This month, the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association, of which I am a member, is hosting a challenge to bloggers. 4 topics to write about during the month of October. Unfortunately, I found out about it a little late, so I’m a bit delayed, but, nevertheless, I’m going to participate. This first topic is “Words and Wisdom From Family”.
To be honest, I’m a little stumped on this one. My wife and I are both the eldest children in our families, because of this, we didn’t have the benefit of older siblings to ask questions of. We got to muddle through dating, engagement, and marriage without the potential benefit of their experience. As well, we were the first of our peer group to get married, so we had no friends with which to talk about struggles within marriage, sexual or otherwise either. Nor can I remember a single sermon on the subject of sex, or even marriage while I was growing up, though it could be that I wasn’t listening.
And what advice we did get was very superficial, lacking substance or explanations on practical application. You hear the usual “Don’t go to bed angry”… but how do you do that? Do you just sweep it all under the rug? Do you ignore it? Do you stay up fighting all night until it’s resolved?
Another is “Happy wife, happy life”, which is not only superficial, but, in my opinion, dead wrong. This is perhaps some of the most destructive advice out there. Our job, as husbands, is not to make our wives happy, sorry ladies.
In fact, I think we both had a complete lack of training when it came to marriage, whether it be finances, communication, conflict resolution, sex, pregnancy, birthing, parenting. Each of these topics could be an entire blog, and yet, in many of our Christian denominations, churches, communities and families, none of these are discussed, or if they are, it is so shallow a discussion as to be meaningless. These topics should be woven into every day life, using every opportunity to raise our children, to teach them the skills they will need so that their marriage can be as smooth as possible.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Because one of our jobs, as Christians, is to help raise children in the church, our own and others, to be productive members of the body of Christ, to go out and win souls for Him. But when our marriages suffer, when we are more concerned about finances than faith, when we are wallowing in a sexless marriage or having endless fights with our spouse, then we are distracted from our true purpose here: to prepare ourselves, and others, for heaven. Do you know there are five times more verses in the Bible about finances and money than there are about prayer or faith? It’s almost as if God knew that finances were going to distract us, so he gave us as much information as possible in how to handle them. If only we would follow them. How many verses are there about sex, marriage or relationships? The entire book of Song of Solomon is devoted just to intimacy and is a wealth of information.
Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers or slaves to drink. They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, So that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children, To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited). In a similar way, urge the younger men to be self-restrained and to behave prudently [taking life seriously].
While there is a lot of instruction in this passage in Titus, I think often we miss the reason. Why are we to act in these ways? So that we will train the young. Both women and men (see that “in a similar way”?). We need to learn and to act appropriately, yes because it will help our own marriages, but also, because we have a responsibility to train up the next generation, and this is something I think we often overlook. Too often we “outsource” raising our kids in these topics to our churches, to our schools, to our pastors and elders. We say “they are better trained” or “more educated” or “it’s their job”.
Only take heed, and guard your life diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen and lest they depart from your [mind and] heart all the days of your life. Teach them to your children and your children’s children— Especially how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, the Lord said to me, Gather the people together to Me and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn [reverently] to fear Me all the days they live upon the earth and that they may teach their children.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Therefore you shall lay up these My words in your [minds and] hearts and in your [entire] being, and bind them for a sign upon your hands and as forehead bands between your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you rise up.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable (in instruction by numerous examples); I will utter dark sayings of old [that hide important truth]— Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but we will tell to the generation to come the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonderful works that He has performed. For He established a testimony (an express precept) in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, commanding our fathers that they should make [the great facts of God’s dealings with Israel] known to their children, That the generation to come might know them, that the children still to be born might arise and recount them to their children, That they might set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but might keep His commandments
Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, He said to them, Set your [minds and] hearts on all the words which I command you this day, that you may command them to your children, that they may be watchful to do all the words of this law. For it is not an empty and worthless trifle for you; it is your [very] life. By it you shall live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to possess.
I could list another dozen passages urging us to teach our children. Not for teachers to teach them in classes, but fathers and mothers, passing down information directly to their children. By teaching them, by modeling for them, by including them in their daily walk with God. I’m not saying don’t send your kids to church school or youth groups, but I am saying that it isn’t enough, and that you cannot shirk or abdicate your responsibility by outsourcing the spiritual development of your child to someone else, just because they are ordained, or have the right materials. No one is more qualified to parent your children, because no one has the unique relationship that you have with them.
And so, we must somehow strike a balance between these two: teaching our children at home, and teaching others in our community of believers. They both have to go hand in hand. When a child sees it modeled at home, in the kitchen, in the living room, during arguments and discussions, and yes, even when they see their parents door close when they turn in early at night; when they are being taught God’s principles, laws and edicts for our life at home, and when they see the same behaviour being modeled in our churches, in our member’s service to the community, in our church schools, youth groups, small groups hosted in homes, then, they will have a much better chance of not being distracted from their true purpose in life.
P.S. I had no plan for this post when I started. I just started writing, so if it seems a little unstructured, it’s because it is.