Four Basic Principles for Happy Christian Family Living
Parents who attend church are more likely to receive counsel on parenting, spending quality time with family, practicing moral responsibility, surviving unemployment and loss. (These are findings from research data compiled on Crosswalk.com.)
Still, many church-going parents list family issues they face, not unlike some listed by non-church parents. Apparently, hearing is not enough. The main problem is their neglect to practice the Bible principles they learn.
This article reinforces four basic principles which Christian families do well to practice, in an effort to alleviate problems and produce happiness in the Christian family.
Nehemiah and the Jews were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and their enemies were trying to confuse and discourage the builders. Nehemiah devised a plan to assign a part of the wall to each family, and the quote above is from his speech encouraging them to protect their portion of the wall, which in essence is for the protection of their families.
The walls of integrity in our society are under constant attack by selfish political leaders, attempts to introduce strange definitions of family, media programs and more. Nehemiah's strategy is appropriate now. If Christian parents make their stand against the decline, they will in effect teach their families to do the same. It begins with awareness of the attacks, and awareness of their responsibility.
Nehemiah’s quote is a great verse for the family to memorize. It motivates members to unite, and not oppose each other, in efforts to maintain a strong family. It would help for families to make this a daily reminder and to seek out opportunities to demonstrate the fight. Families which work together, succeed together and find reasons to celebrate together.
My grandmother explained it this way, “Say it short, but say it often.”
In the average family, members talk too much, although they are not talking to each other. Parents are too busy, and not available to talk through issues with which children are struggling. Some issues that need to be discussed are neglected.
In the Christian family where obedience and cooperation are basic habits, it should not be difficult to set guidelines for the use or non-use of cell phones and other media devices during family time. Besides lessons in the family worship, there are several important issues to talk about, including but not limited to: personal goals, personal struggles, personal safety, deportment, friendships, money, and drugs.
There are also Bible Principles for Good Communication:
- Listening (Proverbs 18:13)
- Self-Control: slow to speak, slow to get angry (James 1:19)
- Gentle (not harsh) speech (Proverbs 15:1)
- Positive conversation (Colossians 4:6)
- Appropriate content (Proverbs 25:11)
Good conversations produce acceptance, trust and a sense of belonging among family members. Everyone likes to be with people who listen. It becomes easier for individuals to speak what is on their minds, and replace stress with satisfaction.
Some modern translations render "nurture and admonition" as "discipline and instruction." Some address the command to parents instead of fathers, and the many single mothers who are heads of household appreciate that. In two-parent homes, most share the responsibility. The principle is the same for all: provocation by the parents can hinder the effectiveness of the discipline.
Tools of Provocation
- Hypocrisy (being un-Christlike inside the home and assuming a holy posture outside to impress people);
- False Expectations (expecting the children to perform in areas for which they are not gifted);
- Unfulfilled Promises (especially if it becomes a habit);
- Favoritism (showing preference for one child, possibly the one who more often makes the family feel proud);
- Overprotection (tight control, denying the child opportunity to make decisions).
Tools of Instruction (mostly informal)
- Example (teaching more by practice than by precept);
- Bible Principles (explaining principles over exacting word-for-word quotes);
- Disclosure (sharing age-appropriate stories of how the parents struggled to accept their discipline);
- Assignments (helping the children learn by doing);
- Approval and Correction (offering encouragement through praise and not neglecting to help correct mistakes).
"The object of discipline is the training of the child for self-government. . . Seek to encourage confidence and to strengthen the sense of honor. Children and youth are benefited by being trusted. Many youths who are thought incorrigible are not at heart so hard as they appear. Many who are regarded as hopeless may be reclaimed by wise discipline. These are often the ones who most readily melt under kindness." (Ellen White)
The Hebrews primarily made this decree to protect the landowners and prosecute the trespassers. Gill’s Exposition of the Bible states that politicians and spiritual leaders now apply it to long-standing laws and practices which are accepted as appropriate for modern life. Christians believe in maintaining the moral boundaries established in Bible principles with regard to issues including, but not limited to:
- Self-Respect (1 Corinthians 6: 15-20)
- Respect for Others (Romans 12:10)
- Fidelity in Marriage (Hebrews 13:14)
- Liquor Use (Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-32)
- Kindness Instead of Abuse (Ephesians 4: 28, 29; 31, 32)
These moral boundaries are established, not to keep Christians confined, but to keep them protected. Many children and youth long for family boundaries because appropriate limits boost their sense of worth. They enjoy challenges which test their strengths and render them responsible and dependable.
Questions & Answers
What is openness in marriage?
In a nutshell, openness in marriage means that the spouses are transparent towards each other. They tell the truth about their emotions; how they feel about each other, about other people; what their dreams and goals are; their finances and everything that concerns them. They speak the truth without being asked, as well as when asked. The aim is to let them know each other as well as possible. For more details, please Google "openness in marriage." You will find many insights and illustrations.
© 2018 Dora Weithers