George Booker
A New Creation

19. Parents and Children

Parents must not place other activities over the ecclesial meetings, no matter how attractive they may be. By observing that we give top priority to ecclesial functions — Bible classes, public lectures, and special events — our children will grow up believing that this is the way of life to follow. Ironically, we often want to see the type of dedication in our children that we ourselves are unwilling to give. By placing a priority on ecclesial activities, we are demonstrating to our children what is important to us and consequently what should be important to them.

Many ecclesias provide wonderful opportunities (through Sunday School and C.Y.C. groups — “Christadelphian Youth Circles”) to supplement the work of teaching children in the Truth that should be done in every home. Parents are strongly encouraged to avail themselves of all the possibilities in this area — even for young children. But they must never forget that the primary responsibility for training the young rests with the parents, and not the Sunday School teachers and youth leaders.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psa. 127:1).

This psalm was probably written by Solomon, who built the first temple in Jerusalem. That majestic house is not, however, the principal thought of this psalm. Verses 3 and 4 are speaking of children (Hebrew “benim”, signifying “sons”), and there is a verbal link with “house” of v. 1 (Heb. “bayith”). The psalmist is speaking of the building of a family; as one places brick upon brick (“eben”) to construct a house (“bayith”), so parents build son upon son (“ben”) to produce a family (also “bayith”). Yet if this is not done in recognition of God’s principles, then all the effort in the world will only bring vain results.

How true this is by observation today! There are many couples who desire to do all they possibly can to ensure the success of their children. No effort seems too great, nothing too expensive; an extra income is sought if this will provide the family with greater advantages for advancement. Every whim and fancy of the children is satisfied. Teenage years are reached and the indulged children are subject to increased exposure to liberal views and permissive immorality. The benevolent parents bow again to the wishes of their child — “We must change with the times” — and a distressing breach is made between the two generations, often developing until the offspring use the home as a guesthouse of convenience, a “staging area” for all the exciting times to be found away from the family circle.

“If then I be a Father, where is mine honor?” asked God of Israel (Mal. 1:6). The joy of parenthood has been lost. The parents have become downtrodden and even despised servants in their own homes.

What has gone wrong? Is there a solution? In the first place, it is obvious that the Lord has not been involved in the building of such houses. His principles are not operating within the daily program of the home. Other influences have been allowed to interfere until the Truth has become a secondary matter. School, homework, and sports can be a complete life for a teenage student. It may be thought that these matters are in themselves relatively harmless: this may be true. But none of these activities will assist the child’s entrance into the kingdom. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed...according to thy word” (Psa. 119:9). The primary obligation of parents in the Lord is to instruct and guide their children in the knowledge of God (Eph. 6:4).

It is not to be taken for granted that children in Christadelphian families will grow up to accept Christ. It is an outcome of careful instruction and example over many years. Notice the confidence that God expresses in Abraham:

“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment” (Gen. 18:19).

There was no question about Abraham’s priorities as a parent: “he will command”! Abraham is known in Scripture as the “father of the faithful”, so it is interesting to note the divine approval of his parental role in the natural sense. His technique was authoritarian (cp. Prov. 13:24; 19:18; 22:15) and totally out of keeping with modern philosophy – in contrast to David’s rather too lenient approach (1 Kings 1:5,6). Yet God approved of Abraham’s method, and the fruits were a united family of faithful people who were earnest for the things of God. He was a father of love and feeling (Gen. 22:2), but a father who earned and demanded and received respect (Mal. 1:6).

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