(Photo taken by me of my family in San Diego, California Summer 2015)
Colossians 3: 19-21…Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
In the United States, this is a strange time in our history to be raising a traditional (western sense) family. The support systems and structures of the American family are crumbling in all directions. If no deeper reflection is taken, this is quite threatening to traditionalists and desperately frightening. Wrong is now right, right is now wrong, dark is good, light is bad. At least that’s how it feels to many Americans. But is that really so? Was right really right before, and wrong really wrong? Was light true light? Was dark true darkness?
History is always written by the victorious. For traditional Americans, the past was glorious and the present is an abomination to its legacy. It’s like when you go to a funeral and the person that has passed away is only spoken of in the best possible memories and thoughts. But that person was just as deeply flawed as the rest of us here on earth. We are only presenting the best of what we experienced from them in their lifetime. We whitewash the negative. The victorious do the same with history. The life structures of man are merely a byproduct of what he’s been taught. We were taught one way, and today they teach a new way. Guess what? If it’s worldly, it’s all just a flip of a coin. It’s just darkness taking turns who gets to be the good guys and who are the bad guys in the ongoing deception that separates mankind from the Creator. I made a decision long ago that I would not follow the trends of the world raising my family. I would follow God.
To be a Godly husband and parent runs counter in every way to being a worldly version of either. It’s as if you’re on an inner tube trying to use your hands to paddle – upstream. Against a powerful current. Temptations by the millions rushing past you trying to get you to just let go and let the current take you easy. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” That reads like truly sound advice. Because it truly is sound advice. It’s Godly instruction. But to put it into practice? I send you back to the imagery of your hands paddling upstream. You can’t do that alone. You’re not strong enough. Only the strength of Christ can push you up that current.
To be a Godly husband and parent is to possess the Fruit of the Holy Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. For it’s these qualities that allow a man to fulfill Paul’s ordained instructions in the matter. It’s not you…us…we. It’s the Spirit. When one of my daughters does something that angers me as a parent, how I react is going to make all the difference in the world for her future. Early as a father, my reactions were mostly born from – me. I’m a fairly decent sort, so sometimes I got them right just by my nature. But I’m also the same flawed human as everyone else, so when I allowed my anger to dictate, it got ugly in a hurry. Anger is not listed among the fruits of the Spirit. Patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control are. As God has continued his purging of me from me, and filled back with his fruit, my reactions have become more aligned with the ultimate goal of the family – peace and love. The same goes with my marital relationship. Where selfishness once held a primary role in my regard, now there is a partnership of goodness and kindness. Faithfulness. As a family we are united. Not perfect. But harmonious in our loyalty to each other. That’s of God. Not the world.
Any Christian pastor worth his salt when counseling a couple about to be married will tell them – Always keep Christ in the Center of your marriage. My wife and I were blessed with such a pastor at that time, and his words (instructions) have never left us. They’ve seen us through the entire 20 year ride to date. It’s for that reason I love the picture I included in today’s post. My wife and children sitting happily under that cross in California. It’s the perfect symbolism of what God has done for our family. Our shelter. Our refuge. My job to be the same type of shepherd for them as Christ is for me. That’s what it is to be a Godly husband and parent.
What is the status of your own marriage and family? Are you going with the current, or are you powered by Christ upstream against the waves of the world?
It matters not what the trends of mankind are in any given era including this one. The war has already been won. Jesus is Victorious. My best advice to you? Follow the winner.