Does the Bible Encourage Misogyny?

In a culture of #MeToo and misogyny, in which women are fighting for equal rights and equal pay, the Bible brings a command that seems out of step with these struggles.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

Ephesians 5:22

When placed agains the backdrop of the rhetoric of our political climate, those words seem so bad.

The conversations we are having are also affecting the way the church approaches this verse. Rather than embracing it and encouraging women to obey it, we are backing off. This is in part due to a rash of bad behaving men who have taken advantage of women in “Jesus’ name.” Numerous allegations of sexual misconduct have come to light in the church and it causes us to question, what gives the right for any male to encourage a woman to “submit” to any other man, even her husband?

You won’t find a 13 week study at Lifeway entitled, “Wives submit to your husbands.” If you attend a marriage retreat you will find sessions on communication, intimacy, and finances; but you will have to look long and hard for a breakout session on submission. Submit is a word we are even leaving out of weddings.

Even the church is uncomfortable with this command.

But as uncomfortable as we are with it, there is on thing we can’t deny. This command is in the Bible. As such, we can take one of three approaches.

  1. We can remain uncomfortable with it, confused by it and choose to not take it seriously. Sure, Ephesians 5:22 is in the Bible, but let’s exile this command to the same place we sent the Nephilim of Genesis 6. Who knows what they are? It’s too hard to explain, furthermore the Bible says a lot of other things that seem a whole lot better for women, and a whole lot easier to explain to women than telling them to submit.
  2. We can be offended by it, reject it, and discard it. Let’s just place it in a scrapheap of other seemingly archaic statements the Bible makes that we don’t like. God created the world – unscientific. Homosexuality is a sin – homophobic. Wives, submit to your husbands – misogynistic. Scrap it.
  3. We can commit to obey it. Isn’t obedience what all of God’s commands require of us? If this is the case, we should ask of this command what we ask of every command. Why is it that God thinks that this command is good for us, particularly for women?

What is Good About God’s Commands?

  1. God’s commands are good. Despite the commands sounding extremely negative, we trust that they are very good. After all, as stated previously, they come from a good God. “Do not kill.” That sounds extremely negative, but as a command it is very good. God values life. The same God who has given us “wives, submit to your own husbands as unto the Lord” also gave us “Do not commit adultery.” No adultery is a command that is good for men, women, and marriage. Perhaps the same is true of “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”
  2. Obeying God’s commands is a witness to our culture. Scrapping or ignoring bits and pieces of the Bible does not endear us to the culture, it makes us dishonest. Moses told the Hebrew people in Deuteronomy 4:6-8 that they would be admired by the pagan nations because of God’s commands. They would be in awe of the society that God’s Word would create when obeyed. If this is the case, perhaps there is actually something in Ephesians 5:22 that the world will admire if Christian wives obey it.
  3. God’s commands bring us to Christ. In Galatians 3 Paul discusses how the covenant of law served to bring us to Christ. There is a principle here to which we should pay attention. Any command in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, reveal our insufficiency and our need for Christ. Perhaps there is something wonderful for women in Ephesians 5:22 that brings them to Christ.

These things being true of God’s commands, I think it wiser for us to study Ephesians 5:22 than be content to be confused by it or uncomfortable with it. There is nothing in God’s Word, Nephilim included (and we know that’s a weird one in Gen. 6;4), that God has given us a hall pass on so we may ignore it. And if we just start rejecting commands we do not like, there will be no end of it. There is a reason Satan began the conversation of temptation with the question, “Has God really said?”

So let’s study Ephesians 5:22 and make sure that we are not misunderstanding it to be something that encourages misogyny. Let’s make sure that our discomfort is not just cultural conditioning. If it is, let’s find the blessing of it. Like every command, let’s embrace the good of it and shun the evil it saves us from. Let’s seek to live it and in so doing become an admired witness before a culture in desperate need of a better answer.

Ephesians 5:21 does not demean women, it values them.

The command of Ephesians 5:21 occurs in a string of teachings on relationships as the new Christians of Ephesus are trying to navigate social order in light of the gospel. Notice that in the layout of the Book of Ephesians there are 6 chapters. 3 chapters are doctrinal, teaching us what to believe. 3 chapters are practical, teaching us how to behave.

The original audience of Ephesians is people who were being called to Christ out of a 1st century Roman culture in which women were little more than the property of men, children were insignificant, and slaves had no say. It is this cultural backdrop that makes the passage revolutionary.

Paul first addresses the women, then the men. He speaks to the children, then the parents. He addresses the slave (more akin to an employee in the American economy than to a slave in American history), then the master. Paul addressed them as people with an identity, who had a choice in the matter, and a critical role to play in each relationship. In 1st century Rome, the gospel represented a major progression of rights for women, children, and workers. Women found something more meaningful in Christian community than they found anywhere else in Roman society.

American Woman

It is ironic what is happening to women in our culture. Women are being intellectually imprisoned by the progressive movement. A woman is not considered intelligent, liberated, and she will not be listened to unless she is pro-choice, Democrat, and left-leaning. She is devalued if she chooses to work with her children in her home. If a woman gets married, there are many who claim that she surrenders her identity. We are even to the point that a female does not have to think of herself as a woman at all. She can identify as a man. How is this progress for women if we are jumping genders?

I cite as an example the reaction to the recent passing of our nation’s most aggressive anti-abortion legislation in Alabama. Joy Behar on The View and actress/activist Alysa Milano on Twitter, began to call out the men who voted for the legislation. They referred to them as sexual predators and went so far as calling for them to have forced vasectomies.

While there were a marked majority of men who voted for the legislation, Milano and Behar gave no consideration to the 8 women of the Alabama legislature that voted for the bill. They gave no consideration to the woman who brought the bill forward from the Alabama State House to the Alabama State Senate. Furthermore, they did not acknowledge that the Governor of Alabama who signed the bill into law is a woman. If you need an explanation as to why Governor Kay Ivey is not a good candidate for a vasectomy, Google it, then send the link to Joy Behar.

Is it that every woman’s voice has the right to be heard in our culture, or is that that only certain viewpoints will be considered? Does every lady have a right to the public square or only left leaning ones?

We live in a culture that is dictating to women their identity, sexuality, and mentality. But then comes the Bible that addresses a woman by saying you have first choice and a voice in Christian marriage.

Ephesians 5:21 is addressed to the woman, not the man. She is created uniquely by God. She is valued and man is in desperate need of her. The marriage needs her and she has an important choice to make. This brings us to our next point that will help us better understand this command.

Ephesians 5:21 is not for every woman and it is not for any man.

In the 1st century context, marriage was not doing well. Men had wives who stayed home and bore children, while they also had mistresses they chased for pleasure and power. In Ephesus stood the Temple of Artemis, the goddess of love. Within its pillars were hundreds of prostitutes that men would use for “worship.” The Ephesian culture was extremely decadent and demeaning to women.

A Roman man could easily divorce his wife and leave her financially, socially, and sexually vulnerable. In 1st century Rome, marriage was not good for women.

And then here comes this radical new way that the gospel calls for a man and a woman to be married.

Christian marriage is the place where 2 disciples of Jesus begin to flesh out with one another what Jesus has done for them.

Notice in the Ephesians 5:21 command that the wife does not submit to her husband for the sake of her husband, she does it as unto the Lord. Submission is something she does for the Lord, not for her husband. There is NO MAN on earth worthy of a woman’s submission in and of himself. It is not masculinity or that calls for her submission, nor is it femininity that requires it. Submission is a matter of Lordship and discipleship.

This command is not for every woman. It is only a command for Christian marriage. Ephesians 5:21 is a command for a woman who is seeking a Christ-centered way to relate to a man she is going to relate to as her husband.

Not a command for ANY man.

Notice that the command is addressed to the wife, not the husband; the lady, not the man. It is also important to note that the verb “submit” does not actually occur in verse 22; it is supplied from verse 21. I will speak to the implications of this more fully later in the post. But the tense of the verse means that this is an ongoing decision that a woman in Christian marriage must make. Submit is a decision she makes daily. And she is the ONLY one who can make that decision. The Bible does not tell the husband to submit his wife. The call is for the wife to make that decision of her own volition, not under compulsion from her husband.

The Bible calls for all of us to observe order and authority. In such cases these are holistic calls that are necessary for existence in Christian community. That said, the Bible never gives a man any direct authority to submit any woman to himself. Men are mistaken, in marriage and in church, to believe that they have any Biblical authority to make a woman feel inferior. Men do not have the Biblical authority to be unchallenged or unquestioned. Men using the Bible to gain a false sense of superiority over women in Christian community is dangerous, ridiculous, and heretical. In recent years it has led to men behaving badly in church.

Men Behaving Badly in the SBC

Every denomination seems to be responding to men behaving badly as of late, but this is especially true in my own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. #MeToo has made its way into #ChurchToo. I believe God is bringing three gross sins of men in the church to light.

  1. We use biblical language but behave in an unbiblical way. Men in the church have embraced the perverted and pornographic sexual behaviors of the world rather than repent of it. This is not news. We knew this was happening. The problem is that the church has seen it as unfortunate, but has not engaged in the difficult, dirty work of redemptive church discipline with badly behaving men (including leaders).
  2. We have not taken marriage seriously. I think this is the case for both men and women in the church. We need to realize that Christian marriage is counter-cultural. It is unusual and requires a filling of the Holy Spirit that is supernatural (Eph. 5:18). Couples in the church need to realize that Christian marriage is more about holiness than happiness. It is more about exemplifying Christ and the church than it is about “just” staying together. Unless we are willing to take our marriages “next-level”, Ephesians 5 level, we are going to remain disillusioned, dissatisfied, and be prone to sexually misbehave.
  3. Ephesians 5:22 is one of several passages that have been perverted by men that has resulted in women being disadvantaged in the church. To correct and clarify confusion and misinterpretation our convention put together The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. This council was designed to not only clarify confusion and misuse of these passages but to address the abuses women have suffered in the church at the hands of badly behaving men. You can research the council and its statements here.

Before I leave this topic, allow me to make a very clear statement. Ephesians 5:22, in no way, calls for any woman to submit to abuse of any kind. The Bible does not call for you to submit to a man who is sexually, verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive. If you are a woman in an abusive situation you should be able to inform your church leadership and find a safe place of redemptive intervention. The church should rise up and deal righteously with abusive men.

So that leaves us with this question. If we have established what the command is not, what is it? What good is the command?

Ephesians 5:22 prevents misogyny in marriage.

In short, misogyny means to hate women. This word, like others in a divisive and political “gotcha” culture has been misused and misapplied.

When words like misogyny, sexist, racist, and prejudice get misused and misapplied the real victims of these abuses are not rescued. Their stories are hijacked by others who desire attention or power. The word gets diluted and real situations get ignored.

The other unfortunate misapplication is when a word like misogyny is applied to men who do not hate women. There may be a man of whom you do not appreciate his opinions, politics, decisions, or morals, but that may not mean that he hates women. It is easy to take a politically and emotionally charged word like misogyny, apply it to a person, and marginalize them.

It should be especially true of Christian women that they do not want to get caught up in mischaracterizing men who are not misogynistic. As Christ followers we are to be people of truth. We should deal truthfully with misogyny where it really does exist. We should refrain from name calling and deal truthfully in dialogue and disagreement where misogyny does not exist.

Ephesians 5:22 In Context

That said, if we look at the context of Ephesians 5:22, it calls for a man to think of a woman, especially his wife, in the best possible way.

The context of the passage is the need for God’s people to be filled with the Spirit so that they may relate to one another in a Christ-like way within Christian community (5:18). The context of the Book of Ephesians is how Christ creates “oneness” when he redeems people out of divisiveness (Eph. 2. Pay particular attention to verses 15 and 16). In Ephesians 5 Paul now shows us how the “creation of one new man in place of the two” works in the relationships of husband/wife, child/parent, worker/employer.

The governing text for this relationship section of the book is Ephesians 5:21, “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” It is not just the wife that submits to her husband, but the text also explains how a husband submits to his wife.

Husbands submit to your wives – sacrifice.

For the husband, submitting to his wife looks like sacrifice (Eph. 5:25-32). It looks like love, attention, nurture, communication and a concern to become one flesh with her.

The Ephesians 5 man is the furthest thing from a misogynist. This is a Christ-centered man who loves his wife.

This passage is important to Christian husbands because it corrects an otherwise Christ-less man. Another passage that helps us understand the call of a Christian husband is 1 Peter 3:7.

Likewise husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

1 Peter 3:7

The wife is equal, but she is not the same. She is the weaker vessel. This does not speak to her lack of talent, intelligence, or identity. Weaker here refers to her general stature.

“Weaker vessel” could be used in speaking of the difference between a brick 3 bedroom rancher and a rose bush. The brick rancher is the stronger structure, but the rose bush is by far a more beautiful and intricate creature. “Weaker vessel” is an observation of the nature of things, not a derogatory comment.

Because men are generally stronger in stature than women, a man may be tempted to use his physical strength, commanding voice, or unflinching emotion to intimidate or dominate a woman. But here comes Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3, in Christ, putting a whole new parameter on men. Husbands, men, are not to be mindful of themselves – to use their frame to their own advantage, but they are to be mindful of women, especially their wives.

Can men be misogynistic? Absolutely. But in Christ, a man is called to use what he is for the sake of another. Christ-like sacrifice is the greatest preventative of misogyny.

So if the benefit of this command in context is that it corrects a Christ-less man, how does it correct a Christ-less woman?

Ephesians 5:22 prevents a morbid end of a marriage.

In Ephesians 5:23, Paul provides a metaphor to help us understand how mutual submission works in Christian marriage. The man is the head and the woman is the body. Being that the goal of Christian marriage is that the two become “one flesh (v. 31b)”, then the Head/Body metaphor is fitting. This metaphor is critical to a husband and wife’s understanding of the word submit.

The popular cultural understanding of “head” in reference to the man is one of leadership, but this fails to honor the metaphor. Let’s try to apply this understanding of the man as the head/leader and the woman as the body/follower to popular understandings of the passage.

Who’s the boss?

Does head mean that the man is much like a boss and the woman much like an employee as the body in the sense that she carries out commands? Boss worker relationships sour and end all of the time. It is unfortunate and inconvenient, but not tragic.

Is the man a “head” and the woman the “body” in much the same way as an executive with an assistant? The relationship is much closer in mission and respect, but there is still that of a leader/follower mentality present in the metaphor. And again, the ending of an executive/assistant relationship is inconvenient and unpleasant, but it is not tragic. People move on. It happens all of the time.

So, let’s just call it Head/Leader and Body/Follower. Leaders quit leading and followers quit following all of the time. Again, unfortunate but not tragic.

But if you separate a head from a body, it is horrific and tragic for a “one flesh” relationship.

A better understanding of head is one of supply and responsibility rather than leadership. Is leadership involved? It is. But a woman’s role is not to dutifully follow her husband, but in mutual submission to connect with him and him to her.

I have referenced it, but if you read of the man’s description of submission to his wife in Ephesians 5:25-32, it is a heavy responsibility. His focus is on her. Her welfare. Her sense of belonging. Her sense of beauty. Her sanctification. Her nurture and needs.

I Don’t Need a Man!

And many women will respond to this, “I don’t need any man to take responsibility for me.” And as far as life and well-being, that is probably true. I would say most women are fully capable of making it very well in life without needing a man to take responsibility for her. But here is the caveat. Remember how the woman submits to the husband, not because of him, but as unto the Lord? Even here, the woman does not allow a man to take responsibility for her out of personal need, but out of obedience to the Lord.

And it is this very fact, that a woman does not need a man to take responsibility for her, that submission is necessary in Christian marriage. If he is seeking to do all that he is called to do in Ephesians 5:25-32, and she doesn’t need him, she will be a miserable woman and he will be a defeated man. It will be a morbid end to the marriage.

Why wives need to submit.

If you go back to the curse passage in Genesis 3, you will read God articulate how the introduction of sin will cause a struggle between women and men. To the woman God says:

Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

Genesis 3:16b

If you read the passage correctly, God is not giving the man and the woman a correction. He is articulating the curse. A man ruling over a woman is not the relationship God intended for man and woman. This is that relationship flawed. Now that there is sin, misogyny is a possibility. A man may try to use his stronger frame to rule, or dominate a woman. This is a far cry from the intended creation of woman as a helper “fit for him” in Genesis 2:18 or “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” as she is described in Genesis 2:23. She was not called Woman because she was to be ruled by man, but because she came from him. “Rule over you” is hardly the relationship God intended between the sexes.

Likewise, “your desire shall be for your husband” is not a correction but a curse. This does not describe the new world order of a woman suddenly needing to be a dutiful wife. This is the description of a woman who will try to dominate a man.

“Your desire shall be for your husband” is much like the words God uses to warn Cain in Genesis 4. As Cain is about to be overcome by his anger and fall into sin, God warns him.

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.

Genesis 4:7

In short, “your desire shall be for your husband”, is the articulation of the attitude a woman will struggle with, because she doesn’t want or need a man taking responsibility for her.

The only way that a man with a sinful nature that wants to dominate a woman, and a woman with a sinful nature that desires to overcome a man, can become one flesh is for them to submit to one another.

Ephesians 5:21-33 in every conceivable way corrects our Christ-less selves.

The only way that a woman can become one flesh with a man is for you to let him do what God has called him to do. Let him take responsibility for you, not because you need for him to, but because that responsibility corrects the Christ-less him, and your submissive response corrects the Christ-less her.

What if she doesn’t want to submit?

As we said, “submit” is a supplied verb from verse 21. An English statement needs a verb for it to be a complete sentence. Your 3rd-grade grammar teacher harped on this. In Greek grammar, there is no issue with a verb-less sentence. If the verb space is left blank, you supply it from the previous statement.

But for argument sake, let’s leave it blank. Let’s erase submit and fill in some other alternatives.

Wives, LEAVE your husbands. To decapitate a marriage is messy. That is not a good option.

Wives, PROTEST your husbands. That seems to be the climate of our culture and it is not helping the two become one flesh.

Wives, COMPETE with your husbands. She may be fully capable of winning, but it will not be good for the husband she is losing.

Wives, RESIST your husbands. There is nothing more deflating for a loving, sacrificial man than an unresponsive, resistant woman.

Wives, CHANGE your husbands. Yeah, that always goes well 😉

The Bible describes the sins of a woman who seeks to be overcoming rather than submissive. The Bible’s Book of Proverbs gives us the nagging, controlling, demeaning, demanding, withdrawing woman. Then the Book of Proverbs ends with a mother showing her son a true picture of beauty in Proverbs 31. Essentially the book ends with momma counseling her boy, “Son, take your pick.”

Submit to one another as husband and wife, true romance.

If a husband and wife submit to one another, he uses his strength to sacrifice for her. Ephesians 5:33 calls this love. And she, being every bit as capable as him, submits to him by responding to him and encouraging him in his responsibility as head. She connects with him as the body. Ephesians 5:33 calls this respect.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:333

The Good of the Command in Conclusion

The good of the command is that of every command. It calls us beyond ourselves and makes us reliant upon Christ. There is no way that a woman can submit to her husband and respect him, or a man submit to his wife and sacrifice for her, without Christ. Ephesians 5:18 calls this being filled with the Spirit. And Spirit-filled marriage works well in mutual submission.

This command is a witness to the world of what marriage is supposed to look like. Sacrifice and respect. Love and admiration. Christ and the church. A submissive marriage is a living witness of the gospel.

Our culture should be able to look at Christian marriage and see a strong woman who has made a choice to submit and a man who his making a choice to sacrifice for the sake of the Christ who has called them into this marriage. He is not a misogynist and she is not a sexist. They are a picture of Christ and the church. Admirable. Exemplary. Romantic. Different.

Check out this article by Sarah Sumner from Christianity Today on Ephesians 5:22

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Check out other posts about Marriage and Family on BrianBranam.com.

parenting demonstrate title blog

3D Parenting – D3 Demonstrate

You can seek to develop your child. You can even discipline your child. But you will only mislead your child if you do not demonstrate the values and beliefs you are seeking to instill in your child. A parent must be believable. Make no mistake, your children hear you, but they also watch you. And it is amazing how they replicate what you demonstrate.

My Daddy is Going to Kick Your Dog in the Teeth

One Mother’s Day the girls and I had set up the perfect picnic for their mother. We had just finished up at church. I felt I had preached a solid “A” sermon before a large crowd of mommas and I was now working the plan to honor the mother of my children. The plan included fried chicken, and a nice picnic spread beside a creek at a nearby park.

There were lots of other people in the park also enjoying a great Mother’s Day. All was well. Enter the dog!

Apparently, on this Mother’s Day a young athletic, 20-something-year-old man had decided not to bring his mother to the park, or any female, or any person for that matter. His great idea was to bring his dog to Mother’s Day in the park. He pulled up and parked about 100 yards away from us, but on the other side of the creek from where we were set up. As soon as he opened his car door a large brown Lab came springing out of the vehicle and made clear his intentions. He was going for a swim.

“Splash!” About 75 yards up the creek from where we were having our picnic, the dog hit the water. While the dog found the creek, his owner found a stick. Dog + Stick + Creek = an amazing show. The more the man threw the stick into the water the more the dog loved it and would retrieve it, greatly anticipating another throw into the water so he could do it again and again. The longer this continued 1) more and more people gathered to watch the dog and 2) the closer and closer dog-man brought the show to us.

At the time my girls were small and they were not big fans of dogs. They were getting a little nervous. But most importantly, my wife REALLY disliked dogs. I could tell that my girls and their wonderful mother were doing less chicken eating and more nervous dog watching as the dog show approached.

So, wanting to be a big strong dad and husband, I had a John Wayne moment. “Girls, I am not going to let that dog hurt you. If it comes near us, I will kick it in the teeth.”

Not 30 seconds later Mr. Dog Show threw the stick straight at us and you can now see the scene unfolding in your mind. “Splash!” Here comes Sparky the wonder dog. My girls immediately got up ready to run. Shannon shuttered back, very nervous of the approaching dog. The owner realized what he had done. He had interrupted what had become an almost postcard type scene of a preacher and his family, in their Sunday best, sitting beside a creek eating fried chicken for Mother’s Day.

“I am SO sorry!”, Mr. Dog Show yelled from the other creek bank. Now all eyes were on us. There were probably some people gathered into this scene who were guests at our church that day who had heard my solid “A” sermon. At that moment, it seemed as if all of nature stopped and the world grew silent and still, awaiting my reply to Mr. Dog Show.

On cue, my three-year-old daughter Kiley stood up in her beautiful Mother’s Day dress with a chicken leg in her hand and announced to Mr. Dog Show and all of his fans, “My daddy is going to kick your dog in the teeth!”

You are not raising a child. You are raising a recorder! Your children repeat you! They watch you. Parenting involves development and discipline. But with parenting also comes the pressure to demonstrate. You must be believable.

Parenting is Modeling

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is commonly referred to as Shema. Shema is the Hebrew word translated “to hear.” These verses are recited daily by devote Jews and remind them of the singularity of God and their allegiance to Him and Him alone.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

While these verses are doctrinal, the following verses are practical. How do you pass this on to your children? How do you demonstrate that you are truly singularly devoted to God and that you love him with your all?

And these words I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 describes a home with a steady stream of discipleship and Biblical teaching. Notice that this home doesn’t have “Bible time.” What they believe is all of the time. This IS them. They walk it. They talk it. It forms their day. A Bible is not something they have, it is something they live.

I am a pastor. What I am about to say is going to be a shock for some and it is not for all. You may do it differently than I do it, but we’ve NEVER had a consistent, regimented, family devotional time in our home. Do we encourage and practice private devotion? Yes. Have we tried a dedicated family devotional time? Yes. Did we fail miserably? Yes! And when I mean fail, I mean crash and burn, call 911, epic fail! My kids hated it every time we tried it.

But what I can tell you is that we pray together. We talk about the Lord. We do doctrinal teaching. We exhibit devotion. But it is all a part of our daily conversation. For Shannon and I, Christianity is not something we mandate, it is something we model. We talk with them about the Lord and we let them watch us.

We let them watch us fail. We ask them for forgiveness. We pray for them and with them. We struggle with the Lord’s will before them. We celebrate the Lord’s goodness when it is evident. We seek the Lord’s direction in decisions. We make our girls a part of the ongoing conversation we are having about and with the Lord.

What makes a Christian home is not that you have a Bible. It is not even that you have a Bible time. A Christian home is a home of discipleship and modeling. It is a place in which Scripture is not mandated, but demonstrated.

So, Did I Kick the Dog?

I didn’t kick the dog, but Kiley let everyone in the park including the dog’s owner know what I said. While that story is funny, it reminded me. She repeated nothing I said in the sermon that day, but she repeated perfectly what I said to her. What I said to the congregation wasn’t nearly as important to her as what she sees from me and hears from me with my family. She probably won’t remember 5 of my sermons. She will remember EVERYTHING about me being her dad – good and bad.

The transfer of your faith from you to your children will not be possible if you are not believable. You are raising a mini-recorder! Give them great content to remember!

Here’s a great article on the power of a dad being a role model for his daughter.

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Title blog article D2 Discipline

3D Parenting – D2 Discipline

The first “D” in the 3 D’s of Biblical parenting is DEVELOP. Develop is about creating an environment that consistently reinforces content that helps your child discover who God wants them to be. “Develop” only works if there is discipline.

Discipline

Necessary to the development of a child are boundaries. There must be discipline when boundaries are crossed. When it comes to discipline, many parents consider it begrudgingly. The Bible looks at discipline lovingly.

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Proverbs 13:24

Every parent must remember, you may have a beautiful child, but you are raising a natural born sinner. If you love your child, you will discipline your child.

Many people mistakingly equate discipline with abuse. The Biblical discipline of a child does not put them in any sort of physical danger and is in no way abusive.

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.

Proverbs 23:13

Discipline is not manipulation. You don’t discipline a child because he or she annoys you, interrupts you, or frustrates you. As a parent, you discipline yourself before you discipline your child. You should never punish your child out of anger, but out of heartbreak. You also must be careful that the child understands that they have not just done something to disappoint you, but they have ultimately sinned before God. A parent is a servant of God, not His replacement. If we use discipline to point our child toward the Lord, the child will develop a higher sense of accountability. If you help a child understand that they are ultimately responsible before God, not just to you, they will respect God’s authority throughout their lives.

Discipline in Balance

When it comes to discipline we cannot be too soft or too harsh. Proverbs 22:15 says that folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but that the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

Discipline is a positive and a negative. It is exposing wrong and reinforcing right. If folly is truly to be driven from the heart of a child, there has to be a tipping point. Your value has to become their value. If folly is bound up in the heart of a child, that means they innately do not understand why something is wrong. You simply getting angry or disappointed is not discipline. Discipline involves discipleship. Your child is unlearning folly and replacing it with the Biblical values you reinforce.

If folly is bound up in the heart of a child, being their friend won’t help. God has called you to be a parent, not an enabler. A soft parent doesn’t want to hurt or to offend. In doing so, a soft parent only fosters the folly in their child’s heart and the older the child gets the more difficult it is to drive that folly very far!

Your child may not be happy with you when you discipline them, but they will be thankful for you in the end. Hebrews 12:11 says that discipline is painful and not pleasant, but that it yields “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Part of your problem with discipline may be that YOU don’t like it! It should break our hearts to discipline our children, but remember, it’s not about you, but about what’s best for them.!

Discipline is Shepherding

At the heart of discipline is not enforcement, but shepherding. Discipline is not breaking a child. Discipline is about loving guidance with consequence. A parent must realize that discipline is not as much about spanking, grounding, or whatever method you use, as much as it is about connecting with a child’s heart. They have to see that the choice they have made is not a good choice. It is one that has hurt them and others. You as the parent help them through discipline to realize that the world is not all about them.

Discipline cannot be too harsh. In Psalm 103:13 the Bible uses the example of a father’s compassion for his child to illustrate the compassion God has for those who fear Him. If we separate discipline from love and compassion all we have left is physical abuse and emotional manipulation; and that is not at all a loving parent.

For a great resource on parenting and the critical connection that we must make with the heart of our children, see Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart.

A Safe Place to Fail

Children will fail. Discipline gives a child a safe place to fail. If a parent lovingly disciplines a child he is safe. His folly will not be allowed to forfeit his future. His mistakes will turn into teaching moments. His failures will not destroy him, but disciple him.

Children need boundaries and loving discipline that brings them back when they cross the line. Discipline is like a guardrail on a highway. When you hit them at high speeds there will be a sudden and perhaps painful collision. But think of what a guardrail saves you from. Had you not hit the guardrail you may have ended up in a ravine, wrapped around a tree, or at the bottom of a pond. Guardrails are not pleasant or beautiful, but they are safe. A home without discipline puts a child in greater danger. Discipline brings them back. Loving discipline creates a much safer place to fail.

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develop blog title graphic

3D Parenting – D1 Develop

Dogs and cats reach maturity in about one year. Most species of songbirds leave the nest in 3 weeks. A lion is considered to be a fully-grown adult at age 3.

If you have children, you’ve probably figured out by now, this may take awhile!

And it should take a while to raise a human. While animal maturity is generally measured by height or sexual capability, there is a lot more involved in teaching a person how to be an image of God. While the lioness teaches her cub how to find food, your job as a parent should involve a little more than finding a burger for Bubba. God has entrusted you to not just tell your child about sex, but to teach them sexuality. You are not just trying to see how tall your son will be as a man, but you are to teach him how to be a godly man. Your objective as a parent should be to just find your kid a scholarship but to release them into the world as a mature image of God.

The Bible has a lot to say about parenting. This is no surprise since raising a mature image of God is such a critical responsibility. There’s a million ways to slice this, and most will do it much better than I, but when it comes to the basics of Biblical parenting, think 3D!

  1. Develop
  2. Discipline
  3. Demonstrate

Develop

The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6,

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

At the outset I need to say about this verse, this is a Proverb, not a promise. A Proverb is a general observation about life. It does not guarantee a result, but it gives you guidance toward wise ways of dealing with things. The formula for a proverb is this is what works, but there are exceptions. In this case, the exception is seen in a passage like Deuteronomy 2118-21. The indication there is that this child departed when he got older. The fact that his parents did train him in the way he should go is what makes the Deuteronomy 21 scenario so tragic. This is not a child brought up in neglect or abuse. This child is a rebel.

Rebellion is a tragic possibility in the parent/child relationship, but this does not negate the parental responsibility to “train the child in the way he should go.” What does that mean? Two things are critical for development. Train = an environment of reinforcement. In the way he should go = content. As a parent, develop means that your home is going to be one of consistent content.

Train Up a Child – An Environment of Reinforcement

The idea of training in this passage is the idea of reinforcement. Training is the environment of the home. It is an intentional, nurtured culture that offers a consistent pattern of opportunity to help the child grow in maturity.

A child is not just told to mind, a child must be trained to obey. A child cannot simply be told to share, they must be trained to be generous.

Much like a trainer at a gym sets goals for the athletes he trains, the parents have in mind the values and core beliefs that will be reinforced in the home. The trainer sets up his gym so that his athletes can make consistent gains through repetition. Is your home set up for consistent gains?

Have you taken time as a parent to think through the core values and beliefs of your home? If you were asked by someone to list them, could you? If you can list them, could you give examples of how those core values and beliefs are being reinforced with your children?

As they say, you inspect what you expect. Parenting is takes intentionality and kids need reinforcement. If you tell your child, “I’m only going to tell you this once” then it must NOT be important!

Revisit your values. Reinforce them over and over. Be consistent as a parent. Be willing to say it over and over again, each time training your child how to behave and why good behavior is a blessing.

In the Way He Should Go – Content

Training involves content. What is the content of your home? The primary content that is being reinforced in your home, does it come from television, social media, or video games; or does it come from conversation and interaction with you as a parent? As a parent, you can’t farm out content. You are the gatekeeper of the content of the home.

I recently listened to a podcast that told the story of a young girl who kept asking her father questions. Being a busy man, he told his daughter to write down her questions and he would answer them later. At 9 years old, the girl returned to her father 50 deep, meaningful questions like, “What is love?”, “Is there life after death?”, “What is the purpose of life?” Heavy stuff for a third grader! Three years later, dad is STILL trying to answer her questions!

As the podcast continues, you find out that the little girl wasn’t as concerned about having her questions answered, as she was about getting her father’s attention. Her father was always on his computer. The reason she wrote down so many questions was because she wanted conversation, interaction – CONTENT.

Parental Advisory, Don’t Over-Parent

In our culture we have not only a propensity to “under-parent” by putting a device in our kid’s hand and sending them off to fend for themselves, but also to “over-parent.” By “over-parent” I mean that the reinforced expectations of training are too much, they are overbearing, they are impossible.

The word “train” that is translated here in the Bible implies that you do not raise the child to be what you want them to become, but that you raise the child to be what God wants them to become. In this instance, train means that you are paying attention to your child’s giftedness, talent, and interests. You see their inclinations and you adjust your training accordingly. Parenting is not cloning, it is development.

I work with a high school football team as chaplain. From time to time I stop by practice through the week to connect with the players and encourage them during the tough grind of game preparation. As a pastor, I always enjoy watching the coaches as I am interested in how they lead, motivate, and develop student athletes.

Most of the men on the coaching staff were great high school and/or college athletes. One of my favorite coaches I have ever worked with was a quarterback at NC State. He was a young guy and an extremely gifted athlete. At the time he was working with our team there were not five bodies we could tie together that would even come close to accomplishing what he was able to do as a high school quarterback. But what I loved about him was that he NEVER compared the kids to himself. He very seldom used the word “I.” He was not trying to produce another version of himself, but he was trying to push the kids to become the best version of themselves as men and as athletes.

Parenting is not Cloning

Parenting is not cloning, it is development. Too many kids fail to launch because they feel like they have failed long before they even got to the starting line. Because they are different than their parents or may have made some choices that their parents would not have made, they have been made to feel as if they failed.

Another scenario I see too often is a parent trying to make up for his own disappointments and failures through his or her kids. While every parent wants his or her child to learn from their mistakes, your kid is not your best chance at a state championship, or a better job than yours, or even a better life than yours. You can’t live vicariously through your kids and think that sets them up for success. It only pigeon holes them for a pathway to failure.

Development means that you are helping your child find their God-given calling. As a parent, you are God’s steward to help train, develop, and reinforce the critical content that will help them fulfill God’s call in their lives.

In my own home, I have two daughters. Though we raise them reinforcing the same Biblical, core values and beliefs, we realize that they are very different people with distinct personalities. My eldest daughter is a leader. My youngest daughter is an artist. Daughter #1 got a kayak for her birthday. Daughter #2 got a guitar for Christmas. One daughter doesn’t want to be talked to before 9am while the other can’t get enough hugs.

Know your kids and tailor your content.

Taking Steps Toward Development

As a parent, think reinforcement and content. Reinforcement, sit down and write out the core values of your home. Evaluate your consistency in reinforcing these things. Is it working? Is your child getting the message? Are they beginning to demonstrate those desired values in their behavior? Why or why not? Are there things in your life that make that message inconsistent that need to be reprioritized?

As far as content, are you acting as the gatekeeper of your home or are you farming out parenting to a device, television, or video game system? Is your child getting attention and conversation from you? Are you paying attention to their bends, gifts, talents or are you just trying to make them another you? Are you seeking God’s direction for their lives?

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bow and arrow warrior

The Point of Parenting Part 2, The Warrior and the Arrow

In my previous post I asked, what is the point of parenting? A great passage in the Bible that I think encapsulates the concept is Psalm 127:4-5.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gates.

Psalm 127:4-5

An arrow in the hand of a warrior is not effective until it is released. In the same way, the point of parenting is not to keep a child but to intentionally and effectively release him. This is a critical, Biblical principle for parents.

In our society, we are spending inordinate amounts of time and money on coaching, training, clinics, tournaments, recitals, rehearsals, and lessons so that our child can get a scholarship, but we are missing the point of parenting. Your child may win a state championship, but what will become of him once he is released? We have too many men already who were amazing second basemen in high school, who now at 32 can’t get it together at home. And just like Psalm 127:5 says, that’s a shame!

By examining the warrior and the arrow we can better understand the point of parenting.

Equip

I am no archer, but I have done just enough of it to know that there are two pieces of equipment that are critical to the sport; the bow and the arrow.

I remember vividly one of my first introductions to archery at Boy Scout camp back in the ’80s. Allow me to put this in its proper historical context. The movie Rambo, First Blood came out in the ’80s. Every kid that grew up in that decade dreamed of shooting an arrow tipped with a nuclear warhead and blowing up the neighbor’s trash can. The good folks at Skymont scout camp were about to help me release my inner Rambo.

What happened next was a total let down for an 11-year-old. We were marched down to the archery range and handed over to an instructor. Mr. Archery was more like Mr. Rogers than Rambo. And FYI, he had no intentions of blowing anything up. Mr. Archery was all about safety.

Looking back I now appreciate a man’s concern for safety when you are about to put high-velocity sharp objects into the hands of about a dozen awkward pre-teen boys. But when you’re 11, the safety spill seems like overkill. Before he would allow us to even touch an arrow, Mr. Archery lectured us about the parts of an arrow. Boring! But important!

Inspect the Arrow

Like an archer inspects his arrows we must pay attention to our kids. The wording of this article at Eastenarchery.com will PREACH to parents!

Any arrow can become damaged. A damaged arrow could break upon release and injure you or a bystander.

https://eastonarchery.com/warning-use/

Like a damanged arrow, a damaged kid becomes a damaged man or woman who injures others. If you don’t pay attention and do damage to your children, they will break upon release and injure innocent bystanders – ie. the future spouse, your future grandchildren, their friends, etc. Giving attention to your kids now could prevent a lot of damage later!

One of the things missing from parenting in our busy, social media society is attention and inspection. You can’t farm out parenting to a coach. Dance lessons may make your child wonderful in a recital, but your child doesn’t just need dance lessons. They need life lessons. Your children need to hear from you. Children need conversation. Questions. Inspections. Your kids need table talk. They need less phone in their face (and your face). They need your face, your eyes, your ears. Your children need your attention. A damaged arrow can hurt a lot of people upon release! If we are to equip our kids, we must pay attention to our kids.

Load the Bow

Have you ever witnessed a warrior engage in hand to hand combat using an arrow? I hope not! Up close, it is no more useful than a Pixie Stick in a sword fight. An arrow is a long range weapon. It needs speed and velocity to be effective. The warrior uses the bow to create tension to launch the arrow.

Your home is your bow. If your home is to be a place where your kid is equipped to be launched, there needs to be a certain amount of tension. By tension, I do not mean unhealthy and undue stress, but I mean expectation and discipline. The further the warrior draws back the bow, the more velocity he will create to launch the arrow.

Kids need moral, social, financial, familial, and vocational expectations. Your child will have a hard time keeping a job as an adult if he or she has never worked in the home. Are you the one always making Junior’s bed and cleaning his room? If so, his future wife may find that you have sent her a husband who has no tension in the bow.

If your child is proficient at Snapchat, but can’t carry on a face to face conversation with an adult, this arrow will not fly with force. To let a smartphone raise your child is a DUMB move. You will end up with a Bubba in the basement trying to make a career out of tweeting reviews about Netflix.

Your child won’t raise himself. He needs the tension of discipline. Too many parents see discipline as a negative experience, but it is proven to yield positive results. True, your child may not like you for 30 minutes, but they will appreciate you in the end. More on this in my next post!

Having a home of healthy expectation and discipline gives your child the velocity he or she needs to encounter the world as an effective adult.

Aim

An arrow without direction is dangerous. So is a child.

There are a lot of factors to consider when a warrior aims an arrow. He considers the wind, the distance, as well as the target. Where is the most effective place to hit the target? Is it moving or stagnant? Where is it most vulnerable?

If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. This is especially true in parenting. As far as the Bible is concerned, as mentioned in my previous post, Genesis 1:27-28 is our aim. Would you rather have a child who can subdue the culture or would you rather have a child absorbed by it? Like God applied His Word to the chaos and brought it into order, the child you release should be able to apply the Word of God day by day and subdue the earth.

The conditions do not have to be perfect for a warrior to make a great shot. FYI – your child’s life does not have to be perfect for them to become a great kid. And just in case you didn’t realize it, you’re not a perfect parent.

There is no perfect school, coach, teacher, church, etc. A parent who is always propping up a child pointing the finger of blame at everyone else is only teaching the child that the world is not good enough for them. The way this will translate into their release as an adult is that there is no job, spouse, community, church, etc. suitable for you. If you teach your child this you may release a child with a lot of velocity, but he will have no direction. This is a dangerous child. You have raised Cain – literally. Like his Biblical predecessor, he will end up in the land of Nod, an aimless wanderer.

An effective parent helps their child take aim by giving them objectives and a safe place to fail. Let’s try this . . . correct this . . . and try this again . . . Allowing a child to make an F may be exactly what he or she needs to make an A.

Set some goals. Set some direction. Take aim with your children.

Release

At some point the warrior let’s his arrow go. He does so with the intention that the arrow is on target and that it will hit with maximum velocity.

A recent survey by Barna Research found that only 4% of American adults have a Biblical worldview. Amongst professing Christians, only 9% have a Biblical worldview.

A worldview, as the name implies, is the philosophical lens through which you view the world. Your worldview is the filter through which you process information and make decisions. A worldview is critical to a person as he or she tries to process such questions as what is right and wrong? Is human life valuable? What is sexuality? Why are we here?

The problem with many Christian homes is that we are raising children without a Christian Worldview. The end result is that we are releasing children into the world who are way off target.

The end result is that our children are no different than the world they encounter. They have been coddled and controlled in our home when they were supposed to be armed and aimed with a Biblical worldview.

Children need encouragement, but they also need honest conversation and correction. A child who believes he is God’s gift to the world will think that he has no need of God’s grace for the world. We are raising kids who are so amazing that they completely miss Jesus!

If we are to release on target kids who impact our culture with maximum velocity we must become more intentional and truthful in parenting. What does that look like?

A Story of Effective Release

In April attended a Biblical Worldview conference in Washington, DC hosted by Bob Jones University Press. Jeff Keaton, President, Founder, and CEO of Renewanation shared a story about his nephew.

His nephew was raised in a pastor’s home, graduated from a private, Christian high school and is now attending a public college. This young man is currently in an environment in which his faith will be challenged by a secular worldview.

The professor of his freshman English class enjoyed debate and had assigned the students various topics throughout the semester. Jeff’s nephew had done well in all of the debates and had one of the highest grades in the class. The professor was impressed with his skill.

Toward the end of the semester the professor assigned the students a debate on the topic of abortion. The students were able to choose which side of the debate to defend based on their personal views and opinions. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but if there were 28 people in the class, Jeff’s nephew and one other student were the only ones willing to defend the pro-life position. The other student chose to side with Jeff’s nephew, not based on personal convictions, but based on the fact that he needed a good grade and knew that this young man did well.

Jeff shared the concern that his nephew had in the days leading up to the debate knowing that it would essentially be him vs. 26 pro-choice advocates.

On the day of the debate the professor allowed the pro-choice advocates to go first due to the sheer number of people who sided with the position. Jeff’s nephew listened intently taking careful notes. When it came time for his presentation he articulated it carefully and ended with the words, “and for these reasons, abortion is the murder of a baby.”

Jeff’s nephew expected to be rebuffed with harsh criticism. But instead the class was silent. So the professor asked, “Now that the debate is finished, how many of you are pro-choice and how many are pro-life?” Every student who debated the pro-choice position raised his or her hand that they were now pro-life after hearing Jeff’s nephew explain his beliefs.

That’s an arrow released with maximum velocity, well equipped, aimed, and on target. That is a young man who is not absorbed by the culture, but who is affecting the culture. It is a great example of Psalm 127:5b. “He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gates.”

We need more arrows released like this! How do we parent so that we may raise children like this? Check back for my next post in which I will begin to explore 3 basic principles of Biblical parenting.

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Past Post – God’s Good Reason for Bad Things

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how to get bubba out of the basement graphic

Why is Bubba Still in My Basement? Missing the Point of Parenting

What is the point of parenting? Is it to raise a happy, healthy child? That seems to be a fairly generic goal.

How does one measure success as a parent? Is it GPA, earning potential, athletic achievement, or some sort of moral standard? How do we know if we’ve done well?

The point of parenting is articulated in the 28th verse of the Bible. Even before God rested, He explains the purpose of a parent.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’

Gen. 1:27-28

OK, nice Bible verse. So what’s the point of parenting?

  • Image – you are the representative of God on earth. You demonstrate how His Word works in the world and share the blessing that it brings. Your home, as imperfect as it may be at times, is a demonstration of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His redemptive power to the world.
  • Multiply – notice the Bible doesn’t say add but multiply. All things being equal, any man and woman can biologically add children, but the word “multiply” means that there is something exponential in the purpose of parenting. Teach your child how to be an image of God and you double yourself. If that child has children who also pass along those values, and so on and so on, what you have done for the benefit of the world is exponential. The greatest contribution you can make to the world is not the business you start or the recognition you receive. The greatest contribution you make to the world according to Genesis 1:17-28 is in the children you send.
  • Fill – what you are for your children doesn’t stay put, it moves. Notice that the verse does not say fill your basement space, but fill the earth. What has happened in your home needs to happen again, in another place. The word “fill” assumes there is an empty space with a need. When we fill the earth with “image-ness” there is less of a void. People tried the stay-put plan with the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11). God didn’t take it well. Don’t make your basement Babel 2.0. God was the first father to boot a Bubba out of the basement. The earth left to itself descends into chaos. It needs more images to fill the earth, spread out, and work God’s plan (Gen. 2:5).
  • Subdue – God created the world by applying His Word day by day. In the same way that God applied His Word and brought chaos to order, His images continue to work the earth, day by day, by applying God’s Word bringing an otherwise chaotic culture to order. We need MUCH more of this, don’t we?

So, in short. The point of parenting is to teach a child what it means to be an image of God so that when you release him or her into the world they will continue to apply God’s Word to an otherwise chaotic world and bring it to order.

But Houston, we have a problem; failure to launch.

Failure to Launch

A study published in November of 2016 found that in The State of New Jersey, 45% of young adults aged 18-34 live with their parents, even though they are employed.

The common term for a child’s unwillingness to leave out on his own is “failure to launch.”

I realize that there are a lot of circumstances in life in which a young adult may choose, or need for a time, to live in their parent’s home. Many college students save on the high cost of housing by commuting. I was one of those. My parents encouraged me to go to college by offering to pay tuition. The rest of it was on me. When I realized how much debt I would have just in housing expenses, and then took a look at what they were serving in the cafeteria, I realized that home is a really good deal!

There may be hardships or unforeseen circumstances that require a young adult to shelter at home for a time. There may be mental or physical disabilities that make staying at home a wise choice. But from what I understand of the study, these circumstances are not factored into the 45%. Even if I am making a mistaken assumption and all of these variables are included, 45% still sounds a little high don’t you think?

Life can be difficult and expensive, but I don’t think it is any parent’s dream to raise a capable kid, only to find that at 31 Bubba refuses to leave the basement!

Why am I being so hard on Bubba and his parents?

So what if Bubba is still in your basement? Or maybe he’s a boomerang kid – he moves out but keeps coming back. Am I saying that you are a bad parent? Not at all. I’m not even saying that Bubba is a bad person. Bubba’s first choice may not be for him to be in your basement. Furthermore, I know of some amazing single people who have greatly impacted God’s Kingdom who have lived their entire lives in their parent’s home.

But if you have an adult child who has no plan to launch out on his own and no concern for God’s Kingdom, I do have a question. What’s your release plan?

Surely you are not about to give up on Genesis 1:27 and 28. It’s too great of a vision. I’m not trying to condemn you, but I do want to challenge you. The world has enough people in it that eat Dorito’s, play video games, and binge watch NetFlix. We have some definite void in this culture that needs to be filled. Rise up, don’t give up!

God’s desire is for you to embrace the point of parenting. It will be a blessing to you!

Why are there so many Bubba’s in New Jersey?

Bubba stuck in the basement is not just a New Jersey problem. Failure to launch is becoming epidemic in the American family. Why is this? Perhaps it is because many have missed the point of parenting.

The point of parenting is not to just please our children, but to release them as mature adults. Instead of our homes being launch pads we are instead creating safe, sterilized bunkers in which our kids have everything their heart’s desire, where they are never hurt, never disappointed, never told “no”, and somehow sold on the snake oil that they should never fail.

The problem then becomes that they NEVER leave. Even worse, some parents, never get it! They don’t want to release their children. And YES – this I condemn. It is disobedience and not AT ALL God’s design!

Some parents simply want to control their children no matter how old they are. God has called parents to be equippers, not enablers. If a parent is an enabler, there sits Bubba in the basement thinking he is the center of the world; having no plans to impact the world. This is a child that has been added to the world, but who multiplies nothing. He is a consumer; a proverbial black hole of a family’s resources. He only adds to the chaos, making no contribution to subdue it.

So what if I don’t want a Bubba in my basement?

But maybe that’s not your vision. You don’t want Bubba in your basement. Perhaps you want to be an effective parent who releases an image of God capable of impacting culture and subduing the chaos. So how do we accomplish the point of parenting and raise kids with for purposeful release?

So now that I’ve intrigued some readers and perhaps angered others, let’s offer the proverbial cliff hanger. What’s the answer? I’ll share it in my next post. This week I’ll also address the issue of parents who have done it right, but the child rebels. What then? Stay tuned! Subscribe! Comment, ask questions – let’s have a conversation. How would you explain the point of parenting?

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Check out a past post – God’s Good Reason for Bad Things

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HATEFUL ENEMIES BLOG POST GRAPHIC

Redemptive Response to Cursing, Abusive, Hateful Enemies

Between emotion and action, Jesus issues four corrective commands. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” – Luke 6:27-28 Those commands seem unreasonable and impractical especially when we have such cursing, abusive, hateful enemies. Does Jesus really expect us to respond to such horrible people with redemptive action? The answer is, Yes. Not only does he expect it, but one character in the Bible exemplifies it, Joseph.

In my previous post, we looked at how Joseph loved his family despite them becoming his enemy. How did Joseph exemplify the other corrective commands of Jesus?

When Family Becomes Enemy Title for Blog Post

Do Good to Those Who Hate You

Joseph did good even when life was bad. Joseph’s brothers sold him. He served his master well and God gave him favor (Genesis 39:3-6).

Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of rape. Potiphar put Joseph in prison. Even there he did well and the Lord gave him favor (Gen. 39:21-23).

“Where” Joseph was never changed who Joseph was. He did well because the Lord is good. Joseph’s actions became a testimony to everyone around him. We can learn from his example. When you respond with bad, it does no good!

Bless Those Who Curse You

Joseph’s brothers conspired against him. Blessing and cursing; both are about words. Words hurt.

Our natural emotional response to cursing is to curse back. In Genesis 45, Joseph had the opportunity to get physical and verbal revenge on his brothers. At one time they determined his fate in a pit, now Joseph had the opportunity to determine their fate from the palace. What sort of words would Joseph choose, blessing or cursing?

Joseph chose blessing. If you read Genesis 45:4-14 you will find that Joseph directs his brother’s attention to what God has done. He then promises to bless them and provide from them out of the abundance of Egypt. Notice the last line of this paragraph full of blessings.

“After that his brothers talked with him.”

How many of us in our time of hurt would welcome a productive conversation? Imagine having a conversation in which wrongs are confessed, the hurt is expressed, and apologies are exchanged. That sort of reconciliation only comes through redemption. A conversation like that does not come about through revenge. Cursing for cursing does not cure the hurt.

Pray for Those Who Abuse You

The Bible doesn’t record Joseph’s prayers, but make no mistake, Joseph prayed. The integrity of his character, the strength of his witness through trial, and the favor God gave him only comes through prayer. Joseph never wavered from God’s will. He interpreted dreams through the wisdom of God. When the moment of redemption came, the emotions were overwhelming. I’m sure the hurt resurfaced. But rather than revenge Joseph chose redemption. A choice like that only comes as the product of prayer.

As for you! But God!

The climax of Joseph’s story comes in Genesis 50:20. Jacob, the father of these lost boys brothers has died. Now that dad is gone, will Joseph finally get revenge? Absolutely not. He explains:

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today.

Genesis 50:20

Somewhere between angry emotion and destructive action is something only Christ can do in you.

So how do we tap into this redemptive response only Christ can give?

  1. Know Christ as Lord and Savior. Through repentance and faith, we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9,10, 13). We don’t need a situation change as much as we need a nature change. The Bible teaches that when we repent of sin and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior that He places His Holy Spirit inside of us (2 Cor. 1:22). The fruits of our new nature will begin to emerge (Gal. 5:22-24).
  2. Renew your mind. After giving his discourse on such a great salvation, Paul turns his attention to life application in Romans 12:1-2. Our new life in Jesus calls for us to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed into Christ. That transformation comes only through “renewal of the mind.” Renewal of the mind means that we unlearn those habits and patterns of reaction to emotion that conform to the ways of the world. We then learn Biblical, Christ-honoring patterns of behavior as part of the transformation of salvation.
  3. Feed and foster new life from the graces of the church and spiritual discipline. Part of discipleship is discipline. Seek to establish daily habits of Bible reading, prayer, service, and worship. Your church becomes a critical ally in the transformation process. God uses the church to minister His graces of forgiveness, conviction, grace, mercy, and love to His people. Prayer is a conversation with God. Sometimes in prayer, you feel as if you are only speaking to Him. You will be amazed at how God uses His church to speak back to you.

Conclusion

We will all have cursing, hateful, abusive enemies. When people take destructive action against us we are flooded with negative emotion. Our natural reaction is to return destruction for destruction. But Jesus is our in-between. He is our corrective thought. In a sin cursed world He has chosen to call his people to be the conduits of redemption. Unnatural? Yes. Supernatural? Absolutely. But by following Christ we introduce into the fabric of a fallen story something that will save many people alive. Think about it. Had Joseph chosen destructive action and destroyed his brothers the seed of the Savior would have been lost. What salvation could Christ bring from you if you choose redemptive response rather than destructive action?

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