The Most Important Child-Rearing Principle
In my book entitled Teaching Them Young you will read that parenting is a true art form. However, none of us, before we had our own children, attended any art school except the home-schooled version of our own parents who raised us. The Scriptures are replete with examples of poor parenting as well as great parenting. The Bible does very little to hide the sins of even its greatest heroes. Solomon is one of those heroes who failed at childrearing. The Bible credits Solomon as the builder of the Temple in Jerusalem and portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth and power. Yet, his sin described in 1 Kings 11 led to the kingdoms being torn in two during the reign of his son Rehoboam:
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love (1 Kings 11:1-2, ESV).
This was the wisest man whoever lived, the same guy who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit most of the Proverbs. He could not live by the very advice he gave. Did you catch that phrase? Solomon clung to these in love. He had a woman problem.
If Solomon, the wisest man ever, made such a mess of parenting, what hope do we have? The greatest principle of child rearing is this - as a man and a woman grow closer and closer in their personal relationship to Jesus Christ they will inevitably grow closer and closer to one another. A marriage rooted in the love of Christ is the best antibiotic for infected kids who possess the nature of the Adamic curse. This is the greatest asset to successful child rearing. Solomon was not a “one woman man” and payday came when his son simply never got it.
Yet, even when parents raise children with biblical principles and through the grid of a godly marriage, children rebel. Take heart that God placed two perfect children in a perfect garden, and these two perfect children rebelled. God often uses parenting to demonstrate how needy we are, how helpless we are when we try to live life by rules rather than by a relationship with Him. A marriage where both father and mother are committed to living in relationship with Jesus will become a sanctuary if and when your children reject that same relationship with Jesus. And in that sanctuary you will draw on the power of prayer and intimacy with one another as you learn how to reflect Jesus to your prodigal. The first principle for child rearing is simple – love your wife as Christ loved the church reverence your husband as the church reverences Christ (Ephesians 5:21-33).
DIGGING DEEPER: Ephesians 5:21-33
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be untied to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
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