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

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 adjustments that need to be made. When children are the fruit of the marriage, new challenges emerge! But, in the end, both people will be stronger as they persevere through the marital difficulties. 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 obstacles. 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:

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 describe 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

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, sometimes 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.

• 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 discouraged, but I will not always protect you from the consequences 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

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 admonitions contained in these lessons, may God enable your marriage relationship 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 whatever is accomplished because of this course.

The Christian Marriage and Family Series

The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Any situation that causes me to confront my selfishness has enormous 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 companion 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 likeness. . .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

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 relationship was designed by God. Man did not originate the idea. Marriage is by God’s design 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 instituted between one man and one woman, not between two men, or between one man and multiple women, or between multiple partners. The gender and the number of marriage partners were fixed by God. 3.An Exclusive Relationship: The marriage relationship was designed 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,

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 relationships with father and mother are completely severed, but it does subordinate the relationship with parents to the new marriage relationship. 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 importance, 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. Wherefore 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 relationship, 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

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 completely 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 Forgiving. 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 demonstration of mutual love and concern on the part of both partners. N 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 expecting anything in return. This is the kind of love that works in marriage, and the kind of love God has for all mankind. N 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 occurred 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. N 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).

N It is God’s nature to give, and His creation manifests His abundant generosity, creativity, and the lavish nature of His many gifts to mankind. c. God is Forgiving: Successful marriages occur when there is mutual forgiveness and understanding of faults. A couple who cannot forgive and move on when offended never establish a lasting marriage. 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, remember, 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 similar 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

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 successfully 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 relationships 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 conformed 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

“divine school.” In this school, you are not learning 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 temperament 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 treasure 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 marriage is crucial. Each partner is to serve the other in unselfish love,

and to meet his or her needs. Marriage provides a place to learn and practice this servant’s heart. Additionally, God-given abilities and resources 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 relationship 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 relationship 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 marriage and the family provide an ideal environment for Biblical discipleship. 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 accomplishes God’s purposes for the discipleship of believers.

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 described in John 10:10b?

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


The Christian Family and Marriage Series
MARRIAGE POLL: A poll was taken of some American couples who had been married 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 together 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 animals 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 ineffective team that accomplished nothing except turmoil and confusion. The unequal yoke perfectly illustrates what happens when a believer marries an unbeliever. Although life and the marriage relationship may go on smoothly for awhile, eventually the members of the team will start pulling in opposite directions. Why? Because they are

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 indwelt 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 separates 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 Israel, saith that he hateth putting away (divorce)…. The subject of divorce 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 person” 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.

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 humanly 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 unselfish love. Perhaps you are an only child, or you were not required to assume much responsibility while growing up. These circumstances 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 unwise marriages. The Christian believer, however, 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 married. Let Him decide if marriage is right for

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 actions 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, considerate of others, and a wise manager of time and money? b. Get to know the person at play: Play games together. Can he lose gracefully? Does he maintain 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. Engaging 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

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 extent later on in marriage. This also reduces your ability to refuse sex in the future and may even open the door for promiscuous sex, outside 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 parents) 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 parents 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 prolonged 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 difficulty 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.


2. You are marrying with the expectation to change the other person. Many young women believe they can change the offensive behavior of a man by marrying him. However, such “logic” has been refuted 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 exception to the rule of be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). These believers deceive themselves into thinking 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 Corinthians 6:15). 4.You are marrying because of the strong physical attraction. If you are marrying because of wonderful chemistry only, between 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.


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 preparation 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 yourself 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

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 disorganized and confused? Give yourself a “10” if the person has the effect 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 person? Very often, you cannot see the flaws in a person that are obvious 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 disagreements 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 unselfishly to the other person for the rest of your life? Or is it to escape


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.

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


The Christian Family and Marriage Series
“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 becomes “sick,” it is wise to consult the Author of marriage, and His book on the subject, the Bible. Having learned in Session 1 that marriage 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 purposes 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 abusive marriage. • You have been part of a home in which the marriage relationship failed. • You are now in a “shaky” marriage that is threatening to dissolve, or that you desire to leave. • You have some idealistic notions about marriage.


No matter what your experience, or your current ideas, please remember 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 ultimate 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). Undoubtedly, 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 family 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 spiritual 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 income, it is the husband’s ultimate responsibility to provide for the needs of each family member.

• 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 emotionally. 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 family (and especially his wife) from undue pressure and concern. Otherwise, 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 responsibility of make sure that the children 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 responsibility 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.

• 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 responsibility! 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 important 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 summarize 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, emotionally, 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 knowledge, 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.

Listen to her. c. Feelings of inferiority and insecurity can be a problem. She needs your approval and understanding when she feels overwhelmed by home and family responsibilities. d. She wants you to be the leader in every area of the home: finances, 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-responsibility by the ultimate benefit that will be received by his wife. For example, 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 whatever 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

“Considering Her Ultimate Welfare?” If not, start today, ask the questions, 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 husbands in marriage and family relationships. In Ephesians 5:18-21, Paul is discussing 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 salvation (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 evidences 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 submitting 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 Commander-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-responsibility is concerned. She is not the one ultimately in charge of, or responsible for the marriage relationship, or for the resulting family and children. That is the husband’s responsibility. That is why the hus27

band is called the “head” of the wife in Ephesians 5:23a. Regarding Paul’s summary statement in Ephesians 5:22, Wives, submit 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 husbands. 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 relating to the marriage and the family. God made women with an intuitive 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 husband does not see. 2.What It Does Mean • It means that the wife should leave the final decision-making responsibility to the husband. When any matter dealing with the marriage 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 husband’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 authority 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 nur28

ture) their wives and children. A woman who grabs control away from her husband puts tremendous pressure on herself to fulfill a responsibility 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. Encourage him in his work. b. Your husband was made to LEAD: let him take the leadership in the family, and in your relationship. 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 defenses against fear and react to questions with conflict, harshness, 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 advice, 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 employment 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 relationship. 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 obedience 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 intended 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 marriage is of great value to God!

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 regarding 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?

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


The Christian Family and Marriage Series
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 people whom God has brought together to become one in a new relationship. You are different because of: N gender N temperament N family influences and background N how you react to life events N social, economic, culture, and possibly even ethnic background N variance in spiritual growth and development How is it possible for two people that are so different to experience harmony, oneness, and intimacy in marriage? There is no simple 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

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 develop. When these emotions are not resolved, the seeds of permanent 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 partner 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 expectations, such as found in Session 3 (Ephesians 5:21-33) are appropriate. These Biblical expectations provide accountability for each marriage partner, and prevent marital neglect, or marital abuse.

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 creation 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 children. 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, criticized enough on the job. Don’t add to the problem at home. • Don’t compare your husband to other men. He is a unique creation 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 compliment you heard about him.

• 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 attraction, 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 understand my wife. I don’t understand women.” But in 1 Peter 3:7, God commands men to live with their wives according to knowledge. This means that husbands are to “study” their wives, and to learn to understand them. Otherwise, the husband’s prayers will be hindered.

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 closest 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 person 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 anniversary 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 energies 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 courtesy 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

starting to think and act as “we” instead of “me.” A multitude of decisions 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 inlaws, 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 overspend, 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

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 before 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 creative 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 ministry to which God calls us? Are they the good works of being an exemplary 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:

• 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 implemented 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 desire 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 individual 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 “devotion” to the marital relationship, sacrifices his or her personal identity and welfare. This type of “selfsacrifice” 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

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 produce the good works of Ephesians 2:10.

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 expectations? 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 husband. a. b. c. 4. How will building a friendship with your spouse enhance communication 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, emotional, 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.

The Christian Family and Marriage Series
Former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, is reported to have said: “It is exceedingly interesting and attractive to be a successful businessman, or railroad man, or farmer, or a successful lawyer or doctor, or a writer, or a President . . . But for unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly 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 parents’ 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 concept 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 personality who must be nurtured, related 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 challenge 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

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 rituals 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

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 inside 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: N Children have incredible worth to God! He spends an amazing amount of time on each. N Each unborn child is a human being. To kill an unborn baby through abortion is murder. N 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

to instruct and discipline their children. The word “discipline” comes from a root word that means “training.” Discipline is essentially training and discipline takes time. Instruction (discipline) is given in various subjects 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 freedom, the rewards of diligence in work, the perils of an “unguarded” heart and an uncontrolled mind regarding relationships with the opposite 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 responsibility to discipline and train your children in the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual areas of life. Discipline is not prima44

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 motives, 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, joyfulness, 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 complaining 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 appropriately 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, especially as children enter adolescence, when the emotions can run wild and even cause certain courses of action that are contrary to that which is normal or intended.

Actions – as was mentioned above, usually behavior, or actions, is the first area to which child training and discipline is directed. However, 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 actions. When a child has been instructed and trained in motives, attitudes, and speech, the proper outward actions will follow.

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 explain 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?” (ATTITUDE) 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 students. So I stopped.” Perhaps the child says: “But he talked to me first! And Joseph got to go out and play.” (ATTITUDE) Then empathize 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 responsibility to the parents, and first of all to the father. Yes, the mother is

involved, intimately so, with the nurture and training of the child, but God holds the father ultimately responsible for the child’s upbringing. 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: N Praying for the child N Giving physical affection and playing with the child N Talking with and listening to the child N 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, warning, and teaching in all areas of life. This training would include spiritual, vocational, financial, and interpersonal areas. The father is to teach his child how to live, how to understand people, how to manage relationships with God, with others, and with himself. Admonition 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

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 desired 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 cannot 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 emotional 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 material needs of her household (Proverbs 31:15). She is to manage the

children on a daily basis. Clearly, this means teaching them many skills in the social, emotional, and spiritual areas. The word for managing, or guiding, the home is the Greek word from which we get the English word “despot,” or absolute ruler. The mother has absolute 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.

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 improve. a. b. 6. Memorize: Psalm 127:3. Review: John 13:34, Ephesians 5:22/25, Matthew 19:6,Genesis 2:24


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“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 normal developmental characteristics of children in the physical, emotional-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 features 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

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” companions. 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 naturally 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 attentiongetters, but are quite shy, nearly all will react the same way emotionally: 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.”

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 discovering. 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 veracity 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 concepts 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 activities 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

primary child is also a player, and may exceed his physical limits because 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 outside 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 indepth questions, and will expect an intelligent answer. He will also notice parental behavior at home that is not appropriate or is hypocritical, 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 tender, 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 advanced to the stage that they can master more complex physical tasks,

so they are eager to try new things, like rockclimbing 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. Separate 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 inappropriate 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 successfully negotiate these happy years. 3. Mentally and Spiritually The junior child has a keen mind that can easily retain information. He can also think abstractly, in contrast to the two younger age groups for whom concrete, literal thinking is the norm. These children 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. Challenge 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 simple 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 geography, and will benefit from doing a report on a certain Bible charac54

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 period. He is an able and efficient memorizer, and should be encouraged 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 physical 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 energized, and some will be apathetic; others will fluctuate between intense energy and listlessness. In either case, teens need regular exercise, even if they say they do not. Because the sex drive becomes 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 attitudes and behavior of the group he is in. Because of this strong need to belong, and because the young teen wants independence from his parents, he may choose attitudes and behaviors that are not pleasing to you, his parents. Take this into account when you discipline him for

occasions of misbehavior. On the other hand, because the young teen craves this sense of belonging, give him the love and acceptance he needs, and encourage him to develop wholesome relationships 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 between 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 companionship. 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 during 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 person 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 normal and natural. The growing teenager must establish his own ideas, values, and identity that is independent from his parents. Why? Because 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.


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 language. 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 family bonds will be stronger and the end result—a mature, well57

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: N Talking about faith with parents, and N 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.

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 children, how will you teach and train them at home, or in the Sunday school or church?


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.


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A young child accidentally took sleeping pills from the family’s medicine 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 chastening (discipline) for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness 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 “diamonds 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 multitude of Bible verses on the subject. Much of Proverbs is the instruction of a father to his son, so this is expected. The synonym for

discipline that is used in Proverbs is “instruction.” 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 involve acquiring and using various skills in the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual areas. The Scriptural foundations and substantiation 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 absolutely vital. There are many cultural differences 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 discipline, there are also many warnings and descriptions of the consequences 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. According 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 punishment) was once in a high chair (a child’s chair at the table).” Chastening 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

down by the father. You may spare your child much unnecessary 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 dishonors the One who made it to function in a perfect fashion.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 creation 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 experienced 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 properly disciplined child, who has learned to love and respect his parents 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 (Ro62

mans 8:29). In order for people who are believers to become conformed to the likeness of Christ, major growth and development needs to occur. That is why God disciplines and corrects His children: for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 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 trying 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 relationship to others in authority: parents, teachers, civil authorities). 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 maintain 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 nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). All the training in the world will not produce a child of Godly character if that discipline is not done in love. Your love for your child must be demon63

strated and verbalized. A wise person said: “Rules without relationship 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 discipline, 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).


D. STEPS OF CORRECTION Read: Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 When it is necessary to correct a child by administering punishment, 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 repentance 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 children, 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 principles, 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

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 administering 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 intimidate him. Also, do not shake the child. Your strength (especially if you are angry) is far greater than you imagine; you may cause serious 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 discipline into ABUSE. Be completely in control of your own emotions before 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 battering 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 believe that he is intrinsically defi66

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 marriage. 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 discouraged 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 describe a changed life, but an exchanged life. Finally, if today you are committed to a growing Christian marriage, and to Biblical child training, and your spouse is not, remember that YOU can still be a successful Christian spouse and Christian parent. 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.


1. How do you know that child discipline is God's idea? Give a Scripture 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 hindered 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


The Christian Family and Marriage Series
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 parentchild 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). Genetically, every child is a combination of his two parents, four grandparents, and even his eight great-grandparents. But the combination of genes with which he has been endowed is a completely unique


set. This provides his unique “equipment” at birth: physically, intellectually, 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 understanding 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 displays 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 talkative. 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 temper; 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 San70

guine are: joyful, playful, empathetic, undisciplined, emotional instability, 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 Sanguine 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, although laughable and amusing, need to be corrected and controlled. 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 relationships with other people. The child needs to be taught emotional 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 followthrough 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 questionable 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.


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. However, God needed a man with a Choleric temperament in order to lead the expansion of Christianity into every part of the Roman Empire. God needed a leader, a man of resolute action, a man of determination 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 contentiousness 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, argumentative, insensitive, independent, and quick-thinker. Usually, the Choleric has a ready mind that can quickly process information, emotions 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 naturalborn 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 comments 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 direc72

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 natural insensitivity to others’ emotions predisposes him to sarcasm. The tendency to argue about almost everything must also be corrected in these children. • Domineering Spirit/Abuse: Choleric children can “take charge” of any situation, but they tend to “step all over others” to accomplish 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 expression 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 negative thinking, and thinking the worst about a situation or circumstance. 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.

The child with a Melancholy temperament displays these characteristics of Thomas and Martha, plus many more. The Melancholy is the richest and most creative of the temperaments. People with this temperament make up the majority of artists and musicians, and those considered to be “genius.” With all their giftedness, Melancholy children 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 unnecessarily, and their sensitivity predisposes them to self-pity. Problem Areas for the Melancholy Child • Negativism: This trait pervades all their thinking, feeling, and behavior, and must be corrected. Their critical, judgmental spirit toward 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 feelings 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 always 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

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 together. 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 disastrous 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 people and events. Phlegmatic children are naturallyquiet and cooperative, 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 children 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 people. Their fearfulness can prevent them from accepting personal responsibility for their attitudes and actions. • Selfishness and Stubbornness: With their combined lack of moti-


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.

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 children possesses. If you think they are a combination of temperaments, share which ones. 6. Memorize: Luke 2:42. Review Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 22:6, John 13:34.


The Christian Family and Marriage Series
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 conclusion that no person is completely comprised of one temperament, you are correct. In Session 9, you will learn the twelve blends of temperaments. Additionally, 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 LaHaye. Please be sure to read and study the Scripture passages that are cited in these sections:

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 instruction in self-discipline and self-control, in his speech, as well as in his actions. Because 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 performers, and enjoy music and drama. They will need to work at self-discipline 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 concern about the past. He must learn to follow through on his commitments. Good study habits are difficult for the San-Phleg, and he

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 authority. 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 bonding relationship with him to guide him. The Chlor-Mel needs special help with his thought life, as he tends to be revengeful, and to exaggerate 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 bullheadedness 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

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 conflicting 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 easily embarrassed, but can be taught poise and self-confidence in public. The Mel-Phleg is a good student, usually does not cause trouble, and has a receptive heart to instruction.

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 extroverted 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 encouraged to cultivate his curiosity, not to stifle it because of fear. If allowed, 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 defiant, the Phleg-Mel can be stubborn. He is fearful and insecure, and needs much love and reassurance. If overly criticized by his parents, he will have a problem with self-acceptance that may last a lifetime. With love and encouragement, he can overcome his unproductive ways. NOTE: For a summary, see “Chart of the 12 Temperaments” at the end of this lesson.


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 develop 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 “intentional parenting” of their temperament, and are left to themselves to understand and deal with problems that arise from their temperament. 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 TEMPERAMENTS 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

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 Discipline 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. Children 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 gentleness. We should extend the same to our children. From your gentleness, love, and grace shown to them in their weaknesses, your children will learn about the true character of their Heavenly Father (when they are believers). Unfortunately, many people

emerge from childhood and youth with a distorted picture of God because 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 challenged by the lives of Bible heroes like David and Daniel. The extrovert 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 temperament 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).


E, enthusiastic, happy, determined, self-confident, self-sufficient, productive, leader E, enthusiastic, very emotional, sensitive, artistic, good at music/drama, friendly E, naturally charming, lovable, witty, people-lover, flexible, friendly E, determined, strong-willed, productive, leader, diligent, loyal, self-sufficient, charming E, productive, determined, razor-sharp mind, selfsufficient, loyal, independent, organized, leader

Explosive anger, lack of selfdiscipline, last of self-control, sarcasm, pride Lack of self-discipline, fear, emotionally insecure, verbally criticizes self and others Lack of motivation/selfdiscipline, easily distracted, poor planner, procrastinator Anger, pride, argumentative, competitive, lack of selfcontrol, sarcastic, somewhat fearful Anger, pride, perfectionist, critical, revengeful, hard to please, exaggerates hurts/insults







E, determined, organized, efficient, dependable, loyal, witty, cooperative I, gifted in music/art/science, emotionally sensitive, loyal, friendly I, determined, self-sufficient, very independent, organized, loyal, efficient I, efficient, good student, organized, loyal, receptive, can be artistic I, easy-going, charming, flexible, friendly, witty, sensitive I, diligent, dependable, amiable, organized, cooperative, loyal I, easy-going, cooperative, flexible, loyal

Stubborn, inflexible, clever, troublemaker, has difficulty admitting wrong Fear, insecurity, lack of selfacceptance, complains, criticizes self and others Moody, critical, hostile, holds grudges, uncooperative, selfish, revengeful Loner, fearful, “clinger,” selfish, self-conscious, easily embarrassed, lacks of confidence Lack of self-discipline, lack of motivation, procrastinator, selfish, stingy Stubborn, selfish, inflexible, fearful, can live in “dream world” Slow, lacks motivation and self- discipline/selfacceptance, procrastinator, stubborn, fearful







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


2. Describe the Chlor-San, Chlor-Mel, and Chlor-Phleg temperamentblends. •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) possesses (if you have children), and how the temperament is expressed. 6. Two ways you will seek to develop your child's (children's) temperament strengths, and two ways you will seek to correct your child's (children's) temperament weaknesses.


The Christian Family and Marriage Series
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 encouragement, 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 children should obey their parents, parents 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)

• 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 involvement? • 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 lowest 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

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 responsibility 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

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 actions? • 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 mar90

ried couple must be mutually agreed that neither 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 livein 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 responsible to God. They are no longer in a position 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 responsibility 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 specially 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 members 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 in91

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, communicate 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 failure, 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 Biblereading (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, jealousy, 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 another with his or her problem behavior (which is often followed by the exchange of accusations that only increase tension and resolve nothing). 4. The leader calls on the person on his right to admit his relationship 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 issues, such as:

*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 entire family. *“Signal” for violation of the rules: if one member feels the discussion has become an argument, and the spirit of the conference has been violated, he stands to his feet without speaking. This signals 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 addressed, or the time allotted is expired. Close in prayer.

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 improve to make your family truly “Christian.” 4. Memorize: Ephesians 4:15. Review: Luke 2:42, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 22:6.


The Christian Family and Marriage Series
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 commended, 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. Although 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 because Lot’s father, Haran (Abram’s brother) had died back in Ur. Later

on, Abram showed his family loyalty to Lot and all his family by rescuing them after they were captured by the five-king confederacy 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 obedience 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 Redemption,” 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 return to her native land. Both daughters-in-law wept at their motherin-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-inlaw was demonstrated in a tangible way. She volunteered to provide food for them by gleaning in the barley fields that were being har95

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 customs 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 father was a Greek (Gentile). In deference to the Jews, Paul circumcised 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 declares that the same sincere, devoted faith dwelled in his mother, Eunice, 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. Abraham dutifully obtained Rebekah, for a wife for Isaac, from his own

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 favorites: 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 murderous 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, Rebekah 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 deception 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 Godblessed 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 dis97

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 allowed 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 rebellion 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 leadership in their homes promote the success of many future generations. 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-inlaw 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 important to respect your parents and parents-in-law. However, marriage establishes a whole new priority for your relationships.

Your first priority is to your spouse. When married, the new couple 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 implemented that training. Families today can learn from this example 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 deceit produced much unnecessary strife in the family of Isaac-Rebekah-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-inlaw. 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 inconsistent 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 parents, and so rebelled. Great damage resulted for David’s family and for the families of his sons.

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?

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


The Christian Family and Marriage Series
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 intentional effort….Some threats to family treasures and civic assets are easily seen; others may sneak in undetected, such as gambling, sexual messages, and attacks on Christian faith. Family and civic security 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, especially 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 television 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 solicitations 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 victims 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

questioned the fireman’s willingness to put out a fire if it involved 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 thinner, 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 directly 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).

The Christian, while living on this earth, will be under attack continually from forces that are contrary to God’s purposes. John alerts us to the fact that these forces will tempt the believer through the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride that is involved 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 industry 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 interested 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 eternal. 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

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 control 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 “tolerance,” 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 strategy 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.

c. Systems of Commerce/Business: Materialism Most countries around the world place a tremendous value on education, 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 operating 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 prepare 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 beginning. Even after God destroyed the human race in Noah’s day because 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

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 struggles 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 community), 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 directly: 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.

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 accusation, 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 affecting 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 exposed. Be sure you know its content. Limit the amount of time that you and your children view television, movies, videos/DVDs, the

Internet, listen to music, read certain books, and magazines, etc. You can place filters on your computer to prevent access to damaging 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 advertisements. 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 evaluate 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 conveying 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 latter, 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 understand 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 citizen a responsibility to submit to and uphold those in civic authority. When government leaders perpetuate evil, corruption, and anti-Biblical practices, make sure your voice is heard, and seek to correct the wrong. Teach your children that God is sovereign, and it is their ultimate 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 pri108

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 spiritual 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 meaningful discussion. Guidelines for evaluating questionable activities: Regarding the influence of the flesh and the devil, teach your children 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?

3. Be a Family! This may sound strange, but the point is to build your family’s bonds by: • Setting priorities in your family: Family devotions, church attendance, “family night” one night per week, etc. Then stick to these priorities. • Keeping outside meetings and activities to a minimum so you are not rushed and pulled apart as a family. • Deciding to serve as a family: Is serving others the lifestyle in your family? 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 together as a family. Your children will be excited, and their whole lives transformed as they personally become involved in meeting the needs of others.

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?


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


The Christian Family and Marriage Series
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 teachings 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 institution designed by God for the blessing of mankind. Unfortunately, after the Fall in Genesis 3, through his disobedience,

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 meaning 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 designed to continue uninterrupted, lest it produce severe injury. Marriage was intended to be permanent. 2.A Spiritual Mystery In Ephesians 5:25-33 which we have studied previously, God describes 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 commands and leadership. Marriage provides a beautiful illustration of the relationship between Christ and the Church. As other Scripture passages teach (John 10:28-29 and Romans 8:35-39), the believer in Christ cannot be separated 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 “unbaptized” from the Body. The union of Christ and His Church is permanent. 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 divine 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.


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 responded with because of the hardness of your hearts. What did He mean by this? According to the passage in Deuteronomy, Israelite men were divorcing 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 (writing) 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 divorcement 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 condemned 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 leadership, the Israelites had rebuilt the temple, and rebuilt the walls of

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 passage 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 (authority) 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, threatening, 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

is never right. Steps must be taken to correct the behavior of an abusive 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 parents 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 “submission.” 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 relationship 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

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 divorce his wife that left him. The intent 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. Apparently 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 original 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 statements? 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 engaged in sexual relations with another man while married to her hus117

band. The word fornication is the Greek word, “porneia,” and is used for many practices of sexual immorality, or uncleanness. However, even if your marriage partner is unfaithful to you, you have made a covenant with him or her and with God. Is sexual unfaithfulness, 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 possible 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 beginning,” when there was no divorce at all. Clearly, this issue will not be easily resolved. It may not be resolved 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 relationships 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.

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 followed? 4. What does God say about remarriage?

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


The Christian Family and Marriage Series
(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 epidemic 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 divorce from a spouse: feelings of loss, feelings of loneliness, fears of the future, futility (nothing to live for), anger toward 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

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 inadequacy and insecurity. He may believe he is not capable of “starting over again.” Even though others sincerely offer their help, the divorced 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 themselves). This anger may continue for years, and sometimes is only resolved 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. Although 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 experienced 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 memories 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 toward 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

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 solutions. But there is hope and help that can be given, and here are some suggestions: • Be empathetic - Remember, “one flesh” has been torn apart. Picture how you would feel if actual rending occurred to your own flesh. The worst reaction is one of criticism and judgment. Scripture exhorts us to restore one another in a spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens. • Be available – Often, the divorced person does not need “answers” to his questions about “why” the broken marriage occurred. He or she just needs people who will love and care and listen. In the case of a woman who is struggling with housing, financial, and physical needs, offers of help will be greatly appreciated. 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 professional 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 Saviour. 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

feel like a “fifth wheel.” You can overcome this feeling by sincerely telling the person that you want him or her to be there because 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 children 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 believe 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.

• 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 holiday 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 following 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: N 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 person. If you are truly rebuilding according to God’s ways, identify yourself as “God’s rebuilder.” This new term will emphasize the positive future, not remind you of the negative past. N Guilt and Bitterness – Since both marital partners are to blame for the failure of the marriage, be sure to clear your own conscience 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.

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 affection) 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 children, 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 involved 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

your children the battleground for continued conflict with your former 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 responsibility 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, budgets, 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 emotional 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 already 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 recovery. Discipline your mind to avoid certain trains of thought that lead to self-pity, or self-condemnation, or that focus on fu126

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 explanation 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) different 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 resentful that you must now support or cook meals for more children, 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 another. 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 vacation, or a service project to help others. All of these times together 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 dis127

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 abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

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 bitterness? 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 prosper. State three ways that blended families can prosper



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