and back to their worlds. I have had to force the issue and define the word “cookout”. It is frustrating to me as much as it may be for you, but I still press on, even as, at times, I feel like giving up. It does not happen to me too often, just 7 days out of the week and 365 days out of the year!
But I finish with these words and in them I find hope, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) My job as a dad is to train my kids; train them in what? In the justice and judgment of God! If you have been a coach on any sport you know that they don’t get it right away, it takes time, but what a great feeling when you see things coming together on that athlete. I find hope in knowing that if I don’t quit, one day I will see things coming together in my own children and if you don’t quit, you will be able to see it coming together in yours to.