The First Program of Family Planning 3/5/00

Deuteronomy 11:18-21

JESUS CHRIST emphasized and elevated the institution of marriage by asserting it to be a permanent relationship. It is the basis for family living.

In a day when family life is rapidly deteriorating somebody needs to speak a good word for the family. That’s my intent.

Dr. Ernest Gordon, Dean of Chapel at Princeton University ended one of his books with this remark: “In the wild seas of violence that characterizes our time we are in deepest need of islands of sanity, or harbors of humanity, in which the art of being human may be learned.”

Long before the dean made his observation our Lord established such a haven. It is called the family. There is so much division and disaster in family living that it is difficult to speak on the subject without touching sensitive nerves. I know those who have been hurt most would be those most desirous of the subject being addressed. With deep affection and great sympathy for those having suffered because of their family failing to function, I want to encourage family life. I know I do it with those hurting most in this arena praying most earnestly for the successful application of God’s Word in this matter.

Family Services Association of America reports: “family breakdown is fast reaching epidemic proportions and now ranks as America’s number one social problem.”

It is so serious some are advocating making sure your marriage will work. To insure that it will persons are encouraged to live together before marriage. This is a noble appeal for license to commit adultery.

Syndicated columnist Sydney Harris wrote: “Living together without any sense of permanency or legality is no more like marriage than taking a warm shower is like shooting the rapids in your underwear. Neither premarital sex, nor premarital living, nor premarital anything else is a reliable guide to what the marital state will be like. A training camp cannot really prepare you for war; it can provide the techniques, but not the psychological ambience, which is the truly important aspect of the experience. Legitimatized, social sanctioned marriage brings out the best and the worst in persons; and no informal living arrangement, even for years, can simulate it…”

We need to declare firmly that the unholy union of two people living together out of wedlock is an affront to God regardless of how popular it may become in the world. It is in love that council against cohabitation is offered. One survey I read recently showed that couples who live together before marriage are 80% more likely to get a divorce than those who do not. It does just the opposite of what it purported to do.

An additional reason for not living together before marriage is that women who do are twice as likely to experience domestic violence as those who do not. These women also suffer four times as many cases of depression as married women and twice as many as single women.

Most young adults have heard these statistics. The question then is why do they get so involved. Men do because it provides sex without commitment. Women do it in order to manipulate men into marriage. They think of it as auditioning for the role of wife.

One of the distinctions between mature and immature people is the ability to delay gratification. Couples who demonstrate this reveal they can’t do this. Unfortunately most couples who lack the maturity and commitment to get married before living together lack the level of commitment necessary to stay married.

The old fashioned engagement period in which restraint is exercised and persons get acquainted is all the trial needed before marriage. The fact that one fourth of all engagements are broken shows it works. When I first heard that statistic I thought that was bad. Then I reconsidered. That is the purpose. These persons found marriage wasn’t right for them. Their engagement served its purpose. Those who married, their engagement also worked.

Marriage should be entered into with a sense of permanence. Young people plan on a long engagement. I hear of too many people saying, “I didn’t know he (or she) was like that before we married.” A long engagement that puts the relationship to test enables a person’s true nature to emerge.

My wife, at the time she was the person to whom I was proposing marriage, made me wait two years before marriage because she promised her dad she would not marry until she finished college. I figured that if she was that conscientious about keeping her word to her dad she would keep her word to me.

Her dad also gave her a final check-off point before marriage. Incidentally, I didn’t know about this until 44 years later. As they stood in the vestibule of the church awaiting the Bridal March he said to her, “You can walk out of this church now and that will be alright, but if you walk down that aisle you are his bride from now on regardless.” Lucky for me she didn’t walk out.

NO nation has ever survived the degeneration of the home. Not Greece in 300 BC nor Rome in 300 AD. The institution of marriage is taking a rap today. However, there is nothing wrong with marriage. For a cake to turn out well the right ingredients in proper proportions must be added. If sour milk is used instead of fresh, an unpleasant taste results. It is always the cake that is blamed — not the milk. Two essential ingredients form the basis of a good marriage. They are two mature persons. Both parties must willfully leave their adolescence behind. Neither can remain single mentally. No evasive smoke screen can enable a person to hide from the responsibilities associated with marriage.

Augustine said, “The human family constitutes the beginning and essential element of society…Peace in society must depend on peace in the family.”

In light of that, violence in our streets can be traced to violence in the family. Over one million children a year are abused by someone they love and depend on for food, shelter, security, and protection. It is the silent, and often untreated, epidemic of our homes. The fear of further abuse forms a wall around the helpless child, insuring his or her silence and preventing help. The American family needs help.

The Jewish family of the Old Testament era has much to commend itself as a role model for modern families. Deuteronomy 11: 18 – 21 needs to be applied in our families.

The family must still serve as the primary teaching institution in America. Thank God for the many Godly teachers who model their faith in the public school system. However, the courts have greatly restricted what they can do. The family must reassume its rightful role for teaching values. Doubtless there are those who say “I don’t have time.” You might well adjust your schedule if you hear this question posed by Socrates, “Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you must relinquish it all?”

Hear now Deuteronomy 11: 18 – 21 == READ IT.

Note these principles to be used in teaching:

The passage calls for imbedding God’s Word “in your heart and in your soul.” That requires looking for teachable moments. Do it when sitting, walking, and lying down. The best way to teach a truth is to model it. This takes time.

David said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

There must be a gift of PRESENCE before there can be a gift of PRINCIPLES.
Presence says, “I need you, we belong together.”
Presence says, “I care, we need to be together.”

Again the sick argument arises asserting it is the quality of time not the quantity of time that is important. Now reflect just a minute. Did that principle apply during courtship? You know it did not and it will not now.

If you have quantity time, it is logical that you are more likely to have as part of it quality time.

B. EXHIBIT THEM Vs. 18 “bind them for a sign”

Communication scientists say that 89 percent of our learning is visual, 10 percent is auditory, and 1 percent is through other means. Make certain that the art and literature in your home represents great moral truths.

If a non-Christian were to enter your home, is there anything that would visually let such a one know you are a follower of Christ?

God’s Word shall “be frontlets between your eyes.” Our eyes are allowed to focus on a multiplicity of things, but all too seldom things of God. Listen to radio, view TV, observe advertising. What is being programmed into minds. We turn to the things we tune in on most. The human heart tends to forget God and His word. We need to refocus on Him and His word by focusing on things that remind us of Him.

Much that is shown on TV impacts the American family in a negative way. TV characters consume ten times as much alcohol as coffee. It is little wonder that over seven million teens will become alcoholics this year.

According to the National Federation for Decency (Fall 1978), 88 percent of all sex depicted on TV is outside marriage. This has to be a contributing factor to ten million minors having a venereal disease and one million girls between twelve and seventeen getting pregnant each year.

C. TEACH THEM Vs. 19 “You shall teach them”

That is God’s plan for passing on truths about Him from one generation to another. Truths are to be passed from parent to child. That child becomes the parent of the next generation.

In Deuteronomy 6 the matter of parents giving spiritual education to their children is stressed. It is not the states responsibility to give children spiritual education it is a task incumbent on the family.

God’s laws were dictated for the benefit of “you, your children and their children after them” (Deuteronomy 6:2). Parents are exhorted to discuss God’s Word “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when your get up” (v 7).

Teach your children some basics. Such as:

Communication is an art. It can be helped by:

1. Reading good books together.
2. Avoiding unpleasant conversations at the wrong time.
3. Respecting one another’s right to express their own opinion.
4. Learn to listen attentively.

Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Talking is very much like playing on the harp. There is as much in laying the hand on the strings to stop their vibrations as in twanging them to bring out the music.” Parents you need to be available to interact with your children. They need to learn from you.

D. WRITE THEM Vs. 20 “write them”
I have a friend who coaches one of the nations top football teams. Every morning at 6:00 he reads his Bible for 15 minutes. He then enters in a notebook his understanding of the passage read. Next he notes what he thinks God is trying to tell him personally through the text. I commend this practice to you.

“Let the words of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16).

Some of you, children, have been neglected, some abused, and some abandoned by your parents or a parent. What are you to do? Resolve not to be bitter. Release yourself from bondage to your parent. If you stay angry or bitter with your parent, you are his or her slave. Forgive your parent. What your parent has done may be despicable. Only by forgiving your parent for Christ’s sake can you gain victory from the controlling influence of your parent that is causing you bitterness, a sense of rejection, or inferiority. Forgive your parent even as Christ has forgiven you.

A parent may be able to change an child’s actions by threats or bribes. That isn’t a heartfelt attitude. The attitude can only be changed when the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and changes us to become like the Son of God. The key to such a change is the heart.

Parents, some of you not only need the forgiveness of your child but of your God. Seek His forgiveness. Having done so, resolve to right your relationship with your child.

Purpose to fulfill the instruction of this passage.