Summary: A study on raising godly children in marriage
Foundation Six: Raising Godly Children in Marriage
How do we raise godly children in marriage? One of the reasons God brings two people together in marriage is for the purpose of raising godly children, children who look like him. Malachi 2:15 says:
Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
But how is this accomplished? Obviously, the only perfect model of parenting is God the Father, and therefore, as we look at him and his Word, we can discern principles about raising godly children.
In Order to Raise Godly Children, Parents Must Model Godliness
In order to raise godly children, by necessity, parents must model godliness. Children often model the character of their parents. Listen to how Paul challenged Christians: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). He called them to imitate God, their father, as dear children and to live a life of love. As a parent, God is loving, righteous, holy, etc., and therefore, his children will in some ways reflect his character.
Similarly, parents must be people of character if they are going to raise godly children. Children raised in a loving home, by parents with character, typically mimic the virtues demonstrated by their parents. In contrast, parents who are not around, who lack self-control in their speech or with their anger, etc., produce the same character in their children. They won’t be able to cultivate righteousness in them. In fact, the hypocrisy will only lead them to rebel.
Consider how Paul challenged Timothy, the pastor of the church of Ephesus: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). Paul told Timothy to be careful about his doctrine (what he taught) and his life (how he lived), because if he did, he would save those who listened to him. Essentially, it could be said this way, “Timothy, if what you say doesn’t match your actions, you will destroy those who follow you.” And it is the same for parents. Many parents destroy their children because they have a speech that doesn’t match their actions. They tell their daughter, “Stop cursing” as expletives fly out of their mouth. They tell their son, “Control your anger!” as they scream at the top of their lungs. The dad tells the kids, “Stop fighting at school,” though he fights with mom at home all the time. In the same way, when parents teach their children to evangelize, serve the church, or care for the poor, but never practice these, then the children likewise will not practice them as well.
Parents who don’t model godliness will not be able to cultivate it in their children. And sadly for Christian parents, the consequences can be disastrous; many children fall away from God all together because of the hypocrisy seen in their homes. In order to raise godly children, parents must model godly character.
In Order to Raise Godly Children, Parents Must Train Their Children in God’s Word
In order for parents to raise godly children, they must not only demonstrate godly character but also teach them Scripture. This is how God the Father develops godliness in us. Ephesians 5:26 describes how Christ washes the church with the water of the Word to make her blameless and holy. Parents must do the same with their children.
Consider what the father, presumably Solomon, said to his son in Proverbs 2:1-13:
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways…