family law, part four

Previously: family law, part three

Our greatest challenge in applying the Family Law in our home was not in requiring the children to obey it. It came in requiring us as the parents to obey it.

Did I obey the Lord immediately when He asked me to do something? Did I respect Dad as I should, and did Dad respect me as he should? Did we argue in front of the children, or get nasty in a marital spat? Did we complain to the children about the other, or in any way show disrespect? Was I respecting myself if I did not practice self-control in my diet? Are we as parents respecting our possessions if we procrastinate with the house cleaning or the home repair or lawn upkeep? (In home schooling and home business families, time is at a premium, and this is so easy to do.) Do we model respect for society’s authority by obeying the speed limit or seat belt laws? Do we carefully practice self-control and honoring others by guarding our tempers and our tongues?

As parents, we quickly learned they we had three options, when we began requiring obedience to the Family Law for our children. One, if we were unwilling to also be disciplined and obey, we could abandon teaching the Law to our children and allow them to have their own way, or only provide weak, inconsistent, or half- hearted discipline for them, because deep down we were wrestling with guilt ourselves. It is an option that many families choose, but our children will not respect us, or our Lord, if we follow that path.

Two, we could be hypocrites and ask our children to adhere to a code of behavior that we were unwilling to make ourselves adhere to. This grew up in this option. Our children will not respect us, or our Lord, if we follow this path.

Or three, we can bow the knee before God as Lawgiver and find out if we really mean what we say in church when we proclaim Jesus Lord. We can do our level best, and maybe fail sometimes, and have to humble ourselves before our family and ask for forgiveness once in a while. We can teach our children by example that we can choose to obey God. We can teach our children that we walk together, and learn together, and cry together, and love together, and forgive together, and grow together, all in this adventure of living in a relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.The greatest learning, the greatest growth, and the greatest challenge of my life has been in requiring the same discipline and obedience, the same commitment to paying respect, of myself that I required of my children, and now that they are grown and on their own, I am still learning it, and will most likely be until I go home to Jesus.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” whether we choose to train them to be lax and self-willed, to be hypocrites, or to be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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family law, part three

Previously: family law, part two

When our children were little, we established our own Family Law which incorporated obedience to the Ten Commandments.

Family Law1. Respect Father and Mother (begin teaching before the first birthday).

What this means: obey parents immediately, do not test them (toddlers are notorious for testing their parents, but this is the way they learn that Mom and Dad will be consistent and unchanging). Older children will learn that they respect their parents by always telling them the truth and never lying, and by not displaying bad attitude toward them. Yes, this means rolling the eyes, and saying, “Just a minute!” when asked to do something!

2. Respect yourself (begin teaching before the second birthday).

What this means: keep yourself clean, toilet training, brushing teeth, personal hygiene, pride in a neat appearance. When children are teens, sins such as overeating or under-eating, or drug or alcohol abuse, or immorality fall under this law.

3. Respect your possessions (begin teaching before the third birthday).

What this means: pick up your toys, keep your room neat, make your bed, treat your things with care. Older children will learn to wisely judge whether to loan their things out to others who may not treat them as carefully as they would.

4. Respect others (begin teaching before the fourth birthday).

What this means: treat others with honor – no name-calling, hitting or violence, purposeful humiliation or cruelty. No gossiping or spreading lies about others. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

5. Respect the possessions of others (begin teaching before the fifth birthday).

What this means: do not grab toys away, borrow without asking, steal, or treat others’ things carelessly. Do not covet. Do not enter another’s room or home without permission.

6. Respect society’s authority (begin teaching before the sixth birthday).

What this means: respecting any legitimate authority outside the family, such as grandparents, Sunday School teachers, pastors, school teachers, police or other authorities. Since there is a growing problem of adults positioning themselves as authorities so they can abuse children, parents will also need to teach their children how to tell if an outside adult is using authority given to them by God, or usurping power. An outside authority will use their authority in God-ordained ways, and never to break God’s Law themselves. A child is never displeasing to God by refusing to obey an outside authority who is himself disobeying God. It is such a burden for a six-year-old to learn, but in today’s world they must learn it to protect themselves from predators, since our society allows predators to live among us.

7. Respect and fear God.

What this means: as a family, we will strive to obey God in our thoughts, actions, and treatment of each other. We will engage in personal and corporate worship, personal Bible reading, no swearing, and obedience to the other laws of God as God is the Lawgiver.

These seven rules are short enough for the youngest children to memorize, but comprehensive enough so that they cover every childish sinfulness.

We had this Family Law printed, laminated, and posted on the refrigerator. It was a relief for me as Mom to have my authority backed by the paper on the refrigerator, which itself was backed by Dad and God’s Word.

When the children did something, I would take them to the refrigerator, have them read (or recite, after me if very young) the Family Law and tell me which point they violated. They always knew. The consequences were posted next to the rule, so I could calmly administer the discipline for disobedience without becoming angry or being the “bad parent.”

It wasn’t long after we began consistently applying the Family Law with our children that we ran into our greatest challenge.

Continued: family law, part four

family law, part two

Previously: family law

“And these words that I command you today [i.e., the Law] shall be on your heart. 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.” Deu 6:6-7

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.If we accept that we are to teach the Law to our children, then what does that mean? Memorizing the Ten Commandments? Reading through the five books of the Law – Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy – every year? Keeping the Law of God as Christians? I have my own opinion which I believe to be Scripturally sound, but be that as it may, this is a discussion the Church needs to have. (Start with Galatians and be very sure we are reading it for what it says and not what we have been told it says.)

Each family, each father must take this question to the Lord and receive direction from His Spirit. But a key is not to have a head knowledge of the Law only, but “these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” God is after our hearts, and obedience must come from the heart. For if we have the knowledge of the Law only, without our hearts loving the Law for the Lord’s sake, and fearing the Lord for His holiness which the Law teaches (for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom), we might become puffed up with knowledge like the Pharisees whom Jesus reproved.

How can a child be kept under guard by a Law that is not enforced? For the Law was added because of transgressions, and children without boundaries are a terror. Clearly the Law was meant to be obeyed.

Children who are raised in Christian homes come to the crossroads, usually as teens, whether they will receive the family faith and relationship with Jesus for their own. One dynamic I observed in our family was trying to live rightly without the new birth and failing, over and over, no matter how committed.

“The Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to all who believe.” Gal 3:22

Trying to live rightly and failing, produces the realization in our children that they have not just been told they have been confined under sin – they are confined under sin and cannot escape it. They are learning the truth of the Scripture by personal experience, and that learning is necessary. They are learning that even though they know the Law and are trying to obey it, they cannot. Now they are ready for true repentance (can there be salvation without repentance? I do not believe so) and placing their faith in Jesus Christ in order to be made right with God.

Martin Luther taught that the Law must be preached to an unrepentant sinner, while grace must be preached to a repentant one.

Continued: family law, part three

family law

In fear not, little flock, I mentioned Gal 3:23-25 in relation to teaching children the word of God so they will grow up to embrace faith in Jesus Christ as adults and not walk away from the Lord.

Therefore the Law was our tutor to bring us to Christ.

Galatians 3:24

“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the Law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the Law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian …” Gal 3:23-25

Law has a bad rap among Christians. Since Law is that thing by which we cannot be saved, the opposite of grace (it is thought), it is regarded with suspicion, repulsion, or downright ignored, and grace emphasized. It is not wrong for grace to be emphasized, but Paul asks a very good question: “What purpose then does the Law serve?” For Paul said, The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Jesus said, Not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Children need Law. All of us need law; we would not want to live in a society without law. Society imposes control from the outside for those who will not be self-controlled, so that those who will be self-controlled can live in peace and safety. Families are the first unit of society. Parents impose control from the outside on their children, so that they can learn to be self-controlled, or controlled from the inside.

“What purpose then does the Law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made. … Before faith came, we were kept under guard by the Law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the Law was our tutor to bring us to Christ …” Gal 3:19, 23-24

The Law is needed until a certain time: until the Seed – Jesus – should come to those to whom the promise was made. Yes, this passage speaks of the time in history when the promised Christ came in the flesh. But our children also await the coming of the promise, for they are not born children of God. The time will come when they will be asked, “Who do you say that I am?” and they must answer for themselves. Our children need the Law for their tutor, to guard them until they come to true repentance as adults – until they come to their own faith in Jesus Christ.

My husband and I were typical evangelicals when our children were little, and we did not teach our children the Law. We taught our children grace only. We lost our children to the world for a time. They have come back as adults — thank You Father! But life was hard for them, and if we had obeyed the Scripture from the beginning we could have spared them. In our churches we are doing a grave disservice to parents by not teaching the Law, and by not encouraging them to teach it also to their children.

“And these words that I command you today [the Law] shall be on your heart. 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.” Deu 6:6-7

Continued: family law, part two

evil? illness? orientation?

That is the name of an article that tries to present pedophiles in a loving, caring, light … by concluding that their preferences are an unavoidable orientation … just as the orientation to hetero[s-x]uality or homo[s-x]uality is an unavoidable orientation.

This is what happens in a society where God and His Word are thrown out … by the church. Listen, to throw out His Word is to throw out Him. They are inseparable from each other, for out of the abundance of His Heart, He spoke His Word (Luk 6:45). Those who wish to keep the New Testament while discarding the Old, cannot do so … the New has to be thrown out as well, to remain logically consistent in all its statements. For the New is built on the foundation of the Old. The Old and the New preach the same gospel and the same truth, from Genesis to Revelation.

But be on the watch for more of this kind of thing. The fight to legalize [g-y] marriage will not stop there, once that goal is accomplished …

Spankings lower IQs?

A new report out yesterday states that children who are spanked have lower IQs than children who are disciplined in other ways. Yeah, they have had the big guns out for some years on making spanking evil. Child abuse is evil. Spanking is not evil. But here is the kicker:

"One might ask, however, whether children who are spanked tend to come from backgrounds in which education opportunities are less or inherited intelligence lower."

They just said that if you are a Bible- believing parent who spanks because the Word says, that he who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly (Pro 13:24; the Word equates spanking with discipline), then you must be one of those stupid easily- duped hicks from the Bible belt, because no intelligent person would spank their child.

A spanking administered in anger or to vent frustration is not discipline. A spanking properly administered in love brings godly remorse and repentance to a child’s heart and restores his heart back to his parents’ hearts. God Himself "spanks" us when we need it (Heb 12:5-11), and I would much rather have the spanking as a child at my parents’ hands, to learn obedience, than a spanking as an adult at God’s hands. God’s spankings hurt worse.