Pilgrim Institute‘s Annual Conference centered upon the American Christian home. In a series of General Sessions, the audience was challenged to consider the home with reference to its mission, government, education, and influence. The following reflections concerning the home are presented to you in hopes that they will confirm, strengthen, and encourage you concerning the truly significant role of the home in an American Christian republic.
Looking at the Christian home from a Biblical perspective, what can we discern concerning the responsibilities, importance, and influence of the family?
The earliest chapters of Genesis identify the home as the first divine institution, with sacred and significant responsibilities. From the moment God placed a help meet next to Adam’s side, He planned for the home to be the strong foundation on which future divinely-ordained institutions would rest: civil government, established in the Old Testament, and the church, instituted in the New Testament.
Scriptures clearly teach that the home is responsible for guiding each member to love and serve God. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses called the Israelite nation before him to reiterate God’s commandments and promises. The commandments had been given to the previous generation. Now it was time for another generation to be reminded of its responsibilities. Moses called to their remembrance the greatness, glory, and justice of God in their nation’s history. His example underscores the need for God’s truth to be passed on from one generation to the next.
Deuteronomy 6 sets forth Moses’ direction that the adults fear, obey and love God with all their hearts. As they took God’s commandments to heart themselves, they must in turn take great pains to impress them upon the hearts of their children, in every activity of daily living turning their children’s attention to the application of God’s commandments and precepts.
In Joshua’s lifetime, He was impressed to summon the Israelites together and call another generation to make a conscious choice, family by family, to serve, honor, and obey God’s commandments. Families must be obedient to God’s laws in order for God to place His blessing upon the nation.
The examples given in the Old Testament were taken to heart by our American forefathers. They clearly understood that rightly governed families were necessary for the success of the nation. In 1851, Lydia Sigourney eloquently expressed this sentiment: “For the strength of a nation, especially of a republican nation, is in the intelligent and well-ordered homes of the people. And in proportion as the discipline of families is relaxed, will the happy organization of communities be affected, and national character become vagrant, turbulent, or ripe for revolution.”
In our generation, it behooves us to ask, “If the principles, character, ideals and practices of the home are mirrored in the nation, what should the American Christian parent seek to instill in the hearts and minds of children and youth?”
A proper view of God is the cornerstone for all that takes place in home training. A correct view of the magnitude of God Himself requires that the pursuit of God’s truth must become a lifelong effort. Do our children have a reverence of God as the creator and maintainer of the physical universe? (Colossians 1:16) Does our family comprehend that God’s nature and His principles extend beyond the physical universe into every aspect of daily living? Are we turning to Scripture to find His truth for all things, Psalm 119:128, or have we attempted to limit the authority of God in our lives, allowing Him only to direct us in “spiritual things”?
Do we, by instruction and example, demonstrate God’s view of direction and control for both individuals and institutions? Is the emphasis of the home placed upon the internal heart of the individual, or only upon the external appearance and actions?
God rules in the heart and life of each individual, based upon voluntary consent. If I consent to the practical principles of God’s government, how could I be an influence in my place of business, my local community, or the civic organizations in which I am involved? In other words, how can God’s plan for proper direction and control enable me to be salt and light in a dark and drifting world?
President Ronald Reagan took to heart a belief concerning the relationship between Scriptural principles and American liberty. He often quoted the sentiment that our light must shine not only for our own nation, but for the world to see: “Standing on the deck of the Arabella in 1630 off the Massachusetts coast, John Winthrop said ‘we shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.'”
May we once again heed the instruction and call of God upon our lives as parents, educators and Christian leaders, imparting principles of truth and liberty to our generation and to the next.