Previous article in this series: June 2014, p. 402.
The covenant home is God’s good and wise creation. The home was created when God made man and woman after His own image. The family was intended to be a reflection of His own covenant life as the triune God. God Himself united man and woman in the intimate holy bond of marriage. God created the man and the woman with their unique characters adapted for their respective roles in marriage. After He created Adam and Eve, God gave them the joint mandate to be fruitful and multiply, to bear children after their own likeness. God created man with authority and strength to be a father, the head of his family, to rule over and provide for and protect his family. The woman was created with a deep, God-given desire for children. She was God-gifted with tender, motherly love and sympathy for children, especially her own children. She was created to be the caretaker of her home and to devote herself to this. God created marriage to be a personal intimate union that should endure for a lifetime. This would be very important to create a stable environment for the protection and nurture of children. Through the act of marriage, children are born of the flesh and blood of their parents and have an intimate bond with their parents. Children should from their birth be received by a man and his wife with greatest joy and thanks to God. They are God’s most precious gifts to a married couple. Marriage blossoms when godly couples receive children. The children born from marriage should be the object of the dearest love and affection of their parents. From birth the children should be commanded to honor and love their parents, through whom they received their life. To abandon children, one’s own God-given children, is among the greatest imaginable evils in the world.
By all these wonderful works, God created the institution of the family. God created the family to be the institution where children can be nurtured from the helpless and totally dependent stage of their infancy, to the time of life when they are equipped to live independently as mature and responsible adults in society and the church. This work of nurturing children takes quite a number of years of devoted effort and patient endurance. This requires of husband and wife in their marriage the willingness to make many personal sacrifices and great investment of their time and effort and personal interest in their children.
God’s ideal for marriage and the institution of the family was grievously corrupted by the fall of man into sin. Fallen, sinful men are by nature proud and self-seeking, and full of depraved lust. They engage in immoral sex with those not given to them in marriage, which is one of the chief causes for divorce. As a result, they often bring unwanted and uncared for children into the world. They will not have God to rule over them. Married couples live in strife and enmity with each other. This does great damage to marriage and God’s institution of the family. Wicked men and women treacherously put away their God-given partners. This has very serious, often lifelong consequences for the children. They are deeply hurt by the divorce of their parents and are often left to fend for themselves. Even when a marriage is not destroyed by the evil of divorce, worldly marriages often degenerate into being the opposite of what God intended and become wretched spheres of confusion and strife. All of this breeds deep-seated bitterness and hopelessness and rebelliousness in children.
Even our Christian marriages are affected by the fact that we have not yet been fully delivered from our depraved sinful natures. When God brings us together as husband and wife, we soon experience that the unity, peace, and happiness of our marriages are marred by our sinful natures, our daily behavior in our homes. We realize that our children are conceived and born in sin. They are born with the same depraved nature as their parents. A great part of parenting involves strenuous effort towards driving wickedness and sin out of the hearts of our children by godly discipline and admonition.
We must understand that bearing covenant children is a mandate from the Lord. It is not something left simply to the decision of married couples. Our only hope is in the sovereign grace of God and the work of His Spirit in our hearts that restores us and enables us to be parents. According to God’s wonderful covenant purposes, He establishes a home for us and our children. God is pleased to continue His covenant in the line of generations, and according to this purpose He saves our children and sends His Spirit also into their hearts. The covenant home is the amazing institution where our covenant children can be turned from their natural ungodliness and be taught the fear and love of God. God is pleased to raise up from our children members of His church and citizens of His kingdom. They are preserved from the temptations of this wicked world in the sheltered environment of the covenant home, protected and spiritually nourished by godly parents. They are taught what it means to live the Christian life. With the blessing of God, the covenant home is in the midst of this ungodly world! What potential for great good it has for the children of this home! While our children are growing up from being helpless little babes to becoming mature responsible adults, covenant sons and daughters of God, they will go through many stages of life. Each stage requires new wisdom and understanding by godly parents. At first we feel awkward and inadequate. God teaches us by His word and through our years of experience as parents. We learn much from our children concerning their needs and their personal development. God is our help.
The world has created its own institutions for the raising of its children. Parents give their children over to day-care centers, sometimes already a few weeks after they are born. They do this because they want to free themselves from the burdens and responsibilities of caring for children. Fathers and mothers, driven by their own selfish lust and pride and desire for prosperity in the world, both have their own agendas. They do not want to be limited by the great demands of daily child care. Often parents even give little consideration of the quality of the child-care institutions where they drop their children off. They imagine that even those who are simple and uneducated and who perhaps have their own lives in a state of confusion can still care for the children. If damage is done to the children, this can, according to their foolish imagination, be repaired with a little part-time parenting at the end of the day when both husband and wife are exhausted from a hard day’s work.
Godly fathers and mothers ought surely to realize how serious it is simply to drop their children off at worldly day-care centers or entrust them to nannies. What a failure to accept covenantal responsibility for the raising of our children this really is.
The world even sometimes vehemently insists that only state-run governmentally-controlled schools can nurture the children of our society. This is not a task, it is said, that should be left to the parents. No doubt in many ungodly homes parents are woefully inadequate for raising their children because of the wickedness and ungodliness and worldliness of their own lifestyle. It is imagined, therefore, that the public school will solve the problems that arise in the lives of the children. The world employs its well-trained professional teachers. Included on their staff are some professional child psychologists who are so much better equipped than parents to deal with psychological problems children have. They pretend to have the answers to the problems expected in the days of youth, during the natural rebellious stage of life when they desire to go their own way.
There are public schools that boast of teaching morality and good behavior to children. They teach community involvement and humanitarianism. No godly parent ought to imagine that this kind of instruction is the same as being instructed in the fear of God and love for His commandments. In the final analysis the public school teaches a philosophy of worldliness and ungodliness that is antithetic to true Christianity and the love for God’s commandments.
Many of us as parents have the opportunity to send our covenant children to a Christian school operated by and overseen by a society of covenant parents. We are deeply thankful for our excellent Christian schools that God has given us and for the spiritually qualified and devoted teachers of these schools.
Even then, however, we must never imagine that these excellent Christian schools can by themselves nurture our children. Our children must be nurtured first of all by covenant parents in the God-ordained institution of the covenant family. There are many reasons for this, some of which we want to consider in future articles. When there is trouble in the home because of parental neglect or poor parenting, great damage is often done to the children. This often cannot be repaired even by the best of Christian schools.
Good parenting must lead our children from their helpless infancy through all the stages of their lives until they are brought to years when they can discern truth and righteousness for themselves, and live independently as mature and responsible adults. Over the years of growing up, our children need the spiritual shelter, the moral instruction, and the guidance that only the home of the truly God-fearing can and does provide for them. They need to be admonished and corrected and disciplined. They need also to be encouraged in a Christian walk and the knowledge and commitment to the truth of God in their lives. The covenant family is the God-ordained institution to perform this work.
History has proven that the whole experiment of public education is a colossal failure. The many rebellious youth without aim and direction in their lives that our society produces is proof of this. Many of the youth that are the products of the worldly institutions that man has created are wholly unprepared to live stable, responsible, and productive lives, even for things needful for life in earthly society.
We love the words of Psalm 128 as versified in our Psalter for singing in our covenant homes and in our churches. “In thy wife thou shalt have gladness, she shall fill thy home with good, happy in her loving service and the joys of motherhood. Joyful children, sons and daughters, shall about thy table meet, olive plants in strength and beauty, full of hope and promise sweet. Lo, on him that fears Jehovah shall this blessedness attend…” (Psalter 360).