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Introduction to

The Christian Marriage


and Family Series

All of us have seen two rivers flowing smoothly and quietly along
until they meet and join to form one new river. When this happens,
they clash and hurl themselves at one another. However, as the
newly formed river flows downstream, it gradually quiets down and
flows smoothly again. And now it is broader and more majestic and
has more power. So it is in a marriage: the forming of a new union
may be tumultuous – but, when achieved, the result is far greater
than either alone.
– Illustration for Biblical Preaching, page 233

MARRIAGE

Just like the two rivers described above, when a man and a
woman are joined together in a Christian marriage, they will often
experience times of tumult and upheaval. There are many adjust-
ments that need to be made. When children are the fruit of the mar-
riage, new challenges emerge! But, in the end, both people will be
stronger as they persevere through the marital difficul-
ties. And their partnership will be a strong force for
good and for God’s glory in their community, in
their church, and for succeeding generations of
their own family.
A successful marriage, however, is not just
based on overcoming problems and obsta-
cles. It is established by the daily investment
of each partner in each other and in the
marriage relationship as a whole. As the
following quote describes, the marriage
relationship can never be taken for
granted:

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There is a scientific law called the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
This law states that any closed system left to itself tends toward
greater randomness; that, it breaks down. It takes an ordered input
of energy to keep anything together. . . . Although it is a law to de-
scribe material systems, the Second Law of Thermodynamics seems
to describe other systems also. For example, consider the marriage
relationship. It must have a daily, monthly, and yearly investment
of time and energy so that it is enjoyable to live in. If no energy is
expended, eventually the relationship needs a complete overhaul, or
else it is knocked down.
– Ibid, page 235

CHILDREN

Parents all over the world usually want their children


to experience more, have more opportunities, and
enjoy more of the “good things” that make up
life in this world. This is a natural sentiment
and natural concern. As one mother has
written so beautifully, however, some-
times it is not possible for parents to
give their children everything that they
would desire. In that case, above all
else, what should parents strive to
give their children? A mother, named
Lydia Lightner, wrote the following:

I should like to give you everything so that you lack for


nothing, not even one single desire, but I know that for want
of many things I have come to be satisfied with what I have
and to think of others and their needs. . . . What then, my
child, can I give you that would be of any real value?
• I give you my love, which means that I accept you without
reservations, just as you are and will be.
• I give you my personal presence in order that you will
have the security you need during your childhood.
• I give you my ears, in the sense that I will never be too busy
to listen to you – sometimes never uttering even one word.

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• I give you opportunities to work so that you might learn to
do it without shame and come to enjoy the satisfaction of
work well done.
• I give you my counsel only when it is necessary for you to
ask for it so that you might avoid some of the mistakes I
have made.
• I give you my consolation when you have failed or feel dis-
couraged, but I will not always protect you from the conse-
quences of your sins.
• I give you instructions in the way of the Lord so that when
you are old, you will never depart from it.
• I give you my daily prayers that the Lord will keep you and
guide you in such a way that you, my child, will be a man
or woman who will serve and glorify our Heavenly Father.
This I give you with all my love.

Your Mother, Lydia Lightner

OUR GOAL

In this course on the Christian Marriage and Family, it is our prayer


and desire that you would receive Biblical insight and instruction that
would make your marriage and family truly a Christian one, in every
sense of the word. By application of the Biblical truths and admoni-
tions contained in these lessons, may God enable your marriage rela-
tionship to become a strong force for good, and for God’s glory. By
application of the lesson truths on children, may God give you the
grace to be the mother and the father that He would have you to be
– in fact, to be like your Father in Heaven. As a result, may the next
generation rise up and call you blessed because of your testimony of
faithfulness to God and because of your dedication to them and to
their welfare. In all things, may our Lord Jesus Christ be magnified in
your marriage and family, and may He receive all the glory for what-
ever is accomplished because of this course.

The Christian Marriage and Family Series


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The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 1
MARRIAGE IS GOD’S IDEA!

Any situation that causes me to confront my selfishness has enor-


mous spiritual value, and I slowly began to understand that the real
purpose of marriage may not be happiness as much as it is holiness.
- Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage

Today in the USA, about one out of every two marriages (50%)
ends in divorce. Divorce rates are sky-rocketing around the world.
But marriage can and will work – because it is God’s idea! In this first
session, you will learn the Biblical foundations for marriage. You will
also learn to see marriage and the family as part of God’s overall
plan for the believer.

Read: Genesis 1:26-2:24 and Matthew 19:4-8

A. MARRIAGE IS GOD’S IDEA!

God reveals in the Old Testament book of Genesis that marriage is


His idea. After God created Adam, there was not found a help meet
for him (Genesis 2:20b). This means that, in all the creation, another
being corresponding to, or like Adam, was not found. Therefore, the
LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam. . .and He took one
of his ribs. . .and (from) the rib. . .made he a woman, and brought
her unto the man (Genesis 2:21- 22).
Apparently, as Adam named all of the animals, there was not
found a companion suitable, or corresponding, to him. None of the
animal creation was suitable. Therefore, God directly created a com-
panion for Adam. A separate, special act of creation was needed to
create Eve.
We know marriage is God’s idea because He had said in Genesis
1:26-27: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our like-
ness. . .So God created man in his own image, in the image of God
created he him; male and female created he them. It was always part

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of God’s plan to unite two people in a special bonding relationship.
Note how God made the first man: from the dust of the ground
(Genesis 2:7). But He created the first woman from Adam’s own
body. This brings the man and the woman into an undeniably
unique relationship. Adam put it this way:
This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. . .(Genesis
2:23). Today, we call this relationship “marriage,” a word that means
“a joining together.”

B. INITIAL FACTS ABOUT MARRIAGE

From the above Scripture, let’s derive


some facts about marriage:

1. Designed by God: The marriage rela-


tionship was designed by God. Man did not
originate the idea. Marriage is by God’s de-
sign and for His purposes. His Book, the
Bible, contains all the basic principles for a
successful marriage.

2. One Man and One Woman: The marriage relationship was insti-
tuted between one man and one woman, not between two men, or
between one man and multiple women, or between multiple part-
ners. The gender and the number of marriage partners were fixed
by God.

3.An Exclusive Relationship: The marriage relationship was de-


signed to be exclusive. The man was to leave his father and his
mother and cleave (to attach or to weld) to his wife (Genesis 2:24).
In other words, a new family unit was to be formed by marriage. In
some cultures around the world, the newly married couple, or an
older couple, is still subordinate to the parents, or parents-in-law.
This can cause great confusion and heartache in the home of the
new couple and family. The new young couple cannot make their
own decisions. The children of such a couple do not know whether
to obey the parents or the grandparents, or grandparents-in-law.
This is especially true when the older generation lives with the new
couple, as is common in many places in Asia and Africa. However,

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when the above Biblical teaching (that the marriage relationship is
exclusive and forms a new family unit in God’s eyes) is followed, all
of these problems can be resolved.
Note: The new marriage relationship does not mean that all rela-
tionships with father and mother are completely severed, but it does
subordinate the relationship with parents to the new marriage rela-
tionship. Many marriages have been severely hindered when one
partner did not establish financial or emotional independence from
the parents. When you marry, your marriage relationship is your #1
priority, not your parents, or even your children. In order of impor-
tance, the priority of your relationships should be: first, God; second,
your marital partner (if married), your children, your own parents,
your church family, your work (even church work), etc.

4.A Permanent Relationship: The marriage relationship was to be


permanent. The Lord Jesus Christ stated in Matthew 19:6-7. Where-
fore they are no more twain (two), but one flesh. What therefore God
hath joined together, let not man put asunder. In the Old Testament,
God spoke very clearly: He hateth putting away (divorce).

C. IMPLICATIONS OF THESE FACTS

1.The “Marriage Manual:” Since marriage is God’s idea, we must


consult Him and His Word for the principles of success in marriage
that will work today, and even one hundred years from now. This
means that man’s ideas about marriage (which are numerous) are
subordinate to God’s ideas.

D. THE “BIG PICTURE” of MARRIAGE

Now that we understand some initial facts about the marriage re-
lationship, let’s put these facts into the larger context of Christian
living.

1. Marriage is not necessary for a full and meaningful life.

Abundant life, that is, life to its fullest as described by the Bible, is
not determined by the marriage state. CHRIST is LIFE, in every sense

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of the word. As Paul wrote: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is
gain (Philippians 1:21). He did not say, for to me to live is marriage.
A person who never married, or who is not now married because
of divorce, separation, or death of the spouse, can experience a com-
pletely abundant life in his relationship with Jesus Christ. Marriage is
not necessary for personal joy and fulfillment. The fruit of the Holy
Spirit provides these (Galatians 5:22-23).

2. Marriage teaches us about God – He is Loving, Self-Giving, and For-


giving.

Marriage is designed by God for man’s joy and blessing on earth.


Just as God teaches us about marriage, much can be learned about
the Person of God by examining the marriage relationship. Think of
some successful marriages you know.

a. God is Loving: Successful marriages occur through a demonstra-


tion of mutual love and concern on the part of both partners.

◆ Marital love reflects and displays the loving nature of God. The
Bible declares that agape” love. This Greek word shows the
type of love that gives to the basic needs of another without ex-
pecting anything in return. This is the kind of love that works in
marriage, and the kind of love God has for all mankind.
◆ Marital love is a reflection of God’s divine love for His creation,
and that He demonstrated through the redemption of a fallen
human race. No wonder that a man and wife are called “lovers.”
God is the greatest Lover of all time. His greatest act of love oc-
curred when he gave his Son to die on Calvary’s Cross for the
sins of all mankind: For God so loved the world, that he gave his
only begotten Son. . .(John 3:16).

b. God is Self-Giving: Successful marriages occur by giving of one’s


self, that is, the husband and wife give themselves to one another to
meet each other’s needs. It is not a coincidence that self-giving is the
foundation of a successful marriage.

◆ Marital self-giving is a reflection of the Self-giving greatest Giver


of all time. Every good gift and every perfect gift. . .cometh down
from the Father of lights. . .(James 1:17).
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◆ It is God’s nature to give, and His creation manifests His abun-
dant generosity, creativity, and the lavish nature of His many
gifts to mankind.

c. God is Forgiving: Successful marriages occur when there is mu-


tual forgiveness and understanding of faults. A couple who cannot
forgive and move on when offended never establish a lasting mar-
riage. This is also not a coincidence because:
God is forgiving and longsuffering (patient and understanding)
with the sinfulness and deficiencies of mankind. It is the character of
God to sympathize with our weaknesses. As far as the east is from
the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions (sins) from us.

3. Marriage achieves God’s five basic purposes for Christian


believers.

God uses the marriage relationship to accomplish His five basic


purposes for believers:

a. Purpose #1 – To Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever


. . .For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are
and were created, states Revelation 4:11. According to this verse, you
were created for God’s pleasure. This means that you were created
to glorify God. At first this may seem rather “selfish” of God. But, re-
member, you were made to love, serve, and obey God in a beautiful
relationship with Him. This we see in the Garden of Eden when
Adam and Eve enjoyed a perfect and joy-filled relationship with God
as He walked with them in the cool hours of the evening. In a simi-
lar way, your greatest joy and fulfillment in life is found in glorifying
God and enjoying Him – because that is what you are made for!

How does the marriage relationship motivate you to glorify and enjoy God?

Clearly, the demands of building a successful marriage and home


are far beyond human capabilities! You will need to depend upon
God’s power and strength every step of the way. This dependence
will increase your times of prayer and fellowship with God. You will
need to spend quality and quantity time with your Heavenly Father
in order to receive the supply of His joy, His peace, His patience,
and His power that you need for living every day. Through drawing

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on God’s strength, you will glorify God by demonstrating that His
grace truly is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). This vital relationship
with God will cause you to increasingly enjoy and delight in Him.

b. Purpose #2 – To enjoy Satisfying Relationships with Other


Believers
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body (1 Corinthians
12:13). When you received Christ as Savior, you became part of
God’s family, or the Body of Christ, that is, all those who have been
regenerated through faith in Christ’s atoning work on Calvary. God
also wants you to love and learn from the people in His local body,
called the local church. Acts 2:41-42 describes the activities in which
the believers in the early church participated: they gathered for
teaching, for meals together, for fellowship, and for prayer.

How does the marriage relationship help you enjoy satisfying relationships with
believers?

4. God’s Purposes for Marriage.

Since marriage is God’s idea, it may have purposes that man may
not understand. People may not comprehend all of God’s purposes
because His ways and His thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah
55:8). However, man’s obedience to God’s plan and purpose always
results in peace and blessing for those who obey.
Marriage is built on the ability to relate to others, and to live suc-
cessfully with another person under the same roof. Learning to
deeply understand, appreciate, and respect another person is the
essence of marriage. It is also the essence of all successful relation-
ships with other believers in the Body of Christ. Thus, marriage is a
“training ground” for developing God-honoring relationships with
others. Additionally, the successful marriage provides the emotional
nurture and personal affirmation that every person needs to continue
to grow in the psychological and emotional areas.

c. Purpose #3 - To Grow in Christ-like Character

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be con-


formed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29). When God placed you
into His family at the moment of salvation, He also placed you into a

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“divine school.” In this school, you are not learn-
ing mathematics, reading, and science. You are
learning and growing in the character of the Lord
Jesus Christ. The character qualities that God
wants to develop in you are listed in Matthew
5:3-8 and in Galatians 5:22-23 (humility,
meekness, purity, patience, self-control, love,
etc.).
In order to build these character qualities,
God uses people, circumstances, and even a
person’s own temperament. When people are
stubborn and circumstances are adverse, we all have the opportunity
to learn patience, self-control, and genuine love. When our own tem-
perament tends to anger, fear, or depression, we need to develop
meekness, faith, and flexibility.

How does God use the marriage relationship to build Christ-like character?

What better person would God use than your marriage partner to
provide you with someone who is (at times) stubborn, anxious,
prone to anger, and hard to please? The person who knows you the
best, and spends more time with you than any other, will be God’s
“sandpaper” to smooth off the rough edges of your own personality.
With your particular differences, you will function the same way in
the life of your spouse. What a wonderful arrangement! God greatly
uses the marriage relationship in His “character-building school.”

d. Purpose #4 - To Serve Other Believers by Using God-given Gifts


and Abilities
For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to
minister. . .(Mark 10:45). As a believer, God has given you at least
one spiritual gift (Romans 12:6-8), and many other natural abilities.
The purpose of your spiritual gift is to edify, or build up, the Body of
Christ. Each believer is a steward, a manager of many abilities and
resources: his own body, his mind, his time, his talents, and his treas-
ure or financial resources. These are to be used to serve others, to set
examples, and to strengthen the overall body of believers.
How does the marriage relationship enable believers to serve,
using their God-given gifts? Having the attitude of a servant in mar-
riage is crucial. Each partner is to serve the other in unselfish love,

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and to meet his or her needs. Marriage provides a place to learn and
practice this servant’s heart. Additionally, God-given abilities and re-
sources can be developed and invested in the life of your spouse,
and in the lives of your children.

e. Purpose #5 - To Evangelize Non-believers and Carry the Gospel to


the Nations.
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel. . .(Mark 16:15). The
last purpose for every believer is to be God’s messenger of His good
news about the Person of Christ. We are to share with others this
message that changed our lives forever. How does the marriage rela-
tionship accomplish this last purpose of God for every believer?
Christians who are dedicated to evangelism and missions can
sometimes be more effective together as a married couple. The
strengths of one partner offset the weaknesses of the other. Spiritual
gifts can complement one another. In this way, the marriage relation-
ship can be used of God to accomplish even more of God’s purposes.

5. Marriage and the Family Provide Biblical Discipleship

When children are the fruit of the marriage relationship, then mar-
riage and the family provide an ideal environment for Biblical disci-
pleship. It is in and through the Christian home that people can first
be introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ, and then taught to grow in
this spiritual relationship. Thus, a Christian marriage and family ac-
complishes God’s purposes for the discipleship of believers.

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #1

1. How do you know marriage is God's idea? Quote a Scripture to


support your answer.

2. State four “Initial Facts About Marriage” contained in this lesson.

3. Share a specific marital relationship in which one of these “Initial


Facts” was violated, and what the result was.

4. Why is marriage not necessary for the abundant life Jesus de-
scribed in John 10:10b?
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5. Share how the marriage relationship can help to achieve God's
five purposes for the believer.

6. If you are married, share two insights you received that will help
you in your marriage. If you are not married, share two things you
learned that will help you in a future marriage

7. Memorize: Genesis 2:24.


The Christian Marriage and Family Series

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The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 2
PREPARATION FOR MARRIAGE

MARRIAGE POLL: A poll was taken of some American couples who had been mar-
ried an average of forty-eight (48) years. They listed several factors that had
contributed to the success and longevity of their marriages. Would you like to
know some of their “secrets of success?” Read on in this session, and you will
learn what those “secrets” were.

Read: 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

A. THE ESSENTIAL PREREQUISITE – MARRY ANOTHER


BELIEVER

In this key passage, Paul exhorts the


Corinthians not to be unequally yoked to-
gether with unbelievers. What does this
phrase mean? The picture is that of a pair of
animals that are harnessed together to do
some work. In Bible times, an unequally yoked
pair of animals could be different kinds of animals
harnessed together (one ox and one mule), or different sizes of ani-
mals yoked together.
The unequally yoked animals were not suited to each other. They
were incompatible to accomplish the task. What would be the result
in such a case? The animals would not cooperate with each other.
One would pull in one direction, and one in another direction. One
would want to move forward, and one would want to remain in
place. One may wind up having to pull most of the load, while the
other is just a trouble maker. The ultimate result would be an ineffec-
tive team that accomplished nothing except turmoil and confusion.
The unequal yoke perfectly illustrates what happens when a be-
liever marries an unbeliever. Although life and the marriage relation-
ship may go on smoothly for awhile, eventually the members of the
team will start pulling in opposite directions. Why? Because they are
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not suited to one another. Believers and non-believers have different
purposes, values, and motives in life. One is spiritually alive and one
is spiritually dead. This is the ultimate incompatibility. The accounts
given by divorced and separated couples that tell of turmoil, conflict,
and misery produced by marrying an unbeliever could fill a library.
God is to be central in the marriage relationship. When you marry
an unbeliever, only one of the two members of the relationship is in-
dwelt by God through His Spirit. This is one member too few in the
relationship for a successful marriage.

B. FIVE KEY PRINCIPLES IN PREPARATION FOR MARRIAGE

1. Understand that Marriage is a COMMITMENT for LIFE.


Read: Ecclesiastes 5:5 and Malachi 2:16
In Ecclesiastes 5:5, the Scripture states that when you vow a vow
to God (that is, make a promise to God), do not renege or go back
on the vow or promise. Marriages in Bible times were covenants, or
binding agreements, in which a person vowed to be faithful to the
other until death. In modern times, especially in Western nations, the
wedding vow is often taken in a church (before God), and is “until
death do us part.”
Therefore, we learn that Biblical marriage is a commitment that the
individual vows to God and to the marriage partner, until death sepa-
rates them. Commitment is one of the “secrets of success” listed by
the couples in the above “Marriage Poll.”
In Malachi 2:16, the Scripture states, For the LORD, the God of Is-
rael, saith that he hateth putting away (divorce)…. The subject of di-
vorce and remarriage will be discussed in a later session, but it is
clear for now that God feels very strongly about divorce. Marriage is
designed to be a lifelong relationship of commitment.
There should be a commitment of love, devotion, faithfulness, and
to some degree, service.

2. Become the “Right Person”


So often young people say that they are looking for “the right per-
son” to marry. What they mean by this varies from person to person.
Young women in America are looking for “Mr. Right.” But this type
of thinking is flawed. The best preparation for marriage is to become
the right person that another believer would want to marry.

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a. Develop your relationship with God.
To become the right person for another Christian to marry, spend
much time in building your personal relationship with God. Establish
a daily time of Bible reading and prayer, communing with your
Heavenly Father. Marriage requires much more than you can hu-
manly provide. You will need a strong “walk” with the Lord to make
your marriage successful.

b. Learn unselfish love.


In your parents’ home, start now to develop and demonstrate un-
selfish love. Perhaps you are an only child, or you were not required
to assume much responsibility while growing up. These circum-
stances contribute to an attitude of selfishness. Strong marriages are
built on self-giving love. Learn how to give to others in your parents’
family without expecting anything in return.

c. Be content as a single person.


A wise person once said that the best preparation for marriage
is to learn to be content as a single person. Often, people enter
marriage thinking that it will provide the contentment they do
not have. Or, they think that marriage will provide the love and
affirmation and security that they lack. These people are sadly
disappointed to discover that marriage can bring conflict and
emotional turmoil, the opposite of what they expected. It is far
better to be single and wish you were not, than married and
wish you were not.

3. Look to God to Give You the Right Mate at the Right Time
In many cultures, marriages are arranged.
In other cultures, there is much pressure to
marry, and people frequently enter into un-
wise marriages. The Christian believer, how-
ever, is exhorted to Set your affection on
things above…(Colossians 3:2). Among other
things, this verse means that believers are to:

a. Give their “right” to marriage to God.


It is not God’s will for everyone to be mar-
ried. Let Him decide if marriage is right for

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you. In the meantime, wrap your heart around God and the heavenly
goals He outlines in His Word. Spend your energies on seeking first
the kingdom of God…(Matthew 6:33a).
b. Let God bring you the right marital partner.
Just as God put Adam to sleep, and then formed Eve and brought
her to him, rest in God’s will. Do not pursue a marriage partner, but
pray and allow God to bring the right person to you. Do expect that
Satan, God’s enemy, will bring “his best” before God brings His best.
Do not allow yourself to be pressured by family and friends.

4. Choose Wisely
When you believe God has directed you to marry, be sure to
choose another believer who is a committed, growing Christian. How
do you truly know if a person is a real Christian? Watch the “fruits” of
his or her life. This person may make a profession of faith and an
outward show of interest in the Bible, prayer, and church, but his ac-
tions at other times will betray him. This is often true if an unsaved,
or non-spiritual person, is trying to attract a dedicated Christian as a
mate.

a. Get to know the person at work: How does he


react to problems? Is he self-disciplined, consid-
erate of others, and a wise manager of time and
money?
b. Get to know the person at play: Play games to-
gether. Can he lose gracefully? Does he main-
tain self-control and respect for the opponent?
c. Worship together: The closer each of you get to
God, the closer you will be to each other. Pray
together. Read the Bible and share your insights
together.
d. Take time to get to know one another’s habits,
traits, and interests.

5. Seek God’s Blessing on Your Engagement


After you are engaged, there is a temptation to engage in sexual
activity. The couple usually rationalizes: “It’s all right because we are
almost married.” But many engagements have been broken. Engag-
ing in premarital sexual activity causes you to give away a part of
yourself that you will never be able to get back. What you do for the

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first time tends to program your feelings for the future in that activity.
Engaging in premarital sex will cause feelings of guilt, fear, and
shame. This reduces your chances of enjoying sex to the fullest ex-
tent later on in marriage. This also reduces your ability to refuse sex
in the future and may even open the door for promiscuous sex, out-
side of marriage, later on. Seek God’s blessing by seeking His
strength and NOT engaging in sex at any time prior to your marriage.
Do not allow yourself to be drawn into a secret affair as it can have
similar results.
Another way to seek God’s blessing is to obtain the full consent
and blessing of both of your parents before your marriage. It just
makes sense that those people who know you the best (your par-
ents) will be able to give you good advice on a mate that is right for
you. It is foolish to proceed with a marriage that your parents are
against, or are reluctant to give their blessing, especially if your par-
ents are Christians. When possible, during your courtship period,
spend time with each other’s parents. This can be a good foundation
for a future marriage relationship.
During courtship, be sure to find wholesome things to do together,
and spend lots of time discussing things that will help you to get to
know each other well. These could include likes and dislikes, plans
for the future, background, and experiences. Avoid spending pro-
longed sessions of embracing and kissing as this could easily lead to
temptations beyond control. It is great to spend time in Bible study
and praying together.

C. WRONG REASONS TO MARRY

Here are some wrong reasons to marry that you should avoid:

1.You are trying to escape home problems or a life of being single.


Young people tend to think that other circumstances than the one
they are in (home) will definitely produce contentment. But if you
cannot get along with your own family, you will probably have diffi-
culty relating to your marriage partner. Many, many people have
been, and are, completely happy and content without being married.
What you think you are escaping in being single may turn out to be
better than an unhappy marriage.

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2. You are marrying with the expectation to change the other
person.
Many young women believe they can change the offensive behav-
ior of a man by marrying him. However, such “logic” has been re-
futed thousands of times by reality; he remains the same or his
behavior worsens. Why? After marriage, there is little incentive to
change as the goal for the man has been reached. This, of course,
can be the case in reverse, with a fellow marrying his "dream girl"
with the attributes built up in his mind, but the realty falls far short of
that.

3. You are marrying an unbeliever, and believe you are the “exception
to the rule.”
Although the person knows better, some young people marry an
unbeliever because he or she thinks the marriage will be the excep-
tion to the rule of be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers
(2 Corinthians 6:14). These believers deceive themselves into think-
ing the marriage will work out. But since marriage is designed to be
the relationship of greatest intimacy, how will this be possible when
one partner is described as “light” and one as “darkness?” (2 Corinthi-
ans 6:15).

4.You are marrying because of the strong physical attraction.


If you are marrying because of wonderful chemistry only, be-
tween you and the one you plan to marry, you do not have a solid
foundation.

5. You have a missionary or mother complex and feel sorry for


the other person.
You are afraid the other person will drift away from the Lord if
you drop them. Frequently a person is burdened for the other party
because of the hard time they have in life and want to reach out
to them with compassion in order to help them or make them feel
better. Please don’t be caught in this trap.

6. Your primary interest in the other person is they are fun to be


with.
You should have stronger motives in life than just to have a good
time.

18
D. RIGHT REASONS TO MARRY

If you desire to be married for the following reasons, you are on


the right track:
1. You want to unselfishly give yourself to the other person for the
rest of your life.
If this is your primary motive and desire, your marriage prepara-
tion is on track.

2. You believe you will be more effective for Christ as a married


couple.
If your primary desire as a couple is to serve the Lord with all your
hearts, your marriage will be established on a good foundation.

3.You can make a commitment of love to your prospective partner.


Love is more than a feeling. Feelings will waver. There has to be
that commitment that will keep you together, no matter what comes
into your lives.

E. HOW TO DETERMINE IF THIS IS THE “RIGHT PERSON’


Eight Questions To Ask

On a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on the following questions. If


your answer is overwhelmingly positive, give your-
self a “10.” If your answer is mostly negative, give
yourself a “1.” If it is in the middle give yourself a
5, and so on.

1. What is your major attraction to the other


person?
Is it primarily physical? A pretty face, an athletic
physique? Is it just sexual attraction? Feelings change,
and they can change rapidly. Rate yourself “10” if
your major attraction to the person is NOT physical; “1” if
it is physical.

2. How consistent is your interest?


Are you interested in the person just when you are around him or
her? Does your interest decrease depending on other circumstances

19
or other people? Give yourself a “10” if your interest is consistently
present; “1” if it varies a great deal.

3.What is the effect of this relationship on your whole life?


Does the relationship cause you to lose focus on other important
priorities, like school or your job? Does it cause you to become disor-
ganized and confused? Give yourself a “10” if the person has the ef-
fect of making you a better person; “1” if he or she produces a
negative effect on your life.

4. How do others view your relationship?


Do your parents and close friends speak positively about this per-
son? Very often, you cannot see the flaws in a person that are obvi-
ous to others. It would be foolish to ignore the warnings of parents
and close friends. Give yourself a “10” if others close to you view
your relationship as positive; “1” if they view it as negative.

5.What is the effect of distance on your relationship? (similar to # 2)


When your interest is primarily physical, distance causes you to
change your interest. If you would rather have a person close by
than the one at a distance from you, your relationship is not at the
marriage stage. Rate “10” if distance has no effect.

6. How do quarrels and fights affect you?


Do you often fight, break up, and than “make up” as a couple?
Can you easily resolve your differences, or do disagreements put a
great strain on the relationship? Do you continue with the person just
because you have nothing else to do? Rate yourself “10” if your dis-
agreements have no lasting effect; “1” if they are frequent.

7. How do you refer to your relationship?


When people are bonded to each other, they start using the words
“we” and “us” instead of “I/me” and “(s)he/they.” If you consistently
refer to your relationship in terms that are mutual, and not individual,
give yourself a “10.”

8. Is your motive basically selfish or selfless?


What is your overall motive for marrying? Is it to give yourself un-
selfishly to the other person for the rest of your life? Or is it to escape

20
home, “cure” singleness, or for some other reason? Give yourself a
“10” if your motive is to give, not get.

If you scored at least “60” as your total on the above questions, the
person you are considering may be the “Right Person” for you. If you
scored only “40-50,” you will want to wait on any marriage plans.

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #2

1. Why do you think God has warned the believer not to marry an
unbeliever?

2. Name (5) key principles in “Preparation for Marriage.”


a.
b.
c.
d.
e.

3. What are three wrong reasons people marry?


a.
b.
c.
What are two right reasons to marry?
a.
b.

4. State the top (5) questions that are helpful to you to determine the
“right person” for you to marry.

5. Memorize: Matthew 19:6 Review: Genesis 2:24

21
The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 3
THE HUSBAND AND WIFE ROLES

“For best results, follow instructions of maker.” So advised a


brochure accompanying a bottle of a common cold remedy. If such
advice is good for the relief of a simple physical ailment, how much
more it is needed for the relief of sick marriage relationships! God,
the Author of marriage, has given us clear instructions in the Bible.
– Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, page 233

The above quote is abundantly true. Before your marriage be-


comes “sick,” it is wise to consult the Author of marriage, and His
book on the subject, the Bible. Having learned in Session 1 that mar-
riage is God’s idea, you will not be surprised to learn that God has
specific ideas for the role of the husband and the wife in marriage.
As you study Session 3, keep in mind these two background facts
about marriage:

Marriage is not just to meet your needs. God has multiple pur-
poses for marriage, which include the five basic purposes He has for
every believer (as studied in Session 1).
God’s plan for marriage involves an outcome that is beneficial for
both partners. Marriage is designed to give blessing and happiness,
not misery and heartache.

Perhaps you are reading this lesson today and:

• You have already experienced the heartache of a broken or abu-


sive marriage.
• You have been part of a home in which the marriage relation-
ship failed.
• You are now in a “shaky” marriage that is threatening to dis-
solve, or that you desire to leave.
• You have some idealistic notions about marriage.

22
No matter what your experience, or your current ideas, please re-
member that God is sovereign (in control of everything) and God is
good. Everything He made or established – like marriage – is good.
Yours or someone else’s marriage may not be all that God intended,
but His overall design is still valid, and still the pattern for the ulti-
mate blessing of men, women, and children.

A. THE ROLE OF THE HUSBAND IN THE FAMILY:


Read: Ephesians 5:21-33, 1 Peter 3:7

In the context of Ephesians 5,


it is interesting that God, through
Paul, speaks first to the person
who is under authority (that is,
the wife), and not to the person
in authority (the husband). Un-
doubtedly, there are many good
reasons for this order. In our
study, however, we will begin by
speaking to the husband.

1. Provide Leadership
It is the role of the husband to provide the loving leadership in his
family. In Ephesians 5:23, the husband is called “the head of the
wife, even as Christ is the Head of the church.” This means that the
husband is to be the leader of the family in every aspect of the fam-
ily life. This will include:

• Spiritually – the husband is to be the “priest” in the home. He is


to teach the Scriptures to his family, pray with them and for them,
and ensure that they are regularly attending the services of a good
Bible-teaching church. He is to make sure that all members of the
family are growing spiritually. For this to happen, the husband’s spiri-
tual life must be his priority. He must regularly confess and forsake
sin in his life; otherwise, his family will be susceptible to attacks from
Satan.
• Physically – the husband is the “provider” for his family of food,
clothing, and shelter. Although the wife can assist in generating in-
come, it is the husband’s ultimate responsibility to provide for the
needs of each family member.

23
• Emotionally – the husband also needs to be a “protector” of his
home in the emotional area. He needs to be alert to the different
emotional needs of his wife and his children; men and women, and
boys and girls, differ in this area. The husband must be a nurturer of
his family’s emotional life, because it is intricately tied to the spiritual
aspect. Further, Satan attacks the family in this area, so the husband
needs to understand the family’s emotional needs, and guard against
the wiles of the devil.

2. Ultimate Responsibility
According to 1 Peter 3:7, husbands and wives share together in
“the grace of life.” But, as the leader or “head” of the family, God
holds the husband accountable for the ultimate welfare of the family.
God made men and women different both physically and emotion-
ally. Men are better able to bear the pressure and responsibility of
caring for the various needs of the family, and the many difficulties
and problems that families face. This is why God calls the husband
“the saviour of the body” in Ephesians 5:23-b. He is to save the fam-
ily (and especially his wife) from undue pressure and concern. Oth-
erwise, the health of various family members (especially the wife)
will suffer. What is the husband responsible for? Here is a short list:

• The discipline of the children. Although


the wife may spend more time with the
children, it is the husband’s ultimate re-
sponsibility of make sure that the chil-
dren obey parental authority.
• The education of the children. It is the
husband’s responsibility to ensure that
his children receive an education that
glorifies God and gives them a solid
foundation for life. It is not just the re-
sponsibility of the wife to teach the
children. The husband needs to be involved in understanding
what his children are learning day by day.
• The children’s life skills. Especially in adolescence, the husband
and father is to guide his children into making good and Godly
career choices. He is to make sure that they possess the the life
skills necessary to function in society, and to eventually become
independent of their parents.

24
• The overall welfare of his wife. This is addressed next.

3. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.


Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church,
and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).

THAT is a profound statement that includes enormous responsibil-


ity! Love is a matter of the will. You have the choice of loving whom
you please. Do not let your emotions, or feelings, make that impor-
tant choice for you.
First, it is a command: husbands are to love (not try to love) their
wives. A husband is to love his wife even if she does not love him in
return The Bible is unequivocal: husbands are commanded to love
their wives. To what degree? The Greek word for love used here is
“agape,” or God’s self-giving love. God’s love seeks to meet the basic
needs of the loved one without expecting anything in return. This is
the way that husbands are to love their wives.
Second, the husband is to love his wife in the same way that
Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it. Although an entire
book could be written on how Christ loved the Church, let’s summa-
rize by saying that the husband is commanded to love in these ways:

1. Self-sacrificially (verse 25b): the husband is to sacrifice himself


and his interests, ideas, and ambitions for his wife. He is to “lay
down” his life for his wife, not just physically, but mentally, emotion-
ally, and spiritually. Jesus said in John 10:11, I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Among other things, 1
Peter 3:7 reads, dwell with them (your wives) according to knowl-
edge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, meaning
that a husband is to study his wife. A husband does not automatically
understand his wife (her needs, her desires, her heart). He must ask
questions and learn, not just with his head, but with his heart.
Women are described as the weaker vessel because they have a more
delicate nature than men. Therefore, a husband will need to sacrifice
his time in order to understand his wife To start with, you need to
recognize, and work on the following:

a. Your wife is different physically. She tires more easily, especially


as she grows older.
b. She does not just want solutions, she wants understanding.

25
Listen to her.
c. Feelings of inferiority and insecurity can be a problem. She
needs your approval and understanding when she feels over-
whelmed by home and family responsibilities.
d. She wants you to be the leader in every area of the home: fi-
nances, property, children, future goals, spiritually, etc. She
wants a leader who first recognizes the needs of the family and
is working for their welfare. Next, can her husband accomplish
the goals after she gives her opinion.
e. Your wife needs your physical help and time given to the home
and to child-rearing. Some men think the home and children are
all the wife’s responsibility. This is not true.

2. Considering her ultimate welfare (verse 26-27): the husband is to


sacrifice himself for his wife with the goal in mind of her ultimate
good. The Lord Jesus endured the Cross, and despised the shame for
the glory that was set before Him, the redemption of the Church. In
the same way, the husband is to be motivated in his role-responsibil-
ity by the ultimate benefit that will be received by his wife. For ex-
ample, do you know the answers to these questions:

a. What is your wife most concerned about right now?


b. What is your wife’s greatest need?
c. What is her wildest dream?
d. What is her smallest hurt?
e. What would she like to explore or pursue if she felt she could?
f. What is her favorite color, perfume, flower, and restaurant at
which to eat?

3.As he loves his own body (verses 28-29): the husband is to love
his wife just like he loves his own body. No mentally sound man
harms his own body or starves his body. Men are created with the
innate desire for physical and emotional well-being. They do what-
ever is required to care for their bodies so all the needs are met. This
is the way the husband is to love his wife, until all her needs are
met. Because the husband and the wife are one flesh, Paul declares
that He that loveth his wife loveth himself. The opposite would also be
true: if a man does not love his wife in this fashion, he is hurting
himself. Therefore, are you actively working on the items listed on
page 2 under loving your wife “Self-sacrifically” and questions under

26
“Considering Her Ultimate Welfare?” If not, start today, ask the ques-
tions, then follow through with solid actions.

B. THE ROLE OF THE WIFE:


Read: Ephesians 5:18-24, 31, 33

Wives are to rank under their hus-


bands in marriage and family relation-
ships.
In Ephesians 5:18-21, Paul is dis-
cussing how a person may be filled
with the Spirit, that is, controlled by the
Holy Spirit. Each believer received all of
the Holy Spirit at the moment of salva-
tion (1 Corinthians 12:13). He does not need more of the Holy Spirit,
but needs to be controlled by the Spirit. Paul lists the following as evi-
dences of being controlled by the Holy Spirit: believers who speak to
each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, believers who
are giving thanks always for all things, and believers who are submit-
ting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
In the Greek, the word “submit” is hupotasso, which literally
means “to rank under.” Hupo-tasso is a military term that describes
the role and responsibility of each member of the fighting force. In
most armies, the private ranks under the corporal, the corporal under
the sergeant, and the sergeant under the lieutenant. A lieutenant
ranks under a captain, a captain under a colonel, and a colonel
under a general. The generals in an army rank under the Chief of
Staff for the Army, and the Chief of Staff ranks under the Com-
mander-in-Chief of the armed forces, who is usually the President of
the country or Head of State.
The role or rank of a person in the military has nothing to do with
his intrinsic worth, or his superiority/inferiority as a human being. In
God’s eyes, the private who is a foot soldier is just as important as
the Commander-in-Chief in the presidential palace.
In the same way, in the marriage relationship, the wife ranks
(“submits” = “hupotasso”) under the husband as far as role-responsi-
bility is concerned. She is not the one ultimately in charge of, or re-
sponsible for the marriage relationship, or for the resulting family and
children. That is the husband’s responsibility. That is why the hus-

27
band is called the “head” of the wife in Ephesians 5:23a.
Regarding Paul’s summary statement in Ephesians 5:22, Wives, sub-
mit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord, let us note
the following:

1.What It Does Not Mean


• It does not mean that the wife is inferior to her husband in any
way. Clearly, there are many women who are more intelligent,
more capable, more gifted, and more persevering than their hus-
bands. Most importantly, in God’s eyes, men and women are of
equal value.
• It does not mean that the wife is to agree with her husband in
everything and remain silent about her opinions and ideas. A woman
should lovingly express her opinion to her husband on matters relat-
ing to the marriage and the family. God made women with an intu-
itive sense of knowledge that is an invaluable resource for any
husband and father. A wise man will consult his wife before making
major decisions in the family, in interpersonal relationships, and in
business. His wife will often discern potential problems that the hus-
band does not see.

2.What It Does Mean


• It means that the wife should leave the final decision-making re-
sponsibility to the husband. When any matter dealing with the mar-
riage or family is prayed or talked about by the couple, the ultimate
responsibility for decision-making belongs to the husband. He makes
the decision, and bears the responsibility for the consequences of the
decision.
• It does mean that the wife should not try to undermine her hus-
band’s role by: resisting his authority, or by influencing the children
in any way to resist his authority, being a “competitor,” rather than a
“completer” and companion for her husband. God made men and
women different for a reason. Each one is to “complete” the other.
Relish the differences and cooperate to become what God wants you
to be. Do not compete for roles. Don’t try to grab control and author-
ity away from the husband, because the wife thinks she is “right.”
This only damages the marriage, and all family relationships. A wise
woman will submit herself, or rank under, her husband, because
Ephesians 5:23b describes him as the saviour of the body. God made
men physically and emotionally to “save” (that is, protect and nur-

28
ture) their wives and children. A woman who grabs control away
from her husband puts tremendous pressure on herself to fulfill a re-
sponsibility for which she is not suited. This undue pressure will
eventually damage her and her family.

Wives, recognize the following about your husband, and act


accordingly:

a. Your husband’s work is NOT just


to earn money. His work and
production is an integral part of
him fully accepting himself. En-
courage him in his work.
b. Your husband was made to
LEAD: let him take the leadership
in the family, and in your rela-
tionship. Don’t take the leadership role yourself.
c. Most men do not understand their emotions, and have difficulty
in expressing them, especially their fears. Instead, they build de-
fenses against fear and react to questions with conflict, harsh-
ness, or silence. Encourage them to express their fears, and
affirm them.
d. Choose to understand and accept your husband as he is. Focus
on his strengths, and do not criticize him, give unwanted ad-
vice, engage in angry outbursts, or review his past failure.
e. Understand that your husband often gets criticized on the job,
and is under constant pressure to “measure up” in the employ-
ment area. Make your home a “safe haven” by not criticizing
him, and giving him a place to relax and feel accepted.

Here is a good idea that will solve most marriage conflicts:

“Love for one another is to be the dominant theme of the relation-


ship. I’m convinced that the issue is never who is in charge but the
basis of the relationship. People who have an unselfish love for one
another can work things out. People who really love each other can
make mistakes and start over with one another. People who love
each other can survive without always getting their own way. People
who love each other can adapt themselves to one another.”
– Dr. Kenneth Chafin, Is There a Family in the House? - page 64

29
C. MARRIAGE IS A SPIRITUAL MYSTERY

According to Ephesians 5:32, marriage is a great mystery: but I


speak concerning Christ and the church. This means that marriage
was given by God as a picture of the relationship between Christ and
His Church.
The husband’s role represents Christ, and the wife’s role represents
the Church. Like Christ, the husband is to love and lead his wife and
family. The wife is to submit herself to her husband’s leadership and
authority. The ultimate result is a marriage that pictures Christ’s love
and sacrifice for the Church, and the Church’s submission and obedi-
ence to Christ. When a marriage functions with these roles intact,
great praise and glory are given to God.
Perhaps you never thought of it this way, but your marriage is in-
tended to demonstrate the love and goodness of God to a lost world.
It is also intended to show the perfection of God’s wisdom in Christ
to the angelic hosts (1 Corinthians 4:9). Your current or future mar-
riage is of great value to God!

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #3

1. What is the role of the husband in the family?

2. What is the role of the husband with his wife?

3. How would marriage benefit from a man who loves his wife like
Ephesians 5:25-31?

4. Name two things that “submit” (hupotasso) does not mean regard-
ing the wife's relationship with her husband
a.
b.

State two things that “submit” (hupotasso) does mean regarding the
wife-husband relationship.

5. How would marriage benefit from a wife who “ranks under” her
husband in this way?

30
6. Memorize: Ephesians 5:25 if you are a man, and Ephesians 5:22 if
you are a woman

31
The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 4
CREATING ONENESS IN MARRIAGE

Someone has likened adjustment to marriage to two porcupines who


lived in Alaska. When the deep and heavy snows came, they felt the
cold and began to draw closer together. However, when they drew
close, they began to stick one another with their quills. But when
they drew apart they felt the cold once again. To keep warm they
had to learn how to adjust to one another – very carefully.
– Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, page 233

As you learned in Session 3, you have a specific role in marriage


as a husband, or as a wife. However, fulfilling your role is not all
there is to a successful Christian marriage. You are two different peo-
ple whom God has brought together to become one in a new rela-
tionship. You are different because of:

◆ gender
◆ temperament
◆ family influences and background
◆ how you react to life events
◆ social, economic, culture, and possibly even ethnic background
◆ variance in spiritual growth and development

How is it possible for two people that are so different to experi-


ence harmony, oneness, and intimacy in marriage? There is no sim-
ple answer or formula to follow. But God does have some practical
pointers from His Word. Let’s look at some of these in Session 4.

Read: Acts 11:26 and John 13:34-35

A. MAXIMIZE LOVE AND MINIMIZE EXPECTATIONS

In the Acts passage, Luke tells us that it was in the city of Antioch

32
that the believers were first called
“Christians,” or “Christ-ones.” The term
indicated that they belonged to Christ,
and were representatives of Him in the
world. How easy it is to forget to “be
Jesus” to other Christians, especially
those in our own families. But believers
are called, first of all, to be Christians in any
and all relationships. It is in the family, and
through the husband-wife relationship, that God
designed that His love should be on display. But
husbands and wives tend to enter marriage with certain expectations
of the other person. Primarily they are expecting to receive from their
spouse rather than give to the spouse. This creates an immediate
problem in the relationship. Husbands and wives expect certain
types of attitudes, reactions, and behavior from their spouse.When
these expectations are not met, hurt, disillusionment, and anger de-
velop. When these emotions are not resolved, the seeds of perma-
nent division, and even divorce, are allowed to grow.

B. PURPOSE TO GIVE NOT GET

Most of the difficulties of expectations would be removed if each


marriage partner, before he or she says, “I do,” would determine that
giving to their spouse is their main purpose, not getting. Remember –
love gives. Marriage is not a 50/50 arrangement in which each part-
ner contributes one-half to the relationship. Marriage is each person
giving 100% of themselves to the other person. As John 13:34 states,
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I
have loved you . . . John 15:13 says, Greater love hath no man than
this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Biblical love involves giving to the basic needs of another without
expecting anything in return. When this attitude of self-giving is the
foundation of the marriage, relational oneness and intimacy are the
result. Please note that Biblical love does not mean that a marriage
partner expects nothing from the other person. Realistic Biblical ex-
pectations, such as found in Session 3 (Ephesians 5:21-33) are appro-
priate. These Biblical expectations provide accountability for each
marriage partner, and prevent marital neglect, or marital abuse.

33
C. PRACTICAL TIPS ON LOVING YOUR SPOUSE

1. Men:
• Build your wife’s self-esteem. Society is intent on tearing down
her self-image, or giving her a wrong standard to measure up to
(e.g., outward physical appearance). Don’t add to the problem.
• Don’t compare your wife to other women. She is a unique cre-
ation of God.
• Respect her opinions. God gave you your wife for a reason!
• Don’t embarrass her. Use good manners while in public and in
private.
• Be the man your wife can “look up to,” but don’t “look down
on her.” Develop your Godly convictions and stand up for what
you believe.
• Meet her emotional needs. Women have a huge desire for love
and tenderness. She needs to hear you say, “I love you,” and
mean it.
• Take the initiative to communicate with her verbally every day.
Communicate on a feeling level, as well as on a factual level.
• Help her with home responsibilities. Perhaps your father did not
help around the house, and was not involved in raising the chil-
dren. Set a new example! One counselor said that “A major
cause of divorce is the woman becoming tired of being the giver
and not being on the receiving end very much.”
• Admit when you are wrong, and ask her forgiveness.

2.Women:
• Affirm your husband’s self-worth. He gets “beat up,” that is, criti-
cized enough on the job. Don’t add to the problem at home.
• Don’t compare your husband to other men. He is a unique cre-
ation of God.
• Respect his opinions. God gave you your husband for a reason!
• Don’t embarrass him in public or in private by your speech or
actions.
• Attend to your appearance. Seek to look your best at all times.
Keep your home tidy.
• Challenge your husband by your Godly life.
• Verbally praise and admire your husband. He has a huge desire
for admiration, and cannot get enough of it. Pass on a compli-
ment you heard about him.

34
• Respect him as a man: the word “respect,” in Ephesians 5:33,
means to “notice, regard, honor, esteem, defer, praise, admire
exceedingly.”
• Make sure your spirit is right toward your husband. He will pick
up on your attitude toward him. Your attitude will often control
a husband’s motivation or lack thereof.

D. COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY
Read: Proverbs 17:17, Proverbs 18:24, Proverbs 6:6-8,
and 1 Peter 3:7

The word “communication” has the root meaning of “communing


together with.” At least two people are involved for communication
to occur, and these two must come together. Practically speaking,
what does this mean for the marriage relationship?

1. Build your friendship with your marriage partner. He/she should


be your best friend.
Far too many couples enter marriage because of physical attrac-
tion, to escape an unhappy home environment, or for various other
non-Biblical reasons. Prior to marriage, these couples have not just
spent time becoming friends and being friends. They do not know
and understand their partner’s temperament, family background,
emotional, and psychological make up.
They have not spent time talking and
praying with their partner, or being
involved in wholesome activities
that build friendship and oneness.
Some men hide behind the
statement: “I just cannot under-
stand my wife. I don’t under-
stand women.” But in 1 Peter
3:7, God commands men to live
with their wives according to
knowledge. This means that hus-
bands are to “study” their wives,
and to learn to understand them.
Otherwise, the husband’s prayers will
be hindered.

35
Men:
a. The word dwell, in 1 Peter 3:7, means to “dwell down” with, or
be closely related to. This is a picture of close companionship
and deep togetherness. Does your wife believe she is your clos-
est companion and partner on life’s journey?
b. The word give honor unto, in 1 Peter 3:7, comes from the same
root as “precious” in the Greek. Do you treat your wife as a per-
son of great worth and value to you? Does she believe she is
number one in your life, and not your work?
c. Do things with your wife and for your wife. They do not have
to be big things. Remember her birthday and your wedding an-
niversary and give a small gift when it is not expected. These
gifts should not be practical, but just to say “I love you” and “I
was thinking about you.”
d. Practice the common courtesies of life. Be gracious, not harsh,
in your speech.

If any of the above descriptions fit you, purpose to build your


friendship with your partner day by day and week by week. Spend
time just interacting with your partner. This will help you to enjoy,
appreciate, and learn more about her. If you have children, schedule
a “date night out” with your spouse so just the two of you can be
together.

Women:
a. Develop an interest in what interests him. Don’t use all your en-
ergies to fulfill your responsibilities to the home and children.
Have energy left for your husband! Your relationship with him is
the priority over your children and your home.
b. Avoid sulking, silence, advising, and the “silent treatment” when
you disagree with your husband. Be open and honest with your
feelings and needs. Don’t expect him to understand you without
giving him important information.
c. Your husband wants to enjoy your feminine side. Be continually
improving your inward and outward beauty. Use common cour-
tesy in your speech. Be gracious.

2.Thoroughly plan together for your life as a couple.


Many couples enter marriage without discussing, planning, and
praying about their lives together. Adjustment to marriage involves

36
starting to think and act as “we” instead of “me.” A multitude of deci-
sions that you previously made on your own must now be made as a
couple, such as:

A – How will we spend our weekends?


B – Who will handle the finances and how?
C – How many children would we like to have, and how will we
train them?
D - How much time and energy will we give to parents, to in-
laws, to friends?
E – What are our goals as a couple for five, ten, or twenty years
from now?
F – How will we handle disagreements and conflict?

FINANCES: The area of finances is one over which many couples


argue. By temperament and upbringing, some people are very thrifty,
they count every small piece of money, and want to keep thorough
and accurate accounts of how all money is spent. Other people are
more casual in their attitude toward money, they may tend to over-
spend, buy items on impulse, and not keep accurate records. In
order to avoid major disagreements over finances, decide before you
are married.

• What are God’s main purposes for money? How can we honor
God with the money He has entrusted to us? (1 Corinthians 4:2)
• How will we make financial decisions? After discussion, who
will make the final decision?
• Who will set up the family budget? Decide now that you will
write down a family budget and stick to it! The vast majority of
your financial problems will be solved when you write down a
weekly, monthly, and yearly budget and then keep it.
• Decide what your beliefs are about borrowing money, or using
credit cards to purchase small items. You may incur a great deal
of debt through this type of borrowing. Make sure there are
safeguards on the use of credit.

Discussing, praying over, and coming to agreement over these


matters and many others is vital to oneness in your marriage. Do not
just assume “we already agree on most things,” and then neglect this
important area of planning. Schedule an uninterrupted time monthly

37
to sit down with your partner to plan and pray over these areas.
Some couples have even written down their mutual agreements on
various issues. Putting your plans and agreements down on paper is
an excellent way to begin, and will help you to:

• Stay focused on your goals


• Be accountable to God and to each other
• Have a list of answered prayers to praise and thank God!

E. KEEP GROWING AS INDIVIDUALS


Read: Psalm 139:14 and Ephesians 2:10

Although marriage makes you “one flesh” with your partner, it


does not erase your individual identity. You are still an individual be-
fore God with unique value and importance just because you belong
to Him.
The Bible declares that each believer is his workmanship. This is
the Greek word from which we get our English word, “poem.” Each
believer who is united to Jesus Christ by His saving work is a cre-
ative work of God. You are God’s “work of art,” His “masterpiece.”
What does it mean to be God’s masterpiece? Why did God create
you physically, and re-create you spiritually?

1.You are God’s “Masterpiece”

Ephesians 2:10 answers these questions by stating God created us


unto good works. What are these good works? Are they the general
good works of thinking, speaking, and acting as a Christian should?
Are they some specific works of service, or a particular type of min-
istry to which God calls us? Are they the good works of being an ex-
emplary husband and father, wife and mother? Are they the good
works of going to church, reading the Bible, and praying? Are they
the good works of evangelizing our friends and neighbors? Yes, all of
these are involved, but there is much, much, more to good works.
Let’s examine another passage of Scripture.
Philippians 2:13 – For it is God which worketh in you both to will
and to do of his good pleasure. What are good works according to
Philippians 2:13? Notice the emphasis in the verse is on what GOD is
doing. A good work is something that God:

38
• Places a desire in your heart to do by His indwelling Spirit, and
then . . .
• Gives you the ability and the strength, through His Spirit, to
carry it out.

In other words, a good work is something that is initiated and im-


plemented by God. In this way, God alone receives all the glory for
the work. What new skill do you want to learn? God placed that de-
sire in your heart. Pursue it!
God has equipped each individual believer with specific spiritual
gifts, abilities, heart (passion), personality, and experiences. When all
of this spiritual “equipment” comes under the control of the Holy
Spirit, each individual believer can contribute “good works” that
build God’s kingdom. It is not just preachers, teachers, missionaries,
and other Christian workers whom God uses in His kingdom work.
God uses each believer. God uses each one of His “masterpieces” to
accomplish some part of His work. He uses the uniqueness of each
of His masterpieces to achieve specific purposes that only that indi-
vidual is equipped to do. When believers use their “equipment”
under God’s guidance and authority, true good works result.

2. Individual “Masterpieces” and Marriage


How do Ephesians 2:10 and Philippians 2:13 relate to the marriage
relationship?

As you continue to grow spiritually, emotionally, and personally as


an individual believer, you will
have more to contribute to your
marriage partner and to your family
relationships. Woe to the marriage
partner who, in the name of “devo-
tion” to the marital relationship,
sacrifices his or her personal iden-
tity and welfare. This type of “self-
sacrifice” is not what Jesus had in
mind when He commanded to lay
down (your) life for (your) friends.
It will only weaken the marriage
relationship. Some well-meaning
spouses “deny themselves” to the

39
point of not believing they are allowed to have or express their own
opinions, likes and dislikes, and overall personality. Nothing could
be further from the truth. A wise spouse will continue to grow in all
the areas of his or her person, and will cooperate with the work God
is doing to create a “masterpiece” out of his or her life. This type of
growth will greatly strengthen and invigorate the marriage, and pro-
duce the good works of Ephesians 2:10.

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #4

1. Name two ways that you can maximize love in your marriage.
a.
b.

2. State three expectations that you have for your marriage partner.
Do you and your partner think they are or are not Biblical expec-
tations? Why?
a.
b.
c.

3. If you are a man, list (3) practical ways you can love your wife; if
you are a woman, list (3) practical ways you can love your hus-
band.
a.
b.
c.

4. How will building a friendship with your spouse enhance commu-


nication in your marriage?
Name two things you can do right away to build your friendship.
a.
b.

5. How can you grow as an individual in these areas: physical, emo-


tional, relational, and spiritual? What specific steps will you take to
grow?

6. Memorize: John 13:34 and review Ephesians 5:25 or Ephesians


5:22, Matthew 19:6, and Genesis 2:24.
40
The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 5
CHILDREN: THEIR VALUE AND TRAINING

Former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, is reported to have said: “It


is exceedingly interesting and attractive to be a successful business-
man, or railroad man, or farmer, or a successful lawyer or doctor,
or a writer, or a President . . . But for unflagging interest and enjoy-
ment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, cer-
tainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their
importance by comparison.”
– Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, page 43

After a session with his parents, a little boy taped a note to his par-
ents’ door that read: “Dear Parents, be nice to your children and they
will be nice to you. Love, God.” - ibid, page 43
Understanding that marriage is God’s idea is the foundational con-
cept for building a Christian home that glorifies God and that meets
the needs of all family members. Understanding and implementing
the roles of husband and wife is the second building block. Learning
how to develop intimacy in your marriage is the third building block
for a truly Biblical home.
When children arrive, many other building
blocks are needed for the Christian home!
Each child is a new and different per-
sonality who must be nurtured, re-
lated to, and caused to blend into
the family unit. Children change
the entire dynamic of the home.
What are the Biblical principles
that will guide parents in the chal-
lenge and joy of child-rearing? Let us
look at some principles from God’s
Word.

Read: Genesis 1:26-28 and Revelation 7:9-10


41
A. CHILDREN ARE GOD’S IDEA!

God’s design in creating man was always to have an entire race of


people, not just two or three. After He created Adam and Eve, God
said, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it
(Genesis 1:28a). God made the earth to be inhabited. That is why He
said to fill, or replenish, the earth. In eternity future, we do not know
exactly how many people will dwell with God in heaven. We do
know, however, that the number of people martyred for their faith in
Jesus cannot be counted (Revelation 7:9-10). It seems clear from this
picture that God is delighted to have a large number of people who
will one day worship, adore, serve, and enjoy Him forever. In order
to have a large number of people, the first two people, Adam and
Eve, must reproduce after their kind, that is, have human children.
God designed the bodies of men
and women so that this could happen. Sexuality is an integral part
of God’s design. All of God’s physical design of Adam and Eve
points to one fact: Children are God’s idea!

B. CHILDREN ARE OF GREAT WORTH TO GOD


Read: Psalm 127:3-4 and Psalm 139:14-16

1. Children Are God’s Gifts


In Psalm 127, God declares that He gives children not only to “fill
the earth,” but as a sign of His blessing. Lo, children are an heritage
(inheritance) of the Lord. You cannot buy an inheritance. By its very
nature, an inheritance is a gift. God is the best Giver. He is generous,
cheerful, loving, and wise. He alone can give children. He alone can
create life. The introduction of children into a family is an example
of a “good and precious gift” (James 1:17). Psalm 127:3 puts it this
way: the fruit of the womb is his reward.
All ancient civilizations considered children to be a sign of the
blessing of the supernatural (the “gods”). Ancient people, and some
peoples today, did elaborate sacrifices and performed elaborate ritu-
als to obtain the good favor of their deity so that more children
would be born into the family.

2. Children Are Valuable as Individuals


It is important to remember that each child is valuable, and not

42
just because they are necessary for the propagation of the human
race. They are greatly valued as individuals by their Creator. Psalm
139:13-16 gives an “inside look” at the amazing creation of a child in-
side the womb of the mother. What do we learn from these verses?

a. Each detail of the design of the unborn child was superintended


by God. He observed and controlled all that took place inside
the womb (verse 13). Even in the embryonic state (the meaning
of my substance - verse 15), God sees and knows about each
child.
b. God is the One who fearfully and wonderfully develops the
fetus (verse 14). This development is likened to a master weaver
who produces an exquisite tapestry (the meaning of curiously
wrought - verse 15), or a skilled artist who has created a work
of art. In the lowest parts of the earth is a reference to the
mother’s womb.
c. God concludes His description of human development in the
unborn state by saying that He has prerecorded the number of
days of the person’s life. This is the meaning of in thy book all
my members were written - verse 16. God alone knows how
long each person will live. No wonder the Psalmist wrote, My
times are in thy hand (Psalm 31:15).

From Psalm 139:13-16, the following conclusions can be drawn:

◆ Children have incredible worth to God! He spends an amazing


amount of time on each.
◆ Each unborn child is a human being. To kill an unborn baby
through abortion is murder.
◆ Because each child has an immortal soul which is imparted at
conception, parents have a huge responsibility to care for and
nurture each child.

C. CHILD TRAINING – IT TAKES TIME, FATHERS


Read: Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Proverbs 1:8-9; Proverbs 3:12; Proverbs
4:1; and Proverbs 22:6

Instruction – Training – Discipline


From the above passages in Proverbs, it is clear that fathers are
43
to instruct and discipline their chil-
dren. The word “discipline” comes
from a root word that means “train-
ing.” Discipline is essentially training
and discipline takes time. Instruction
(discipline) is given in various sub-
jects in these opening chapters of
Proverbs: how to understand true
wisdom, how to discern the motives
of evil men and women, how to
avoid wrong friends, financial free-
dom, the rewards of diligence in
work, the perils of an “unguarded”
heart and an uncontrolled mind re-
garding relationships with the oppo-
site sex. All of this instruction appears to have been verbal. Some of
it was probably written from Old Testament scriptures. Clearly, the
father would have to spend considerable time with his child in
order to communicate these truths and give such a large amount of
instruction.

You Reap What You Sow


As the passage in Deuteronomy exhorts, this type of training is to
begin as a child. God knows that the mind and heart of a child are
teachable and impressionable. Childhood is the time in which a solid
foundation for success can be laid in all areas of a child’s life. Of
course, the opposite is also true: neglect of the discipline and training
of children will hamper their future success in life. Those wise men
God used to write down the Holy Scriptures, would undoubtedly
agree with the modern writer who penned:

If we sow a thought, we reap an act;


If we sow an act, we reap a habit;
If we sow a habit, we reap character;
If we sow character, we reap a destiny.

Therefore, the discipline of children involves much more than the


correction of “bad behavior.” As a parent, it is primarily your respon-
sibility to discipline and train your children in the physical, mental,
emotional, social, and spiritual areas of life. Discipline is not prima-

44
rily the responsibility of the school, the church, or any government
agency. Here is a partial list of areas of discipline and training:
Areas of Instruction and Discipline
Motives – usually behavior, or actions, is the first area to which
child training and discipline is directed. However, this should not be
the case. Actions are the outcome of motives and attitudes of the
heart. Teach and train your children how to uncover their own mo-
tives, or reasons, for thinking, speaking, or acting a certain way. This
will greatly help them in all their relationships with God, with others,
and with themselves. Ask your child: “Why do you think you did this
(or said this)?” Then, communicate to children that they must take
personal responsibility for their motives, and the actions or words
that are a result of their motives.

Attitudes – teach and train your children to acquire and display


Godly attitudes, like respect, gratefulness, meekness, humility, joy-
fulness, purity, and endurance. Reinforce Godly attitudes and correct
immature attitudes that reflect a lack of personal responsibility.

Speech – train your children in appropriate ways of talking to those


who are older, younger, or in different positions in society. Remind
them that it is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh
(Matthew 12:34). Therefore, when disrespectful, angry, or complain-
ing speech is displayed, the child needs to check on what motives
and attitudes are in his heart which are not pleasing to God.

Emotions – children need to learn how to appropri-


ately express their God-given emotions. This
requires much training. There are
vast differences in children in their
emotional makeup. Some will need
to be trained to control their very
expressive selves; others will need
to be encouraged to openly share
their feelings. This is a vital area, es-
pecially as children enter adoles-
cence, when the emotions can run
wild and even cause certain courses
of action that are contrary to that
which is normal or intended.

45
Actions – as was mentioned above, usually behavior, or actions, is
the first area to which child training and discipline is directed. How-
ever, this should not be the case. Clearly, a child must be instructed
in proper behavior, but when the emphasis is on the external action,
the child does not develop an awareness of what leads to those ac-
tions. When a child has been instructed and trained in motives, atti-
tudes, and speech, the proper outward actions will follow.

EX AMPLE OF TRAINING IN THE FIVE AREAS:

Your child comes home from school and is unusually quiet. You
can tell by his silence that something has happened. Don’t accuse
him, but be empathetic. Say: “I believe it was not a very good day for
you at school today.” Or, “I believe something unpleasant happened
today.” Let the child express his feelings: “I could not go out to play
at recess today.” Don’t say: “Why not?” Say, “That must have been
very embarrassing for you, or made you angry, etc.” Let the child ex-
plain why he was forbidden to go out: “I was talking with Joseph
and the teacher got mad, and said I had to stay in.” Then say, “When
were you talking to Joseph? Was it the right time?” (ACTION) Let the
child respond. “What would have pleased your teacher more?” (ATTI-
TUDE) Then be honest with your own motives and feelings at that
age. “You know, I really liked to talk in school, too. But, I realized
that I was just being selfish (MOTIVE) and disrupting the other stu-
dents. So I stopped.” Perhaps the child says: “But he talked to me
first! And Joseph got to go out and play.” (ATTITUDE) Then em-
pathize with the child and say: Yes, everything your teacher does is
not completely just, but you and I are still responsible for our own
feelings and actions. The rule is not to talk in class. So if Joseph talks
with you, next time just ignore him, and you will not get in trouble.
Then you will also not get angry and frustrated (FEELINGS).

D. FATHERS ARE RESPONSIBLE TO TRAIN THEIR CHILDREN


Read: Genesis 18:19 and Ephesians 6:4

It is clear from the above Scriptures that it is the task of fathers to


train their children. It is not the job of the state (the government), the
church, the school, or any other group. God has given that responsi-
bility to the parents, and first of all to the father. Yes, the mother is
46
involved, intimately so, with the nurture and training of the child, but
God holds the father ultimately responsible for the child’s upbring-
ing. Much of the book of Proverbs was written as instruction from a
father to his son.
In Ephesians 6:4, notice that the father is to “bring up” the child in
the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let’s examine these key
words:

1. Nurture: This involves not just providing for the child’s physical
needs, but providing for the emotional, psychological, and spiritual
development of the child. In order to fulfill this responsibility, fathers
must know and understand their children. There is no other way to
do this than by spending time with the child. A father nurtures his
child by:

◆ Praying for the child


◆ Giving physical affection and playing with the child
◆ Talking with and listening to the child
◆ Attending events in which the child is involved

2.Admonition: “Instruction” is a word that is frequently used in


Proverbs about child-training. Instruction involves admonition, warn-
ing, and teaching in all areas of life. This training would include spiri-
tual, vocational, financial, and interpersonal areas. The father is to
teach his child how to live, how to understand people, how to man-
age relationships with God, with others, and with himself. Admoni-
tion includes guidance in choosing a suitable vocation, in choosing a
life partner, in managing money, and many other choices in life.
The method of admonition is not just lecturing the child, but the
father is to relate to the child as a “coach.” He is to be the “chief
cheerleader” for the child, encouraging and inspiring the child by his
confidence in the child’s abilities.
Admonition also involves correcting the child when necessary.
However, far too many parents spend most of their time criticizing
and correcting every small fault and flaw of the child. Remember that
for every time you correct your child, you should be giving six or
seven “praises” for the good things (words, attitudes, actions) that he
has done.
Lastly, admonition involves chastening. It is the responsibility of
the father to correct his child, for the good of the child, and for the
47
glory of God. The father is not to correct his child out of anger and
frustration. This method is for the father’s welfare, not the child’s.
This subject will be discussed at length in Session 6.

E. THE MOTHERS ROLE IN CHILD TRAINING


Read: 1 Samuel 1:11, 21-23 and 2:18-19; 1 Timothy 5:14;
and Titus 2:4

What is the mother’s role in bringing up a child? Scripture does not


give many specific verses on this subject, but it does give us many
Godly examples. In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah was barren and greatly de-
sired a son, so she prayed earnestly to the Lord. Along with her
prayer, Hannah made a vow that she would give the child back to
God for His service when he was born. God graciously answered
and gave her Samuel. After the child was weaned, Hannah
took the little boy, Samuel, to the temple in Shiloh
and lent him to the Lord for His service. Every
year, however, Hannah returned and visited
Samuel.

What can we learn about the


mother’s role from Hannah?

1. The mother is to pray for her child.


The importance of prayer for a child can-
not be overestimated. More than one child
has been spared a life of heartache and
failure because of a mother’s prayers.

2. It is the mother’s responsibility to


provide the initial emotional nurture,
love, and security security that every
child needs. The most important person in a newborn baby’s life is
the mother. She is literally “all the world” to him. Meeting these emo-
tional needs is the task of the mother all through the child’s growing
up years.

3. The mother is to manage the home and to provide for the mate-
rial needs of her household (Proverbs 31:15). She is to manage the

48
children on a daily basis. Clearly, this means teaching them many
skills in the social, emotional, and spiritual areas. The word for man-
aging, or guiding, the home is the Greek word from which we get
the English word “despot,” or absolute ruler. The mother has ab-
solute authority in her home.
Regarding the interaction between the father’s and the mother’s
role in child training, the mother is to carry out the directives of the
father regarding child training (Proverbs 1:8). The father provides the
instruction, or guiding principles of child training, and the mother
implements these directives with her own law. In every day practice,
both the father’s and the mother’s roles overlap.

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #5

1. Describe what you learned from Psalms 127 and 139 about the
value of each unborn child.

2. Who has the primary responsibility for child training? Support your
answer with Scripture.

3. Describe how a father can successfully nurture his children, and


admonish his children.

4. If you are a father, state two areas in which you need to improve
your parenting, and what specific steps you will take to improve.
a.
b.

5. If you are a mother, state two ways in which you need to improve
in your parenting, and what specific steps you will take to im-
prove.
a.
b.

6. Memorize: Psalm 127:3. Review: John 13:34, Ephesians 5:22/25,


Matthew 19:6,Genesis 2:24

49
The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 6
AGE CHARACTERISTICS OF CHILDREN: AGES 2-18

“An unbeliever once told Coleridge that he thought it was not right
to bias the mind of a child with religious opinions. Coleridge showed
him his garden, and when the man expostulated that it was covered
with weeds, the poet answered that the difficulty was that the garden
had not come to the age of discretion. The weeds, he said, have
taken the liberty to grow, and I thought it unfair in me to prejudice
the soil towards roses and strawberries. “
– Bible Truth Illustrated, Donald Grey Barnhouse

The more you know about children and their development will be
beneficial to you as you endeavor to parent successfully and to build
a strong Christian home. Session 6 is designed to give you the nor-
mal developmental characteristics of children in the physical, emo-
tional-social, and spiritual areas. There will always be exceptions to
the rule, but these characteristics will serve as a guideline for you to
teach and disciple your child. They will enable you to Train up a
child in the way he should go . . . (Proverbs 22:6).
Please note that the Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament)
for in the way he should go literally means “by their mouths.” The
implication is that each child has some built-in temperamental fea-
tures and personality characteristics that need to be developed and
refined. All children are decidedly not the same, just as all adults
are not identical. A clear understanding of each child, provided in
this session and in the sessions on “Understanding Your Child’s
Temperament,” will be of enormous value to you in your parental
task.

A. CHARACTERISTICS OF PRESCHOOLERS: Ages 2-5


Read: Matthew 18:2-3; Mark 10:14-16; and Deuteronomy 6:7

God loves very young children! The words little children, in


Matthew 18:3, is used of children, ages 2-5, ones that could fit on
50
Jesus’ lap. Mark 10:16 makes Christ’s attitude toward young children
clear: He greatly valued them and was angered by the disciples’
rejection of them.

1. Physically
By age two, most young children are
walking. This achievement allows them to
explore their environment even further
than the crawling stage and to learn
about their world. There is rapid
growth of the large muscles, and
appropriate physical movement
provides for their development.
By all means, allow them to discover
their environment.
At this stage, physically, preschoolers
are players. Play is their work. It is the means
by which they learn and process information.
Someone has said it would be easier to understand
the workings of the atomic bomb than the mind of a preschooler
at play. Because these young children think in pictures, often they
imagine themselves to be other people, as the young child who leads
a toy airplane around and around. You may think he is just a child,
but he is really the pilot of a Boeing 747! Preschoolers may play with
imaginary friends. Do not be alarmed at his “make believe” compan-
ions. Usually this stage ends with the advent of real true friendships.

2. Emotionally and Socially


When a lively preschooler enters the room, you will know it. His
whole demeanor says, “Here I am. Look at me!” Preschoolers are nat-
urally self-centered. The whole world revolves around them. That is
why this child must be taught to share and to interact appropriately
with other children. Although some preschoolers are not attention-
getters, but are quite shy, nearly all will react the same way emotion-
ally: they will “wear their emotions on their sleeves.” This means that
their feelings are often hurt, and they are easily aroused to tears. A
big hug and many kisses will usually resolve the hurt, and they will
go merrily on their way to the next activity. But, by all means, do not
ignore their hurts or make fun of them. This will only cause them to
bury their emotions, and to believe that their emotions are “bad.”

51
God has given us emotions for a reason. Yes, they must be refined
and polished, but they are not to be denied.

3. Mentally and Spiritually


Preschoolers are full of questions. “Where does the wind go?
Who made the sun?” Mentally, they are questioners and can cause
some parents to lose their patience with their constant stream of
inquiries, as well as comments about the new world they are dis-
covering. Additionally, the preschooler will believe whatever you
say. If you tell him, “The moon is made of green cheese,” he will
share this fact with his friends. He has no reason to doubt the ve-
racity of your statements. In the spiritual realm, the young child is
also a believer. He readily believes in God and His power, and, if
he sees these qualities at home, in the love and goodness of God
in heaven. The preschooler has a natural trust and faith in God,
so he should be taught about the love and grace of the Lord Jesus
through simple Bible stories. Avoid the telling of Bible stories that
contain violence, as this will tend to frighten him. Do remember
that young children are literal thinkers. This means that when you
talk about asking “Jesus to come into your heart,” the preschooler
will ask, “But how could He do that? He is so big, and I am so
small.” Be sure to carefully explain the spiritual terms and con-
cepts that you use. However, preschoolers memorize easily, so do
teach them short Bible verses. Deuteronomy 6:7 exhorts parents
to teach God’s Word to children when you sit down (like for a
meal or to relax), walk on the road, lie down for bed, and rise up
in the morning. This method of teaching is most suitable to the
active, questioning preschooler. He cannot be lectured for an
hour, but he can be taught many spiritual truths during the activi-
ties of daily living.

B. CHARACTERISTICS OF PRIMARIES: Ages 6-8

1. Physically
Children at this age are learning new tasks all the time. They are
active. Usually they are going to school, and they are required to
learn many new things. Overall, the primary child seeks for mastery
over his environment. He is not content with the “baby stage,” and
wants to achieve the ability to be independent in many areas. The

52
primary child is also a player, and may exceed his physical limits be-
cause he desires to be active all the time. He may need to be forced
to rest for his own good.

2. Emotionally and Socially


Despite his keen interest in learning about the exciting world out-
side of his home, the primary child also tends to be emotionally,
and sometimes socially, insecure. He may not yet have developed
the social interaction skills that build solid friendships in which he
feels accepted and secure. Therefore, he may tend to “cling” to his
mother, or to an older relative. Helping the child to learn social
skills, and encouraging him that he has not been abandoned will
greatly facilitate his emotional and social adjustment outside the
home. Once these social skills are learned, the primary child makes
a great team player. He will enjoy organized sports as long as they
are not too competitive.

3. Mentally and Spiritually


The primary child has developed enough mentally to be able to
discern between reality and fantasy, and between that which sounds
“logical” and that which does not. He will not believe everything you
tell him, but has the ability to discriminate, or discern, what is true
and what is real. As a discriminator, he will ask more pointed and in-
depth questions, and will expect an intelligent answer. He will also
notice parental behavior at home that is not appropriate or is hypo-
critical, because now he has something with which to compare it.
Therefore, be careful to be an example of what you are teaching him.
Spiritually, this child is very receptive. His emotions and heart are ten-
der, and he will readily admit his faults and failings and his need for a
Savior. Therefore, he can easily be led to personal faith in Christ at
this age. The primary child is also adept at memorization, and should
be encouraged to learn many Scripture passages “by heart.”

C. CHARACTERISTICS OF JUNIORS: Ages 9-12

1. Physically
Bring it on! The junior age child likes adventure, excitement, and
physical challenge. Their large and small muscle coordination is ad-
vanced to the stage that they can master more complex physical tasks,

53
so they are eager to try new things, like rock-
climbing and, of course, organized sports. The
junior child revels in his physical abilities and
enjoys competing against his peers. Because
of his love for adventure and the outdoors,
the natural world can be effectively used as a
tool to teach him many spiritual lessons.

2. Emotionally and Socially


This is the age in which children join
“teams” and “clubs.” If they do not have
any organized ones in their community,
they will develop their own. The junior
child likes to do things in groups. Sepa-
rate groups for boys and for girls are
necessary.
Because of his competitive nature, this child will be emotionally
expressive, and may have a problem with non-stop talking at inap-
propriate times (like school), and even with sarcasm. There will be
much verbal competition between boys and girls at this stage, but
this will give way to a lively interest in the opposite sex once puberty
arrives. Proper channeling of his physical and emotional energy will
enable the junior child to further develop his skills, and to success-
fully negotiate these happy years.

3. Mentally and Spiritually


The junior child has a keen mind that can easily retain informa-
tion. He can also think abstractly, in contrast to the two younger age
groups for whom concrete, literal thinking is the norm. These chil-
dren should be challenged to think through why the natural world
and the world of people operate as they do. Juniors are investigators,
and this quality can be put to good use in the spiritual realm. Chal-
lenge your junior children to probe Scripture more deeply, and to
ask: “What does this passage say?” and “How does this apply to me
today?” There should be an emphasis on personal application of
Scripture; this can be done by teaching the child how to keep a sim-
ple journal of what he has learned in his daily Bible reading. The
above two questions can serve as the “thought provokers” for his
journal entries. Additionally, the junior child often enjoys Bible geog-
raphy, and will benefit from doing a report on a certain Bible charac-

54
ter he likes. Spiritually, these children are hero-worshipers, so doing
a thorough study of a Bible character will be of natural interest. The
junior child is also very receptive to God’s call to salvation, and
should be challenged with the claims of Christ during this time pe-
riod. He is an able and efficient memorizer, and should be encour-
aged to learn large passages of Scripture.

D. CHARACTERISTICS OF TEENAGERS: Ages 13-18


Read: Proverbs 1:10-16; 1 Kings 3:9; and Psalm 119:99-100

1. Physically
Usually puberty can start earlier for girls than for boys. But physi-
cal and hormonal changes in the teenager’s body are real. There may
be growth spurts and then a drop off in growth until a later period
(especially with boys). Likewise, the onset of puberty may affect the
energy level of teenagers differently. Some will seem to be ener-
gized, and some will be apathetic; others will fluctuate between in-
tense energy and listlessness. In either case, teens need regular
exercise, even if they say they do not. Because the sex drive be-
comes activated during the teenage years, it will be important to
guide your teen, and give accurate information about their sexuality.
The two-lesson course by George Eager, Understanding Love and
Sex, or his more expanded course dealing with this subject on Love,
Dating, and Marriage, are highly recommended for this purpose.
Both courses are available from SLM International. Please do not
neglect this important area of growth and learning for each teenager.

2. Emotionally and Socially


The young teenager (13-15) desires above all to “fit in.” He does
not want to be different than anyone
else, and seeks to conform to the at-
titudes and behavior of the group he
is in. Because of this strong need to
belong, and because the young teen
wants independence from his par-
ents, he may choose attitudes and
behaviors that are not pleasing to
you, his parents. Take this into ac-
count when you discipline him for

55
occasions of misbehavior. On the other hand, because the young
teen craves this sense of belonging, give him the love and accept-
ance he needs, and encourage him to develop wholesome relation-
ships in a caring church youth group. Teach both the young and
older teens how to discern the motives of different types of people.
Proverbs 1:10-16 will enable them to recognize and avoid people
with evil intentions.
Some 14-16-year-old boys may show a competitive spirit with their
fathers. This tends to show up in competitive sports. Dad, don’t let it
drive you to a heart attack. It may even be that some girls of this age
will try to outshine their moms before the opposite sex. This may
show up in primping and the desire for fancy clothes, and even in
flirting. All of these behaviors are ways that teenagers, who are in be-
tween childhood and adulthood, are establishing their own identity.
Wisdom is needed to guide them through these years.
Older teenagers (ages 16-18) are driven by their need for compan-
ionship. Helping them to choose wise companions during these
years is vital. The emotionally close relationship that you have built
with your child before this point will allow you to be his guide dur-
ing this sometimes tumultuous period. The opposite is also true. If
you have not developed a caring relationship with your child prior to
these years, he will tend to ignore your counsel or rebel against
your standards. This axiom is especially true during the teen years:
“Rules without relationship produces rebellion.” When a young per-
son knows that you truly care about him as an individual, the values
you hold dear will become his values.

2. Mentally and Spiritually


It is well known that teenagers have a tendency to question nearly
everything they have been taught in their younger years. This is nor-
mal and natural. The growing teenager must establish his own ideas,
values, and identity that is independent from his parents. Why? Be-
cause he is a unique individual. If he does not question and examine
life, he will not be able to make decisions as an adult in the future.
Therefore, the teenager, especially the older teen, is a searcher and a
questioner. He, or she, may like to debate certain issues if they are a
talkative person. Sometimes the teen likes to argue with his parents
just to test his own ideas. In either case, this questioning is normal
and should be encouraged instead of discouraged.

56
Here are some tips for discussions with your teenagers:
a. Let your teenager ask tough questions: Don’t get defensive when
he asks certain questions, like “How do you know God exists?”
Give an honest answer, and ask him why he believes the way
he does. Then, listen. Don’t moralize, or make him feel guilty
for asking the question.

b. Go beneath the surface of the remark: Sometimes a teen may


make an outrageous comment that shocks you, like “I don’t
want to go to church anymore. I hate it!” This is strong lan-
guage. But your teen may be physically weary, or emotionally
worn out by some struggle with a spiritual teaching, or with a
person in the youth group. Ask him to explain why he made
the comment, and then listen.

c. Be honest: Don’t try to be “super-spiritual” with your teenager.


He knows when you are acting or talking hypocritically. Share
your own honest struggles of faith, or with living a Christ-like
life. This disclosure of your own spiritual journey will do more
than a hundred lectures on some doctrinal issue.

d. Let the teen test your traditions: If your teenager wants to attend
a church with a different type of spiritual tradition, allow him to
do so within limits. He does not have to experience evil in
order to know it is evil. But this experience with other church
traditions may help him to better value his own.
Challenge your teenager to seek a wise and understanding
heart from God, just like Solomon did in 1 Kings 3:9. Assure
him that God can answer all of his questions, and will make
him a person of great wisdom if he so desires. Challenge your
teen that, according to Psalm 119:99-100, he can have even
more understanding than his teachers, and more wisdom than
many older people, if he applies God’s Word to his life.

e. Support your teenager no matter what: Unfortunately, many


teenagers make wrong choices and later pay for it. They may
get drunk, end up in jail, or lose their virginity. Although you do
not condone the action, continue to love your teen. Do forgive
them and restore them to relationship. When you do, your fam-
ily bonds will be stronger and the end result—a mature, well-

57
adjusted adult—will be more likely. In the meantime, as your
teen does question and even rebel against your values, relax.
Most studies show that teenagers will adopt much the same
spiritual values as their parents. Therefore, you can relax in the
fact that if your faith is life-transforming, your child’s faith will
probably be the same.

Spiritual Life-Savers:
Lastly, be sure your family is engaging in these two vital spiritual
practices. A study found that the two most important parts of family
life for nurturing faith are:

◆ Talking about faith with parents, and


◆ Participating in family devotions.

However, other studies have shown that below 50% of Christian


teenagers say their families talk about God, and only about 20% of
teens hear their fathers talk about faith at least twice per week. If this
is true in your home, begin now to change the statistics.

*Acknowledgement: The material on “discussion tips” and “spiritual life-savers” was


adapted from Energizing Your Teenager’s Faith by Jay Kesler.

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #6

1. What is a preschooler like physically? What insight does this give


you about his training?

2. What is the preschooler like emotionally and socially? How will


this help you in your training?

3. What is the preschooler like mentally and spiritually? What have


you learned that will help you in your parenting in these areas?

4. From what you have learned in this material about primary chil-
dren, how will you teach and train them at home, or in the Sunday
school or church?

58
5. From what you have learned in this material about junior children,
how will you teach and train them at home, or in the Sunday
school or church?

6. Share three things you learned about relating to your teenager.


a.
b.
c.

7. Memorize: Proverbs 22:6. Review John 13:34 and


Ephesians 5:22/25.

59
The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 7
PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE CHILD DISCIPLINE
AND CORRECTION

A young child accidentally took sleeping pills from the family’s med-
icine cabinet. The doctor instructed the parents to keep the child
awake by any means necessary for the next four hours – including
the pain of slapping if necessary. That pain was necessary for the
child’s survival. So, too, in the Christian journey: Now no chasten-
ing (discipline) for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous:
nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteous-
ness unto them which are exercised thereby (Hebrews 12:11).
– Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, page 107.

In Session 5, you learned that children are God’s idea. They are of
great worth and value to Him, and God has assigned specific roles
for the father and the mother in child training. Children have much
God-given potential, but He also says, Foolishness is bound in the
heart of a child . . . (Proverbs 22:15). To their Creator, and to us as
parents and other significant adults in their lives, children are “dia-
monds in the rough.” When diamonds are excavated from the
ground, they must be polished and refined. They must be cleaned up
and made attractive. In the same way, children need the “polishing”
and “cleaning up” that comes from daily parental discipline in order
to become the most radiant “diamond” that God has planned.

A. THE BIBLICAL BASIS FOR CHILD DISCIPLINE – GOD IS THE


AUTHOR
Read: Proverbs 1:8; 4:1; 5:1; 7:1; 13:1

If you would trace the word “discipline” in the Old Testament


book of Proverbs, starting with Proverbs 1:8, you would find a mul-
titude of Bible verses on the subject. Much of Proverbs is the instruc-
tion of a father to his son, so this is expected. The synonym for
60
discipline that is used in Proverbs is “instruc-
tion.” Essentially, all discipline, at whatever
stage of life, is designed to instruct and train
the individual in motives, attitudes, speech,
and actions. Discipline and instruction in-
volve acquiring and using various skills in
the physical, mental, emotional, social, and
spiritual areas.
The Scriptural foundations and substantia-
tion for child discipline and correction are vast.
God is clearly the Author of child discipline.
This is to help you as a parent, or as a future
parent, to understand that child discipline is ab-
solutely vital. There are many cultural differ-
ences regarding child discipline, or lack of it, around the world. May
the following section give you confidence that the discipline of your
children is, in fact, God’s idea!

B. DISCIPLINE GIVES GLORY TO GOD


Read: Proverbs 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15, 17; and Hebrews 12:6-11

1. Because it prevents serious consequences that God never intended.


Along with the instructions and exhortations in Proverbs to disci-
pline, there are also many warnings and descriptions of the conse-
quences of lack of discipline. Proverbs 29:15 states that an
undisciplined child will bring great heartache and shame to his
mother: a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Accord-
ing to Proverbs 23:13-14, a disciplined child will be delivered from
hell; what then, is the destiny of the undisciplined child? From
Proverbs 22:15, we learn that foolishness (both willful disobedience
and immaturity) is part of the child’s nature. Without correcting and
controlling these outbreaks of sin, a very unhappy child will likely
grow up to experience a lifetime of broken relationships and misery.
As one warden in a prison in the United States said: “Every man
that I have executed in the electric chair (a means of capital punish-
ment) was once in a high chair (a child’s chair at the table).” Chas-
tening and correction are signs that a parent truly loves the child.
Undisciplined children are unhappy children. Children need limits
and boundaries that are provided by reasonable and realistic rules set

61
down by the father. You may spare your child much un-
necessary misery later on in life by correcting him now.

2. Because it honors a God of order.


God’s original design for His creation was a perfect
one. There was a symmetry of order and structure in
all of the original creation. Uncontrolled forces did not
exist or operate on their own. There was a purpose
and plan for everything. All plant, animal, and
human life functioned in a disciplined fashion, in
obedience and compliance to its Creator. Disorder,
confusion, and lack of discipline in any life system dishon-
ors the One who made it to function in a perfect fash-
ion.1 Corinthians 14:33 states that God is not the author
of confusion, and in verse 40, Paul exhorts that everything in the
church should be done decently and in order. Lack of discipline in
the life of a child or an adult is not what God intended for His cre-
ation to bring glory to Him.

3. Because it is an example of a right relationship with God.


When a child is properly disciplined by his parents, he has experi-
enced the kind of relationship that he is to have with God. He has
developed the qualities that should characterize his relationship with
God, namely; love, reverence, and responsibility.
In Deuteronomy 6:5, God exhorted His people to love the Lord thy
God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
In Psalm 95:6, the psalmist tells us O come, let us worship and bow
down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. We are warned that the
fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom in Proverbs 9:10. A prop-
erly disciplined child, who has learned to love and respect his par-
ents and be responsible to them for himself, will not find it difficult
to enter into a similar relationship with God.

4. Because it is part of God’s purpose to conform believers to the


image of His Son.
God’s whole plan for history is to provide a Bride for His Son, the
Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 2:10 puts it this way: God is bringing
many sons unto glory. He wants each of His children to look like,
think like, talk like, and act like Jesus did when He walked this earth.
This is what it means to be conformed to the image of his Son (Ro-

62
mans 8:29). In order for people who are believers to become con-
formed to the likeness of Christ, major growth and development
needs to occur. That is why God disciplines and corrects His chil-
dren: for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness (He-
brews 12:10). You are doing a great service to your children when, at
an early age, you begin this process of conforming them to God’s
standard of holiness.

C. PARENTAL/ADULT REQUIREMENTS
OR EFFECTIVE DISCIPLINE

In order to discipline and train our children effectively, we parents


and other adults in the life of a child must prepare for this God-given
task. How? Here are four essential ingredients:

1. Be an example to the child.


We adults must be a consistent example of everything we are try-
ing to teach: purity of motives, Godly attitudes, proper speech, and
actions that reflect the grace of Jesus Christ and are done for the
glory of Almighty God. A few specific examples include:
• You and I must be self-controlled and Spirit-controlled in all
areas (in order to display the benefits of a life lived under the
Lordship of Jesus Christ).
• You and I must be under authority (in order to teach a right rela-
tionship to others in authority: parents, teachers, civil authori-
ties). Don’t “steal” time from your employer and then expect
your child to act honestly.
• You and I must be engaged in spiritual disciplines on a regular
basis (time in the Word, prayer, fellowship with other believers,
witnessing, etc.) in order to motivate the child to spiritual
growth.
• You and I must be persons of honesty and integrity who main-
tain a good reputation and testimony in the community.

2. Show genuine love to the child.


The Scriptures exhort fathers to bring up their children in the nur-
ture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). All the training in
the world will not produce a child of Godly character if that disci-
pline is not done in love. Your love for your child must be demon-

63
strated and verbalized. A wise person said: “Rules without relation-
ship equals rebellion.” A child responds not just to the discipline you
exercise, but to the person you are, that is the relationship you build
through the discipline. When you capture the child’s heart (by birth
you have it), and do not lose that heart through neglect or harshness,
your training will have a lifelong impact.

You can show genuine love for your child by:


• Displaying a basic respect for your child as a human being.
• Displaying an awareness of your child’s unique needs; he or she
is not a miniature adult, or a miniature “you.”
• Meeting the child’s needs
• Never, never, never tell the child: “God will stop loving you (or
God will punish you) if you….” This is not only very poor disci-
pline, but also false teaching about the Person and character of
God.

3. Instruct the child in obedience, that is, in what is expected from


him.
• Teach the child the rules and limitations of attitude and behavior.
• Teach reverence for God, parents, and teachers. Teach respect
for others and for property.
• Teach personal responsibility.
• Teach the consequences of lack of personal responsibility in any
area.

4. Consistently enforce the rules, and provide proper correction for


violations.
One main reason for failure in discipline and training of children is
lack of consistency in enforcing the rules and standards that have
been established in the home. Such inconsistency confuses the child
and makes him doubt the relationship he has to you. Remember,
without a relationship with YOU, the discipline will not be effective.
To assist parents and adults in the disciplinary process, God exhorts
us to:
• Use your eye to get your child’s attention to remind him of the
rules (Psalm 32:8).
• Use your voice. (Psalm 95:7; Proverbs 8:4; Hebrews 3:7)
• Use isolation as a corrective measure (Proverbs 22:10).

64
D. STEPS OF CORRECTION
Read: Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21

When it is necessary to correct a child by administering punish-


ment, use the following steps:
Pray before you start and while you are performing the discipline.
Pray that your attitude will be right before God: that is, you are NOT
disciplining out of anger and frustration, but you are doing so for the
child’s ultimate benefit. Pray, also, that the child will respond with re-
pentance to God. This is your goal.

1. Express grief
By your facial expressions, and the tone of your voice, express
your disappointment in the child’s behavior. For some sensitive chil-
dren, your disappointed expression and tone are all that is needed to
bring repentance. Remind yourself that all sin is an offense against
God. Process this offense through your emotions first, so that your
grief that God’s holiness has been violated is sincere. Then, express
this grief to the child.

2.Ask the child:What did you do?


Don’t ask the child “why” did you behave in such a manner, etc.
Usually, he will blame someone else, or come up with an excuse. The
question “what did you do?” elicits an admission from the child that
he did commit the action. This establishes personal responsibility.

3.Appeal to the child’s conscience.Ask the child:


Is what you did RIGHT? Was it HONEST? Was it GOOD? These
questions engage the child’s conscience – through which the Holy
Spirit can work, if he is a believer. If he is not a believer, God has
still planted within his conscience, a concept of right and wrong.
However, the conscience only attaches itself to the highest good we
know to use as a standard. If the child has been taught Biblical prin-
ciples, the conscience can be of great value. This is what you want to
appeal to, because by so doing, you make the child accountable to
GOD.
If you just state something like: “You know Mother/Father does
not like you to do . . . ” or “This behavior/speech irritates your
Grandmother . . . ,” you are making the child accountable to the
human being. Often, he will become angry with the human being for

65
frustrating his plans. Making the child accountable to God has a far
greater impact, and establishes the child’s relationship with God.
Hopefully, as you pray, this accountability will serve to strengthen his
relationship with God.

4.Apply the discipline quickly and effectively – NOT ABUSIVELY


Remind the child that God has commanded you, as his parent, to
discipline him. Do not allow the child’s cries to stop you from ad-
ministering the punishment. Do it quickly and thoroughly. God has
established the buttocks to be the place where the punishment is to
be administered. NEVER slap the child across the face, or hit him
around the head, as this can produce a serious injury, as well as in-
timidate him. Also, do not shake the child. Your strength (especially
if you are angry) is far greater than you imagine; you may cause seri-
ous injury. Lastly, administer the punishment with a neutral object
(the Scripture uses a “rod of correction”). Do not use your hand.
Why? Because then the child will associate your hand with pain. You
want your child to associate your hands and arms with expressions
of love and affection from you, not the opposite.
The tendency to punish when you are angry can turn your disci-
pline into ABUSE. Be completely in control of your own emotions be-
fore you perform the correction. Likewise, constantly yelling, or
scolding, a child, and finding fault with his every action will tend to
make the child withdrawn and unsure of himself. This verbal batter-
ing is also ABUSE. Ask God to keep your spirit self-controlled in all
dealings with your child.

5. Comfort the child immediately after the discipline


As soon as the punishment is administered, take the child in your
arms and comfort him. Assure him of your continued love for him.
NEVER withdraw your affection
from the child. He needs to
know, and hear you say, that you
are disappointed with him, yet
you continue to verbalize your
love. This will build and
strengthen his self-acceptance
and self-worth. If you do not, it
will tend to make the child be-
lieve that he is intrinsically defi-

66
cient as a person. A child who incorporates such an erroneous belief
(that there is basically something wrong with him and that is why he
acts the way he does) will have major emotional and psychological
problems as an adult.

E. HELP! – How to do it? – CROSS WALK 220

Back in Session 1, we looked at marriage from the “Big Picture”


view, that is from the perspective of God’s overall purposes for mar-
riage. In the same way, let’s look at both child training and marriage
from the standpoint of His overall purposes for our lives.
In order to successfully fulfill your role as a husband or a wife in
the marriage relationship, or in the area of child training, it will take
more than your ingenuity and determination. You may have already
discovered that you do not have sufficient resources, by yourself, to
fulfill all the Scriptural directives you have just read on marriage and
child training. Right now, you may be very frustrated and discour-
aged in your marriage or with your children.
Often, God allows frustrations and discouragements so that we
will turn to Him and draw upon His strength and power. We cannot
establish a successful marriage or home life, or lead a Christ-like life
on our own. It is impossible. That is why God said through the
Apostle Paul, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I,
but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live
by the faith of the Son of God . . . (Galatians 2:20). This does not de-
scribe a changed life, but an exchanged life.

Finally, if today you are committed to a growing Christian mar-


riage, and to Biblical child training, and your spouse is not, remember
that YOU can still be a successful Christian spouse and Christian par-
ent. You are not responsible for your spouse, just for yourself. Trust
Christ to give you His strength, day by day, for every task and for
every relationship in your life. He lives INSIDE YOU to do what you
could never do on your own.

67
QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #7

1. How do you know that child discipline is God's idea? Give a Scrip-
ture to support your answer.

2. By disciplining a child now, what serious consequences can be


avoided later? Give an example of how lack of discipline has hin-
dered you.

3. What are the (4) “Parental Requirements” for effective discipline?


In which ones do you need to improve?
a.
b.
c.
d.

4. Name the (5) “Steps of Correction.” In which ones do you need to


improve?
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.

5. Memorize: Proverbs 22:15. Review: Proverbs 22:6, John 13:34,


Ephesians 5:22/25

68
The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 8
UNDERSTANDING YOUR CHILD’S
(AND OWN) TEMPERAMENT
PART 1

To assist in the proper development and training of children, it is


very helpful during each child’s early years for the parents to learn
his temperament characteristics. The heart and center of the parent-
child relationship is knowing and understanding each child.
– Understanding Your Child’s Temperament, page 20

If you have more than one child, you will notice that each one is
different. Why is that? I have often heard parents say, “I raised them
all the same, but my children are so different!” Yes, parents can try
their best to “raise them all the same,” but still children will think,
feel, and act differently as they grow up. The child’s environment has
a great influence on his thinking and his behavior, but environment
(especially of the home) is not the only factor in determining the
overall personality and behavior of the child.
Each child is unique because he or she has a unique set of DNA,
or genetic material (God’s programming), that no one else has in the
world. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Ge-
netically, every child is a combination of his two parents, four grand-
parents, and even his eight great-grandparents. But the combination
of genes with which he has been endowed is a completely unique

69
set. This provides his unique “equipment” at birth: physically, intel-
lectually, psychologically, and emotionally. In this session, we will
call the intellectual-psychological-emotional combination with which
a child is born his temperament.
A proper understanding of your child’s temperament will greatly
assist you in raising your children in the nurture and admonition of
the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). A very sensitive child cannot be treated or
corrected in the same way as an aggressive child. Likewise, the very
sociable and undisciplined child needs a different type of instruction
and training than the quiet and reserved child. May God enable you
to be a more effective “discipler” of your own children by under-
standing the unique God-given temperaments they possess.

*Acknowledgement: Much of the material in this session has been taken from the
book, Understanding Your Child’s Temperament, by Beverly LaHaye. When the term
“Sanguine or Choleric child, etc.” is used, this does not imply that the child is his
temperament. Every child is a unique creation of God who is greatly loved by Him,
and who possesses an immortal soul that is more complex than any book could
describe. For our discussion, these terms are used to delineate a child who dis-
plays the characteristics associated with that temperament type.

Please be sure to read and think about the Scripture verses cited in
the following sections:

A. THE FOUR BASIC TEMPERAMENTS


1. “Sparky Sanguine”
Read: Matthew 14:27; 16:22; 17:4; and Galatians 2:11-12

As you read about and study the life of the Apostle Peter, you will
notice some of his temperament characteristics right away. He is talk-
ative. He always has something to say. Peter does not hesitate to say
what he is thinking or feeling. He is impulsive, in his actions, as well
as in expressing his thoughts and feelings. Further, Peter had a tem-
per; he even rebuked the Lord when he thought Christ was wrong.
On the other hand, Peter was fearful. In Antioch (Galatians 2:11-12),
he was afraid of what the Jews would think, and was more interested
in pleasing them than in standing for truth.
The Sanguine temperament in the child (and often in the adult) is
characterized by the above descriptive adjectives: talkative, impulsive,
easily aroused to anger, fearful. Some other characteristics of the San-
70
guine are: joyful, playful, empathetic, undisciplined, emotional instabil-
ity, restless, worrier, tearful, self-centered. These children can be lots
of fun to be around, and can easily make people laugh by their
sunny dispositions and humorous antics. On the other hand, the San-
guine child can have great difficulty paying attention and not being
distracted by people and circumstances. They may start and stop
many projects, or even parts of a thought or conversation, because of
their undisciplined mind and behavior. The Sanguine child has many
friends, but may not be a faithful friend because of his changeability.

Problem Areas for the Sanguine Child


• Self-centeredness: Children who have a Sanguine temperament
like to be the center of attention. Their antics and playfulness, al-
though laughable and amusing, need to be corrected and con-
trolled. They need to be taught that there are other people who
like to talk! Because of their tendency to brag about themselves,
Sanguine children can also be quick to “stretch the truth,” or
even tell outright lies.
• Lack of self-control/self-discipline: These qualities can present
real problems in the life of the Sanguine child, and can adversely
affect his progress in school, his moral development, and his re-
lationships with other people. The child needs to be taught emo-
tional control (especially anger), and how to not yield to
temptation.
• Changeability/distractability: The Sanguine child is flexible,
adaptable, and can quickly recover from disappointments, but he
has great difficulty in completing tasks and in persevering in the
face of obstacles. He must be instructed in the area of follow-
through and faithfulness in whatever he attempts or promises.
• People-pleaser: The Sanguine child enjoys people, but is also
greatly influenced by people. He seeks affirmation, praise, and
belonging. He is a natural “follower.” Without proper guidelines
in choosing friends, the Sanguine can be led into wrong or ques-
tionable activities by others of a stronger temperament.
• Fear and worry: These emotions can dominate the life of this
child, and prevent him from experiencing emotional rest in life,
and especially in his relationship with God.

71
2. “Rocky Choleric”
Read: Acts 9:1-2; 9:26; 9:29; 15:36-40; 21:13-14; 27:21-25 and 36

God chose Saul of Tarsus for reasons that He alone knows. How-
ever, God needed a man with a Choleric temperament in order to
lead the expansion of Christianity into every part of the Roman Em-
pire. God needed a leader, a man of resolute action, a man of deter-
mination and fearlessness, a man who could plan a course of action
and then implement it. All these qualities are evident in the life of
Saul who became the Apostle Paul. On the other hand, Paul could
“hold a grudge,” and remain bitter toward a colleague who failed
him (John Mark); he could argue and display anger and contentious-
ness toward other Christian brothers. Paul knew he was right, and, at
times, he was insensitive and unreceptive to others’ points of view.
The Choleric temperament displays the following traits: leadership
ability, determination, fearlessness, action-oriented, prone to anger, ar-
gumentative, insensitive, independent, and quick-thinker. Usually, the
Choleric has a ready mind that can quickly process information, emo-
tions that are more reserved, and a very strong will. This child will
immediately take action on a proposal when the others in a group
are still deciding what the question was. The Choleric is a natural-
born leader and enjoys being in a position of responsibility. Because
he makes rapid assessments that are usually correct, this child can
also be harsh, critical, and even sarcastic in his speech and com-
ments about others. The Choleric may have little patience, and even
less compassion for other children who are slower, less determined,
more emotional, and fearful.

Problem Areas for the Choleric Child

• Anger and Bitterness: The child with a Choleric temperament is


easily angered by people and circumstances that frustrate his
never-ending plans and ceaseless activity. The Choleric child
must be taught to accept other children as they are, to help them
instead of criticizing them, and to set aside his plans for the good
of others. When hurt or offended, these children must be taught
to forgive right away.
• Independence and Self-sufficiency: These qualities in the Choleric
child will keep him from being influenced in a wrong direction
by others. But these traits must also be channeled in the direc-
72
tion of moral excellence, submission to authority, and righteous
living. These children need to learn flexibility, and the ability to
work with others (become a “team player”).
• Use of the Tongue: Because he can quickly analyze a person or a
situation, the Choleric child needs discipline in not expressing
his opinions without being asked, and in not delivering scathing
indictments of others that may be true, but very hurtful. His natu-
ral insensitivity to others’ emotions predisposes him to sarcasm.
The tendency to argue about almost everything must also be cor-
rected in these children.
• Domineering Spirit/Abuse: Choleric children can “take charge” of
any situation, but they tend to “step all over others” to accom-
plish their plans. Without correction, these children can become
abusive and controlling of younger siblings and children with
weaker temperaments. The Choleric child can be downright
cruel with animals.

3. “Martha Melancholy”
Read: John 11:16, 21; 20:24-25

Poor Thomas. Forever, he will be known


as “doubting Thomas” because of his ex-
pression on Easter evening that he would
not believe unless he saw Jesus alive for
himself. It is true that Thomas doubted,
but he is not alone in this tendency.
However, Thomas did tend to neg-
ative thinking, and thinking the
worst about a situation or circum-
stance. He was a faithful disciple, and
willing to sacrifice himself for Christ’s cause,
and expected death and suffering to come his way.
Martha, sister to Mary and Lazarus, was a dedicated worker and
servant. Usually, however, Martha is associated with her fretting and
complaining when Mary sat at the feet of Jesus instead of helping her
in the kitchen. Martha was critical of what she considered her sister’s
laziness, and pitied herself for having to shoulder the entire burden
of work. Her remarks to Jesus, if thou had been here, my brother had
not died, also sound judgmental.
73
The child with a Melancholy temperament displays these character-
istics of Thomas and Martha, plus many more. The Melancholy is the
richest and most creative of the temperaments. People with this tem-
perament make up the majority of artists and musicians, and those
considered to be “genius.” With all their giftedness, Melancholy chil-
dren tend to feel inferior, perhaps because of their perfectionism, and
inability to live up to their own expectations. Additionally, Melancholy
children tend to be moody and pessimistic. They fear and worry un-
necessarily, and their sensitivity predisposes them to self-pity.

Problem Areas for the Melancholy Child


• Negativism: This trait pervades all their thinking, feeling, and be-
havior, and must be corrected. Their critical, judgmental spirit to-
ward others and toward themselves will seriously disrupt
interpersonal relationships and their relationship with God.
• Doubt/discouragement: Because of his high expectations, the
Melancholy child can be easily discouraged, and even depressed
by people and circumstances that are not perfect. He must be
taught to control his changing moods, and realize that his feel-
ings do not reflect the truth about life. Major depression can be
prevented by helping the child deal with self-pity, and learn to
accept himself and others.
• Inferiority feelings: The Melancholy child can be most critical of
himself, and often manifests a poor self-image. He may feel like
a failure, despite his obvious accomplishments. Again, this child
must be guided to disbelieve his feelings, and to believe and act
on the fact of God’s unconditional love and acceptance for him.
• Self-centeredness: With his moodiness and deep thinking, these
children can easily withdraw from others, but they both need
and crave the love of faithful companions.

4. “Phil Phlegmatic”
Read: Genesis 12:12-13; 13:8-9; 14:14-16; 16:1-6

Abram, the man known as the “father of the faithful,” was not al-
ways so. Although Abram obeyed God and left his home country, he
had frequent attacks of fear that resulted in some very poor choices,
like telling lies to protect himself and jeopardizing the life of his own
wife. On the other hand, you could depend on Abram when trouble
74
came, as Lot found out when he was captured by the Canaanite
kings. Abram was very easy-going, and amiable, and allowed Lot to
choose first when their herds became too large and too close to-
gether. Abram’s amiability and tendency to be influenced by others
(Sarah’s suggestion to have a child by her handmaiden, Hagar)
brought about a departure from God’s best, and had ultimately disas-
trous consequences for the history of the Arab and Jewish people.
Later, Abram’s lack of decisiveness was manifested when he then told
jealous Sarah to do whatever she wanted with Hagar.
The Phlegmatic child displays many of the above characteristics of
Abraham. Overall, this child lacks motivation, and would rather be a
spectator in life. He can entertain himself just by watching other peo-
ple and events. Phlegmatic children are naturallyquiet and coopera-
tive, even passive. They do not have emotional highs and lows, and
as adults, have been labeled “calm, cool, and collected.” Because he
is naturally fearful, the Phlegmatic child will not usually take initiative,
but when he does start a task, you can count on him to finish it in an
efficient manner.

Problem Areas for the Phlegmatic Child


• Lack of Motivation: This serious temperament flaw can greatly
hinder the child’s progress in school, and his overall pattern of
obedience to his parents. Often, he does not want to make the
effort to put away his toys or do his homework. Phlegmatic chil-
dren must learn that success in every area of life is a result of
honest hard work.
• Fearfulness and Irresponsibility: Because these children tend to
be afraid, they are reluctant to start new things or meet new peo-
ple. Their fearfulness can prevent them from accepting personal
responsibility for their attitudes and actions.
• Selfishness and Stubbornness: With their combined lack of moti-

75
vation and fearfulness, Phlegmatic children tend to be stubborn
and resistant to the wishes of their parents and their teachers,
and anyone else who seems to “threaten” them. Mostly content
to play by himself, the Phlegmatic child must be taught to share,
and to play successfully with other children.
• Spectator Lifestyle: The Phlegmatic child must be taught to take
initiative in every area of life. Early he must learn the benefits of
developing new skills, new relationships, and in being “part of
the game,” instead of watching life go by from the sidelines.

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #8

1. Give 5positive qualities of the Sanguine temperament. Give five


negative qualities.
• State how to correct three problem areas inSanguine child.

2. Give five positive qualities of the Choleric temperament. Give five


negative qualities.
• State how to correct three problem areas in the Choleric child.

3. Give five positive and five negative qualities of the Melancholy


temperament.
• State how to correct three problem areas in the Melancholy
child.

4. Give five positive and five negative qualities of the Phlegmatic


temperament.
• State how to correct three problem areas in the Phlegmatic
child.

5. If you have children, share what temperament each of your chil-


dren possesses. If you think they are a combination of tempera-
ments, share which ones.

6. Memorize: Luke 2:42. Review Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 22:6,


John 13:34.

76
The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 9
UNDERSTANDING YOUR CHILD’S
(AND YOUR) TEMPERAMENT
Part 2

Some would gather money along the path of life;


Some would gather roses and rest from worldly strife.
But I would gather children from among the thorns of sin;
I would seek a golden curl and a freckled, toothless grin.
For money cannot enter in that land of endless day,
And the roses that are gathered soon will wilt along the way.
But, oh, the laughing children, as I cross the Sunset Sea;
As the gates swing wide to Heaven, I can take them in with me!
– Billie Crawford

Undoubtedly, you have been thinking about, and studying, your


child’s temperament since reading Session 8. Perhaps you have also
analyzed your own temperament, and that of your
spouse or friends. If you have come to the conclu-
sion that no person is completely comprised of one
temperament, you are correct. In Session 9, you will
learn the twelve blends of temperaments. Addition-
ally, you will study some of the spiritual aspects of
each of the temperaments so that you can guide your
child in this important area.

A. THE TWELVE TEMPERAMENT BLENDS

Acknowledgment: Most of the material in this session is adapted


from Understanding Your Child’s Temperament, by Beverly La-
Haye.

Please be sure to read and study the Scripture pas-


sages that are cited in these sections:
77
1. Sanguine Blends
Read: Matthew 14:27; 16:22; and 17:4; Galatians 2:11-12

a.The “San-Chlor” Blend:


This child combines the enthusiasm of the Sanguine with the drive
and character of the Choleric. As a result, he will be more productive
than the Sanguine temperament alone.
Because both are extrovert types of temperaments, the child with
this blend desiresplenty of activity and
excitement. Anger is a serious problem
with him, and he may explode and then
repent in tears. He needs much instruc-
tion in self-discipline and self-control, in
his speech, as well as in his actions. Be-
cause he is self-confident, and even
“pushy,” he must be taught to respect the
rights of others, and take responsibility
for his offenses.

b.The “San-Mel” Blend:


This child is very emotional, and may
alternate between tears and uncontrollable laughter even in the same
conversation. This child has an aesthetic nature, and is often involved
in acting, public speaking, or music. They are uninhibited perform-
ers, and enjoy music and drama. They will need to work at self-disci-
pline to develop their natural talents. From their Sanguine side, these
children have a problem with anger, and from their Melancholy side,
a problem with fear. This may produce an emotional insecurity that
requires lots of love and approval. Because of his perfectionism and
alert mind, the San-Mel can be verbally critical of others.

c.The “San-Phleg” Blend:


This child possesses natural charm and is lovable and witty. He
often can make everyone laugh. Usually, he causes little trouble in
the home. He wants his own way right away, but he readily adjusts
to the frustration of his desires. Because of his lack of motivation,
and the ease with which he is distracted, this child has the hardest
time in planning for the future; on the other hand, he has little con-
cern about the past. He must learn to follow through on his commit-
ments. Good study habits are difficult for the San-Phleg, and he
78
needs an environment free from distractions. This child can also have
a problem with weight gain, and must be taught self-control in his
eating habits.

2. Choleric Blends
Read: Acts 9:1-2; 9:26; 9:28; 15:36-40; 21:13-14; 27:21-25 and 36

a. The “Chlor-San” Blend:


This child is strong-willed and very active. You will know when he
is around! With his charm, he can talk you into many things, but if
he becomes frustrated, this charm will quickly turn to temper. His
strong will must be harnessed and directed toward submission to au-
thority. The Chlor-San is naturally argumentative and wants to get in
“the last word.” He needs to learn to be respectful of others, and to
avoid the use of sarcasm. While he is the most affectionate of the
Choleric blends, this child may also ration out his kisses and hugs.
Because of his strong will, he should be led to Christ at an early age.
He may not see his need after about twelve years of age.

b.The “Chlor-Mel” Blend:


This child is active and productive and possesses a razor-sharp
mind. He combines the angry, willful, sarcastic traits of the Choleric
with the perfectionism and hard-to-please nature of the Melancholy.
Parents can be frustrated by the apparent lack of affection, but he
can be taught to be loving. The Chlor-Mel is the most independent of
the blends, and the wise parent will need to establish a strong bond-
ing relationship with him to guide him. The Chlor-Mel needs special
help with his thought life, as he tends to be revengeful, and to exag-
gerate hurts and insults. Teach him the truth of 2 Corinthians 10:5.
He should memorize it and use it often.

c.The “Chlor-Phleg” Blend:


This child is an interesting combination of the Choleric bullhead-
edness and the Phlegmatic stubbornness. He is well organized and
dependable, but it is hard to get him to change his mind on a course
of action; likewise, it is difficult for him to repent and to admit when
he is wrong. The Chlo-Phleg is naturally determined, and can be
guided into positive character traits. He does not explode in anger,
but uses his witty humor to express his displeasure. The Chlor-Phleg
79
can also be a clever troublemaker, getting other children into trouble,
but not implicating himself in the misdeed.

3. Melancholy Blends
Read: John 11:16; 21; 20:24-25

a.The “Mel-San” Blend:


The first six temperament blends are primarily extroverts. The next
six blends are primarily introverts. The Mel-San is a bundle of con-
flicting emotions, and can alternate between sobbing and laughter.
He is fear-prone and insecure, needing a lot of love and affirmation.
These children are often gifted in music, art, and science, but will
have a problem with self-acceptance because they are so critical of
themselves (as well as others). They must be taught to control their
griping, complaining, and criticizing, and to direct their thoughts to
praiseworthy things. The Mel-San tends to be antisocial, and needs to
be taught to make friends.

b.The “Mel-Chlor” Blend:


This child will not be as moody as the Mel-San, but his bad moods
may last longer because of his determination. He tends to be whiny,
selfish, and hostile. He does not cooperate well with other children
or make friends easily. When punished, the Mel-Chlor will retreat
into his room to nurse his grudge, and will blame his parents. This
child has enormous potential, and is usually a good student. He must
be encouraged to venture into new areas when he has mastered one
area. Encourage him, and train him in having a thankful spirit, and
he can become a happy and well-adjusted adult.

c.The “Mel-Phleg” Blend:


This child is usually quiet and subdued, and tends to be a loner,
enjoying his own company over others. His very sensitive nature
may make him a “clinger” as a young child, and he needs your love
and reassurance. The Mel-Phleg is selfish and self-centered and
needs to be taught social graces, like greeting people who come into
your home. These children are usually overly self-conscious and eas-
ily embarrassed, but can be taught poise and self-confidence in pub-
lic. The Mel-Phleg is a good student, usually does not cause trouble,
and has a receptive heart to instruction.
80
4. Phlegmatic Blends
Read: Genesis 12:12-13; 13:8-9; 14:14-16; 16:1-6

a.The “Phleg-San”Blend:
This child is naturally easy-going, charming, and delightful to
have in your family. He is easy to get along with and causes no
trouble. However, he does have some serious weaknesses, such as
lack of self-discipline, lack of motivation, and procrastination. He
may not perform up to his potential in school. These flaws need to
be worked on early and consistently. The Phleg-San can be selfish
and must be taught to share. Because he is fear prone, he needs to
be taught “I can,” instead of refusing to try new things.

b.The “Phleg-Chlor” Blend:


The Choleric influence in this child will make him more extro-
verted and self-motivated, but he will never be an overly expressive
child. He is prone to be stubborn and selfish, and must be taught
flexibility in his relationships. The Phleg-Chlor needs to be encour-
aged to cultivate his curiosity, not to stifle it because of fear. If al-
lowed, he can live in a “dream world” when the real one becomes
unpleasant. Beware of excessive television viewing that can be
used as an escape from the real world. When properly guided and
encouraged, the Phleg-Chlor will become an achiever.

c.The “Phleg-Mel” Blend:


This child is the most introverted of the twelve temperament
blends, and he will be the slowest to eat, and to accomplish any
task. With his lack of motivation and perfectionist trait, this child
may not complete schoolwork or keep employment in adult life.
With his tendency to procrastination, the Phleg-Mel appears to be
content to sleep and to daydream. Although he is not openly defi-
ant, the Phleg-Mel can be stubborn. He is fearful and insecure, and
needs much love and reassurance. If overly criticized by his par-
ents, he will have a problem with self-acceptance that may last a
lifetime. With love and encouragement, he can overcome his un-
productive ways.
NOTE: For a summary, see “Chart of the 12 Temperaments” at the
end of this lesson.

81
B. USING YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE TEMPERAMENT BLENDS
– A CHALLENGE

Now that you have become familiar with the twelve temperament
blends, you can see that each has its natural talents, strengths, and
weaknesses. With this knowledge, you can develop a plan to de-
velop your child’s strengths, and correct and modify his weaknesses.
Many parents make the mistake of treating all their children the
same. Others do not have goals for child-rearing, preferring to handle
problems as they arise.
With your new understanding, and under the guidance of the Holy
Spirit, you can develop, and even write out, ways to help your child
to develop and channel his natural strengths (for example, his strong
will), and then how to overcome his weaknesses (for example, his
emotional instability). Many children have never had this type of “in-
tentional parenting” of their temperament, and are left to themselves
to understand and deal with problems that arise from their tempera-
ment. Very often, they make wrong choices, and cause damage to
themselves as a result of ignorance.
*Will you decide to pray and plan for the training of your child’s
temperament?

C. SPIRITUAL TRAINING OF CHILDREN OF DIFFERENT TEM-


PERAMENTS
Read: Deuteronomy 6:7 and Psalm 78:5-7

1.What All Children Should Know


Although the spiritual training of your child will be influenced by
his or her temperament, all children should be trained in certain
basic spiritual matters, such as the following. Remember, it is the
parents’ responsibility to pass on God’s Word so that the generation
to come might know them, even the children which should be born;
who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might
set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his
commandments (Psalm 78:6-7). They should be:

• Taught about our God of love and grace


• Taught how to pray at a young age (and encouraged to do so)
• Read the wonderful stories of the Bible as a young child, and

82
then taught how to study and apply the Bible to their lives as a
six-to-eight-year-old
• Instructed in Scripture memorization from the time they can talk
• Be exposed to the Gospel, and led to personal faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ as Savior at an early age
• Taken to a good Bible-teaching church and Sunday school
• Be encouraged to read biographies of missionaries and great
Christians of the past and of the present
• Be exposed to missionaries and those in vocational Christian
work.
• Studies show that the two most vital activities to nurture faith in
teenagers are:
1. Family devotions
2. Talking about spiritual matters in the family

*Are you consistently engaged in these spiritual practices in your


family?

2. Guidelines for Parents in Spiritual Training


As was discussed in Session 7 on “Principles of Effective Child Dis-
cipline and Correction,” the first prerequisite in the spiritual training
of your children is that you, the parent, be a consistent model of the
character, attitudes, and behavior you want to see in your child. Chil-
dren quickly recognize hypocrisy, the difference between what we
say and what we do as parents. Faithfully praying for, and with, your
children is a big part of this modeling.
The second prerequisite in effective spiritual training is that you
consistently model the spiritual relationship of God the Father to His
children, believers. Although we adults have
outgrown childhood, we are still the children
of our Heavenly Father, and we enjoy His
grace, His mercy, His love, and His gentle-
ness. We should extend the same to our
children. From your gentleness,
love, and grace shown to them
in their weaknesses, your chil-
dren will learn about the true
character of their Heavenly Fa-
ther (when they are believers).
Unfortunately, many people

83
emerge from childhood and youth with a distorted picture of God be-
cause of overly-critical, demanding parents.
The third prerequisite for effective spiritual training is to remember
your child’s temperament. The introvert temperaments may react
with fear when some Bible stories are discussed; others will be chal-
lenged by the lives of Bible heroes like David and Daniel. The extro-
vert temperaments may not see a need to apply Biblical principles
because they are self-sufficient, or can “charm” their way through
life. All children need to be taught that, to overcome their tempera-
ment weaknesses, they need to begin a relationship with God
through Jesus Christ, and then rely on the Holy Spirit, not themselves,
to make the changes (Galatians 2:20).

TEMPERAMENT STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

TEMPERAMENT STRENGTHS WEAKNESS


BLEND
San-Chlor E, enthusiastic, happy, Explosive anger, lack of self-
determined, self-confident, discipline, last of self-control,
self-sufficient, productive, sarcasm, pride
leader
San-Mel E, enthusiastic, very Lack of self-discipline, fear,
emotional, sensitive, artistic, emotionally insecure,
good at music/drama, verbally criticizes self and
friendly others
San-Phleg E, naturally charming, Lack of motivation/self-
lovable, witty, people-lover, discipline, easily distracted,
flexible, friendly poor planner, procrastinator
Chlor-San E, determined, strong-willed, Anger, pride, argumentative,
productive, leader, diligent, competitive, lack of self-
loyal, self-sufficient, control, sarcastic, somewhat
charming fearful
Chlor-Mel E, productive, determined, Anger, pride, perfectionist,
razor-sharp mind, self- critical, revengeful, hard to
sufficient, loyal, independent, please, exaggerates
organized, leader hurts/insults

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TEMPERAMENT STRENGTHS WEAKNESS
BLEND
Chlor-Phleg E, determined, organized, Stubborn, inflexible, clever,
efficient, dependable, loyal, troublemaker, has difficulty
witty, cooperative admitting wrong
Mel-San I, gifted in music/art/science, Fear, insecurity, lack of self-
emotionally sensitive, loyal, acceptance, complains,
friendly criticizes self and others
Mel-Chlor I, determined, self-sufficient, Moody, critical, hostile, holds
very independent, organized, grudges, uncooperative,
loyal, efficient selfish, revengeful
Mel-Phleg I, efficient, good student, Loner, fearful, “clinger,”
organized, loyal, receptive, selfish, self-conscious, easily
can be artistic embarrassed, lacks of
confidence
Phleg-San I, easy-going, charming, Lack of self-discipline, lack of
flexible, friendly, witty, motivation, procrastinator,
sensitive selfish, stingy
Phleg-Chlor I, diligent, dependable, Stubborn, selfish, inflexible,
amiable, organized, fearful, can live in “dream
cooperative, loyal world”
Phleg-Mel I, easy-going, cooperative, Slow, lacks motivation and
flexible, loyal self- discipline/self-
acceptance, procrastinator,
stubborn, fearful

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #9

1. Describe the San-Chlor, San-Mel, and San-Phleg temperament-


blends.
• Think of a child whom you know who possesses each of these
temperament blends. Describe his speech and behavior.

85
2. Describe the Chlor-San, Chlor-Mel, and Chlor-Phleg temperament-
blends.
•Think of a child whom you know who possesses each of these
temperament blends. Describe his speech and behavior.

3. Describe the Mel-San, Mel-Chlor, and Mel-Phleg temperament


blends.
• Think of a child whom you know who possesses each of these
temperament blends. Describe their speech and behavior.

4. Describe the Phleg-San, Phleg-Chlor, Phleg-Mel temperament


blends.
• Think of a child whom you know who possesses each of these
temperament blends. Describe their speech and behavior.

5. What temperament blend you believe your child (children) pos-


sesses (if you have children), and how the temperament is ex-
pressed.

6. Two ways you will seek to develop your child's (children's) tem-
perament strengths, and two ways you will seek to correct your
child's (children's) temperament weaknesses.

86
The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 10
INTRA-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
(WHAT MAKES A FAMILY “CHRISTIAN”)

You don’t have to be overcome by the bad things in your family; you
don’t have to give up. You’re an individual. Ask God to give you a
sound mind that is full of power and love. He can help you so that
you will not be overcome by evil, but will be able to overcome evil with
good. You may wonder why you must have such a hard life. It may be
a path filled with problems and difficulties, but don’t give up. Instead,
let it become your school in which you learn, with God’s help and en-
couragement, to become a fine, mature, loving person – a person who
is a blessing to those around you and a pleasure to God.
–B. Jurgenson

A. PARENT – CHILD RELATIONSHIPS


Read: Ephesians 6:1 and 4; Colossians 3:12-17

While it is certainly true that chil-


dren should obey their parents, par-
ents are enjoined to model what it
means to be a Christian in the home.
This is an enormous task! What sort of
modeling is necessary to make your
family truly “Christian?”

1. Faith Modeling
Real Christian families do not just
talk about their faith in Christ. They
model it in practical ways. Here are a
few areas and a few questions to ask
yourself about your own spirituality. Rate yourself on a scale of one
to ten. (1 is the lowest score and 10 the highest)

87
• How consistent am I in my personal devotions (Bible reading and
prayer)?
• How consistent are we as a family in family devotions?
• How consistent are we as a family in church attendance and in-
volvement?
• Am I always completely honest in my speech and actions?
• Am I the same person at home as in church or in the community?
• Do I exhibit the fruit of the Spirit on a regular basis? (love, joy,
peace, etc.)
• Do I demonstrate a Biblical attitude to God-given authority?
• Do I regularly ask for forgiveness and grant forgiveness to others?
• Do I truly accept myself and God’s love for me, or do I seek to
prove myself?
• Do I demonstrate moral purity in the realm of my thoughts, my
speech, and
• my actions?
• Do I always use good manners in the home?
• Do I discipline in love, or sometimes with anger and frustration?
• Do I have good, honest FUN with my family?

2. Faith Talk
Real Christian families talk about their love and their relationship
with Jesus Christ. Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten (1 is the low-
est and 10 is the highest) on the following:
• Daily, I share with my family how God has worked in my life.
• Weekly, I share with my family how God has worked in others’
lives.
• Daily, I ask my family how God has worked in their lives.
• Weekly, I ask my family how God has worked in the lives of
others around them.
• I seize “teachable moments” to share about God’s character and
God’s ways.
• I play Christian music at home, and have Scripture portions on
the walls.
• We sing Christian hymns and songs together as a family.

3. Faith Action
Real Christian families don’t just talk about their faith, but they put
it into action. Once again, rate yourself on a scale of one to ten (1 is

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the lowest and 10 is the highest) on the following as a family:
• Daily, as a family, we pray for others’ physical, emotional, and
spiritual needs.
• Weekly, as a family, we spend at least one hour meeting the
needs of someone else.
• At holiday times, as a family, we engage in a project to help
others.
• (for child): In my school, every week I share my faith in Jesus
by word and/or by action.
• (for adult): On my job, every week I share my faith in Jesus by
word and/or by action.
• We always send a “thank-you note” to express our appreciation
to others who have blessed us.
• My family calendar reflects a priority to serve others.

B. CHILD –PARENT RELATIONSHIPS


Read: Proverbs 20:11; Ephesians 4:1-3; and 1 Timothy 4:12-14

While it is certainly true that parents should be a good example


and model for their children, each person in the family has a respon-
sibility to model Christ-likeness. This includes children! An excellent
example of a Godly young man is found in the person of Timothy.
Although he was young, Paul exhorted Timothy to model spiritual
maturity to others in these areas: in word, in conversation (lifestyle),
in charity (love), in spirit, in faith, in purity. Paul also encouraged
this young person to use his spiritual gift and to devote himself to
reading and studying God’s Word.

Therefore, here are some questions by which each child or teen in


your family can evaluate himself to determine if he is contributing to
making your family truly “Christian.”
• Daily, do I read my Bible and pray?
• Daily, do I pray for my parents and other family members?
• Daily, do I say “thank you” to my parents for something?
• Daily, do I think and plan ahead to avoid a problem?
• Weekly, do I do something extra special to help my parents and
other family members?
• Weekly, do I tell each family member, “I love you.”
• Do I see the other family members as my “team members,” or as

89
the “opponent?”
• What is my attitude toward my parents’ authority and discipline?
• Do I regularly ask forgiveness for what I have done wrong?
• Do I try to see things from the perspective of my parents and/or
other family members?
• Am I completely honest and trustworthy in my speech and ac-
tions?
• Am I doing everything I can to make my family a pleasant place
to be? What could I improve upon?
• Do I follow the Scriptural admonition to honor my father and
mother by respect and obedience?

After each child or teenager has evaluated himself on the above


list, you can discuss how the following young people in the Bible
displayed Godliness:
1. Joseph – Genesis 37:13-17; 39:4-12
2. Ruth – Ruth 1:14-18
3. Samuel – 1 Samuel 3
4. David – 1 Samuel 17:12-37
5. Josiah – 2 Kings 22:1-3; and 10-13

As you study the lives of each of these young people, use these
discussion questions:
1. What attitudes did this young person display that are pleasing to
God?
2. What actions did this young person take that are pleasing to
God?
3. Who benefited from the Godly attitudes and actions of these
young people?
4. Which young person do you want to be like? Why?

C. RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS


Read: Genesis 2:24 and 1 Timothy 5:1-8

1.The Marital Relationship is the Priority – not Parents


In Session 1 of this series, mention was made of the fact that a
new family unit is created when a couple marries. Among other
things, this means that the couple’s relationship is the priority now,
not the relationship to parents or to parents-in-law. The newly mar-

90
ried couple must be mutually agreed that nei-
ther set of parents will interfere in their own
relationship, or in the relationship with the
couple’s children. This can be difficult at
times, especially if either set of parents lives
with the young couple, or lives nearby. Early
on, it will be important for the new couple to
set guidelines for their relationship with live-
in parents, as well as those living nearby.
While the new young couple always needs
to respect and honor their parents, the Bible is
clear that this new family unit is directly re-
sponsible to God. They are no longer in a po-
sition of submission to the authority of their parents. Much strife and
division could be avoided if this principle were followed. If either
young spouse’s relationship with parents is more important than the
relationship with the other spouse, conflict will result. If either set of
parents seeks to influence one spouse, inevitably conflict will result.

2. Relationships: Extended Family Members


The Scripture does not speak much about the matter of responsibil-
ity that a Christian family has regarding other family members, such
as uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, cousins, and others. In 1
Timothy 5:8, Paul states, But if any provide not for his own, and spe-
cially for those in his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse
than an infidel. The context of this statement is the care that families
should provide for widows. Some may argue that other family mem-
bers are included, but this is not stated.
Remembering the priority mentioned above that your own family
is now your priority, the guidelines for relationships with other family
members, therefore, would be:

a. If they are unbelievers and are living in your home, be careful


of the influence that an unbeliever can bring into your home.
Treat them with courtesy and respect, and seek to bring them to
faith in Christ through your words and lifestyle.
b. If they are unbelievers and are not living in your home, treat
them with courtesy and respect, and seek to bring them to
Christ.
c. If they are believers and are living in your home, be sure to in-

91
clude them in the spiritual activities of the family. However,
there may be certain activities that you would like to do just as a
family. Do not feel reluctant to do so.
d. If they are believers and do not live in your home, communi-
cate with them and seek their prayer and fellowship as possible.

D. THE FAMILY CONFERENCE – HANDLING PROBLEMS


Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Ephesians 4:15; and James 5:16

Many families have found the “Family Conference,” or “Family


Table,” to be useful in resolving difficulties in the family. In the best
of Christian families, there will be anger and jealousy, fear and fail-
ure, and outright sin. How does a family handle these problems?

1. Seat everyone around a table. This makes communication easy,


and writing can be done without difficulty. Have a preplanned
agenda, or items to discuss. Set a time span for the conference that is
appropriate for your family (shorter if children are young).
2. Begin the Family Conference with prayer and a short Bible-
reading (like 1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Keep the Bible on the table for
reference. The head of the household should begin the conference
with prayer. Someone should record what is said and decided.
3. The leader begins by truthfully admitting what his relationship
failures have been since the group met (e.g., anger displayed, jeal-
ousy, harsh words, etc.). Then this person asks for forgiveness.
*This allows the group to adopt a humble and forgiving attitude.
Often, other group members will also seek forgiveness.
*This prevents one person starting the meeting by confronting an-
other with his or her problem behavior (which is often followed
by the exchange of accusations that only increase tension and re-
solve nothing).
4. The leader calls on the person on his right to admit his relation-
ship failures, and so on around the table.
5. After this process of mutual forgiveness has been completed,
predetermine what the rules of discussion will be on the various is-
sues, such as:
92
*Allow one member to bring up his concerns without comment or
criticism.
*Allow each member, in turn, to speak to the issue. If a vote is
necessary, take one on the action that should be taken by the en-
tire family.
*“Signal” for violation of the rules: if one member feels the discus-
sion has become an argument, and the spirit of the conference
has been violated, he stands to his feet without speaking. This sig-
nals the leader to stop the discussion, have a word of prayer, and
proceed on a more positive note.
6. Continue the conference until all the issues have been ad-
dressed, or the time allotted is expired. Close in prayer.

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #10


AS A PARENT:
1. Faith Modeling: list three areas in which you need to improve, and
how you will start.

2. Faith Talk: list three areas in which you need to improve, and how
you will start.

3. Faith Action: list three areas in which you need to improve, and
how you will start.

AS A CHILD OR TEEN:
1. Name three areas under “Child-Parent Relationships” in which you
need to improve. Share one way you will start.

2. Share three things you really like about your parents. Share three
things you really like about each of your other family members.

3. If you are a young person, share three specific ways you can im-
prove to make your family truly “Christian.”

4. Memorize: Ephesians 4:15. Review: Luke 2:42, Proverbs 22:15,


Proverbs 22:6.

93
The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 11
FAMILIES APPROVED AND DISAPPROVED BY GOD

One evening I drove my husband’s car to the shopping mall. On my


return, I noticed how dusty the outside of his car was and cleaned it
up a bit. When I finally entered the house, I called out, “The woman
who loves you the most in the world just cleaned your headlights
and windshield. My husband looked up and said, Mom’s here?”
– 1001 More Humorous Illustrations, page 202.

Have you noticed that the Bible is full of stories of real families like
yours and like mine? Some of the accounts are good examples of
Godly families, and some are definitely examples to avoid.All of these
accounts teach us one thing: your family relationships are important
to God.

In Session 11, you will learn about some families that God com-
mended, and some families that He reproved. Ask God to give you
many insights from these Biblical families that can assist you in your
own family.

A. FAMILIES COMMENDED BY GOD


1.Abraham’s Family
Read: Genesis 11:27-12:4; 14:9-16; and 18:19

In Genesis 11:27-12:4, we are introduced to Abram, later named


Abraham. God called this man out of his own country (Ur of the
Chaldees – modern day Iraq) and away from his father’s family. Al-
though Abram had no idea where he was going and what would
happen to him, he willingly obeyed God and left Ur.
Apparently Abram was concerned for his father’s welfare, because
he took Terah with him. The aged father died in the city of Haran
before reaching Canaan, the “Promised Land.” Abram also allowed
his nephew, Lot, to accompany him into Canaan. This may be be-
cause Lot’s father, Haran (Abram’s brother) had died back in Ur. Later
94
on, Abram showed his family
loyalty to Lot and all his family
by rescuing them after they were
captured by the five-king con-
federacy under Chedorlaomer.
Although Abraham had some
serious flaws, God tested him,
and found him worthy of the
title, “father of the faithful.” As a
family man who led his family in
the ways of Jehovah, God gave
this commendation of Abraham
in Genesis 18:19: For I know
him, that he will command his
children and his household after
him, and they shall keep the way
of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. Abraham can be emulated for
his example of family love, devotion, and responsibility. His obedi-
ence to God and his leadership in the ways of God are traits to be
admired.

2. Ruth and Naomi’s Family


Read: Ruth 1:1-18; 2:2, 11-12

In this beautiful story called by others the “Romance of Redemp-


tion,” God has given us another example of a Godly family. Because
of a famine in Israel, Elimelech and Naomi left Bethlehem to find
sustenance in nearby Moab. Unfortunately, Elimelech and his two
sons, Mahlon and Chilion, died. Naomi was left with just her two
Moabite daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.
Hearing that the famine had ended in Israel, Naomi started to re-
turn to her native land. Both daughters-in-law wept at their mother-
in-law’s departure, but it was Ruth who clung to Naomi and spoke
the moving words of love and loyalty:
Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:
for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:
thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God (Ruth 1:16).
Back in Bethlehem, Ruth’s devotion and care for her mother-in-
law was demonstrated in a tangible way. She volunteered to provide
food for them by gleaning in the barley fields that were being har-

95
vested. Ruth’s Godly example was noticed by everyone and came to
the attention of one of the owners of the land on which she was
gleaning, a wealthy man named Boaz. Later, according to God’s plan,
Ruth followed Naomi’s advice and sought a marriage proposal from
Boaz, who was a near kinsman (a practice in Israel).
In all her attitudes and actions, Ruth displayed extraordinary family
love and loyalty to her mother-in-law. In like manner, Naomi cared
for her daughter-in-law in a foreign country and taught her the cus-
toms of the Israelite people. Naomi also secured a marriage partner
for Ruth which guaranteed her future.

3.Timothy’s Family
Read: Acts 16:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15

Paul met Timothy in Derbe and Lystra on his second missionary


journey. Discerning the devout nature of the young man, Paul
wanted Timothy to travel with him in his Gospel work. Although his
mother was a Jewess, the Jews in the vicinity knew that Timothy’s fa-
ther was a Greek (Gentile). In deference to the Jews, Paul circum-
cised Timothy.
Timothy became one of Paul’s most faithful and trusted colleagues
in his missionary endeavors. He also pastored the growing church in
Ephesus, and dealt with many who were proclaiming false doctrine
(1 Timothy 1:3-4).
In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul commended Timothy’s faith. He later de-
clares that the same sincere, devoted faith dwelled in his mother, Eu-
nice, and in his grandmother, Lois. Apparently, Timothy’s Godly
mother and grandmother passed on their love for God and for God’s
Word to the young boy. This is confirmed in 2 Timothy 3:15, where
Paul exhorts Timothy to continue in the sound doctrine that he had
learned from his earliest childhood.

B. FAMILIES DISAPPROVED BY GOD

1. Isaac-Rebekah-Jacob-Esau
Read: Genesis 25:28; 27:1-10; 37:3-4

In their old age, God gave Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac. Abra-
ham dutifully obtained Rebekah, for a wife for Isaac, from his own

96
kindred. When Rebekah was pregnant with twin boys (Esau and
Jacob), the Lord told her that the elder, Esau, would serve the
younger, Jacob. But according to Genesis 25:28, the parents chose fa-
vorites: Isaac chose Esau, who was an outdoorsman, and Rebekah
chose Jacob, a dweller in tents.
When Isaac was old and wanted to confer his blessing on Esau,
the firstborn, Rachel prompted Jacob to deceive his father and to
steal the blessing from Esau. Apparently, Rachel felt she needed to
“help God out” to make Jacob the preeminent son. Nothing could be
further from the truth, of course, and this deception ignited murder-
ous rage in Esau. As a result, Rebekah told Jacob to flee to her
brother’s (Laban’s) house and stay there until Esau’s anger abated.
Unfortunately for Rebekah, Jacob stayed over twenty years in Haran.
Rebekah died without ever seeing Jacob again.
Favoritism in families always brings heartache and trouble. In this
case, Isaac and Rebekah’s favoritism produced much family jealousy
and animosity between the brothers. Additionally, their favoritism
was passed on to Jacob, who favored his son, Joseph, the first son of
his favorite wife, Rachel. Joseph’s special status in Jacob’s eyes
sparked great jealousy on the part of his ten brothers. Lastly, Re-
bekah and Jacob’s deceitful tendencies were passed on to the next
generation. Ten of Jacob’s sons deceived him into believing that his
favorite son, Joseph, was torn to pieces by a wild animal. This de-
ception nearly resulted in Jacob’s untimely death.

2. David’s Family
Read: 2 Samuel 5:13-16; 13:1-2, 11-14, 20-22, 28-29, 38-39; 14:1,
21-24, 28

Chosen by God to be ruler over His people, God called David a


man after mine own heart.” The sweet psalmist of Israel (David)
greatly loved God, defended his reputation, and exhibited the God-
blessed qualities of humility, respect for authority, and trust in God,
and not in man.
However, David also possessed some notable weaknesses. After
his sin with Bathsheba, David’s neglect of his family, especially his
sons, was his most serious failing. David’s family woes began when
he took more than one wife, and then many concubines, through
whom he sired many children. As a man of war, undoubtedly David
was often absent from home. When he was there, David did not dis-

97
cipline his sons consistently, or develop a proper fatherly relationship
with them.
As a result, when David’s son, Amnon, raped Absalom’s sister,
Tamar, David did nothing about it but become angry (2 Samuel
13:21). Clearly favoring, yet not understanding his temperamental
son, Absalom, David granted permission for him to go and to take all
the king’s sons with him to Ephraim. While there, when Amnon was
drunk, Absalom had him killed. After three years, David finally al-
lowed Absalom to return to Jerusalem, but would not speak to him
for two full years. During this time, Absalom’s anger turned into deep
bitterness and hatred of his father, David. Absalom mounted a rebel-
lion against his father, and succeeded in driving David from
Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:14). Absalom was later killed in an ensuing
battle as retribution for his rebellion (18:14).

C. SPIRITUAL LESSONS ON THE FAMILY

1. Obedience to God’s Prescribed Order Brings Blessing


People who obey God’s prescribed order for the family reap God’s
blessings.

• Leadership in the Family – Abraham’s obedience to God and his


leadership of his family in Godly ways resulted in prosperity in
the land of Canaan. When Abraham listened to his wife instead
of to God in taking Hagar to produce an heir, the outcome was
disastrous. Ever after, there was animosity between Ishmael and
Isaac (the true heir) and their descendants. This enmity continues
to the present day in the Arab-Israeli conflict that usually makes
front-page news every week. Fathers who provide spiritual lead-
ership in their homes promote the success of many future gener-
ations. But fathers also must be careful not to be pressured by
family members into making unwise choices.
• Priorities in the Family – Ruth’s love and loyalty to her mother-in-
law is a shining example of making right spiritual choices. Ruth
chose to leave her family of origin because of her faith in
Naomi’s God. She was not persuaded into making a wrong
choice because of loyalty to her family in Moab. It is always im-
portant to respect your parents and parents-in-law. However,
marriage establishes a whole new priority for your relationships.

98
Your first priority is to your spouse. When married, the new cou-
ple must make their own decisions, and not be dominated by
parents or parents-in-law.
• Spiritual Training in the Family – Timothy’s spiritual interest
clearly grew out of a family that valued spiritual training and im-
plemented that training. Families today can learn from this exam-
ple of three generations of God-fearing people. Although God’s
best is for the father to be the spiritual leader, when this is not
possible, the influence of a Godly mother and grandmother can
make a tremendous difference in the family.

2. Rejection of God’s Prescribed Order Brings Trouble

• Generational Sins in the Family – Favoritism, conniving, and de-


ceit produced much unnecessary strife in the family of Isaac-Re-
bekah-Esau-Jacob. Most unfortunately, this flawed pattern of
relationships was transmitted to the following generations. Jacob
passed on his deceitful tendencies to his sons, and the Bible
records that Jacob‘s son, Judah, was deceived by his daughter-in-
law. As God warned, patterns of sin can be passed down to the
third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5b).
• Parental Neglect in the Family – David’s problems with lust were
certainly passed down to Amnon, but his greatest failure appears
to be in the area of parental responsibility. Because of his incon-
sistent discipline and lack of discipline of his sons, jealousy and
turmoil prevailed in the royal family. Temperamental children
like Absalom, who had a bent toward bitterness and taking up
offenses, were not brought into proper relationship with the par-
ents, and so rebelled. Great damage resulted for David’s family
and for the families of his sons.

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #11

1. What did you learn from Abraham and his family that would be
Godly examples to follow in your family?

2. What attitudes and actions did you learn from Ruth and Naomi’s
relationship that you would like to duplicate in your family?

99
3. What Godly influences and conduct in Timothy’s life would you
like to establish in your family?

4. What did you learn from the family of Isaac-Rebekah-Jacob-Esau


that you would want to avoid in your family?

5. What did you learn from David’s family that you would like to
avoid in your family?

6. Write down a “Personal Plan for My Family” that includes four of


the insights that you learned from this session from the Biblical
families.

7. Memorize: Isaiah 1:19-20. Review Ephesians 4:15, Luke 2:42,


Proverbs 22:15

100
The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 12
HANDLING ATTACKS ON YOUR FAMILY

What does your family value? Good health, a safe home, and your
child’s innocence are some “valuables” that may come to mind.
Other treasures include freedom of speech, religion, and the right to
influence our government. Safeguarding our assets requires inten-
tional effort….Some threats to family treasures and civic assets are
easily seen; others may sneak in undetected, such as gambling, sex-
ual messages, and attacks on Christian faith. Family and civic secu-
rity begin with awareness of the threats.
– Focus on the Family Magazine, 10-2006

If you did not know already that the family is under attack, espe-
cially the Christian family, you do not have to read further than your
local newspaper, or flip to any channel on your television set. Here
are some alarming statistics:

• Sexual Messages – In the USA, and


elsewhere, network and cable televi-
sion abound in openly sexual content.
Day or night, children can witness
heterosexual and homosexual acts.
Seventy-two million Internet users in
the USA visit pornographic websites
each year. One in five young Internet
users receive unwanted sexual solici-
tations each year. Most of the families
with children do not use filtering or blocking software to these
websites. Adult sexual predators have ready access to young vic-
tims through multiple e-mail and chat rooms.
• Faith – A volunteer fireman in Massachusetts (USA) lost his job
after he signed a petition to overturn the state’s court-mandated
gay marriage ruling. An openly gay member of the city council

101
questioned the fireman’s willingness to put out a fire if it in-
volved the house of homosexual couples.
• Gambling – Eight to ten million Americans struggle with habitual
gambling and the number is rising. Almost 600,000 youth in
America gamble on the Internet weekly.
• Drugs – Teen involvement with illegal drugs is well-known, but
you do not even have to leave home to get “high.” Children and
teenagers can become addicted to inhaling home products, such
as: computer cleaner, room deodorizers, shoe polish, paint thin-
ner, spray paints, and other aerosol sprays. In 2005, a 14-year-old
boy died after inhaling computer cleaner. - Ibid.

A. GOD TOLD US TO EXPECT THIS


Read: 1 John 2:15-16; Galatians 5:16-17; and James 5:8

1.The World (System)

Throughout its pages, the Scripture warns that there is a personal


Devil. He operates in various ways and through various agents. The
primary instrument Satan uses on earth is the “world system.” The
world system is very real, and is not just man’s cultural expressions.
It is the sum total of all the Satanic influences in culture that are di-
rectly opposed to God.
If God is sovereign, and He is, how is it that Satan wields such
power? The answer is found in 1 John 5:19: the whole world lieth in
wickedness (the wicked one – Satan). God has allowed Satan to rule
and to reign on this earth for a season. Even the Lord Jesus did not
dispute this fact in the wilderness temptation, when Satan offered
Him all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4, Luke 4). Jesus knew
that all the kings and kingdoms were under Satan’s authority, and he
could give them to whomever he pleased.
God has His system of operation, and Satan has his system, and
the two will never agree. This is why John warns the believers, in 1
John 2:15-16 to:

Love not the world (system), neither the things that are in the
world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world (system), the lust of the flesh, and the lust
of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father (God), but is of
the world (system).

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The Christian, while living on this earth, will be under attack con-
tinually from forces that are contrary to God’s purposes. John alerts
us to the fact that these forces will tempt the believer through the de-
sires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride that is in-
volved in achieving power, money, and prominence in the world.

Here are some of the arenas in which the world system exerts its
influence:

a.The Media
Through television, radio, movies,
videos/DVDs, the Internet, music, books,
magazines, billboards, and a host of other
media that bombard our eyes and ears on
a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis,
Satan is operating to infuse his values, his
ideas, and his “agenda” into the hearts
and minds of people. The advertising in-
dustry is so large and so lucrative because it is so effective. People
do incorporate the ideas and values that are continually placed into
their minds. Then they act on these messages and assume they are
their own ideas. For example:

• Nothing is wrong with overt sexuality.


Women can and do wear scanty clothing on their bodies, which
appeals to fleshly lust, and believe they are just keeping up with
“fashion.” Most young women are completely oblivious that their
lack of clothing prompts men to view them as sexual objects, not as
women whom they would respect or want to marry. Young women
believe plunging necklines, bare midriffs, and short skirts make them
attractive. Nothing could be further from the truth – if you are inter-
ested in a wholesome long-term relationship. As Christians, we
should always honor God in our dress as in everything else.
• Do whatever makes you feel good.
Satan has always majored on the temporal (the now), not the eter-
nal. He causes man to forget about the inevitable consequences of
his actions. These consequences affect both this life, and the world
to come after death. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow ye shall
die” is the philosophy designed with Y-O-U in mind. It projects the
idea that it does not matter what happens tomorrow, because you

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may not have a tomorrow. It does not matter what happens to others
because of your actions, because y-o-u must take care of yourself, or
“look out for #1” (another media-prompted message).
“If it feels good, it must be right. Do it,” whispers the Devil in your
ear. The problem with this message is that there is a God-given law
of the universe that supersedes this idea. It is the law of sowing and
reaping, “You will reap what you sow.” (See Galatians 6:8.) It may
feel good right now, but, as the physics teacher tells us: “for every
action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” What goes up will
come down. There are consequences. If your actions that produced
your good feelings are not God’s actions, you will reap trouble and
heartache and misery. Count on it – sooner or later.

b. Educational Systems
Because Satan is the prince of the power of the air, we expect him
to operate in the realm of the media,
over the airwaves and in public view.
Another more subtle area of his con-
trol are the educational systems in our
nations. Especially if the educational
system is public, Satan can wield vast
influence. He can infuse his godless
values and ideas into the hearts and
minds of children at an early age
through “education.” This happened
very clearly in the USA after 1963,
when prayer and Bible-reading were removed from the public
schools. Into this vacuum, Satan inserted his humanistic ideas of “tol-
erance,” and “relativism,” that is, absolute standards of right and
wrong no longer exist. The rapid moral and social decline in America
over the past four decades stands witness to the fact that Satan’s strat-
egy worked. Now, abortion (killing the unborn), “alternative” sexual
lifestyles, and divorce for any reason are considered normal and
morally neutral. Through the world system of education, Satan has
caused millions of people’s values to be changed. Families have been
ripped apart in the process, and the whole foundation of American
society has been shaken. The USA is not alone in experiencing these
consequences of introducing his “educational system.” Nations in
Africa that taught creationism have now embraced evolution as the
answer to man’s ultimate origin on this planet.

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c. Systems of Commerce/Business: Materialism
Most countries around the world place a tremendous value on edu-
cation, and even elevate it to an all-powerful status (your “pathway to
success”). This exaggeration of the importance of (especially) higher
education gives Satan a real advantage. It fits in very well with his
strategy to consume man with the passion for wealth, and the things
that money can bring: status, power, and prominence in society. By
stimulating man’s tendency toward greed, and a need for security,
Satan very skillfully ensnares people with the lust of the eyes (material
possessions) and the pride of life (the undue praise and recognition of
people because of financial success). There is nothing wrong with op-
erating a business and making a profit. In this way, you provide for
your family, and employ others so they can do the same.
But most people around the globe spend most of their time trying
to improve their economic picture (the temporal, or “the now” view).
In this way, Satan diverts their attention from their eternal welfare, or
keeps them so satisfied on this earth that they see no need to pre-
pare for leaving it.

d. Political Systems
A cursory reading of the Old Testament makes it clear that Satan
has been operating through political systems since mankind’s begin-
ning. Even after God destroyed the human race in Noah’s day be-
cause of their wickedness, it was not long before man managed to
create another equally wicked political system, in Genesis 11, on the
plain of Shinar. Here at the Tower of Babel, mankind was worshiping
the heavenly bodies and decided to unite for survival, and probably
to propagate their corrupt religious and political system (sponsored
by the “god of this world” – Satan). Of course, God thwarted their
plans and dispersed the multitude so that Satan could not completely
control them.
Since that time, the record of ancient civilizations, apart from (and
sometimes including) the history of the Jewish nation established by
God, is one of wars and tyranny, evil and oppression. Godless kings
and rulers have risen and fallen. They have temporarily dominated
the earth’s peoples and enslaved millions of them. Have they brought
freedom and dignity, righteousness and moral uplifting? No, these
political systems have been, and are, the work of Satan, who seeks
to subjugate the human race and perpetuate evil. Today the same is
true. Through the world system of politics and government, God’s

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enemy continues to operate. The whole world lieth in wickedness
(the wicked one). This is still true.

2.The Flesh
In Galatians 5:16-17, Paul declares that believers are in a war
against “the flesh.” The Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God,
but he still has certain remnants from the old life that are called “the
flesh.” Of course, man continues to have indwelling sin, which is
sometimes a synonym in Scripture for “the flesh.” But man also strug-
gles against certain patterns of thought, speech, and action that he
has developed through living in this world. Some aspects of “the
flesh” are:

• Thoughts: impurity, greed, pride, desire to control, criticism, and


judgment
• Emotions: anger, jealousy, bitterness, desire for revenge, fear,
worry, inferiority, lack of self-acceptance, feelings of failure
• Words: gossip, arguing, unkindness, anger, insensitivity in speech
• Actions: controlling behavior, “drivenness” in educational or
business pursuits, personal irresponsibility (family and commu-
nity), questionable business practices, social and political apathy,
use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and tobacco, and gambling, etc.

It is through “the flesh” that Satan seeks to tempt and dominate


people, including believers. Daily, each member of your family is
subject to Satan’s temptations as he appeals to the sin nature and
these weaknesses of the flesh.

3.The Devil
In addition to attacking you and your family indirectly through the
world system and through the flesh, Satan also attacks believers di-
rectly:
a. How Satan attacks
• He will introduce thoughts into your mind. He will bring up
memories of past sin. Did you know that every thought you have
is not your own?
• He will bring people and circumstances into your life to tempt
you.
• He will use the “vain philosophies” of men, introduced through
books and friends and educational institutions.

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b.When Satan attacks
• He attacks when you are vulnerable: physically or emotionally
tired, hungry, discouraged, and weakened through a prolonged
struggle.
• He attacks through unmet human needs: physical, emotional, or
spiritual needs that are not satisfied the legitimate way (God’s
way).
• He attacks during/after a
“shock” in your family or
personal life: a financial or
health crisis, a false accusa-
tion, a prolonged struggle
with a business, church, or
family situation.
• He attacks when we come
off a spiritual mountaintop
experience, such as a Bible
conference or Christian
camp, where you have
been saturated with the Word of God. This attack may even
come after a Christian worker has been faithfully ministering the
Word for several days.

B. God’s Remedy for This


Read: Ephesians 6:10-18; James 5:8; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; and
Joshua 1:8

1. Be alert and proactive:


Now that you are aware of the three sources of evil attack on
you and on your family (the world system, the flesh, and the devil),
you must be vigilant and proactive toward how these forces are af-
fecting your family. Some suggestions to make the proverbial “
pound of cure” unnecessary by “an ounce of prevention:”
a.The Media
Parents, first be sure to carefully monitor what goes into your
own mind and heart. Then carefully monitor what goes into the
mind and heart of your child through the media to which he is ex-
posed. Be sure you know its content. Limit the amount of time that
you and your children view television, movies, videos/DVDs, the

107
Internet, listen to music, read certain books, and magazines, etc.
You can place filters on your computer to prevent access to damag-
ing websites. Although you would not allow a thief or a sexual
predator inside your home, unwittingly you invite them in through
the media you allow in your home. Also, instruct your children in
“subliminal” messages. These are the under-riding ideas in adver-
tisements. Although on the surface some media seems perfectly
harmless, the messages they are truly conveying can be definitely
anti-Biblical.

b. Educational/Commercial/Political Systems
Because you and your family cannot avoid all the influences of the
world system by living alone in a cave, it is essential that you evalu-
ate the school your child is attending. What values are being taught?
What is the content of the textbooks your child is required to read?
Does your child know how to “discern good from evil” regarding the
things he hears in school? How can you help him? If your child
leaves home to pursue higher education, be sure to arm him with the
truth about the godless philosophies of men that they will encounter,
who have deceived many.
When you shop or engage in business, what values are you con-
veying to your children? Do you view yourself as a steward of God’s
resources (the money He gives you), or as an owner? If it is the lat-
ter, you will tend to accumulate material goods, and will pass on this
materialistic tendency to your children. If you pray with your whole
family about the use of your money, your children will soon under-
stand it all belongs to God. This will infuse in them the value that
pleasing God is more important than satisfying the lust of the eyes.
Are you engaged in the political process in your country? Do you
vote? Do you pray for your government leaders with your family? By
your example, your children will learn that God has given each citi-
zen a responsibility to submit to and uphold those in civic authority.
When government leaders perpetuate evil, corruption, and anti-Bibli-
cal practices, make sure your voice is heard, and seek to correct the
wrong. Teach your children that God is sovereign, and it is their ulti-
mate responsibility to obey God rather than men.

2. Be always instructing
It is very easy to become consumed with the everyday routine of
family life. Families are busy places! But there must be important pri-

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orities in your family that take precedence over urgent activities, like
food preparation, work, and school. God has clearly prescribed what
that priority is in Deuteronomy 6:7: And thou shalt teach them (God’s
laws and God’s ways) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of
them . . . .

Personal example:
How do you guard yourself and your family from the attacks of
the flesh and the devil? Fortify them with the truth of God’s Word!
On a daily basis, read and share and talk about God’s Word, and the
impact it has on your own life. Be transparent about your own spiri-
tual struggles. Your family will learn from you that spiritual growth is
a lifelong process, and that your love for your Lord grows with each
trial, problem, and sometimes even through a spiritual lapse. Some
suggestions:

• Instruct your family in the three evil sources of attack you


learned in this session. Read and discuss the above Scriptures.
Ask family members to share personal examples from their lives
of how they may be struggling with the devil’s temptations and
the flesh. Don’t allow sin to hibernate. Bring it out in the open,
confess it, and move on.
• Pray daily for and with your family. Take time daily and weekly
to talk about how God’s Word and God’s Spirit have been active
in your lives. Don’t just lecture. Allow time for open and mean-
ingful discussion.

Guidelines for evaluating questionable activities:


Regarding the influence of the flesh and the devil, teach your chil-
dren to be aware of how Satan seeks to tempt them and influence
them through their own thoughts, through other people, and through
the media. Give them guidelines to evaluate whether a person or an
activity (thought, emotion, action/
reaction) is right in God’s sight, such as:

• Is it prohibited in the Bible? How would God feel about this?


• How will the results of this affect my life? Will it adversely affect
others?
• Would I want to be doing this when Jesus returns?
• Will this make me the kind of person I really want to be?

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3. Be a Family!
This may sound strange, but the point is to build your family’s
bonds by:

• Setting priorities in your family: Fam-


ily devotions, church attendance,
“family night” one night per week,
etc. Then stick to these priorities.
• Keeping outside meetings and activi-
ties to a minimum so you are not
rushed and pulled apart as a family.
• Deciding to serve as a family: Is serv-
ing others the lifestyle in your fam-
ily? If not, you can start now to
correct this. Discover needs in your
community. Adopt a plan of action that will work for you: time,
place, people. Select a project that is suitable, pray, and plan to-
gether as a family. Your children will be excited, and their whole
lives transformed as they personally become involved in meeting
the needs of others.

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #12

1. What is the first major source of attack on your family?


• To what does Satan appeal in the human personality to make
his system attractive?

• Share three ways that you have observed that the media pumps
impure and destructive messages into your family’s minds.

2. How do you see Satan operating through the educational system


in your country?
• How has Satan promoted his plan through the political system
in your country?

3. In what areas of the flesh do you struggle? How does Satan attack
you there?

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4. Share two things you will do immediately in your family to protect
them from the evil influences of some media.
a.
b.

5. Share two things you will do immediately in your family to deal


with greed, materialism, and attitudes that reflect the desire for
worldly fame, power, and recognition.
a.
b.

6. Memorize: 1 John 2:15-16. Review Isaiah 1:19-20, Ephesians 4:15,


Luke 2:42

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The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 13
DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE

Doing an injury puts one below his enemy.


Revenging an injury makes one even with him.
Forgiving an enemy sets one above his enemy!
–1001 Humorous Illustrations

Biblically sound marriage and family relationships are hard to find.


Around the world, the traditional family structures of various cultures
are breaking down. Because of the “globalization” furnished by the
Internet, by satellite television, and other media, most of the world
knows what is happening on the other side of the earth, sometimes
instantaneously!
With this added knowledge, and because of other socio-economic
factors, the traditional family structures of Asia and Africa are under
attack. Multitudes of young people are choosing to go against their
cultural mores, and to marry without parental approval. Many others
are divorcing their marriage partners, and re-marrying other people,
as is common in Western nations.
Does the Bible have anything to say about the issue of divorce
and remarriage? In Session 11, you examined the major Bible teach-
ings on this subject. Would you pray right now and ask God to give
you discernment as you hear Him speak through His Word?

A. MARRIAGE PERMANENCE
Read: Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:3-9; and Ephesians 5:31-32

In Genesis, the first book of


the Bible, God established
marriage. It is a divine institu-
tion designed by God for the
blessing of mankind. Unfortu-
nately, after the Fall in Genesis
3, through his disobedience,

112
man forfeited many of the blessings that God intended in every area
of life. The full blessing of the married state was also forfeited.

1. Beginnings
It is clear from Scripture that God intended for marriage to be a
permanent union of one man and one woman. The essential mean-
ing of Genesis 2:24 (and they shall be one flesh)
was repeated and emphasized by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 19,
and by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5. The indissoluble union of
one man and one woman is in view when the Scripture says one
flesh. If a person tears his own flesh apart, this will result in great
damage and, perhaps, even death. In like manner, marriage is de-
signed to continue uninterrupted, lest it produce severe injury. Mar-
riage was intended to be permanent.

2.A Spiritual Mystery


In Ephesians 5:25-33 which we have studied previously, God de-
scribes the roles of the husband and the wife in spiritual terms. He
explains that the role of the husband is to represent the Lord Jesus
Christ in His self-giving nature and His “laying down” of His life for
the Church. Likewise, the role of the wife is to illustrate the behavior
of the Church, which is to submit itself to Christ and His loving com-
mands and leadership.
Marriage provides a beautiful illustration of the relationship be-
tween Christ and the Church. As other Scripture passages teach (John
10:28-29 and Romans 8:35-39), the believer in Christ cannot be sepa-
rated from Him, or “lose his salvation.” When a believer is united
with Christ by spiritual baptism into His Body (Romans 6:3 and 1
Corinthians 12:13), the believer cannot be “un-united” or “unbap-
tized” from the Body. The union of Christ and His Church is perma-
nent.
Because the Ephesian passage on marriage is a description of the
indissoluble union of Christ and the Church, it just makes sense that
marriage also is an indissoluble union of one man and one woman
in a special relationship. No doubt, man has deviated from this di-
vine pattern, but God’s design for marriage has not changed, and
from the beginning it was not so (Matthew 19:8b). The permanence
of marriage is a well-established fact in Scripture.

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A. Why God Allowed a “Writing of Divorcement”
Read: Deuteronomy 24:1-4; and Matthew 19:3-9

1.“The Hardness of Your Hearts”


When tempted by the Pharisees, in Matthew 19, with the question
of why Moses allowed the divorcing of wives (“putting away”) and
prescribed a writing of divorcement when this occurred, Jesus re-
sponded with because of the hardness of your hearts. What did He
mean by this?
According to the passage in Deuteronomy, Israelite men were di-
vorcing their wives and putting them out of their houses. Apparently
this was happening with regularity. What was the future for a woman
who was sent away from her husband’s home? Probably, she had no
means of livelihood. If she had children, very likely she had no way
to support them.
Out of concern for these women, Moses prescribed the “bill (writ-
ing) of divorcement.” Men could not simply shove an unwanted wife
out the door, but they had to substantiate her departure. In this case,
the woman could be married to another man, and so obtain some
economic security. Therefore, Moses prescribed the bill of divorce-
ment in order to correct an abuse. This is what Jesus meant by the
hardness of your hearts.

2. God’s Prescription for Marriage


Even as the Lord Jesus answered the Pharisees’ question, He
quoted Genesis 2:24 and explained that divorce was not part of
God’s original plan. The Lord stated that God had made the man and
his wife one flesh, and that man had no right to separate what God
had joined together. Thus, the essence of the communication is that
man has marred God’s original design by divorce.

B. God’s Viewpoint on Divorce


Read: Malachi 2:14-16

In addition to the passage in Deuteronomy cited above, God con-


demned the rampant divorces in Old Testament times in the book of
Malachi. This book was written to the Jews who returned to
Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity. Under Nehemiah’s leader-
ship, the Israelites had rebuilt the temple, and rebuilt the walls of

114
Jerusalem that had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.
After completion of the wall, Nehemiah also instituted some major
reforms in Jewish society (e.g., no intermarriage with pagan peoples)
that lasted for a short time.
However, when Nehemiah had to return to Babylon for a lengthy
stay, the Israelites reverted to various ungodly practices. Among
these was the divorce of the wife of thy youth (Malachi 2:14). God
made it clear what He thought about this practice in no uncertain
terms:

For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away. .
.therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

God states that He “hates” divorce. Further, what the men were
doing to their wives was labeled “treachery” by God. Given the pas-
sage in Matthew 19:6-7, and this passage in Malachi 2:14-16, God’s
viewpoint on divorce is well established.
Some Bible teachers teach that those who were divorced prior to
salvation are not subject to the bane on remarriage, since the Lord
has forgiven all of their past sins. They also use this relating to those
who have married a divorced person before they were saved. This
could be a matter for study and discussion.

NOTE: Definition of Abuse:


When an individual who is in power (au-
thority) over another (either by physical size,
position, because he is male, etc.) misuses
this power to meet his or her own physical,
emotional, or psychological needs, this is abuse. Violent behavior
that subjects the spouse to beatings, frequent blows with the hand or
fist, or some other instrument is definitely abuse. This may occur
when the spouse is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Inordinate, or abusive behavior during the sexual relationship is
abuse. These, as well as constant fault finding, swearing at, threaten-
ing, and name calling, are all demeaning and should never be part of
the marriage relationship.

Marital ABUSE:
Does this mean that a woman or a man must submit to physical,
emotional, or sexual abuse in marriage? Not at all. Abusive behavior

115
is never right. Steps must be taken to correct the behavior of an abu-
sive spouse. These steps could include:

1.Appeal to the Parents/Parents-in-law of the Spouse


In all humility, and without bitterness, ask the spouse’s own par-
ents to give Godly counsel to the erring partner. Helping the spouse
to know that he or she is accountable to someone else can serve to
minimize the abuse and assist the person in obtaining psychological
counseling for the abusive behavior.

2.Appeal to the Pastor or Elders of the Church


Requesting your pastor or church elders to approach the abusive
spouse can be another line of accountability. The person can receive
important spiritual counseling and prayer to aid in their restoration.

3. Separation
When no change has been obtained by the above measures, it
may be necessary to separate from the abusive partner for a period
of time. Often this physical separation works to alert the spouse to
the seriousness of the situation. Pray earnestly for the direction of the
Holy Spirit as to when the separation should start, and how long
it should last. By all means, do not “enable” the abusive behavior of
the partner by simply accepting the abuse in the name of “submis-
sion.” This is not Biblical submission.

4. Marriage Mentors
Marriage mentors are valuable for preventing marriage problems,
and for detecting marital abuse. If you are not in a mentoring rela-
tionship with another older couple, consider starting this relationship
now, before a crisis strikes.

B. REMARRIAGE
Read: 1 Corinthians 7:10-16

1. If You Depart
In this section of 1 Corinthians, Paul is answering some questions
that the Corinthian believers posed to him. The church at Corinth
was well known for its immoral practices. In the ancient world, the
term, “to play the Corinthian,” meant to participate in sexual license

116
and depraved behavior of various kinds. Likewise, the Corinthian
church also had serious problems with internal divisions, strife, envy,
and the abuse of the gift of tongues.
When Paul discusses the married and unmarried state in chapter 7,
he commands that a woman not leave (depart from) her husband.
Apparently many of the Corinthian
women were leaving their husbands.
Paul expressly forbids this. If she
does leave her husband, the married
woman is to remain single, or to be
reconciled to her husband (verse 11).
In such a case, the man is not to di-
vorce his wife that left him. The in-
tent here, and in verses 12-14, is for
the marriage to work. Separation and
divorce are definitely discouraged.

2. If An Unbelieving Spouse Departs


Some of the Corinthian believers had an unbelieving spouse. Ap-
parently some of them decided to leave the believing husband or
wife. In this case, Paul commands to let the unbeliever depart, and a
brother or a sister is not under bondage. By this Paul meant that the
believer is free to remarry. Notice how Paul concludes the section:
but God hath called us to peace. Again, he is emphasizing God’s orig-
inal design for marriage permanence.

C. THE “EXCEPTION CLAUSE” OF MATTHEW 19


Read: Matthew 5:31-32 and 19:9

There has been much debate over whether God ever sanctions, or
allows, divorce. The above passages speak to this matter, because in
them Jesus says, Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the
cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever
shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery (Matthew 5:32),
(underlining by the author). What did Jesus mean by these state-
ments?
Many Bible expositors believe that the Lord is stating that a man
may divorce his wife if she is unfaithful to him, that is, if she has en-
gaged in sexual relations with another man while married to her hus-

117
band. The word fornication is the Greek word, “porneia,” and is
used for many practices of sexual immorality, or uncleanness. How-
ever, even if your marriage partner is unfaithful to you, you have
made a covenant with him or her and with God. Is sexual unfaithful-
ness, then, grounds for divorce?
Other Bible expositors believe that the Lord is talking about the
special case of the Jewish betrothal period in these verses. A man
who is betrothed (or engaged) to a woman (who is called a “wife”
during the engagement period), if he finds that she has had sexual
relations with another man, is allowed to divorce her, that is, break
off the engagement. They cite the instance of Joseph, and his possi-
ble intent before the angel spoke with him concerning Mary, in
Matthew 1:19, as an example of this type of divorce.
Still others suggest that in the Jewish culture of the day, there were
two positions on divorce: some said divorce was allowed in all cases;
some said it was allowed only in cases of fornication. But notice how
the Lord answered this inquiry in Luke. He referred back to “the be-
ginning,” when there was no divorce at all.
Clearly, this issue will not be easily resolved. It may not be re-
solved until we all get to heaven. In the meantime, let us be obedient
to what we do know is right in the sight of God regarding our rela-
tionships in marriage. If we are obedient, according to John 7:17,
God will give us “further light” when the time comes for a decision
on any matter in question. His Spirit will guide us, and we will
achieve the ultimate goal of the Christian life: to glorify God in all
things by walking in the Spirit.

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #13

1. How do Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:3-9 support the idea that
marriage is a permanent institution?

2. Why did God allow Moses to prescribe a “bill of divorcement” in


the Old Testament?

3. What is abuse? In cases of marital abuse, what steps could be fol-


lowed?

4. What does God say about remarriage?


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5. Share on what issues of divorce and remarriage you still have a
struggle or a question.

6. If you were to counsel a couple who is having marital difficulties,


what would be the first three things you would tell them?

7. Memorize: 1 Corinthians 4:2. Review 1 John 2:15-16, Isaiah 1:19-20

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The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Session 14
SPECIAL TOPICS ON THE FAMILY
(Healing Broken Relationships; Single-Parent and Blended Families)

The landscape of families has changed drastically over the last twenty
years. Now there are many single-parent and blended families. There
are parent-less families that have originated because of the AIDS epi-
demic and various other calamities.
This session will examine some principles that apply to different
types of families. Hopefully, this material will assist you in helping
other families that are different, but still beloved of God.

A. HEALING BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS


1.The Effects of Divorce
Read: Genesis 2:24; and Matthew 19:6

On a well-known psychological test that measures stress, different


points are assigned to life events. The highest ranked event is “Death
of a Spouse,” and it is assigned 100 points. How many points do you
think were assigned to divorce? The answer is 73. Marital separation
is given 65 points. Other high-ranking events that produce stress are
a jail term, a personal assault, terrorism near you (each 63 points),
and serious personal injury or illness (53).
There are many similarities between the death of a spouse and di-
vorce from a spouse: feelings of loss,
feelings of loneliness, fears of the future,
futility (nothing to live for), anger to-
ward the departed spouse or toward
God, etc. However, there are many
types of feelings and types of reactions
that are unique to divorced people. Let
us examine them.
Most people who have experienced a
divorce suffer from a loss of self-esteem
or self-worth. The feelings of personal

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failure can be almost overwhelming at times. If the parents originally
opposed the marriage, the feelings of failure will be compounded.
The individual may not want to tell the parents or appeal to them for
help. Additionally, the loss of personal energy in dealing with the
separation/divorce may contribute to the person’s feelings of inade-
quacy and insecurity. He may believe he is not capable of “starting
over again.” Even though others sincerely offer their help, the di-
vorced person may feel worse because he is receiving this help.
Many divorced people also struggle with anger, resentment, and
bitterness toward the spouse. There is a sense of betrayal for trust
that was misplaced, and the initial hurt has turned into deep anger.
Now the divorced person is forced to cope with life circumstances
that they did not expect (like bringing up the children by them-
selves). This anger may continue for years, and sometimes is only re-
solved by the death of the former spouse.
Guilt is another emotion that divorced people experience. Usually,
both marital partners share in the blame for the broken marriage. Al-
though they may deny their own faults and failures, deep down both
spouses know they are responsible. When children are involved, guilt
may increase. This would be as the partner observes the suffering that
will inevitably come to these who must now go on without mother or
father in the home. Additionally, guilt (as well as anger) is experi-
enced when there are custody battles over the children, and weekly
or monthly arrangements that must be made for visitation.
Although widows and widowers struggle with depression over the
loss of the spouse, the divorced person experiences a different type
of despondency. Widowed people usually have some good memo-
ries and good feelings that bolster them in times of need. It is just the
opposite with divorced people. As they review the events of their
marriage, most often there is a renewal of the anger, hurt, bitterness,
and regret. Other people who may comfort and sustain the widowed
person for the long period of recovery may not feel as charitable to-
ward the divorced person. This increases the feelings of isolation and
depression.
Perhaps an appropriate summary of the effects of divorce comes
from this writer:
“One night I gave a lecture to over one hundred formerly married
men and women, and afterwards I spent a period answering the
questions which had been written and turned in at the close of my
talk . . . The last question spoke eloquently of what the experience

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can do to a person. It asked, What do you do when all you want to
do is die, after two years?”

2. Helping Those Affected by Divorce


Read: Galatians 6:1-2

a.Adults:
Recovery from a divorce is a long process. There are no quick so-
lutions. But there is hope and help that can be given, and here are
some suggestions:

• Be empathetic - Remember, “one flesh” has been torn apart. Pic-


ture how you would feel if actual rending occurred to your own
flesh. The worst reaction is one of criticism and judgment. Scrip-
ture exhorts us to restore one another in a spirit of meekness,
considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one an-
other’s burdens.
• Be available – Often, the divorced person does not need “an-
swers” to his questions about “why” the broken marriage oc-
curred. He or she just needs people who will love and care and
listen. In the case of a woman who is struggling with housing, fi-
nancial, and physical needs, offers of help will be greatly appre-
ciated. Organize a group from your church and re-paint the
house or trim the shrubbery. Direct the woman to good financial
and legal advisers, or give advice yourself, if you are a profes-
sional in this area.
• Offer practical help – Call the single adult on the telephone, or
visit to express your continued love and concern. Take a meal
for the family, or volunteer to babysit the children so this person
can socialize with friends. Also, offer to take their children out to
a special event. Even though you may feel uncomfortable in the
situation, the parent will appreciate your actions for years to
come. Don’t miss this opportunity to share the love of our Sav-
iour. You may never know how much your kindness has meant.
• Include them – When a person is hurting and grieving, angry and
self-doubting, he can be difficult to be around. Now, however, is
not the time to isolate the divorced person. Be sure to include
him in your church social activities. You may want to pick him up
and bring him along with your family. If the individual were used
to attending public events as a couple, there will be a tendency to

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feel like a “fifth wheel.” You can overcome this feeling by sin-
cerely telling the person that you want him or her to be there be-
cause you like him or her. Don’t treat the individual as a “project,”
because this will be noted and resented. Use discretion so that a
spouse does not feel uncomfortable with the third party. One
lady, who was either divorced or widowed, said that even her
best friend resented her and did not invite her to be with them, as
a couple, as a single person. The couples had previously gotten
together frequently. It would not be appropriate for a husband to
do repairs at the home of a divorcée without his wife present. It
is too easy for another marriage to be endangered.

b. Children:
Recovery from the divorce of parents is also a long process for the
children. Often they experience the same stages of grief as an adult,
although they do not verbalize it: denial, anger, depression, and
eventual acceptance. You can help children of divorce in these ways:

• Spend time with them – Young chil-


dren often will not verbalize their
feelings about the divorce (anger,
fear, guilt) because they are afraid of
adult reactions. But they will sense
your love and concern if you spend
time playing with them, taking them
to a special event, or just giving them
a big hug. Observe their behavior.
Often their internal struggles will
emerge as changed behavior patterns. Young children may be-
lieve they are to blame for the divorce. Be sure to correct this
idea as you interact with the child.
• Talk with them – If older children want to talk about the divorce,
by all means, listen. Make sure they know that whatever they say
is confidential, and will not be shared with any parent or other
adult without their permission. Don’t offer cliché-like answers,
but listen and empathize from your heart with comments like,
“This must be a very difficult time for you,” and “What would
help you at this time?” You can also refer them to a respected
(Bible-centered) Christian counselor, if you have one in your
area.

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• Give academic help – It is well known that children of divorce
do not perform as well academically as their peers. Often they
lack focus and motivation, and are easily distracted. Offer to help
a child who is struggling in school. Encourage the child that he
can succeed, and that you believe in his ability. It can make all
the difference.
• Avoid the “holiday shuffle” - If you have experienced a divorce,
or are an adult child of divorce, you know what a struggle holi-
day times can be for children. Young children are shuffled from
family to family to make sure each relative spends some time
with them. Adult children feel obligated to visit each divorced
parent, or new family that has resulted after the divorce. As
much as possible, minimize the effects of hectic holidays by 1)
visiting only one family on the holiday, and 2) arranging another
time to visit the other family, or families, perhaps the month fol-
lowing the actual holiday, or alternating key holidays.

3. Helping Yourself If You Have Experienced Divorce


Undoubtedly, there will be many people who read this session
who have already experienced a divorce, or who are in the midst of
a divorce or separation. What guidelines can be given that will help
you? Here are some important first steps:

◆ Recently Divorced:You are a “Rebuilder” - Because both marital


partners have experienced an assault to their self-worth, be sure
to identify yourself now as a “rebuilder,” not as a divorced per-
son. If you are truly rebuilding according to God’s ways, iden-
tify yourself as “God’s rebuilder.” This new term will emphasize
the positive future, not remind you of the negative past.
◆ Guilt and Bitterness – Since both marital partners are to blame
for the failure of the marriage, be sure to clear your own con-
science of guilt, and your own heart from bitterness. You will
probably struggle with these for awhile, but start the healing
process now by:

1) asking your former spouse to forgive you for wrongs done to


him or her, whether by attitude or action.
2) asking your parents and parents-in-law to forgive you for the
same.
3) asking your children to forgive you for your marriage failure.
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4) speaking aloud, as an act of the will, forgiving your former
spouse and anyone else who has contributed to the divorce.
Remember, forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.
5) do MORE than is expected for your former spouse; this will
greatly help your ability to fully forgive him/her, based on the
principle of Matthew 6:21, where your treasure (your voluntary
time or money) is, there will your heart (your love and affec-
tion) be also.

KEY: If you do not begin with these vital steps of clearing your
conscience from guilt, and your heart from bitterness, you will not be
free to take any of the next steps to rebuild your life. You will also
tend to damage the marriages of your own children and others
around you.

• Seek after God, not another marriage partner – Recently following


a divorce, the worst thing is to re-marry right away. You need
time to heal, and to work on any personal faults and failures that
have caused the divorce. Also, if you begin to date right away,
you will eliminate the possibility of re-establishing your former
marriage. Many couples that have been divorced have re-married
each other after a period of time. Most important of all, you need
to establish a stronger relationship with God. Spend your new
free time in Scripture, in prayer, and in service to others.
• Seek a strong relationship with your children – If you have chil-
dren, it may take time to re-establish a healthy relationship with
them. Make this a priority. Undoubtedly, they have been hurt
and angered by the divorce. They feel fearful and alone. They
may feel forsaken, as well as let down, by one or both parents. It
is your responsibility to meet their emotional needs, as well as
their physical needs. It is also wise to tell them how you are in-
volved in clearing your guilt and bitterness. This will be a time of
teaching firsthand a Godly response to adversity that they will
never forget. Humble yourself, and ask your children to forgive
you. Also, ask your children to pray for you, and pray with them
whenever you see them.

Even though you have made many mistakes in the past, now is
the time for you to start over and be an example of unselfishness.
Think of your children’s needs first, not just your own. Don’t make

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your children the battleground for continued conflict with your for-
mer spouse; and don’t overprotect or overindulge your children just
because they are affected by the divorce. Ask God for the wisdom to
continue to bring up your children in a healthy fashion. Encourage
other family members (grandparents, et al) to do the same.

B. SINGLE-PARENT AND “BLENDED” FAMILIES

1. Single-Parent Families
If you are a single-parent head of the household, you now have
many tasks to perform that you did not anticipate. Let’s examine
some tasks that you can do, and those you cannot do.

• New Responsibilities - It may now be your complete responsibil-


ity to manage the home and the finances. By all means, obtain
wise counsel concerning any questions you have. Do not be
afraid to seek helpful information, especially from those in your
church who have expertise in the areas of family finances, budg-
ets, house mortgages, insurance, and home repairs. God gave
the Body of Christ to assist at times like this. Call upon them.
Don’t try to do everything by yourself, especially when you are
in the process of rebuilding your own psychological and emo-
tional reserves.
• New Relationships - One parent is no longer living in the home.
Does this mean the remaining parent must play the role of both
parents (father and mother)? No, that is not possible, and will
cause an undue amount of stress on the one parent. Instead,
seek a mentor of the same gender for your child. You may al-
ready have mentors, in grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, and
uncles, who will provide the same-gender relationship. Also seek
the help of your church family. Many people are very willing to
“come alongside” a child or teenager to provide the emotional
support, nurture, and training that your spouse used to give.
• New Outlooks – If you are a single parent because of a divorce,
you must purpose to develop a new perspective on life: not one
that looks backward to the past, or inward to self, but upward to
God and outward to others. Self-absorption is a deadly foe to re-
covery. Discipline your mind to avoid certain trains of thought
that lead to self-pity, or self-condemnation, or that focus on fu-

126
ture anxieties. You must train your mind to focus on the Person
of Christ who lives within you, and not on the problems that
loom before your eyes. It is ever true: “the battle is in the mind.”
Memorize 2 Corinthians 10:5 and practice casting down any
thoughts or reasonings that do not honor Christ. For a fuller ex-
planation of how to renew your mind with the truth of God’s
Word, see Source of Light’s CrossWalk 220 Foundation Series.

2.“Blended” Families
The blended family consists of the families of two (or more) differ-
ent adults who are now living under the same roof. This creates
many challenges in relating to step-parents and to step-brothers and
step-sisters. Here are a few guidelines:

• Model the attitude – If you want the children of two different


marriages to relate well with each other, as a parent, you must
first model an attitude of respect and love for the “new” children,
and any other extended-family members. Inwardly, if you are re-
sentful that you must now support or cook meals for more chil-
dren, this attitude will be picked up, and family resentments will
increase all around. Additionally, if you show favoritism toward
one child, the results will be disastrous.
• Pray together – Let all family members hear your heartfelt prayers
for unity and love among everyone, and your sincere prayers for
each as an individual. Ask family members to pray for one an-
other. Over time, new emotional bonds will form.
• Open communication – Talk to all the children openly about the
new family structure. Listen empathetically to the concerns of
each child. Quiet fears and give encouragement. Deal with anger
and jealousy. Establish a “Family Conference” once per week
(see Session 10 for details) to work out any problems.
• Family events – Schedule specific nights for “family games,” or
ask the family to decide on a weekend event in which everyone
can participate. This may be a sporting or outdoor event, a vaca-
tion, or a service project to help others. All of these times to-
gether will build relationships among “new” family members that
will ease tensions, break down barriers, and resolve resentments.
• Give it time – You and your spouse may desire that the “new”
family blend very quickly so that life can go on in a fairly routine
way, but this is usually not the case. Be patient. Don’t be dis-

127
couraged. There will be good days and bad days. It will take
time to develop a new family unit. However, as you water the
entire process with prayer, God can and will do exceeding abun-
dantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

QUESTION PAGE – LESSON #14

1. Have you experienced a divorce or know someone who has?


Share your observations of the effects of the divorce on the adults
involved.

2. Have you ever experienced a major depression (not feelings of


discouragement)? Share how you felt from day to day, and how
you managed to live day by day.

3. Name three things you can do to help an adult who has suffered a
divorce. Share one thing you will do to help a specific person.
a.
b.
c.

4. Name three things you can do to help a child who has suffered a
divorce. Share one thing you will do to help a specific child or
adult child of divorce.
a.
b.
c.

5. If you have experienced a divorce: How do you identify yourself?


Have you cleared your conscience and heart from all guilt and bit-
terness? How will you resolve these? What steps will you take to
seek after God, and to reestablish a healthy relationship with your
children?

6. State three principles that will help single-parent families to pros-


per. State three ways that blended families can prosper

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