These articles were first published in the Old Paths Advocate in 1946. Each month of that year, Brother Homer A. Gay wrote an article about some element of the Christian home. Some time after 1946, the Lee Summit Church of Christ in Lebanon, Missouri (where Brother Gay labored when he was not conducting gospel meetings) published a little book containing all 12 articles. We’ve reproduced the articles in hopes that the truths written by Brother Gay can be passed on to future generations seeking to establish and maintain a strong Christian home. The Truth is timeless even though the language may come from the voice of a different era.
To my faithful wife, Susie and our two devoted children Luvilla and Sonnyboy , who have stood so loyally by me through the years, this work is affectionately dedicated.
No apology by the author, to the readers, is due, in presenting the subject matter of this booklet to the public, since he enters a much neglected field of thought and much needed service to all home builders. The subject is of paramount importance to every child of God and to all who contemplate the Christian life and the building of an earthly home, having the proper environment to insure the development and sustenance of a habitation here, which will prepare the habitants for a “building of God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.” Hence, to insure our happiness here and in the world to come, it is essential that all, who have the responsibility of maintaining a home, endeavor that it be a Christian home.
The subject matter of this booklet was first published in 1946, in twelve issues of the Old Paths Advocate, Homer L. King, publisher and co-editor with Homer A. Gay, the author.
The author, Brother Homer A. Gay, having devoted about three decades to the preaching of the gospel and having reared a family to maturity, all of whom are Christians, should qualify him to write these articles with confidence and consistency. It is, therefore, our desire and prayer that this booklet be read by all who are striving to “build a Christian home,” and the future generations who may have the same desire.
We believe, a Christian home is fundamentally the greatest asset to every child in the building of a moral and Christian character. Upon this kind of home, depends the future of the church and the nation to a great extent. Then, may we endeavor to build more of such homes.
Homer L. King
BUILDING A CHRISTIAN HOME
I believe that one of the most neglected things in the world today is that of building Christian homes. In the beginning God saw the need of a home and established the first one – as a pattern to be followed down through the ages. In Genesis 2:21-24 we read. “And the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from man made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said this is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh”. Thus we note a relationship between husband and wife that is sublime – they are ONE flesh.
God’s decree was that this male and female should become one, and thus establish a home here on earth. The choosing of a mate, someone to be one’s partner through life, is no small thing. In Old Testament times the parents were very careful to see to it that their sons chose the right kind of companions. In the 24th chapter of Genesis we see quite a lengthy search made for a wife for Isaac. The Jews were not to marry those of another nation (Deut. 7:3-4) ~ “For they will turn away thy sons from following me, that they may serve other gods.” This was many times proven true, that when they would marry outside of the Nation, they would drift away from God. That same principle is true with us today. We are a Nation (1 Pet. 2:9), and I believe that God is just as much interested in us as He was in Israel. This is shown in I Cor. 7:39, where he says, “the woman is bound to her husband as long as he liveth, but if the husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; ONLY IN THE LORD.”
These, and other like Scriptures, should be carefully considered by every Christian boy and girl, when they contemplate marriage. The only way to have a Christian home is for those in the home to be Christians, and a boy or a girl has a poor chance of converting a sinner husband or wife after they have married them. The sinner knows that the Christian is giving undue ground when they consent to marry them, and that weakens their confidence in them as a Christian, and thus weakens the chances of converting them to the Lord.
I believe that if it is wise (and all agree that it is) to consider the back-ground in selecting a cow, pig, horse, or chickens, then surely some consideration should be given when choosing the one to be the father or mother of our children. Too many young couples today look only at the car the boy drives, or the dress and make-up the girl has on while they are courting, only to find out that the car was borrowed or bought on credit, and the payments not kept up; and the make-up is easily washed off, and that cheaper dresses may not look so appealing.
The Lord intended for young folks to marry, but marriage is for the purpose of building the right kind of homes, and certainly should be considered more seriously than it is by the masses of the people today.
A Christian boy should stop and ask these questions: Will this girl suit me when she is old? Will she help me to bring the children up to be Christians, or will she want them to go with her to the Methodist or some other sectarian Sunday school? Will she be willing to get by on my salary, or is she used to spending far more money than I will have for her? A girl should also ask some questions: Will this young man work? How will he look in overalls? Can I love and adore him when he is old and broken? Is he interested in going to worship, and will he help me to raise the children for the Lord, or will he set before them an example of drinking, cursing, etc.? These are not just idle questions: they should be pondered well. Many homes have been wrecked all because these questions have not been considered before marriage.
Christian boys and girls should be very careful as to the kind of company they keep. If they keep company frequently with worldly or sectarian boys and girls, the first thing they know they are in love and wanting to marry. So, the proper way to stop that is to never let it start – just seek the proper kind of company.
I am constantly being confronted with this objection: “Brother Gay, there are no Christian boys here for my girl to associate with,” or “there are no Christian girls here for my boy to go with.” Well, now, that is something to think about, but I have already mentioned where considerable search was made for the right kind of a wife for Isaac. And I believe there should be something done about that now. If I lived off, where my children could not go to school, regardless of how much I liked my work or job, the folks would advise me to move and get somewhere, so those children could have educational advantages. That would be good advice, and I believe that we owe it to our children to see that they have a chance at a fair education, but I believe that it is far more important that we see to it that they have an opportunity to meet other Christian boys and girls to associate with, and from among whom to choose their companions for life.
Boys and girls should consider the back-ground, religion, reputation, health and temperament of those with whom they contemplate marriage.
A Place to Call “Home”
A house does not always mean a home, and yet there must be something, some place that we think of as home. I realize that I may be “old fashioned,” but I believe that before a couple marry they should make some kind of arrangement for some place to live to themselves. Many marriages have gone on the rocks because the young folks did not consider God’s words to “Leave father and mother” and cleave to one another, and moved in on the old folks.
Young folks will have to get adjusted and acquainted after they marry and they need to be off to themselves, and leave all of their parents out of it, and start from the beginning to build for themselves a CHRISTIAN HOME.
The flowers bloom in clusters and have their home; the beasts and birds have their nests to raise their young and for their home have often given their lives. With the human race, the making of one’s own home is the supreme earthly fascination to which all youth looks forward, and upon which old age looks back. “Be it ever so humble there is no place like home.”
Mr. Guest says, “It takes a lot of living in a house to make a home.” But when a house is thus lived in, and made a home it seems sacred. When I see a worn out, discarded old home, it makes me think of Joyce Kilmer’s poem:
“But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby’s laugh, and held up Its stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when left alone that ever your eyes could meet.”
But tho a house alone does not make a home, it Estill remains that the most satisfying conception of a human home involves some kind of a rather permanent place; a place with a family centered for its every day life, for its growth, its loving, its learning.
One of the greatest sacrifices which the Son of God made for us seems to be summed up thus: “And they went every man to his own house: but Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives” (John 7:53 to 8:1). The Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.
The home place should be used to the glory of God. Lydia’s home place enabled her to care for Paul and Silas while they preached the gospel in Philippi (Acts 16). Aquilla and Priscilla turned their home place into a meeting place for the Church. Mark’s house alive at midnight with praying disciples, was ready to receive Peter from his prison deliverance. On and on we could go with Bible records like these, but these are enough to show us that God wants the Christian home to be ordered right. No wonder then that Paul said for the old women to teach the young women to “be keepers at home” (Titus 2:5). 1 do not understand that the Apostle means that the wife should just STAY at home; but she is to be a home keeper. In 1 Tim. 5:14 he says, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” The woman is the home keeper according to God’s arrangement, and parents should train up their little girls to be such.
Many birds have been lost because of a faulty cage, and many husbands have been lost because of an unkept house. No amount of paint, powder and perfume will atone for unwashed dishes, dirty floors, and half-cooked meals.
I understand that when God said to Adam: “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread”, that He meant to place the responsibility of making the living on the shoulders of the MAN, and no amount of ability to drive his father’s car, play pool or entertain will make up for an empty flour bin. The husband is the head of the family (Eph. 5), and as such he should take the responsibility and see that the wife and children are properly cared for to the extent of his ability. If it is the duty of the wife to keep the home, it is first the duty of the husband to see that she has a home to keep.
Though this home may be just a cabin or a tent, if the husband does his best to be the provider and the wife will do her part of the keeping and they both will trust in God and abide by His word, in their old days they will look back to this home place as the happiest home on earth.
Children in The Home
Many wonderful homes are entirely without children, and there are some children who have come to a useful maturity without home. But homes need children, and children need homes. The influence of the child is one of the most ennobling and developing influences that can be exerted upon an adult life. Baby opens up a world of meaning and sympathy to the heart it knows.
Childless homes have always seemed empty to me. “Marry, bear children”, is the instruction of the Lord. The elder, who is to be an example to the flock, is to have “believing children” (Titus 1:6). He must have his children in subjection with all gravity (I Tim. 8:4). In as much as the elder is to be an example to the flock, it follows then that the other families of the flock should also have children faithful children, and I believe that when it is reasonable and possible a home must have children to be a Christian home. One of the good works mentioned for the woman in I Tim. 5, is “if she have brought up children.”
Children in the home are a wonderful blessing, and if a young couple does not want to be “bothered” with children, they should never marry. The men or women who have not had the experience of raising children are not qualified for overseers in God’s work, according to His word.
It is possible that where a couple cannot bring children into the world, they may adopt children and have about the same experience as with their own. But, I doubt if God smiles upon a childless home.
And I am just old fashioned enough to believe that God meant “children” when He said, “children.” I doubt the wisdom of trying to bring up a child by itself. My observation is that the child that is brought up alone is usually petted, spoiled; and is selfish, overbearing, and hard to get along with. This shows up in the home when other children come to his home or when he goes into the other children’s homes. They are usually a problem in the school room and on the play grounds, in the church, and a lot of times are troublesome neighbors and citizens. It is not giving a child a fair chance in life to bring it up alone.
God’s Instructions to the first pair were to “be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28). But, the qualifications of these parents were “very good” (Gen. 1:31), and God expects us as parents today to be very good. This is why I mentioned in my first article that certain qualifications should be seen in both the boy and the girl before they agree to marry. The little babe that is born into the home is just what its parents make it. There certainly Is a grave responsibility placed upon the parents, so, it is well that they study closely just what kind of folks they should be and determine to work under the guidance of God and direct and shape the destinies of these Immortal souls intrusted to their care.
Parents need strength in body, mind and soul, and every effort should be made to develop all the powers we have for good – both for the good of the parents and for the good of the children. Usually, the parent who cares the most, feels the least capable, but God can and will accomplish wonders with us if we will cooperate fully with Him. Too many parents today try to raise their children by the clock rather than by the help of God.
“Woe to him who smiles not at the cradle and weeps not at the tomb. He who has never tried the companionship of a little child, has carelessly passed by one of the greatest pleasures of life, as one that passes a rare flower without plucking it or knowing its value. The gleeful laugh of happy children is the best of home music. We are all kings and queens in the cradle, and each babe is a new marvel, a new miracle. The perfection of the providence for child. hood is willingly acknowledged by all. The care which covers the seed of the tree under tough husks, and stony cases provides for the human plant, the mother’s breast and the father’s house.” – The Royal Path of Life.
Children will not trouble you for long – they grow up so fast, nothing on earth seems to grow faster than children. Jesus touched the little children while He was here, but some folks today seem almost afraid to touch one. Jesus also said “suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such Is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16), and again: “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). The converted person will learn many good lessons in honesty, frankness, and purity from the little child. “Whoso receiveth one such little child in my name receiveth me” (Matt. 18:5).
“Children are a heritage of the Lord” (Psa. 127:3-5).
The Father’s Place in The Home
In the creation, God made man first and has always expected him to be the leader – the patriarch of the family. In Eph. 5. we learn that “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ Is the head of the church.” But Christ is not merely the “boss” of the church He is the saviour, the leader, the teacher of it.
The grave responsibility placed upon man by God, should cause man to ponder well his steps. The father is to be the provider for the home. God said to the man “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat broad.” But graver still is that responsibility of setting the right kind of an example for the family to follow. Undoubtedly, it is intended that the father should voice the standards and govern the conduct of his own household. Paul’s instructions that the bishop must be “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity” (I Tim. 3:4), was repeated immediately in the same chapter for the deacons also; “ruling their children and their own houses well.” It was the general principle for ideal Christian manhood wherever his household was involved.
I am made to shudder when I see fathers thinking nothing of the responsibilities laid upon them. What can parents be thinking about who do not try to mould their children’s character for eternity?
We get the manner in which a father is expected to govern his home in the beautiful analogy which Paul had earlier used, “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and righteously and unblamably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe: as ye know how we dealt with each one of you, as a father with his own children, exhort, ing you, and encouraging you, and testifying to the end that ye walk worthily of God, who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory” (I These. 2:10-12 r.v.).
We would gather from this that the father should live holily and unblamably before his children, and that he should exhort and encourage them. I believe that if fathers will look and see the good things their children do, and encourage the children In them, they will not have to scold them so much for doing wrong. One little boy told the preacher one time that his name was “Johnnie Don’t” The little fellow had heard, “Johnnie Don’t”, so much until he thought the “Don’t” was part of his name.
Fathers are told in Eph. 6:4, to “provoke not their children to wrath, but to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Notice that the father& are to do this.
The father, too, should realize that his wife is a part of him. When they marry they, there and then, become “one flesh (Eph. 5), and he is to love that wife as he loves his own self – love her like the Lord loves the church. If the husband has this kind of love for his wife, he will certainly not abuse her – will not be “bitter against her”, but will try to bear and share her burdens and make life as comfortable and pleasant for her as he reasonably can. Peter says that the husbands are to dwell with the wives “according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (I Pet. 8:7). Probably, because men do not heed this scripture is the reason that the common saying is that “women age younger than men.”
If the husband is the husband and father that he should be, he will take more than half of the burden and responsibility in building a Christian home; he will take steps off of his wife – will prove to her and the children that he is the patriarch.
But this passage says that the husband is to consider that he and the wife are “heirs together of the grace of life.” I believe this includes everything. They are partners. What is his belongs to her and what she has belongs to him. I think a divided bank account, and keeping everything separate, is the worst kind of a picture of a divided home. Some husbands treat their wives like they were slaves, and just dole them out a few dimes now and then and that grudgingly. I have even heard some brethern argue that the women should not contribute on Lord’s day – “because they didn’t make any money.” But brother, half of that land, that money or whatever you have belongs to that good wife of yours; God says it does, and the law of this land says it does. And if you would let the Lord balance the books, more than half of it might belong to her.
Fathers, take your place as the head of the family and live up to your responsibility, and God will bless and prosper you.
The Mother’s Place in The Home
I know but very little about a mother from actual experience, for my mother died when I was only five years of age, but I surely do know what it means to be without a mother.
Someone has said that the three sweetest words in the English language are “Mother,” “Home,” and “Heaven,” but like many of the fathers of today, many mothers fail to realize and appreciate their exalted position in the home. It surely is sad – even disgusting, to see mothers with fingers stained with cigarette smoke, the smell of liquor on their breath, parading the streets, or maybe, in a car with another woman’s husband, while the children are left at grandmother’s or with a disinterested hired girl.
We are “building a Christian home,” and Christian mothers do not act like that; they want to be what God wants them to be.
Paul says that the married women should “bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Tim. 5:14). In the 10th verse he says of the widow, “Well reported of for good works, if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saint’s feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” It is also said of the deacons’ wives that they are to be “grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things” (I Tim. 3:11). Here are some qualifications. which show the importance of the mother in the home, and the weight of her influence there. A mother is to be interested in her home and children. She is to be well reported of for good works – not merely for “good looks.” She is to be the homekeeper, and should keep the home in such a way as to not be ashamed to have visitors (she is to “lodge strangers).
Right here, I may get my red hair pulled out, but I say this from the bottom of my heart – I do not believe that a mother can hold down a job in a factory or anywhere else and do the part by her home, children, and husband that God expects of her. I have already shown that it is the father’s place to provide for the family. And, when women leave the home and children and get a job so as to have their “own money to spend as they please” (this is usually the reason given), they begin to lose interest in their home, husband, and children! I believe that if all of the wives, and especially the mothers would go back home, and take up their duty there as home keeper and the fathers would go to work (they would have plenty of jobs), and provide a living for the family, the greater part of the socalled “Juvenile delinquency” would be solved.
The woman being entirely out of her place has caused the “adversary to speak reproachfully” of them. I believe today, as perhaps. never before, we need some “older women to teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5).
In I Thess. 2:7-8, Paul gives us some idea of how a mother feels or should feel and act toward her children. Hear him: “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children; so being affectionately derious of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.” The true Christian mother feels just that way about her children. There is no one on earth that can take the place of mother. Her lullaby soothes the baby’s pain, and quiets its fears. Her influence is so great that kings cannot overthrow it. She determines the destiny of souls and of nations.
There is a tenderness in the love of a mother to her children that transcends all other affections of the heart. It is neither to be chilled by selfishness, nor daunted by danger, nor weakened by worthlessness, nor stifled by ingratitude. She will sacrifice every comfort of hers for their convenience; she will surrender every pleasure to their enjoyment; she will glory in their fame and exult In their prosperity; and if misfortune overtakes them, they will be dearer to her because of the misfortune.
Timothy, of whom Paul said “I have no man like minded,” was brought up in the faith of a mother and a grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5). Mothers should realize what influence they can wield and be sure that they wield for good.
I do not believe there is a purer picture in this world than that of a mother, modestly dressed, long hair, in a clean, well kept home, with her children about her knees – there teaching them reverence for God and His word.
There is not a more sacred spot on earth than a good Christian mother’s grave. “There sleeps the nurse of infancy, the guide of our youth, the counselor of our riper years – our friend when all others deserted us.” May God give us more Christian mothers!
I think it is generally agreed upon by all that the parents are responsible for their children. The Law of our country says so, and God has always considered it so. In Deut. 4:10, He says “Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.” Notice that they, the parents, are to teach their children. Again we read: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently to 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” (Deut. 6:7).
But Solomon says “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). There is some difference in teaching and training. The teaching is good and is commanded; but the training is the important thing; this de. termines the future of the child’s life here and hereafter. People differ over what age in the child’s life to begin training. I have heard parents say of a child three or four years old that they would be glad when so and so gets old enough to correct and train. I have noticed other children only a few months old that had already learned many good lessons. You need not try to fool the baby; you will fool yourself. That little child is being trained from the beginning, and the parents are either training the child up in the way he should go or in the way he should not go.
I firmly believe what the Bible says about this, and if my own children go wrong, I will frankly admit that 1, not the Lord, failed in the work – that I failed to train them as I should have done.
That baby in the home is either being trained to be kind, honest, truthful, good; or, it is being trained to be dishonest, hypocritical, cross, and so on. And the sooner we discover this truth and begin to train the child in the way it should go, the better it will be both for parents and the children.
Little girls can be trained up in the art of cooking, sewing, keeping house, etc., just as easily as they can be trained up to try to mimic some movie star. Mothers need to take the time and go to the trouble to train their little girls to be home builders. Regardless of how much book learning a girl may have, she must have the practical knowledge in order to be the kind of a home builder she should be. Shame on that mother who can spend two or three hours during the day reading a trashy novel and then doesn’t have time to teach her little girl how to mix a cake or sew on a button I
The same must be said of fathers and the boys. Eph. 6:2 says for the fathers to bring their children up In the knowledge and admonition of the Lord. Fathers are duty bound to see to it that their children are nurtured In the teachings of the Lord. Furthermore, they must train them up In the way they should go. A boy can learn to sing and pray, and do good work just as easily as he can learn to smoke, swear, pack a toy pistol (later on a real one). Boys are going to learn something, and learn how to do something. I may be too old fashioned, but I would rather that my boy would learn to ride a horse by riding me around the house when he is little, than to learn to shoot and kill his fellowman, by practicing with a toy pistol, playing like he is shooting down his playmates.
When fathers have several hours during the day and evening to spend “down In town”, but do not have time to show the little boy how to tie a knot in his rope, or how to fix his toys, he is losing the confidence of that boy. Fathers and mothers should do those things that they will be glad for the children to follow in their steps. They should take special delight in showing the children how to do anything that they do – they will soon learn to do it better than their parents.
Parents must see to it that they train their children to be honest, truthful, religious and God-fearing by being just that themselves daily before their children. Train them up to do honest and good work at whatever they do; train them up in the fear of the Lord; teach them how to pray, how to read and understand the Bible. Teach them how to sing and then train them by singing with them. Teach and show them how to go to every meeting of the church, and how to go In, sit down, and behave themselves.
Yes, fathers and mothers, live with your children – turn your attention to them. Where will their souls spend eternity? That de. pends on how you train them. Remember that those boys and girls of YOURS will either be the thugs, prostitutes, thieves and gamblers; or, the doctors, teachers, preachers and up-right citizens of tomorrow, and that YOU are determining that, by the way you bring them up. Then may God help us to “bring our children up In the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” and to “train them up in the way that they should go.”
Discipline in The Home
In the beginning God realized that there must be discipline in the home, for He said to Eve, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16). And all through the ages God has expected the husband and father to be the head and ruler of the family. This does not mean that the wife has no say in things, for she is to “guide the house” (I Tim. 5:14). A home without discipline is like a country without a law.
With all of the teaching and training of children, there still comes a time when more stern measures must be taken. The now idea, that some smart people have, that punishment Is the wrong way to handle children, is paying off now In the great surge of juvenile delinquency that blankets the country!
Christian parents, in trying to build a Christian home, should take the Bible as a guide instead of some man-made formula. And the Bible says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Prov. 18:24). When you try to make yourself, and others, believe that you love your child too much to punish him, when he does wrong, just remember the Bible says, instead, that you hate him. As I said before, it Is not love that keeps parents from punishing a child, it is cowardice. Again let us read, “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest with a rod he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod and shall deliver his soul from hell” (Prov. 23:18-14). When children are not taught in the home to obey rules, they are thrust out into society to give trouble. They will be disobedient in the school room, will disobey and dodge the “law”; be troublesome neighbors, and finally, spend eternity in hell – and this, all because the parents “loved the children so much they could not spank them for not minding” I
If parents were the only ones who ever had to put up with the disobedient, spoiled, undisciplined child, it might be different. But, remember that other people have to put up with that child for the greater part of his life. I have seen parents who were so ashamed of their child, when they would take it to church, or, when the preacher came, that they could not- get through apologizing for it; but they would go right back home and spoil that child even more, never seeming to realize that “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,” nor heeding the admonition “correct thy son and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight to thy soul” (Prov. 29:16 to 17). How true it is that a “child left to himself” will bring the parents down to shame! The main trouble these days is that most parents “leave the child to himself,” too long before they begin to try to correct him. When it Is a baby it is so little and sweet, and as it grows up it does and says so many “cute things,” things that they intend to make it quit saying and doing after awhile, but they laugh at these things now, and encourage the little one in things that are rude and unbecoming, and finally when the child gets so large that these “cute” things are ridiculous to everyone but the parents, and they begin to try to stop it, the child can never quite understand just why the change in his parents. He is losing confidence in and respect for them. They will allow him to do and say so many things, never obeying them all the week and then, when they take him out to meeting and he takes in the whole place, disturbing everyone there and drowning out the preacher, they are ashamed of him and make excuses that he doesn’t feel well and all of that; when in reality they, themselves, should make a public acknowledgement for neglecting their duty, and take the youngster back home and begin in dead earnest to try to atone for their neglect and try to get that child under their control before the next Lord’s day.
To other people, those little “shut up,” “let me alone,” “go jump in the lake,” and other like “cute sayings” of the child are just plain disobedience, and it surely is a grand mistake for parents to ever teach or allow their children to try to pull such on them.
Of the elder it is said that he must “have his children in subjection with all gravity” (1 Tim. 3:4-5), and the elder is to be the example for the flock; hence all the other members are to have their “children in subjection with all gravity,” too.
It is true that “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11). And this is true in the correcting of children. Children should be made to understand that they are not just being beat on, but that they are being corrected for evil doing, and that it is because the parents want to save themselves and the children from shame and disgrace.
One final word about when a child is really corrected: too many parents just spank a child enough to make it mad and then let it go on to bawl and complain and fuss the rest of the day. I saw a young father trying to make a child pick up something that it had thrown on the floor, not long ago. The child bitterly refused to do it, and the father spanked it a time or two, and then took the child’s hand In his own and picked the object up and put it on the table the thing he had commanded the child to do, and then turned the child lose as mad as a hornet, kicking, squirming and feeling as. sured that he had NOT minded his father. This child will be twice as hard to control next time. He should have been whipped until he was glad to do what his daddy told him to do – and just because daddy said to do it. The beating on the child is not what counts it is the causing them to obey commands.
A Work For Two
The discipline that is needed in building a Christian home is certainly a work for two, and these two must be sure and cooperate in the task if they hope to succeed. This reminds us of the passage: “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11). In the seventh chapter of I Corinthians the Apostle gives us a good lesson, showing the relationship that should exist between the husband and wife along these lines (please read the chapter, and save me the space for it here). Also, in the fifth chapter of Ephesians there is given another fine lesson on husbands loving their wives and wives obeying their husbands – all of which is so necessary in order for them to work together in the disciplining of their home.
I Pet. 3:7 speaks of the husband and wife as being “heirs together of the grace of life,” which shows that the Lord wants them to be full partners in everything. When the children can get their parents to disagreeing on something and arguing it in the presence of the children, that is as good as they want. So, parents, you may not always see the thing just as the other one sees it, but by all means don’t object in the presence of the child.
With two grown, married, Christian people, prayer and openmindedness, brought into quiet discussion ought to solve most any problem between them. It may be necessary at times for one or the other to yield on some point, on his or her manner of procedure, but this yielding is not a sign of weakness. Sometimes it is a sign of fair mindedness and willingness to cooperate. A thorough trial, honestly given, may really prove that one was wrong and the other right where it had not seemed possible before. Both should be filled with the wisdom that is from above as we read in James 3:17, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” How well does this passage fit Into the lives of Christian parents In disciplining their children. Each parent should strive to be easily intreated, remembering that they are only human. And above all things parents should never use hypocrisy with their children. A father may forbid the child doing a certain thing, then the mother arrange for the child to do it and the father know nothing about it. The child partakes of such a scheme and violates a dozen laws of character and truth. Certainly he has lost respect to some degree for both of them, and will soon be learning to practice this deceit himself.
The wrong kind of discipline, the lack of it, or a disagreement between the parents over it, can spoil the whole outlook of the future of our boys and girls. The truth is that discipline has to begin a deep self-searching on the part of the parents themselves. Many times corrective measures can be avoided wholly, if the parents will look ahead and make plans for their children’s safety. The child, well trained by patient and consistent parents and provided with the necessities for comfort, happiness, and satisfaction at home, presents a far less problem than one who is not supplied with the means of normal happiness.
Not long ago seven young men, in a hotel room, were up until a late hour discussing the problems they were facing. Some one asked them what their conclusions were and one replied: “We concluded that the problems facing us are greater than at any other age of the world, and therefore, it is going to take greater men with greater characters to face them; and that, God being our helper, we will be some of those greater men.”
The great task before Christian parents today is to build of the children in their homes those greater men and women that the world needs, and must have to save it from chaos.
A father should consider well the answer he gives to his child and then the mother should not cross him; likewise the mother should think and pray before she says “yes” or “no” to a child, and the father should never, NEVER tell the child differently. Fathers must be careful to see that the child always minds the mother, and also the wife should see to it that the child minds the father. These are rules which must be observed if parents ever hope to bring their children up to obey and honor them and the Lord. Any relaxation of these rules will surely cause trouble in the home, and make a break that may never be mended.
I do not even hope for all to agree with me on these thoughts, but if only a few fathers and mothers will “awake to righteousness,” and begin NOW to build Christian homes it will not be long until we can tell a great difference.
Religion in The Home
Family worship is as old as the family itself. Noah and his fam. ily stepped from the Ark and built an altar, and worshipped God (Gen. 8:20). Think of the multiplied instances in which God has made use of the home places which were consecrated to Him: Abraham and his wanderings (Gen. 12 and 13 chapters), is replete with the recurring phrase, “and he built there an altar unto Jehovah.”
There is intrinsic beauty in the study of our first human home at its daily worship hour. In that perfect relationship with the Creator there was a period in “the cool of the day” when the family were in fellowship with God. During that pause in the evening, before the long rest at night they had learned to anticipate the sound of His voice while “walking in the garden.”
Lydia’s house (Acts 16), enabled her to give her timely invi. tation to Paul and Silas, “come into my house and abide there.” Aquilla and Priscilla turned their house into a place of meeting for the church (I Cor. 16:19). Mark’s home, alive at midnight with praying disciples was ready to receive Peter from his prison deliverance (Acts 12). The “upper room” of a disciple sheltered the last passover that our Lord ate with His disciples, and was the place where the Lord’s Supper was first instituted. To say nothing of the home of Mary and Martha, Zacchaeus, of Peter, and hordes of others mentioned in the Bible as well as the influence of many homes on down through the ages which have helped to shape and mold the lives of great characters – both statesmen and religionists.
The memories of the old home place with all that went to fill them have held straight the lives of many youths when footloose in the world at large. Home places of great men are preserved and displayed with interest as having a significant bearing on the character of the men. Not often do we see pointed out to us the homestead of a noted criminal. The reason may be that few of them had the advantage of such a place. Religious homes do not lend themselves to the breeding of criminals.
Christian parents should see to It that religion has the first place In their homes. Some of the beat and earliest Impressions can be made upon the child by his parents living Christianity In the daily home life.
Where God’s word is read and obeyed In the daily home life, the child is made to see the beauty and benefits of it constantly, and learns to appreciate It because it causes him to have a more truthful father and mother than the parents of his playmates who are worldly; he sees that they treat each other better; that his home is more congenial and thus, like young Timothy, the faith is Imbedded in him in his tender years.
Regardless of how much religion we may display at church, if we do not practice it at home it will not have the proper influence upon our children. We cannot be hypocrites before them; they know us too well. What we are when we get out into the wider circles of the work of the church service depends on what we are in the Intimacy of our own homes. One who cannot lead the prayer in the quiet of his own home, usually does a poor job of trying to lead a public prayer. When Jesus had cast the devils out of the poor, benighted soul, He told him “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mark 5:19). Thus He lays down a principle showing that it would not be in accord with the principles of Christianity to allow this man to accompany him to some foreign field while his home folk knew nothing about the Christ. And I believe today that the Lord expects us to first exert our influence at home. I have always been made to wonder about the preacher who wielded such an influence away from home while his children were not even members of the church. And I have always felt that the brother who could sit on the street corner all day and argue scripture – not knowing what kind of mischief his children were in, would do better to do some of that teaching at home.
I believe that family worship will go as far as anything in the world in giving religion a place in the home -and -causing children to realize that father and mother reverence God, appreciate His goodness and depend upon Him for their blessings. Every Christian home should have at least one hour set apart for this worship in which all the family can participate. We found in rearing our children that a good time for this was soon after the evening meal, and before the children get too sleepy. Some prefer to have the worship around the breakfast table. One of the most impressive of these services I ever took part in was around the breakfast table of Brother Alfred Ellmore, when I was a boy.
A song or two that the children can help sing makes the wor. ship more realistic; a chapter read by father or mother or by one of the children, with any one asking questions or offering comments on the lesson; then all, both young and old, kneeling down should go to God in prayer. Here the children will learn the lessons of life and duty, and they will learn to read aloud the word of God, and learn how to pray and sing.
May we all have more religion in our homes.
Leading Children into The Church
Parents should know that the gravest responsibility they have in this world is their children. And one of the most honorable things that they can accomplish is to bring their “children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” It certainly is sad to see children neglected physically, – dirty, thinly clad in rags, undernourished, uneducated, and so on, but it is a thousand times worse for their souls to be neglected! Regardless of how much money and land I might leave for my children to inherit; how much education I have given them or how high in circles of fame I may help them to go in this life, if I fail to lead them to Christ and into His Church, I have made a miserable failure.
I am faced often with good Christian parents, whose children have been educated and given a good start in the financial world, but have never obeyed the gospel. These parents want me to talk to their children to get them to obey the gospel. Now, these are hard facts, facts that we might as well face: those children of ours were as so much clay in our hands and we have molded them into what they now are. Just today, I have been talking with some parents who have sent their daughter, who was recently baptized into Christ, off to college. There is no loyal congregation where the daughter is, and NOW they are wanting Me to try to get the girl In touch with a congregation. Why did these parents not think of the church first? Don’t you think that the parents made the girl think that they thought more of the school than they do of the church?
The evil influences of Satan are strong enough at the best, and children are going to be influenced by some of them, but the parents have the first chance at the children and surely can lead them into the church, if they will start in time. When Hannah prayed for a man child, she “vowed a vow, and said, 0 Lord of hosts, if thou wilt, indeed, look upon the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then will I give him unto the Lord all the days of his life” (I Sam. 1:11). She evidently believed that she- could have an influence over this boy – and did. In Acts 16th chapter, we notice that Lydia and her “household” were baptized, also the Jailor and his house – “household” – were baptized. The Angel told Cornelius (Acts 10), “He shall tell thee words whereby thou and thy house shall be saved.” Paul said to Timothy, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that In thee also” (2 Tim. 1:5). Again: “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures” (2 Tim. 3:15).
If we expect our children to come into the church, we must prove to them that we appreciate the church. Jesus “loved the church and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5), and we should LOVE THE CHURCH and do all in our power to make of it a success. When we spend more money for cold drinks, tobacco and such like, than we contribute into the Church, we are showing the children that we do not think much of the church. When we go to ten times as much trouble and expense to educate our children than we do to get them to the services of the church and to have them taught the Bible; when we find fault with all of the members of the church; when we allow company, a little muddy road, a little headache, and other such things, keep us away from the services of the church, we cannot expect our children to be very much interested in it themselves.
Parents should always be careful to live in a community where both they and the children can attend the worship. It is far better to live on less and have the influence of the church to help you with your children.
We should talk about the church, its benefits and advantages and blessings before the children. We should go to every service of the church; be a real booster for the church with our time, talent and money. Let the children know from infancy that the church and its work and needs come first with us.
The church needs young folks in it, and young folks need to be in the church. I hear some parents say, “well, I want my children to get through sowing their wild oats and settle down before they come into the church,” but Solomon says “Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth” (Eccl. 12:1). How much better it is to not sow those wild oats at all I
I do not believe that parents should over-persuade their children nor try to scare them into the church, but it will be easy to LEAD them into the Church if we will always see to it that the church is first with us.
I believe that children should be encouraged to do good things and then they will not have to be corrected and prohibited from doing bad things. A person never climbs so high, nor accomplishes so much in this world, but that a kindly word of encouragement will help him to have a brighter outlook on life. There are many good things that we can see in our children and we should see them, and let the children know that we see the good. I am afraid the parents make the children think that they never do see any good in them because they always correct them for their wrong doings and never mention the good deeds they do.
Moses, who lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, and into sight of the Canaan land, said to the people concerning his successor: “But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it” (Deut. 1:38). If Joshua needed to be encouraged, surely we should realize that our children need encouragement. Again we read, “Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the Lord” (2 Chr. 31:4). Again “And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the Lord” (2 Chr. 35:2). This comes on down to us today in dealing with our children for we read in Col. 3:21, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”
Children are human and not toys and they come into our homes as pure as the driven snow. There is within every child a desire to do many things that are good, upright, and wholesome, and usually, if we will allow and encourage them in these things the evil things will not be so tempting to them.
Children should be allowed to enjoy themselves at home. As a general rule parents who will not allow their children to enjoy themselves at home, soon find that they are enjoying themselves somewhere else – and all too often in the wrong kind of company. Those slamming doors, stamping feet, whistling, singing, yelling mouths will be missing from that old home too soon, anyway. Encourage your children, young and old alike, to bring all the company, they want, home with them and enjoy themselves. If they are slamming your doors, playing your radio, thumping on an instrument at home, you know where they are, and that they are not molesting the neighbors, nor into anything that is very bad.
Parents. often in trying to look after their children, do them an injustice by not allowing them to associate with even good company. Boys and girls will associate with some one at some time and It is far better to encourage them to play with, chum with, and keep company with Christian boys and girls than to selfishly try to make them stick right with you, only to find out later that they are slipping around and going out with questionable characters.
Encourage the Children to go to the services of the church every one of them. If we will make it our business to see that we always go, the children will grow up into the habit. Always have their clothes ready, quit work in plenty of time for them to go. Be sure to never, NEVER, plan any piece of work, visit, nor anything that would hinder the children from going to church. I have known parents to plan a birthday party for their child at exactly the hour of a church service! This is surely not encouraging them to go to church.
Children should also be encouraged to think for themselves. I find so many parents jumping in and telling the child what to say every time, giving it the answer to every question. Better let the child think for himself, he will have to learn some time in life.
Encourage the child to always be honest and to tell the truth regardless of the consequences, Let him or her know that they can depend on you staying with them, and helping them undo anything wrong that they have done, if they will just be truthful about it.
Encourage them to sing. Make a special effort for them to learn to sing. That is one thing that will bring them to the front in meetings of the church, and will make them realize that they too, can help worship God.
Encourage them to take some active part in the work of the church. Mothers can take their daughters with them to visit the sick. There are many things that they can do in the church in that way if given a chance. Boys should be encouraged to read a chapter in the worship, lead a song, lead a prayer. They will soon be able to carry on the worship by themselves if they have to do so.
Parents, remember, you can train a plant to lean to the north, south, cast, or west by the proper care. But if you turn a tub down over it, it will die. So, give that child some elbow room to do the good that he is capable of doing and wanting to do, and encourage him in everything that is right. “Give them the roses now.”
The Dissolution of The Home
God has taught from the beginning of man that death separates husband and wife (Gen. 3). And Jesus shows in Matt. 22, that the family tie ends at death. We will not be fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, children, etc., but will be as the angels in heaven. The home, therefore, must accomplish its purpose in a very short period of years – which only emphasize the importance of the things I have said in the foregoing articles.
I recently visited in a Christian home where the couple had lived together for fifty years! This is far beyond the average. If nothing but age cuts us down, we can stay here a very little while, and it is not very often that both husband and wife leave this life at the same time. “No snow falls lighter than the snow of age; but none is heavier, for it never melts.” While we are young we constantly look to the future, but as we grow older we are inclined to look back over the past of our lives. We begin to live in and for our children and not for ourselves. The hope of Christian parents is to live to see their children grown and settled in life for themselves. Though we cannot keep back the tears when our children marry, yet, we realize that it is only natural and that God has always intended it to be so.
Dissolution of the home in this way, if children are brought up right and are choosing Christian companions, is only natural, and is a blessing to the human race. Too many times parents act as If their children have forsaken and turned against them just because they are getting married – forgetting that they did the same thing a few years ago. It is not right for parents to be so selfish as to expect their children to always stay with them. The separation of Christian parents which we have been studying is sad, indeed. I have had the sad experience of conducting the funeral for a good Christian father, who was leaving behind a Christian wife and Christian children. I have conducted the funeral of a good Christian mother, who was leaving behind a Christian husband and Christian children. In either case it is certainly heart rending. We have minute accounts of such as this as far back as Gen. 23, where “Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. And Abraham stood up before his dead and spake to the sons of Heth, saying: I am a stranger and a sojourner with you, give me a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”
Even though Sarah was well over a hundred years old, she was still the “beloved wife of faithful Abraham.” Abraham is held up to us as “the father of the faithful”, and Sarah is held up as the “mother” of faithful Christian mothers today (1 Pet. 3:5).
It is hard for young people to realize that death will ever sep. arate them, but as we grow older we realize that we cannot always live, and begin to look toward the grim monster.
No sex is spared, no age exempt. The majestic and courtly roads which monarchs pass over, the short and simple annals of the poor, all lead to the same place.
“Dear, we’ve been long together, through pleasant and cloudy weather: ’tis hard to part with those so dear, in grief we shed the scalding tear.”
Here is a little poem that I feel very fitting right now:
One of Us Two
“The day will dawn, when one of us shall hearken In vain to hear a voice that has grown dumb, And morns will fade, noons pale, and shadows darken,
While sad eyes watch for feet that never come. One of us two must sometime face existence
Alone with memories that but sharpen pain And these sweet days shall shine back in the distance
Like dreams of summer dawns, in nights of rain. One of us two, with tortured heart half broken,
Shall read long-treasured letters through salt tears, Shall kiss with anguished lips each cherished token
That speaks of these love-crowned, delicious years. One of us two shall find all light, all beauty,
All joy on earth, a tale forever done; Shall know henceforth that life means only duty,
Oh, God! Oh, God! have pity on that one.”
– Ella Wheeler Wilcox
When these hands of ours shall be pulseless and cold, and motionless as the grave wherein they must lie, when the winding sheet shall be our vesture, and the close-sealed sepulchre our home. As our bodies rest in their beds of clay, and our spirits recline in the bosom of God, if we are conscious, may we be able to see – like the reflection of the sun’s rays after it sinks behind the western horizon, sheds its beauty across the sky – the golden influence of a Christian Home still echoing and re-echoing in the world.
– Homer A. Gay