God’s Design For Family
The presupposition that the parents are to teach children is hardwired in the book of Proverbs. You can’t escape it. The whole structure is a father teaching his son, and that son is to be the kind of man the father wants him to be. And he’s to marry, have his own family and children, and reproduce. We might call this discipleship, but it’s living by God’s design in a godless culture. It’s living righteously in an unrighteous culture.
Take advantage of the commandment given in Proverbs 6:20-23. The law of God is the lamp, but the teaching that comes out of that is the light that lights the path. We have these beautiful and extraordinary parallels. The wisest person who lived, second to Christ, is giving us information in bite-size ways so we can remember and retain them. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is the great commission of child training.
The Husband and Wife
The husband and wife relationship is a lifelong heterosexual, monogamous marriage. Don’t let the culture teach you bad theology about identity or the redefinition of marriage. We live in two cities, the city of God and the city of man, and our city is corrupt.
You need courage and confidence that God’s Word is clear. There were two exceptions in the Old Testament. One was lineage, and the other was licentiousness. There were kin-related exceptions and kingly exceptions; both were wrong. But even then, kin and kings had strict provisions for exceptional conditions.
Proverbs 12:4 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.” This is somewhat lost in our modern ear, but the crown would be the ultimate, most visible recognition to others, whereas shame would be deep and invisible inside the person, rotten in their bones. A noble relationship magnifies others; an ignoble relation saps life away.
Proverbs 18:22 allows us to observe in the overarching theme of Proverbs, finding and obtaining wisdom – to “find a wife” is likewise to find wisdom. Proverbs 19:14 tell us that we may labor and earn and inherit. Still, a prudent wife who shows oneself attentive, looking for the right ways, is understanding, and prudent is parallel to wisdom.
Proverbs 21:9 says, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Proverbs 27:15 carries the same idea. Before explaining away any notion that this may harm a wife’s sensibility, do not neglect the Scripture’s warning for how a husband is to sacrifice for, love, cherish, nourish, and protect his wife. Unfortunately, the world’s perverted view of man and woman, husband and wife, results in a knee-jerk reaction without thought.
Scripture speaks to each individual. We must let the Spirit and word of God instruct individuals on how to be a husband or wife. This is God’s exquisite design. There’s one person on the planet you can be naked and not ashamed with. That’s your husband or your wife. And there’s no growth apart from tension. If you’re fighting for your kids, marriage, health, and spiritual growth, that’s a good thing. But, it’s a conflict between two sinners that are glued together. As sin abounds, we fail, and we go outside the bounds of this lifelong heterosexual marriage, there are consequences.
Those scars will remain, but He forgives the repentant sinner every time. God’s word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people will keep you going the right way. You need to be in the Word. You need to ask for the Holy Spirit to control your sinful self. And you need people around you who will tell you the truth, encourage you, or give you a dope slap to keep you down the path.
God’s Plan is Joy
God’s plan is a delight. It’s not a burden; it’s not heavy. The shame of sin is heavy. The burden of a sinful lifestyle breeds anger and resentment. The choice to shake your fist at God and call yourself something that you’re not is manifest evidence of sin nature. The penitent, humble, faithful, repentant believer finds joy and confidence that the world will never know.
God looks down in delight in the sexual intimacy of a husband and wife who love Christ. It’s a gift of God. It can only be guilt-free, joyful, and wonderful the way He designed it. Derek Kidner says, “To explore life this way is to flirt with death. It is no mere detour from the best path but a dead end in the fullest sense.” You can’t take sin into your heart.
Parents and Kids
While people can abuse it, it can also be ignored, but Proverbs is well known for using the rod. Its maxim, “spareth his rod hateth his son.” Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who withholds the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” This is the result of the serious doctrine of wisdom; since wisdom is life itself, a hard way to it is better than a soft way to death. Proverbs 23:14 and 8:19 give instructions for discipline.
Kidner writes, “The way has to be hard: First, ‘foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child’; it will take more than words to dislodge it. Second, character is a plant that grows more sturdily from some cutting back.” The rod is not a panacea or a universal cure. It is not a license for a strict aggressive approach that would be incompatible with the overall message of wisdom.
Rather it is the law – the word of God – where we teach, instruct, and even discipline with the hopeful outcome, not of robotic obedience, but a love that longs to obey, to understand the relationship of the perfect Father who has provided the way to live with success, joy, and blessing.
Is the ultimate goal Proverbs 17:6 “Grandchildren, the crown of old men and the glory of sons to their fathers?” As we love, teach, and apply the law, we hope each day anew. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes. The persistent love of obedience – not for obedience’s sake – but for the love of the Father- is the best and purest motivator. Our job is not just to beat. Our job is to instruct and teach the word. Ultimately, a man bears his guilt and shame; at some point, parents have to let go of this.
If we are reminded of The Great Shema in Deuteronomy, we must go back to the first lawgiving summarized in the decalogue, The Ten Commandments. Three times, the family is fixed into God’s plan for civility and society and His eternally designed plan for mankind and our relationship with Him.
The first one where the family is intimated is the command not to worship and serve other idols. He says, “You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the punishment of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.” Sin has consequences.
The commandment says if we serve others and worship other idols, we hate God. Think about our culture that’s created its own gods and definitions of sexual identity, marriage, life, and society. They hate God. They hate Christ.
We are to remember the Sabbath. The idea for the Jew was to cease work and spend time worshiping, eating, enjoying, and reflecting. And the Sabbath is the one commandment explicitly repeated in the New Testament that you must obey. Every other commandment is implicit that you should do these things.
So Jesus didn’t toss out the 10 Commandments, He fulfilled them, but Sabbath Shabbat was an option because it was to be a gift to man. So we need to say, time out; God’s blessed me. I trust God for the six days of labor, and I can enjoy one day of rest and think about what He’s done for me. It doesn’t mean we spend our whole day in the Bible, but it’s good to take some time and be still.
Following Christ’s Example
We are to honor our father and mother so that our days may be prolonged. We often say this is the first and only commandment with a promise that your days will be prolonged if you do this. Respecting your sinful parents is a command of God. He didn’t say honor your father or mother if they’re good, God-fearing Christians or Jews.
Proverbs 4:10 says, “Hear, my son, and accept my sayings, And the years of your life will be many.” In all, the family is the foundation of God’s design. Scripture begins with God’s created image bearers, the first wedding. She’s just a woman, and he’s just the man made in God’s image; those are our parents. They fell far, and we live with the consequences.
From Genesis, we have a story of success and failure in marriage. Then, when we come to the New Testament, we have Jesus’ words about marriage. To put it simply, it opens with a wedding. It ends with a wedding. Do you know why the bride wears white? Because the bride is presented to the groom in white linen, bright and clean, with no spot or wrinkle. That’s right out of the Bible. Every part of a marriage ceremony comes out of the Scripture.
Jesus Christ has made His bride ready for Himself, white and clean, with no spot, wrinkle, or any such thing. And He presents us to Himself. So would it not be fitting that life would be better if we embrace Jesus Christ and God, the Father’s plan for marriage?
Catch up on the rest of the Proverbs series here.
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