There are many things this generation will feel is old fashioned in this book, naming this chapter Christian families probably helps it top the list. The relationships in families have changed very drastically in the last thirty years, much less the total change from when God created us. Yet within all these worldly changes Godís plan is still the same, He would have marriage and children within the confines of a Christian home. This may be hard to do as divorce and sexual promiscuity have made single parent homes become a normal situation. Many two parent homes now skimp on family time by chasing all the goodies that can make their life worthwhile. In order to afford these goodies family life must hit the fast lane. Both parents must have jobs while at the same time trying to raise a family by juggling schedules, shuffling children, trying to find time to bring their children to all those special activities, sports, and social events. It makes one tired just thinking about the pace, the problem of fitting the Christian lifestyle into the modern era. We are not going to even try and solve this problem, but merely explain what the Lord would have us do. Each will have to look in their own hearts to see what is important, how to manage your family so the Lord draws top billing.
I guess one should start with the children. Every child should know they are special, special because of the love they receive from mommy, daddy, and the rest of the family, but more important they are special because they are children of Jesus. Jesus wants the little ones to know and love Him as He dearly loves them. Jesus would have little children talk with Him in prayer, asking Him for help and comfort, thanking Him for all the blessings He has given them, and just visiting with their best friend. Jesus would have children love and respect their parents, the extended family members, all those in authority over them, and the elderly. Children should help out with the chores to keep the household running smoothly. They should be encouraged to work to earn some of the things they want, while learning the value of saving some of their hard earned money, and to give to Jesus by helping others who are not as fortunate. There is a special feeling when they know they have helped another boy or girl their age have enough to eat, enough to survive on.
As children grow up social pressures start entering into their lives. The world has a weird balance of expectations for the younger generation. Expecting them to be fully able to handle all the adult sexuality and violence thrown at them, expecting them to win, be number one at any cost, and giving them the expectation of instant gratification by overindulging them. Children can no longer just be children. Younger children are now imitating sexuality beyond their years while their parents and older peers think it is cute. Tie that with all the violence that is glorified in the movie and television world and you have a child absorbing what society is trying to avoid. When instant gratification is learned you have a child that is bored unless entertained, never learning to read or use oneís imagination to have fun. When the responsibilities of chores, work, study, manners, or learning about Jesus are discussed, many feel children are being pushed or asked to do what is beyond their capabilities, they are only children let them grow up. We have our priorities completely reversed, partly because we choose the easier path of fun when interacting with our children, partly because we try and give our children too much, that which we did not have in our youth, and partly because we forget the greatest gift we can give them is our time, quality Christian family time.
Then we come to the stage where boys and girls become young men and women. Where fathers go off to oil their shotguns and mothers wonder if and when they should help their daughters get birth control. Now the government has made that a little easier allowing birth control to be given to young adults, without parental knowledge. The hormone race is on. In todayís sex crazed world many show what they have, letting all see their sexual potential in the skimpy outfits they wear. The trouble is you get what you see, and then discover its all been shown to you and there is no more. When the sexual fire burns out, one goes looking for another fire trying to sustain the gratification of sex, for nothing else is present in these relationships. A Christian relationship is different. Our Lord would have us dress modestly, and be modest in spirit as well. Simplicity and modesty lets oneís inner beauty shine out. Love is not just receiving sexual pleasure. Love is not bold, brazen, or boisterous. Love is truthful, modest, quiet. Love is more worried about others than oneself. Love finds more joy in giving than receiving. Love is always helping the other spouse out through tough times, when they are down, bringing problems to Jesus who alone can solve them. There was good reason in the past for having to get parental permission, when a girl would not marry without her parents consent. This allowed maturity to overlook hormones, made sure there were common beliefs, made the couple part of a larger extended family with the same goals, attitudes, beliefs. This will never come back, but it would sure cut down on the divorce rate. The point being that a lasting relationship needs friendship, mutual respect, common beliefs and goals as well as love to hold it together. That in marriage a man and wife join together under Christ in a life long union. Giving love through marriage means giving your spouse all the love you have, knowing it will be you and your spouse forever under Christ. Giving all the sexual favors you have, knowing your spouse desires to give you back even more out of love for you. Knowing there will never be another for either of you, for you have each other and with the Lord leading you that is more than sufficient. When you give totally of yourself out of love with one who gives and feels the same way about you, you have defined the correct meaning of making love. Always aware of all the sexual snares in the world. Each spouse giving freely of themselves to the other so there is no void to be tempted, no lust to be sought. For in marriage there is no his or hers, but one in Christ, working to stay in His love, His will.
When man and woman are joined together through marriage with Jesus as the head they are a new unit, a different being. Woman is part of the man, and man is part of the woman, they are not separate beings. The Christian woman is to submit to her Christian husband, in all God pleasing things, as the church submits to Christ. The Christian husband is to love his Christian wife as Christ loved the church. Christ gave His life for the church, Christ loves, takes care of, and does all He can do, His very best for the church. God gave the same obligation to man, to give his life for his wife, to take care of her, and to do all he can to keep her in the Lord. When you love your spouse you love yourself, when you fight with your spouse you are only fighting with your self. For you are one in Christ, an extension of each other. An extension but also a difference, for God not only created man and woman different physically but also emotionally, with different needs, different desires. God made man and woman to compliment each other, to balance each other, not mimic each other, not to compete with each other to see who is best. For two fighting or competing with each other can never accomplish what two working together as one can do. There is no brotherhood or sisterhood in marriage, only a man and a woman working as one, being as one, living as one, loving as one.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby carriage. Donít we all wish it were this way. The number of babies born out of wedlock is staggering. Add all those out of divorced single parent families and there are a lot of children that can use some extra love. But letís not get on a tirade about that which we cannot change. There are a lot of single parents and young children that need help. Jesus treated little children special and would have us do the same. We must all help these children. There are many retired people that are looking to take it easy over their last years. Look into some of these kidsí eyes. They need your love, time, and patience. The Lord never promised us an easy time on earth. He is planning a very special retirement for us when we arrive in Heaven. Jesus wants you to help and bring these children to Him, whether you do it through the church or on your own. Jesus also needs big brothers and big sisters to lead these children to Him. While we wish there were not all of these children to help care for remember this, man is now killing these babes before they are born because they are unwanted. How anyone could kill these precious gifts of God is a wonder. That any Christian could believe Jesus would not want any of these to be born and sing praises to Him is unbelievable. There are Christian couples waiting to love and adopt these children. Those that let a Christian couple adopt their child are showing Christís love, for they love their child more than they love their own selfish desires. Christ put special punishments upon anyone that would take His children from His care or hurt them. Jesus expects all to raise children in His love, whether we be parents, extended family, or any part of the Christian family.
There are also those parents that become parents by proxy. They have such busy schedules or careers that they hire someone else to raise their children. Often they give strict instructions to nannies, teachers, instructors, and any other taking care of their child. They know how their child should be raised. Now if they could just fine some decent help and teachers, instead of all these idiots who are just after the wages, one might be able to raise their child properly. When any problem arises it is because their instructions were not followed, for with their expertise and their childís superior capabilities what else could it be? They never consider that a child needs a parentís love, affection, patience, time when there is no rush, and most important of all quiet time with the family to grow in the Lord. When you have children the Lord puts a big responsibility on the parentís shoulders, to love and nurture the children, bringing them into the Lordís fold. Christ also expects no less from the extended family and church families, as He wants all children safe in His tender arms.
Women have made giant strides in gaining equality with men. There are many places they have deservedly received their due. But not all of womenís lifestyle changes are for the good. Women have learned all the aggressive and obnoxious behaviors that were once the predominance of man. Women have also accepted manís bad trait of putting their career ahead of everything else. Many travel this road and when they reach the pinnacle find nothing, others are on this road and havenít looked to see what they are leaving behind, that there is something more important in life. That living and being part of a Christian environment will fill your soul to overflowing with happiness, joy, love, satisfaction, and peace, if you will only slow down and be part of it, let it be part of your life. That others enjoy spending time with you, and through the Christian family you receive quality time, love, help and security to stay with the Lord.
Women have been given a very special gift from God. To have our dear children, to be able to love, nourish, nurture this miracle of new life. The husband should help out all he can, available to spend quality time with his children, set the agenda for them to learn about our Savior, but it is the woman with her unique God given ability to bond with children that sets the tone for the child. This is true not only in the home but in our schools where women do a much better job starting all the primary grade children on their paths. Just as man is head of the family under Christ, so would Christ have man be head of the church under our Lord. Not to rule over the church , but to be a servant in leading the church in Christís commands. While God gives man this unique role, women also have many unique roles, including her gift with children. Jesus told us that unless we were like little children we could not enter the kingdom of Heaven. We should show the little ones to Jesus while they have the child like trust needed to accept Him. Although man can help, no one has the ability to bond and connect with the little ones as their mothers and extended mothers in Christ do. Some women feel they have the ability to lead and should not be under men. In a worldly sense this is probably true, but we do not always understand all of Godís ways, and all will never seem fair to us. What we do know is this, in Godís Kingdom there will be no greater glory or blessings given than to those who bring the little ones to the Lord. The greatest in Heaven will be those who humble themselves like little children and serve the Lord. God has given woman the chance to receive the greatest blessings in Heaven. There is no greater opportunity in life
There are many modern lifestyles that do not fit into the morals our Lord would have us live by. Lifestyles that depend on the gratification of sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, incest, pedophilia, drugs, alcoholism, gambling, or any other activity that we put more importance on than our Lord. These are all sins, for God has commanded us not to do them. There is no large or small sin, for all sin will separate you from God. Some of these sins are physical as well as mental addictions, but it makes no difference. We must overcome sin no matter how much work is involved, no matter how painful the struggle.
The trouble is man thinks he is giving away too much, that one is giving up oneís identity, who they are, that their body will not let them act different. Man is trying to go around what God would have us do by labeling it old fashioned, using worldly support of political correctness and believing he is not responsible for his human cravings, especially if they hurt no one else. But as you look at these lifestyles they all count on something else than Jesus for all of their needs. Something besides Jesus to give them the satisfaction, release, pleasure, and cravings their bodies are seeking. They need something else to give them a complete life. There is something they will not give up for Jesus, for something else is more important to them. When we go through the Christian church, we go through Christ for our needs. When we go through marriage we go through Christ for He is head of the union. But when we go through sex outside of marriage, when we go through homosexuality, when we go through alcoholism, or any other human addiction or cravings we only go through only our own bodies for self gratification, Christ in not there. Christ is only available to help us break the hold of these sins, breaking the bonds of Satan, taking us back into our Christian lifestyle.
There are many struggles and trials we must face in our life. Some of them will be harder than others, and each of us will receive different trials. We may have trials of the sinful desires in the paragraph above, some medical struggles that hold us down, emotional battles, financial problems, or just irritating little annoyances that get under our skin. But we will all have difficulties and temptations that we have to overcome. We all have our weak spots to temptation and the devil knows exactly which buttons to press. Some trials are hard for man to recognize. Jesus said one of the biggest handicaps to overcome is being rich. It is very hard for rich people to give up the security of wealth and imagine themselves having nothing, trusting only in Jesus for all their needs. God doesnít tempt us or put difficulties in our life, but He allows them to happen, promising never to burden us with more than we can overcome with Christís help. God doesnít let this happen to tear us down, but to build us up, to strengthen our faith as Jesus continually helps us win over temptation. Our faith gets stronger and stronger for we know that with Jesus at our side we can overcome anything. These trials teach us how to listen to Jesus, to follow what He would have us do, to pray knowing that He will always listen. We must accept our Saviorís answer even though it may change us to be happy what we have, instead of getting what we want. Then let Jesus mold us into the Christian He would have us be under His great master plan for families and lifestyles.