Summary: God gives Biblical guidelines for how we can have happy and successful homes.
Norman Wright describes four changes that have taken place in family life in recent years. One is the move toward a nuclear family. This is the mother, father and children. In the past, it was common for families to involve the extended members as well. The second change is the selection of the mate being left up to the individual. The mate at one time was selected for the person. Third, the parents are now desiring fluid rather than fixed roles. Finally, there has been a change in sexual morality, specifically the lack of it.
Without a doubt, the family structure for the most part has greatly departed from what God intended and still intends. The rate of failure in families is astounding. This leads us to enforce the belief that being a mother, father and family is a full-time thing. If the family is to be successful, it takes hard work like anything else.
Dr. Charles Shedd tells of one occasion when he was taking a plane to Los Angeles. Beside him was a young man who was reading about teenagers and the various scenes they are involved in, especially the drug scene. All of a sudden, he exclaimed; ’Oh, God-I wonder why? I suppose nobody knows. But if a father can make the difference, I sure want to make the difference.’ Here was a successful businessman concerned about the family. This is not to say that the responsibility for holding a family together lies solely with the father but rather it is a consolidated effort. An old African proverb says that it takes a whole village to raise a child.
When God first created the family, there was no problem, and no problems entered the picture until sin did. Since this time, various problems have plagued the family, and it seems as if the problems increase in intensity as the generations go by. There are several causes of these problems. Sin is the first. It is our sinful nature that causes men to be chauvinistic and treat women like servants. It is also sin that leads women to be feminists who want to throw off God’s design for the family. It is sin that leads children to chaff under the authority God has given to parents.
A second cause is the environment we live in. God has always intended that his people be distinct and separate from the world system. However, Christians are often drawn into the mold of the world rather than the other way around.
Then there is the influence of the humanistic society we live in. One has even stated; ’To free the child, we must do away with parenthood and marriage, we must settle for nothing less than the total elimination of the family.’ We must allow children the freedom to express themselves without restraint. Punishment and discipline hinder them from being able to do this. One of the goals of Marxist socialism is to free the children from the home and make them wards of the state. The following words are quoted from one who emigrated from what was Czechoslovakia to America: ’In Czechoslovakia the great majority of women work, and children are in kindergarten since several months of age. The impact on the family ties is horrible... The godless doctrine pumped into little children’s souls brought up the most cynical generation you can imagine. Most young people do not believe in anything, not even God...What scares me most is that the same process of liberation movement and jargon I heard twenty-five years and thirty years ago is happening right now in this country.’
Such a bleak picture, and yet Paul gives to us in these verses words of comfort. If we would heed the word of God, we would go a long way in building families that would be pleasing in the sight of God.
I. CHILDREN ARE TO BE SUBMISSIVE
In contrast to humanistic philosophy that would tell children to liberate themselves from parents and parents to liberate their children, is the instruction of God that children are to obey their parents. Such a philosophy has liberated children from traditional morals, values, punishment, parental and adult authority, patriotism, sexual restraint and a host of other things, but the word of God says we are to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and that the children are to obey the parents. Children and grandchildren are gifts from God, and we are to care for them with faithfulness and gratitude.
Paul begins this passage by addressing the children. This does not refer to merely young children but to all offspring, regardless of the age. The instruction is simple: they are to obey their parents. Not only are they to obey their parents but they are also to honor them. The obedience has to do with action while the honor has to do with attitude. We understand that it is possible to do the first without doing the second.