Has The Nuclear Family Bombed?
Being a Parent Your Child Can Honor
Why did God give us families?
Some people reading this “Digging Deeper” study will remember an incident that took place in the 1990s when Vice President Dan Quayle was speaking to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Speaking about the rise in crime and the terrible disintegration of the home, he mentioned the problem of absentee fathers. Within that address he made a statement—almost as an aside—but it created a firestorm in the media. He became the object of ridicule on late-night television and in the press. What in the world, you ask, did he say? Here is the sentence causing the uproar:
“Prime time television has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid, professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it another lifestyle choice.”
That’s all he said.
The media erupted.
Today, 20 years later, whenever Dan Quayle is mentioned, celebrities and journalists mock…and remind the audience of what came to be known as “the Murphy Brown incident.”
Why it should ever have been an “incident” is a matter for another day. But in this study we ask, “Was Vice President Quayle incorrect? Are intact, two-parent homes unnecessary?”
We have two decades of further evidence of crumbling families. When the home begins to decay, it follows as night follows day, the nation begins to decay.
Why did God give us families? Was it a quaint idea for another time? Or has God established the family?
1. Turn to Psalm 68. Read verse 6:
“God ___________ the ____________ in _____________….” Psalm 68:6
God had many other options available. He could have set the solitary in communes, in villages, or in guilds grouped according to their talents and skill sets. God is infinitely creative—there are no limits on His designs! With those limitless possibilities, God nevertheless chose to set the crown of His creation—men and women made in His image—in families.
That fact alone tells us how important the family unit is to God. It is His pattern.
2. Turn to Exodus 20:12:
____________ thy ____________ and thy _____________that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
3. Turn now to Ephesians 6:2-3. The apostle Paul affirms:
Honor thy father and mother; which is the _________ commandment with _______________; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
Let’s begin with this rather obvious (though perhaps not to some) established fact:
God created the nuclear family and structured it with a mother, father, and children.
Yet it’s under far greater attack today than twenty years ago. Dan Quayle’s observation opposed the values of Hollywood—values they continue to push.
A CLOSER LOOK AT WHO’S COERCING WHO
Those who write our culture’s songs and make its movies say, “These
evangelical Christians are trying to cram their values down the throats
of other people.” My thoughts are, “Who is it who’s attempting to
redefine when life begins? Or redefine marriage? Who has changed the
way Americans think about premarital sex? Who tells us what is decent
and indecent? Who wants to decide who may live and who dies? Who wants
to restrict when—and where—you are permitted to pray? These are the
ones who are trying to remold and remake society in their own image.
This month’s “Digging Deeper” looks at the verse “Honor your parents” (Ex. 20:12) from the inside out: not how to honor your father and mother, but how to be the kind of father and mother worthy of honor, so that your children will honor you.
You strengthen the foundations of your family by being the kind of parent your children can respect, honor, and whose leadership they will follow.
4. If your children honor their parents, what benefit might they reap?
(“That your _________ may be __________ upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” —Exodus 20:12.)
First, Let’s Establish 5 Truths:
(1) Whether a parent is deemed “worthy” or not, there’s a sense in which all children ought to honor their parents. (But how much better when we live honorable lives before them.)(2) You cannot guarantee the way your children will turn out. Some parents have almost gone to an early grave because they’ve had a wayward child. They prayed, sacrificed, loved, and taught, and that child has gone into a rebellious lifestyle. Then some well-meaning zealot takes Proverbs 22:6 and beats them over the head with it: “Doesn’t the Bible say train up a child in the way he should go and when he’s old he’ll not depart from it?”
A CLOSER LOOK: A PROVERB IS NOT A PROMISEThere is a difference between a proverb and a promise. If you try to turn the book of Proverbs into promises, you’ll lose your faith. When you understand the Bible correctly, you see that a proverb is a proverb. A promise is a promise. A precept is a precept. A parable is a parable. A prophecy is a prophecy. Proverbs are principles, not lead-pipe-cinch guarantees.
Some proverbs tell you the way to be wealthy. Does that mean everybody who follows them will be wealthy? Then why are there godly people who are not wealthy? A proverb is a general principle, generally applied, which brings a general result. It’s a short sentence based on long experience. We use earthly proverbs like “Early to bed and early to rise will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise,” but you might follow this faithfully and never become rich. It is a principle, not a promise.
(3) God gave your child a will. God had two children in the Garden of Eden, and they didn’t turn out too well. Why? Because God gave them a will. I don’t have “goals” for my children because I can’t control them. I have desires for my children. I have goals for me, because I can control me, by God’s grace. My desire is that I will have godly children. My goal is that I will be a godly dad. See the difference? Don’t be under a guilt burden today. Your children have a will of their own.
(4) If your child fails, it’s not because you weren’t perfect. If their success depends upon your perfection, they will fail, because none is perfect. There has not been a perfect parent on this earth since Adam and Eve, and they failed. Don’t get the idea you have to be perfect. It’s the grace of God that any of us survives this thing called parenthood. We enter it totally inexperienced. Then about the time we get enough experience, we’re out of a job.
(5) Don’t pretend to your children that you are perfect. They already know you’re not. They don’t want you to be perfect. They want you to be real. Are you real? Are you genuine? If they know you’re real, as they watch you handle your mess ups, your failures, and your problems, they will learn far more from that than from phony perfectionism.
Five Ways to Live So Our Children Can Give Us Honor
We come now to the heart of our study.
#1. Love them.
Love is not giving your child what he or she wants but what they need.
Turn to Luke 15:11-24 and read this passage:
5. This is the story of the prodigal son. Describe his father’s reaction when he returned. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
6. What signs of affection did the father display? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
7. From the way the story is told, did Jesus approve or disapprove of the father’s actions toward the returning prodigal? ________________________________
Benefits of physical affection:
Hug them often, affectionately, supportively, tenderly no matter their age.
Hollywood tells our young people that the only way to get hugs is through sexual intimacy.
Charles Swindoll has written:
"Many a young a woman who opts for immoral sexual relationships does so because she can scarcely remember a time when her father so much as touched her. Unaffectionate dads, without wishing to do so, can trigger a daughter’s promiscuity. All of this leads me to write with a great deal of passion: Dads, don’t hold back your affection. Demonstrate your feelings of love and affection to both sons and daughters, and don’t stop once they reach adolescence. They long for your affirmation and appreciation. They will love you for it. More importantly, they will emulate your example when God gives them their own family.”
#2. Bless them.
We have an awesome weapon called a blessing. Today we don’t think much about this—but from Genesis to Deuteronomy, the word “bless” or “blessing” is used at least 136 times!
As a separate study, sometime do a “keyword” search for the word “bless” at www.biblegateway.com. You will be blessed (no pun intended!)—just looking at blessing and how it was used, most often either by God for an individual or family, or by a parent for a child.
8. Let’s look at just a few. Turn to each passage (they are close together) and fill in the missing words.
a. Genesis 24:60
And they _____________ Rebekah, and said unto her, “Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.”
b. Genesis 26:3
“Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will ____________ thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father.”
c. Genesis 27:4
[Isaac to Esau] “And make me savory meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may __________ thee before I die.”
d. Genesis 27:31
And he [Esau] also had made savory meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, “Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may ____________ me.”
e. Genesis 27:34-36
And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father….” And he said, “Hast thou not reserved a _______________ for me?”
f. Genesis 28:3-4
[Isaac to Jacob] And God Almighty ___________ thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee… And give thee the _______________ of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee…”
g. Genesis 32:26-29
And he [the Angel of the Lord] said [to Jacob], “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” And he [Jacob] said, I will not let thee go, except thou ____________ me…..” And he _______________ him there.
h. Deuteronomy 33:24
And of Asher he said, “Let Asher be _______________ with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil…”
i. Ruth 2:4
And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, “The LORD be with you.” And they answered him, “The LORD ____________ thee.”
These are just 9 examples. We could go on all day with similar passages. Hopefully you see a pattern here.
We can bless our kids in such an incredible way. When you give the gift of the blessing, there are few things in life that give them more peace and confidence. They need you to bless them, to say “In the name of Jesus, my child, I bless you.” Can you imagine what that does to a child when a dad just picks a child up, and puts that child in his arms, and says, “Billy, I bless you out of heaven?” They’ll never forget it.
#3. Listen to them.
One of the finest forms of communication is saying nothing. Just listen. We think we listen. But how many times do we let them get a full sentence out of their mouth before we begin to tell them, “Here’s what you need to do”?
If you have a teenager, you have to wait till the right time. Normally they just clam up and close up. But then there comes a time when they want to talk. I have found that generally it’s when you’re so sleepy, but about eleven o’clock they’ll start talking. Let them talk. Say to yourself, “I’m going to pay the price. Even if I don’t sleep, I’m going to listen.” Sit down and listen. Make eye contact. Give them your undivided attention.
#4. Be Steadfast and Consistent.
They need to know Mom and Dad love them, regardless.
Love them with your prayers. Pray for them, pray for them, and pray for them some more. Get on your knees and call every one of your children (and grandchildren) by name. Lift them to the Lord. The most loving thing you can do is to call your children before the throne of grace in prayers.
#5. Encourage them.
Turn to Colossians 3:21. Although it addresses fathers, it applies just as much to mothers:
Fathers, ____________ _____ your children to anger lest they be discouraged.
Wise encouragement is better than lavish praise. Learn the difference!
A CLOSER LOOK: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ENCOURAGEMENT AND PRAISEMany people think there is no difference, but there is a vast difference between encouragement and praise. Encouragement is twice as powerful as praise. Children need encouragement.
PRAISE is when you compliment a child for something he does. (“You got straight A’s!” “You cleaned your room!”) Now there is nothing wrong with praise, and we should acknowledge achievement when it occurs. But we must be careful to balance praise with encouragement.
Praise by itself says to them, “I get approval when I do good. I can earn approval. When my performance is good, the approval rate goes up, and they approve of me. They love me. When my performance is bad, then my acceptance goes down, and my self-image goes down with it.” Praise says, “You are great because you did something.”
ENCOURAGEMENT looks at a child not primarily for what the child achieves, but for who the child is who is achieving it and says, “You can do it. Thank you. I’m so grateful for you.” Catch them doing something right. Let them know through your encouragement that you believe in them. Be positive. Intentionally find ways to constantly affirm them. Children need encouragement like a plant needs water. They need it over and over again.
Parents of honor, we’re only halfway through this wonderful message, yet for reasons of space we must end. There is much more. To hear the rest—and learn other ways to be a parent your children can honor—listen to the upcoming radio broadcast on August 20 and 21, or listen online at any time, on or after that date. You may request the CD as well by calling 800-274-5683 and request #1854, “Has the Nuclear Family Bombed?”
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