I’ve yet to meet a parent who doesn’t say they want the best for their kids. In twelve years of inner-city mission work, we saw a thousand problems stem from one bad root—the breakdown of the family, yet even so, every parent we met would say they wanted the best for their kids. Suburban parents say the same. Go to a suburban soccer field on a Saturday in the Fall and you’ll see hundreds of involved parents, every one of which would say they want the best for their kids. Go anywhere in the world—Muslim countries, Hindu, wherever—and you’ll hear parents say the same thing. Except for the utterly unrestrained, every parent says they want the best for their kids. But what if what’s best for kids is the very thing that everyone hates?
The thing that kids need most is God. The place where kids most often find God are in their own families. The way in which God is found in families is through the ordering of the home in accordance with the Scriptures—Christ as the Head, the father under the headship of Christ, the mother under the headship of Christ and her husband, children under the headship of Christ, their father and their mother. A family ordered according to Biblical prescription is what kids need most. But a Biblically-ordered family is the very thing the world hates.
Why is that? There are many reasons, but here are two of the biggest: 1) Biblical ordering of families belies the worldview of those who are not under the authority of the Bible and 2) Biblical ordering of families upholds the authority of the Bible, against which the unregenerate heart is in rebellion. Let’s explore these two reasons why people reject a Biblical ordering of the family, then we’ll demonstrate the value of ordering families according to a Biblical worldview. It’s easy to say that you want the best for your family, but unless you are willing to submit to the Bible’s authority to order your family, you are setting your kids on a path to destruction (Philippians 3:17-21), not toward what is best for them.
First, there will always be a titanic struggle between a cultural view of the world and a Biblical view of the world. This is the greatest world war. It has been raging ever since the Garden of Eden was lost, and it will continue to rage until Christ returns to set up His Kingdom. The components of the cultural worldview will change over time in accordance with culture (superstitions, stoicism, modernity, postmodernity, etc.). The Word of the Lord remains the same (Isaiah 40:8). Although worldly thinking shifts like sand according to philosophy, it is always finding new ways to oppose the thinking of the Bible. The world is always oil to the water of the Word. The two do not mix. The one always displaces the other. The Fall of Man (Genesis 3) was like the Exxon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It emptied toxic sludge into life-giving water. Many fish and birds lost their lives in the oil, and so it is with the children of our culture.
The families of our culture are suffocated by the world in which they live. But, like fish born into the oily water, they don’t know anything different. It is home to them, and feels like home. If they notice they are dying in it, they don’t know the way out. They are at home in this culture that values alien virtues like human autonomy, privatized “truth”, relative morality, “fairness”, gender as a spectrum (rather than a binary), race as a binary (rather than a spectrum), equal outcomes, and more than ever…the indistinguishability of maleness and femaleness. This is the air of today’s culture, or I should say, the oil of the culture, because it gives no oxygen—no life. The worldview of our culture is death to the family, nothing but death. It is lifeless black sludge that suffocates the very kids that every parent claims to love.
Second, parents left to their natural state will hate the Biblical ordering of the family because the natural man is in rebellion against the God who reveals His will in the Bible. At enmity with God, parents hate the idea of ordering their family according to Biblical parameters because they hate the Bible’s authority. They will zig simply because the Bible tells them to zag. The heart of the rebel actually takes pleasure in doing the precise opposite of what the Authority says to do.
So, circling back around, here is the way things stand for the reasons given. Every parent says they want what’s best for their kids, but the vast majority of parents—whether urban parents, where the breakdown of family has become obvious, or suburban parents, where the breakdown of family is often masked by smiles and sunglasses at soccer games—are in abject rebellion against the God of the Bible. As a result, they unwittingly give their kids what’s worst for them. They might give nice Christmas gifts, but rebelling against the Christ, they withhold the only gift that gives life. Moreover, even as they do the stuff that good parents do—teach them to throw a ball, watch them at the school play, pack their lunches, wipe their noses—they model godlessness in the home. Wives boss their husbands around, even yelling obscenities at them. Husbands passively mope about the house, never leading the family to the foot of the cross. Children rebel against the very parents they see in rebellion against God. Yet, the parents convince themselves their children cannot see.
Children see. And the way to show them the path of life is to walk upon it. It is the only way to help them, the only way to love them, the only way to be a truly good parent. If a parent merely mouths the words of Christianity without living according to the precepts of the Word, the words of the parent become an inoculant to the genuine thing. Having seen only a distorted and dead version of Christianity, they become immune to hearing about the real thing. It’s almost better not to speak the words of the Bible if one is unwilling to live by the Bible. At least that way, the kid may grow up to one day regard their parent as a counterexample, and so fully embrace the genuine Way in contradistinction to what they experienced growing up. But hypocritical living (professing Christ without possessing Him) and outright worldly denial of the authority of the Bible both end up in the same place. Children grow to be the center of their own universe, little gods without the ability to create even a spark of life. And so they die in their sins.
Compare that with the Christian home. “Take note of those who live according to the pattern” (Philippians 3:17). Look at those who order their homes according to the Word of God, who both profess the Kingdom and possess the Kingdom life. “Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).
I offer this lifeline to every parent who reads this. I see where the two roads diverge in the forest. And I see where each of those roads end. Go with me to the inner city and I’ll show you brokenness, and brokenness that has nothing to do with wealth and poverty. Where worldly thought patterns regarding marriage, sexual morality, victimization and responsibility have informed the parenting of children, the results are most disastrous. And the same train wreck awaits the offspring of the suburbanites who think according to the patterns of the world. There is a way that leads to death. But come with me to church and I’ll show you children raised under the wisdom and admonition of the Lord. Here you will find kids who read their Bibles before bed and watch their parents live according to the precepts of that Book.
Parent, do you want the best for your kids? If so, then place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin. Speak the words of Scripture to your kids. And order your home according to the pattern laid out for us in Scripture. Christ is the Head of the Christian home, even as He is the Head of the Church. The husband is to love his wife, praying for her, caring for her, encouraging her with words of life. The wife is to submit to her husband’s lead, praying for him, supporting him, submitting to him as her head. The children are to obey both parents in everything, submitting to them as unto the Lord. The best gift that you—parent—can give your kids is for them to see you living a Biblically-ordered life in the home. Husbands, let your kids never doubt the affection you have for their mother. Wives, let your kids never doubt the respect you have for their father. Every parent says they want what’s best for their kids, but only those who live according to the Scriptures are doing them any good.
A home ordered according to the patterns of the Bible does not guarantee that children will come to Christ. Salvation is a sovereign work of God. But that sovereign God often uses a Biblically-ordered home to bring kids to faith. The opposite home-life (the worldly one) is an instrument of death to the very kids the parents say they love.