No institution on earth is more important than the home because of the impact it has on a society. “As the home goes, so goes the society” is a truth we are clearly experiencing today. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons God’s Word has so much to say about the family—husbands and wives, fathers, mothers, and children. As Swindoll descriptively writes:
Whatever else may be said about home, it is the bottom line of life, the anvil upon which attitudes and convictions are hammered out. It is the place where life’s bills come due, the single most influential force in our earthly existence. No price tag can adequately reflect its value. No gauge can measure its ultimate influence . . . for good or ill. It is the home, among family members, that we come to terms with circumstances. It is here life makes up its mind.32
Though never an easy assignment, and as stressed in this study, parenting in our day is more difficult for we are now living in what many are calling a post-Christian era. By that we mean the influence the Bible once had on the thinking, attitudes, and behavior of this society has become terribly diminished. Even within Christian circles people are talking about the crisis occurring in evangelicalism for the authority of the Bible. Modern social and behavioral sciences have claimed such a dominance that even within those churches that claim to hold to the inerrancy of the Bible, we often find sermons, books, and other resources simply mirroring secular psychology, business themes, vocabulary, and strategies rather than accurately communicating the truth of the Bible. This increases the difficulty of the task of child training. It is difficult enough because of the non-Christian influences that affect our children, but many Christian parents are attempting to raise their children without the guidelines of Scripture and have opted for the methods set by human reason or the parameters of a humanistic worldview. One of the great issues then is to get parents to listen to the Word and appropriate its truth. In the secular world, truth consists of man’s opinions and so-called research. These opinions consist, however, of a constantly changing parade of thoughts, ideas, and theories that consistently contradict each other and especially the Bible.
Biblical child training is not, however, based on the ever-changing cafeteria of man’s opinion, but on the eternal truth of a God-breathed Book, the Word of God, which lives and abides forever and which is, as the late Francis Schaeffer use to say, based on “true truth.” Let me encourage the reader to take God’s Word to heart and rest in its principles and promises.
The passages shared in this study present God’s general truth or principles that parents can depend on. Are there exceptions? Yes. Do these principles always work? No. Just as some children who were never raised in a Christian environment and with no biblical training find Christ and have their lives completely turned around, so there are those who have had excellent biblical training and still turn away from Christ. The bottom line is, there are no perfect parents, and if children fail to walk with the Lord as they grow into adulthood, they will stumble and eventually may even become indifferent to the things of God.
After all, think about the number of God’s children who have rebelled and walked away from Him. What kind of parent is God? He is a perfect parent who has done the most for His children, for those born into His family through Christ. Yet, like the prodigal son, some have walked away and squandered the lives God gave them. If this is true for our heavenly Father, then we know it can happen to us as earthly parents.
I have not personally known such sadness. Our three children know the Savior and are walking with him. They are each married with families of their own now and are seeking to raise our eight grandchildren up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I thank God for His grace. We sought to raise our children by these biblical principles, yet I’ll be the first to admit that we made a lot of mistakes. Many times we failed to properly carry out the principles outlined in this study, so ultimately the results are because of God’s grace.
The idea that good parents always produce good children and bad parents always produce bad children simply is not true. We have all undoubtedly known families where the parents were a walking disaster, yet their children turned out to be very decent people, good citizens, responsible, honest, etc. By the same token we’ve seen godly parents who sought to raise their children up to know the Lord, yet one or more children ended up in serious trouble.
Scripture gives us the general rules—God’s truth for training our children. Parents who know and apply these principles are by far more likely to produce godly children than those who do not. The bottom line? Know God’s Holy Word, use it, trust it, pray consistently for your own ability and for your children, love them deeply, take nothing for granted, and cling to the Lord.
32 Swindoll, p. 5.