Have you ever been questioned by someone engaged in collecting information by Gallup poll or some similar fact-finding agency? If you have, you were probably forced to say ‘Don’t know’ in response to some question or other. ‘Don’t know’ means either, ‘I haven’t sufficient information to answer’, or ‘I can’t or don’t wish to make up my mind.’ What about babies? If they could reply, what would they say to the question, ‘Are you a sinner?’? We know what they would have to answer later on, simply, Yes. That’s true of everyone, which must mean that there is something about being human that leads to sin. In other words, whether we like it or not, sin and humankind are directly related. There has been only one case of a child, born of a human mother, being sinless. Jesus is the exception and that was because his father was God.

Our Children

Therefore, when you are married, any child you might have will become a sinner, just like its parents. What then are we to do? Are we to leave our children free to make whatever decision they like about personal and eternal things? The answer as always is to listen to the word of God. Take this for example: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15) and this: “For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Genesis 8:21) Children left to their own devices will do foolish and evil things. But discipline will improve the situation. Proper discipline is God’s remedy for all of us.

Rules for the Family

Competitive sport depends for success on the rules of the game. It is useless to cry ‘Foul’ or ‘How’s that?’ if there are no rules. Of course there are those who seek to cheat, but true enjoyment in sport comes when the rules are acknowledged and obeyed.

The same is true for society or family life. There are rules of behaviour that make for smooth and proper running of our relationships. Rules have to be learned and should apply equally to all members. In a good school one might hear the words, ‘Robinson, in this school we do not do that kind of thing’. In other words, there is an accepted code of behaviour which is higher than our own will and sets a standard to be upheld.

A home without rules is a recipe for unhappiness. It is like kicking the referee, arguing with the umpire or moving the goalposts. You have seen homes where father and mother do not exercise control and where children do as they please to everyone’s misery. All of us have suffered from the behaviour of spoilt children and those who have always had their own way. If, when you are married, you want a good home, you will have to take active steps to build it. There are no rules like those given to us by God. ‘Rules’ is hardly the right word, better to say ‘manner of life’. A welldisciplined home begins with disciplined parents, parents who are seeking honestly to be disciples of the Lord Jesus.

Reduced to the simplest statement we are to love God and to love our neighbour. We do not love God when we disobey Him or dispute His authority. We do not love our neighbour when we defraud, injure or speak evil of him.

“…be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife and vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3,4)

Who Decides?

Christ is the Head and his is the code for our behaviour. The Bible principle is that the husband takes the responsibility for the home; he makes known by his way of life and his word of authority that Christ is in charge. Mother, in the wonderful ways of woman, brings her love and loyalty to bear for the support and guidance of the whole family.

If you become a husband in the truth, you will be accountable to Christ for the discharge of your proper duty. It is intended that you should behave lovingly, soundly and consistently as the steward of Christ. It isn’t a chore, an onerous duty, but a delightful privilege.

If you are a wife, a sister, you are to seek to be the perfect bride, honouring your husband as though he were Christ, and bringing up your children as though they were his.

The Foolproof System

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6,7)

There is no substitute for reading the word of God and praying as a family. Children will never learn the good way unless it is talked about in the home. Father must make sure that the word of God is read together. It is the best way for everyone to see that father, mother and all members of the family have the same Master and are to follow the same directions.

What Jesus would say, do or think is the best cautionary word. It is necessary from time to time for parents to administer punishment, when the known rules are deliberately flouted. This is not to be done in a rage or brutally or disproportionately or without warning, but properly and at the right time. Corporal punishment should be rare, but is nevertheless sometimes essential. It should never be degrading to the child or to the parent.

The same rules are to apply equally to all the children. We are not to have favourites nor are we to make promises (or threats) and then conveniently ignore them. The family should attend the meetings together. A good habit is a good thing. A disciplined home produces acceptable communal behaviour because the same rules apply everywhere.

Even so, as we shall see, a well-run home is not simply a machine.