Vol. 3, No. 2 Page 9 February, 2001
I have been blessed to live a relatively calm and stable life upon this earth thus far. Of course, there have been some critical moments to come and go, but nothing that the Lord and I could not handle. With any crisis that has come my way, there has been the accompanying knowledge that there are others whose situation is far worse than my own. Life can present the following picture:
For long enough, life can go on rather smoothly. The sunny days far outnumber the dark and dreary ones. The road is pleasantly level. There is no effort beyond our power. There are no sorrows too great for us to bear. There are no agonizing struggles with evil. We can cope.
Then, all of a sudden things go wrong. Tragedy strikes the dearest on earth to us, and there comes a demand for an effort that we may well think is beyond us (Cf., 1 Corinthians 10:13). There comes an illness or a breakdown, which lays us low. The sun sets at midday and we find that life becomes nearly unbearable.
In that moment many turn to God, because, as Abraham Lincoln said, "there is no place else to go." But it will make all the difference in that moment if a Christian has been faithful to Christ through the years. He does not turn to the Lord as a last resort. He is able to seek refuge, not as a stranger, but as a familiar friend. The more closely we walk with the Lord, the easier it is to call on him when things go wrong. He is never far away.
An issue of U. S. News & World Report (February 27, 1995) revealed the appalling state of fatherhood in America in the 1990's. It states that "Nearly 2 of every 5 kids in America do not live with their fathers" (p. 39). "...[A]n astonishing 38 percent of all kids now live without their biological fathers - up from just 17.5 percent in 1960" (p. 39). "More than half of today's children will spend at least a part of childhood without a father" (p. 39). "Only 51 percent of kids still live with both biological parents" (p. 39).
Have people sorely second-guessed the importance of stable, two-parent families? Consider these remarks from the same U. S. News article: "Studies have shown that only 43 percent of state prison inmates grew up with both parents and that a missing father is a better predictor of criminal activity than race or poverty" (p. 39). "The absence of fathers is linked to most social nightmares - from boys with guns to girls with babies" (p. 39).
These frightful statistics and statements point up the fact that men have left God's way for the home and family. Some recognize that there really is a problem and they are trying to fix it in their own way. There are scores of grassroots organizations all over the country trying to reconnect fathers with their children. I am sure that these organizations are good and have their place, but the only way back to healing the broken family structure in this country is for men to return to God's way for the family. The deteriorating condition of the home will not improve until the father assumes his rightful place in the home!
In this connection, a few basic and fundamental facts are worth repeating. First, marriage and the home are of divine design, origin and purpose (Genesis 2). Second, marriage is intended to bless all mankind (Proverbs 18:22). Third, immorality (fornication, adultery) is always wrong (Hebrews 13:4). Fourth, the sanctity of marriage must be respected (Matthew 19:3-9).
In God's scheme of things, the man is the leader in the home (Ephesians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:18). It is regrettable that this arrangement does not please everybody in our world today. This teaching does not please those men who are no good (devoid of morals, principles and character), and abandon their families (wife, children); otherwise known as "dead-beat dads." This teaching does not please those weak men who will not shoulder their responsibilities as leaders and providers in the home. This teaching does not please those women who have imbibed the modern feminist mystique. This teaching does not please those distorted misfits who promote a unisex society, where men and women have no distinctive roles which belong primarily to them.
The man has the primary role of providing for the home both materially and spiritually. Paul said, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Timothy 5:8). The word "provide" means, "taking thought in advance" (Genesis 22:8; Romans 12:17). Parents have the responsibility of providing for their children such things as life's necessities (food, shelter, clothing), a good education and above all spiritual nourishment and development (Ephesians 6:4).
There is more to being a good provider than simply providing for the material needs of a family (Luke 12:15). It seems that many men are able to do this well enough, but will not provide the greatest needs a family has, such as guidance, love, discipline and example (Proverbs 17:6). Many a man is happy to have absolutely nothing to do with the spiritual development of his children by leaving it all up to his wife. In so doing, he is wrong in not assuming that which is his God-given responsibility (Ephesians 6:4).
We tend to think of providing as meaning the same as bringing home a paycheck. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The most important provision goes beyond what money can buy. Have we all but forgotten Paul's words to Timothy and Titus? "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house; give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully" (1 Timothy 5:14), and, "The aged women likewise...That they teach the younger women...To be discrete, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Titus 2:3-5). Are these words anachronistic to our lives today and no longer worthy of a place in God's counsel in our lives?
The woman plays a dual role in relationship to her husband. First, she is the wife of his youth. Second, she is the mother of his children. Her work at home is so important, and seems to go unnoticed by many. Thankfully, there are still some women who want to fulfill God's plan that they "guide the house," but, society heaps such disgrace upon them they are discouraged in the task. How encouraging must have been the words of one observant sister to a preacher's wife (a homemaker), when she wrote,
Your works have not gone unnoticed. _______ is out with his work, but you are home making it possible for him to go...So many young women are happy to turn the rearing of their children over to anyone who will do it for them. They are on your feet now but just a little while, they fly out on their own...I look at you and see my mother...She was always home. It meant so much to us.
Some wives have taken control of the home and the spiritual direction of the children because the husband will not act as leader and provider in the home as he should. This is not what God intended for the home and family. Adam Clark expressed it well when he quoted Francis Quarles, who said,
Ill thrives that hapless family that shows,
A cock that's silent and a hen that crows:
I know not which live most unnatural lives;
Obeying husbands, or commanding wives.
(Clarke's Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 463).
For the family to return to God's pattern many fathers are going to have to return to their divinely designed role as leader and provider. Government with its programs cannot heal the breach; neither can grassroots organizations bind up the wounded and bleeding family structure. Men simply must return to God's will for men as leaders and providers at home. It's the only way back.