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Happily ever after

By G. Raymond Carlson

Is the family disappearing along with yesterday’s outmoded styles and mores? In past generations, shelter, food, clothing, health, birth and death were family concerns. Now we are rapidly becoming a land of homeless, rootless, lonely people.

Dad lives and moves in his own world. Mom too has her own agenda. Teenagers spend most of their time with their peers. Youngsters are in nursery school or glued to the TV. Home becomes little more than a motel, a cafeteria and a Laundromat.

Add to these the mobility that separates family members from relatives, our hectic lifestyles and the hazy meaning of parenthood, and you can see that the family is in trouble.

A Christian home should be a precursor to heaven, where parents submit “one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21, KJV). There they raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In such a home children obey their parents, God’s Word has an honored place, prayer time is meaningful, the Lord’s Day is special and the church is vital.

The Bible speaks clearly on the sanctity and permanence of marriage. Christian marriage is the union of one Christian woman to one Christian man. God’s creation of the man was not complete until He had created a mate for him. God’s Word states: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God clearly intended permanence in marriage: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).

Family and home are related to God in inception, conception, origin and perpetuation. The home is a sort of trustee of the faith, a clearinghouse for truth. The greatest force in the life of the child is his/her home. While the family is the building block of society, the Christian family is the building block of the new society, the Church.

Marriage strengths

A marriage must find a mental relationship. Open lines of communication and sharing ideas are needed.

A marriage must find a physical relationship. “And God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Life is not created in the home; it is transmitted. God created man and woman as sexual beings not only with the capacity to reproduce, but also with the capacity and desire to enjoy each other sexually, a quality distinctive to mankind. As with all gifts from God, our sexuality is not to be abused. The Bible clearly indicates that each is to limit his/her sexual relations to a spouse.

A marriage must find a spiritual relationship. Praying together, reading and studying God’s Word together, and worshipping together are ingredients for a happy and successful marriage.

Marriage responsibilities

The man is the head of the home (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23). As head, the husband is responsible to God for his wife and children. The father is entrusted with teaching the Scriptures by word and example, directing family prayer and worship, and leading in the ways of righteousness. The father should provide materially, according to ability.

And above all, he should provide an example of a loving relationship. Children receive security as they see their father’s love and gentleness toward their mother.

The father is the protector. He’ll be a good listener, seek opportunities to give his children a sense of belonging, and commend and encourage them when they do a job well or exhibit pleasing behavior. He’ll find time to laugh and play with them and to help them in their difficulties.

The mother has the primary influence with the children. She is at the center of home management, which does much to contribute to their security and confidence.

Moms — and Dads — can give the following treasures to their children:

First, a sense of law and order. Through order and discipline children learn the rights of others and how to get along. Discipline is to a young life what guardrails are to a bridge. In Jesus’ home in Nazareth He learned family relationships. He had four brothers and several sisters, so there was room for misunderstanding. His brothers didn’t always understand Him, and His mother didn’t always comprehend Him. Understanding and adjustments were learned in their home.

Second, reverence for life. Children need to practice the Golden Rule. Respect for the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, should be taught.

Third, appreciation for values. Appreciation for spiritual values and the family unit is vital. Children should be taught to honor their father and mother according to Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:1.

Fourth, character. Goodness is not put on and taken off at a moment’s notice; it is ingrained by daily living.

Fifth, the knowledge of God. The Old Testament patriarchs pitched their tents and built altars; too often today parents build their tents and pitch the altars.

Basic principles

Here are some basic principles for building a stronger marriage and healthier home:

Play together. Did your parents have time for recreation and play with you? If so, you count those times as treasured memories. Families who have fun together knit themselves into units that last and give opportunities to teach fairness, honesty, self-control and sportsmanship. Vacations should be planned with family members in mind.

Set tradition. The traditions in your home do not have to be something big. In fact, seemingly minor customs are often the ones that bear fruit in later years. The Bible advocates traditions: “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?” (Joshua 4:6). “And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?” (Exodus 12:26).

Let love reign. Love has the capacity to adjust itself to the changing relationships of a home. Where love reigns and endures, there is unbeatable optimism. Love is the foundation of a happy home; good manners are the walls; diplomacy is the roof. Fill your home with good music and literature. Develop your children’s appetites for the good things of life.

Worship together. Teach your children to talk to the Lord about things that are important to them. Prayer times can be at mealtimes, bedtimes, crisis times such as sickness, and at times when guests are in the home. Read Bible storybooks to small children. Develop participation at the family altar — a song, a testimony, a prayer, a question to be answered. Provide an opportunity for members to share their concerns and needs. Shun formality. Avoid monotony. Let your family altar be a simple, sincere time of fellowship with God and each other.

Someone once stated that six things are required to create a happy home: “Integrity must be the architect and tidiness the upholsterer. It must be warmed by affection, lighted up with cheerfulness. Industry must be the ventilator, renewing the atmosphere and bringing in fresh salubrity day by day; while over all, as a protecting canopy and glory, nothing will suffice except the blessing of God.”

From Family: How to Have a Healthy Christian Home, compiled and edited by Hal Donaldson, Ken Horn, Ann Floyd and Joel Kilpatrick (Springfield, Mo.: PE Books, 1999). Available through Gospel Publishing House. Item #02-1034.

G. RAYMOND CARLSON (1918-99) served as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God from 1986 to 1993.

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