And The Christian Home
This is the third article in a series of five on Christian marriage. This series contains material used in marriage counselling classes at Toronto, Canada.
The brethren engaged in this work are: Laurence Elder M.D., Greenwood assembly, active in a varied work among assemblies. H. E. Kay M.D., Eglinton assembly, prime mover in Bethany Lodge. Fraser MacKenzie, Leaside assembly, Director of Boys’ Camp at Mini-Yo-We. Derek Park, Greenwood assembly, Manager of Mutual Funds Company, Financial Counsellor. Angus Henderson, Elder in Bendale assembly, Christian business man.
This is not written by a psychologist, teacher or social worker, but by a I Christian father of five children. His children range from seven years old into the teens, and share a variety of interests: sketching, hair dressing, hockey, and wrestling.
This article is prefaced with a refusal to accept the often displayed statement, “Christ is the Head of this house.” Christ is the Head of every man (1 Cor. 11:3), and He should be the Lord of each individual life. However, we read, “If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Tim. 3:5). There are some who avoid the responsibility as fathers ruling in their own homes. This is wrong.
There are a number of recommendations, the results of personal experiences, which form the basis of this article:
The Lord has left on record an example of such devotions. In writing to Timothy, Paul could say, “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14). The children, from the eldest to the youngest, should participate in the reading of the Bible. The very young soon learn to repeat a verse after an older person. Each one should also learn to close his eyes and engage in prayer for family members, playmates, missionaries, assembly families, etc. As the older children become accustomed to the sacred practices, they are able to help younger brothers and sisters. Dinner time is excellent for these spiritual exercises. A short story suitable for little folk may be read after the Word of God has been given its place. A story that illustrates the portion of Scripture read, will be found most helpful.
A quiet time with the Lord just before going to bed confirms faith and produces courage. The Psalmist said of the blessed man, “His delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night” (Psa. 1:2). There are small booklets which are very appropriate for this purpose; some that may be read to the very young and others which the older children may read for themselves. It is also a good time to check up on memory work for the Sunday School or any other children’s project.
There are apostolic exhortations which cover the different relationships of the Christian home: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: … Honour thy father and mother; . . fathers provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:1-4). The responsibility imposed here flows in two directions, toward the parent and toward the child. Obedience on the children’s part should be stimulated by love on the parent’s part. Duties in the home should be appropriately imposed and equally divided. A list of household duties may be arranged by the mother, and she should see to it that each assignment is properly finished. There are many matters in which children may help; some in the kitchen, some outside, some in the basement, some for the girls and some for the boys.
Life at Home
The house of Christian parents should be “open house” to all their children. They should be permitted to have their playmates, and should be taught
to share their toys with others. If a child does not feel at ease in his own
home, he will go elsewhere; he may thus come under some hurtful influence.
This is a “swingers” world, sold out to pleasure and Satan, and we have
to guard our children, and offer an attractive life in Christ as an alternative.
Some older children are able to earn a little money for themselves. Older girls can do baby sitting, etc. and the boys can cut lawns or shovel snow. On such occasions they should be taught to honour the Lord with their substance.
There are times when the older ones in the family who know the Lord become real prayer partners. Their co-operation in this regard may be invaluable when the family is confronted by serious problems. The faith of many a young person has been strengthened, by seeing the good hand of the Lord in family affairs.
Habits form so quickly that caution is required in the area of entertainment. Extra curricular work in public and high school often results in problems: movie matinees, school dances, graduation parties, etc. Guide lines should be laid down for the children. When possible they should be permitted to enjoy school activities which are supervised by the teachers. When it is necessary to deny them some questionable affairs, alternative Christian-centred pleasures should be provided: a family outing, a hike, a special indulgence, a new book or toy, etc.
Youngsters in their teens need companions, they should be shown how to be friendly; to this end they should have their own personal friends to visit with them. They should be allowed to join with groups that know the restraint of biblical influence. Friendship, group participation, and joint efforts, all contribute to normal development.
Family participation in good clean wholesome sports is essential; for example, skating (you may build your own back-yard rink), tobogganing, sleighing, swimming, boating, fishing, etc. Do these things together. Such joint efforts result in a togetherness most salutary for the family.
Sports occasionally provide an opportunity to invite a neighbor, and under these congenial circumstances you may be able to witness for the Lord Jesus.
All should remember what the Word of God has to say on this matter: “Bodily exercise profiteth little (for a little): but godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8)