Just a few days ago, my wife and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. We aren’t really old – we got married at 12 and 13, respectively. Okay, not quite, but it suffices to say we aren’t newlyweds. We have four children, aged 16 to 10. For 13 of those 19 years, I have been the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church. Which means that for most of our marriage, we have been in the so-called “fishbowl” of church ministry – and loving it. Well, most of the time.
Despite the degradation of our society in regards to the home, I am seeing a large number of young adults who are VERY SERIOUS about having strong marriages and God-honoring homes. I believe that this is a reaction to the high divorce rate of the previous generation. To many of the young couples today, divorce is not merely a statistic – it was their reality growing up. They want something better. They want to break bad cycles and start good ones. However, good intentions are never enough. We must set goals and then plan to reach those goals.
For what it is worth, I would like to share with you three decisions that my wife and I made early on in our marriage which have proven to be extremely important in our family. These decisions were contrary to our culture and upbringing, but we believe were founded on the Word of God. I am not sharing these because that we think that we have either “arrived” or have a perfect home. Far from it. We are sinners saved by grace and raising sinners saved by grace, and we are all still growing in the Lord. I am sharing these three thoughts in hopes that they will benefit others as I believe they have benefited my family.
1. THE DECISION FOR MY WIFE TO STAY HOME.
This decision was based on Titus 2:4-5 “That they may teach the young women to be… chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” This is not a popular decision today. And guess what – it wasn’t a popular decision back in the mid-90’s when we made it, either. The feminist movement has influenced generations of women to believe that anything less than a career is a failed life – and that being a “stay at home Mom” is a mundane and worthless existence. Such could not be further from the truth.
Many marriages are suffering because of the demands of the wife’s job. Some married couples have conflicting schedules and rarely see each other. The children come home to empty houses. Day-cares are everywhere. In my town, I believe that we have more day-cares than churches. They even LOOK like churches – and have buses! Double incomes provide nice houses – nice, big EMPTY houses.
We made the decision early in our marriage and have structured our finances accordingly. I have challenged younger families in our church to set a goal to get their finances to a point where the wife could stay home. For most of our marriage we have lived on one income. I do not regret it for a minute, and neither does my wife.
Please understand that though we made this decision for ourselves and believe it is for the best, we do not “look down” on working Moms – but we also don’t want to be “looked down” on, either. The fact is that a stay-at-home mom is a “working mom” too.
2. THE DECISION TO HOME SCHOOL OUR CHILDREN.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Without the first decision, this second decision would not have been possible. Now, I understand that home schooling is not a great option for everyone. Some people do a HORRIBLE job of home schooling. There is no discipline, no schedule, no learning. However, we made the decision to do it, and to do it RIGHT.
We decided to reject the public school system for our family. We simply did not want our children to be taught according to a failing system, which is often anti-Bible and anti-Christian values, or to be “taught” by the ungodly subcultures that exist within the peer-pressure driven schools. At the time, a suitable Christian school was not an option (and aren’t often a good option, anyway), so we dove into home schooling. Our oldest will graduate this year. I am very happy with my children’s personal growth and development, their good manners, ability to interact with people of all ages, and good attitude. For these things, I give full credit to their wonderful school teacher.
3. THE DECISION TO SERVE THE LORD AS A FAMILY.
Joshua 24:15 “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
We decided to make this verse more than a nice plaque on our front door. We were determined to SERVE the Lord as a family. It is a mistake to leave the local church out of your family equation. The home and church are both of divine origin, and God-designed institutions ought not be in conflict with each other. We decided that we would be in a strong, Bible-preaching, soul-winning church – and this decision was made before I was ever a pastor.
We have always looked for ways to serve God together. My wife has a bus route and one of my children is the secretary and another is the “runner.” We go visiting together. We sing together. We do work projects together. And we are involved in the programs and activities of the church. My wife and I don’t feel the need to sit with our kids in King’s Kids or TRAC or go with them to youth rallies (we believe that other people are capable of ministering to them, and that they don’t always need us over their shoulders), but we are part of the same church program. We go to church together, sit together (I don’t, I’m in the pulpit), and talk about church at dinner.
Furthermore, we decided that we would strive to have more than a superficial Christianity in our home. We have worked hard to live in obedience to the Word of God. This certainly has made us distinctively “counter-culture.” But then that was sort of my goal. If I don’t like your pie, I sure don’t want to follow your recipe.
Don’t let Joshua 24:15 be nothing more than a bumper sticker for the family car. Make it your testimony as a family.
These three decisions are what I share with younger families as the three key decisions that I believe have shaped much of our family’s happiness and growth. They have not been easy decisions – often they have been very difficult. But we are glad that we made them.
I hope that this has been a help. Thank you for reading. God bless.