There seems to be no end to the
tide or severity of violence and immorality in our nation. Real acts of terrorism and
terroristic threats in our public school system are exceeded only by the violence
committed against our children in every other public arena. Even home is not a safe haven
for our children as criminals are bold enough to snatch children from their beds while
asleep or from their yards while they play (e.g., Danielle
van Dam abducted from her 2nd floor bedroom on Feb 1, 2002 in
San Diego, Calif. Evidence of her murder was found almost 3 weeks later
with a 50 year old neighbor two doors down from her house.)
Where are the advocates of our children and their future as a nation? The answer to this
question, or lack thereof, betrays the condition of the institutions of our nation
ordained by God to promote social order and justice. Our civil government wants you to
believe that it cares about our children (give us a Village!!) yet continues to fund the
murder of 1.5 million children a year. It has not only thrown off its godly heritage but
continues its 130-year war against the very foundations of our Constitution. The resulting
immorality, violence and lawlessness is paving the way for continued erosion of our
constitutional freedoms as a vocal support for the disarming the citizenry grows.
The Church in America has lost her way. As Keith Green sang some 20 years ago, she is
asleep in the light. Having succumbed to the modernist worldview, she stopped
building hospitals, orphanages, and universities 75 years ago and is now reaping the fruit
of her shift in theology: social irrelevance. Her only hope is for Jesus to come back soon
and rescue her from the mess. A whole generation sat in waiting and her only vision for
the next generation is for them to fill the seats of the previous generation.
In the midst of this chaos, the family is suffering from an identity crisis. Who can say
what the acceptable family norm will be tomorrow? For sure, the traditional family of
male-husband- provider/female-wife-homemaker/loyal-children-with hearts at home is looked
upon with scorn and disdain. While the average divorce rate is now 50% (in and out of the
Church), most have bought into an economic system that makes it almost impossible for the
wife not to work. The consequence of societys selling out is a trickle down effect
on the family. The wifes loyalty is split, the average number of children per
household has diminished to 1.7, and each family member develops their separate interests
and life schedule. No leadership. No vision. No expression of calling. No purpose. No
connection from one generation to the next.
Thus, we the people have thrown off the objective constitutional principles
that ruled our nation for nearly 100 years in exchange for a New World order. The Church
in America has thrown off the objective standards of Gods word in exchange for a
feminized, emotionalized, introverted, and self-centered form of religion that denies the
real power thereof. The family is left at the mercy of a power hungry state, a never
satisfied consumer oriented economy, an ever-threatening judicial system, and no where to
turn except into the relentless momentum of societal decay and perdition.
The breakdown of our social order, as personified by the breakdown of the various
institutions, can only be understood in terms of Gods hand of judgement against a
society who has abandoned His ordained standards of rule in exchange for nothing. Like
Eve, we have made covenant with the Devil. Accordingly, God, in His mercy, is driving us
from the garden.
It is the hope of rearing a generation that might make a significant difference in the
course of our nation that moves many of us to the crazy endeavors we find ourselves
engaged in, such as home schooling. While we may feel overwhelmingly hopeless in having
any impact on the course of the national government and may feel overwhelmingly helpless
with the course of the Church, many of us have determined that we can and will direct the
course of our smaller society, our family.
Godly leadership of our family requires godly government just as it does in the larger
societies of church and state. Government provides the expression of comprehension and
application of ones calling and destiny. It is the way people organize themselves in
order to fulfill a purpose. Accordingly, neither the purpose of man nor the standards by
which he organizes can be left to the discretion of man if he is to accomplish his
The best model of familial leadership is the rule and reign of Jesus Christ over His
Church. Just as Jesus is head over His Church, so the husband is head over his family.
Just as Jesus serves and loves the Church, so the husband is to serve and love his family.
From His example, as expressed by the Westminster Larger Catechism answer to question #45,
we can find at least six characteristics of godly leadership that apply directly to
parental leadership of the family.
Identity and Distinctiveness
First, Jesus calls a people out
of the mass of mankind to be a separate and peculiar people, holy, and set apart for the
glory of God. He does this by virtue of His covenant established with His Church and
expressed by the related sacraments of circumcision and Passover of the Old Testament and
baptism and the Lords supper of the New Testament.
One might consider the proliferation of youth gangs as a perversion of the God-given
desire to be identified with something larger than ourselves. While expressing the need
for identification, the fact that gangs organize under differing flags of colors and
symbols reveals the need to be distinct while a part of a larger group.
Our families should not only exhibit the characteristics of membership to the larger body
of Christ but should also exhibit qualities that are peculiar and distinctive to the
individual family. Distinctive qualities are going to develop within the family as the
members begin to express the callings and giftings of their Christian faith. For example,
when I think of certain families I automatically associate them with certain activities
such as chess, music, team sports, or hospitality. Other distinctives may be less evident
to outsiders as the family develops traditions connected with holidays, birthdays,
anniversaries, and travel.
The wise parent identifies and captures the distinctives and traditions of his family in
order to build within his children a sense of identity that is distinctively theirs and
centered around the family. By this the parent is then able to call his children out of
the norm of society that surrounds the family and into standards of behavior and ethics
that his family can recognize as uniquely theirs.
That is not to say that every family member must share the same interests, but it is the
challenge and duty of the parent to integrate the pursuits and likes of each member into
the family as a whole. It is to say that the hobbies and interests of individual family
members cannot dictate the life and schedule of the family. The more family members there
are the more important this becomes, especially as the family recognizes that resources of
time and money are limited. Therefore, the family is more efficient when the parents
direct the activities of the family members rather than allowing them to develop and
pursue interests individually.
Law and Order
Second, Jesus equips His Church
with officers, laws, and censures and, thereby, establishes law and order. In the family,
the husband serves as the head of his wife and, therefore, of the family. The husband is
commanded to love his wife, the wife is commanded to respect her husband, and the children
are commanded to honor both father and mother. Thus a hierarchical structure is
established as well as the underlying law that governs the life of the family.
As an officer of the family, the husband is responsible to establish, apply, and enforce
Gods law as objectively set forth in scripture. For some of us such a statement
sends chills of legalism up our spiritual spines. There has been so much more emphasis
placed on the God of grace at the expense of the God of law that one would think the two
are exclusive and contradictory. The fact is that every family has some sort of standard
of behavior established even if the accepted standard is no standard at all. The only
question is whose standard is in force. The only acceptable standard is Gods.
Good government is designed to promote order. Order and discipline are necessary elements
of successful home schooling. Accordingly, godly parents will establish laws of the home
that are objective, proactive in that they will produce the results desired by the
parents, and ones that can and will be consistently applied through time and for each of
the family members.
Laws that are objective are ones that transcend the parents. In other words, they are not
self-serving or arbitrary. They are set upon a foundation of objective values. When I
think of objective household laws I think of Greg Harris
21 Rules of This House. His list, found on more home schooling refrigerators than the
Commandments, serves as a standard of behavior that is known and agreed upon in advance.
Therefore, enforcement becomes a matter of social order in the house rather than emotional
reactions to circumstances encountered by the family.
Likewise, because the rules are in plain writing and agreed upon in advance, certain
behavior that would normally trigger emotional outbursts by the parents can be avoided all
together. That is what is meant by laws that are proactive. If the parents desire to have
a home where the children respect each other and do not pester or fight, that standard
should be established in advance and becomes a rule of the house. If it is violated the
offender is punished accordingly, no questions asked. Thus, planning and vision is a
requirement of the proactive parent.
Consistency in application and enforcement is an important aspect of law in the household.
Just as it was once held that no one is above the laws of our nation, so should it be that
no one is above the laws of the house. If it is against the laws of the house for the kids
to curse, spit, lie, pester, tease, and fight so it is to be for the parents. Application
and enforcement can then be routine and without prejudice.
The importance of objective laws consistently applied throughout the household becomes
more evident as our children reach the age of challenging the system. If the system wreaks
of inconsistencies and arbitrariness, the child will most likely jettison the system as
quickly as possible in lieu of another system. However, if the system is held up and
defended as one that transcends the parents and is evidenced by justice, the child is more
apt to recognize part or all of the system in their adult life.
Blessings and Curses
Third, Jesus rewards the
obedience of His people and corrects them for their sins. The family is the first place
that a person learns that there are consequences associated with obedience and
disobedience. Likewise, the family is the training ground for children in repentance and
Almost without exception, young children possess the desire to please their parents and
will conform to the standards of the family in the attempt to gain approval. Proactive
parents exploit this God-given desire, openly rewarding family members for obedience in
order to the established family standards.
A significant facet of Jesus leadership of His Church is that disobedience brings
more than just punishment. Disobedience is not merely punished, but rather, the punishment
is coupled with instruction and correction so as to bring forth change, or repentance, in
the child. In theological circles this process of the Holy Spirit is called
sanctification. In the family it is called child training. Discipline without corrective
instruction is more apt to result in anger and resentment. Absolutely parents are to
discipline and then correct, instruct, and model proper behavior.
It is true that standards of behavior are better when established on principles rather
than specific actions. Otherwise, the list of 21 will eventually envelop the refrigerator.
That is, respect of persons and property is the principle. Specific actions, such as
rolling eyes, violate the principle of respect. Accordingly, discipline should be
explained as violations of the principle and not just the specific incident. Rather than
telling the child he is being punished for rolling his eyes at you, he should be told that
he is being punished for disrespecting you as evidenced by the rolling of his eyes. This
is difficult for younger children who have yet to reach the age of abstract thinking, but
it is nonetheless an important aspect of training them to connect principles of
righteousness with right living.
Thus the 21 rules of the house can be reduced back to the original 10 Commandments of the
Bible and posted on the refrigerator for all to read and observe. In the above example,
the child learns that rolling ones eyes at parents is a violation of Gods 5th
law that commands children to honor their father and mother. Accordingly, he begins the
process of understanding and applying Gods law in a broader scope than most of us
were taught to do.
Discipline is not complete until the offender expresses sincere remorse for his behavior.
In our house, the offense is explained to the offender and punishment administered. The
offender is then expected to express his remorse to the one offended by acknowledging the
offensive behavior, expressing sorrow, and asking for forgiveness. If the child does not
seem sincerely sorrowful, we start over. If the offense includes damage to property,
restitution may be expected. The one offended is then expected to extend sincere
forgiveness to the offender.
Fairly quickly, the offense is behind everyone and life goes on. That is not to say that
there are not future consequences to be suffered for the offense. It depends on the
offense. However, the goal is to administer justice quickly, forgiveness asked for and
received, and have the offender quickly restored to fellowship in the family. That being
done, then the whole family can support and encourage the offender to work through
whatever further consequences lay ahead.
Maintain and Sustain
Fourth, Jesus maintains and
sustains His people in their temptations. It is unfortunate that families see the desire
to please and the willingness to conform wane in their children at an increasingly younger
age. Pressures to go ones own way, to disobey the rules, to conform to another
standard, to give ones heart to someone else, etc
. come against the family
members from many avenues.
It is the duty of the parents and in the best interest of the children to closely guard
and nurture their hearts. Alert parents recognize signs of pressure on their children to
conform to other standards. Influences most often come from age peers who introduce ideas
of dress, music, attitudes, and behavior that the child would not have been confronted
with in the home.
When behavior is exhibited that does not conform to the family standard (e.g., rolling
eyes in disrespect, failure to acknowledge verbally when given instructions, disrespectful
words to a sibling or parent) the parent determined to preserve his childs heart
will quickly and openly confront the behavior and guide their child to the right standard.
The difficulty for most parents is quick, consistent, and diligent confrontation of bad
behavior. Lets face it its a lot easier to ignore them or let it slide
this time. Its not as if nothing else is going on in our life except constantly
confronting the sinful nature of our children. The problem is that our children are not
mature enough or strong enough to battle their sin nature alone, nor should they have to.
Our children need parents who will faithfully sustain them in the battle against their own
evil desires. They cannot do it for themselves. There is no one else who is going to
sustain them in their times of weakness.
Often bad behavioral patterns have already set in before the parents notice the
childs turn to poor behavior. Those cases demand diligent perseverance with the
child as both parent and child work through the hard lessons of life. It is these times
that we pray and depend on the Holy Spirit to bring to fruition the years of biblical
instruction sown into the childs life at an early age.
Serve and Protect
Fifth, Jesus restrains and
overcomes all His peoples enemies. The best service a parent can give to his
children is to diligently restrain them from their natural tendency toward foolish
behavior. Foolishness is the number one enemy of our children. Foolishness is bound up in
the heart of every child and the godly parent is determined to drive it far from his
As if its not enough that there are dangers from within our childrens heart,
the multitude of enemies without, all striving for the life and allegiance of our
children, can be overwhelming. These enemies are apt to reside where we might least expect
it: The Christian novels we let our girls read, the earphones of the walkman we let our
boys listen to without supervision, under the mattress of our churchs deacon whose
son our son plays with, the home school and church youth group, etc
These and many
more work at a constant pace to gain the attention and allegiance of our family members,
sew seeds of discontentment and discord, and promote ideologies and philosophies that are
It is not that we can or should insulate and isolate our children from every potential
danger of the world or to presume that there is a demon lurking behind every tree. But it
is crucial for parents to realize and acknowledge that we are in a struggle purity
vs. evil for the very hearts of our children. As godly leaders of our household,
our family depends on us to recognize the dangers that entice our family toward ruin and
to respond to the enemy accordingly. Husbands, I cant say it strong enough: Our wife
and children DEPEND on us. It is our duty. There is no other. Godly parents cannot ignore,
abdicate, or deny their responsibility to protect their children. The stakes the
hearts of our children are too high to do so.
Planing and Vision
Finally, Jesus orders all things
for the good of His own. This may be a little difficult for a mortal man who is not
omniscient or omnipotent as is the case of our Lord. However, it is the duty of the
parents, with as much grace as the Lord provides them, to direct the interests and
activities of their children with some sort of goal or vision for the future.
We know of a family who, when their children were young, were concerned to see how easily
young people switched their allegiance from parents and family to outside peers. Our
friends, from their childrens early age, determined that it would be different with
their own children. They determined a strategy keep the kids so busy they
wont have the time or desire for things away from the family. Their means was
predominantly, though not exclusively, sports. The key difference for this family, I
believe, is that whatever activity was for the day, it was done as a family. If softball,
everybody played softball. If golf, most everyone was on the course. If chess, the whole
family was involved in the chess club. Their success to maintain the hearts of their
children into and through the teenage years should cause us to give their strategy serious
Too much of the Church has bought into the humanistic idea of a laissez faire, a
nonintervention, approach with their children. Let them drift mindlessly along and they
will eventually stumble across something that perks their interest. When that happens,
then jump in there and encourage them. Unfortunately, the child is more apt to choose an
unprofitable path than not. The result is wasted resources of time and money in a cause
that normally only serves to drive the heart of the child farther from the family.
Additionally, if the family has more than the average number of children, the parents soon
find themselves going in many different directions. The Bible assures us that a people
without knowledge, a vision, a word from God will perish. Praise God that is not how Jesus
rules His Church or should it be the way parents rule their family.
The war is raging at full force
and right at the front door of our homes. The spoils, the hearts of our children, lay in
the balance of parents whose vigilance, or lack thereof, to train the next generation for
battle determines the number of wounded, dead, and taken prisoner. Too many of the
Churchs youth have been taken without even a fight - POWs to a godless society with
no one even raising a complaint. Worse yet are the ones actually betrayed and given over
to the enemy by those who claim to be allies.
Other parents use isolation as the means of preserving their children. Isolation is
certainly a good strategy, obviously better than no strategy at all, and has produced a
large number of young people who have preserved purity of heart, mind, and body into the
young adult years. In addition, they have done so while gaining the maturity, wisdom, and
resistance that will give them the upper edge for staving off the attacks of the enemy who
strive to drive them in a different direction.
However, I believe parents will have to offer more than isolation if it is their desire to
see generations raised up who not only maintain integrity but actually advance against the
enemy, turning the wisdom of man into foolishness and taking thoughts captive to the
obedience of Jesus Christ. It will take parents who govern and rule their families,
calling their family out of the mediocrity of the world, establishing and modeling a
system of law and order that transcends mortal man, administering justice that exceeds the
wisdom of man, being attentive to the weaknesses of our family that we might encourage and
support them, being in their company battling with them against their enemies, and
imparting vision sharing our dreams with them that they might have hope for the
Families who have chosen home schooling have already chosen a radically different path of
child rearing. But for those who home school out of conviction, it is only the beginning.
The same convictions that caused us to look to home schooling also causes us to look at
other facets of our family and the way in which we respond to the world around us. They
are convictions that cause us to be concerned. They are convictions that cause us to
persevere. They are convictions that cause us to hope. Whatever else they may do, they
call us to vigilant attention to the high calling of representing Him in the care and
training of His children.