I had planned to continue our study of the Savior’s important Olivet Discourse tonight, but felt compelled to do what I can to staunch the flow of horrible worldliness into our church, especially in light of three news items that caught my attention over the past few days.
Allow me to say that the entire world is going to Hell in a hand basket, and too many Christian couples accept without any real spiritual discernment at all the anti-God and antichrist philosophy of the world, not only as it applies to the conduct of their marriages, but also with respect to their approach to raising their children.
The first of these media headlines related to the news report of the New Jersey high school student who sued her parents for ending their financial support of her on her 18th birthday. According to the parents, she refused to abide by their rules, yet she expects them to pay for her parochial school tuition and future college expenses without abiding by their family rules. Excuse me, but when you are old enough that you no long obey your parents you are too old to be supported by your parents.
The second of these media headlines erupted when the video showing Justin Bieber’s deposition related to charges leveled against his body guard for assault went viral. Throughout the deposition, while he was sworn to testify under penalty for perjury and at risk of being in contempt of court, he was rude, obnoxious, insolent, and profoundly uncooperative. Finally, before the deposition had concluded, he simply walked out. Please do not tell me that his conduct, during that court proceeding in which he was questioned by an attorney, does not accurately reflect the way he was raised.
The third of the media headlines that came to my attention is the now nationwide campaign to ban the word “bossy.” Instigated by Beyoncé, of all people, the banner has been taken up by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, and now has its own web site BanBossy.com. Excuse me, but being a bossy woman is no more a virtue than being a bossy man, and I am frankly weary of bossy women, be they bossy spoiled brat girls, be they bossy women looking for weak-minded Casper Milquetoasts to marry and push around, or be they bossy moms who display an attitude of arrogance that betrays their conviction that they have a divine right to impose their veto on the process of raising the family’s children.
Beloved, these three outbreaks each betray what in my opinion is a complete breakdown in parenting, and the notion that each couple is competent to assume whatever roles in the rearing of their children they feel is appropriate, that they have the expertise to know in advance what the outcomes of their inexperienced and uninformed decisions will be displays an appalling combination of both ignorance and arrogance. I do not pretend to be all-knowing this evening. I make no claim of omniscience. However, I do have a source of wisdom and instruction that is quite simply infallible and inerrant, the Word of the living God. For the benefit of you who are not yet parents, you who are still raising your children, and you who hope to influence the rearing of your grandchildren, please turn to Proverbs 1.8. When you have found that single verse in God’s Word, which I trust will be the gateway to a lifetime of study and reflection on the complex and weighty challenge of parenting and child rearing, please stand and read along with me silently while I read aloud:
“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.”
Please, allow me to make some observations and applications resulting from forty years of study and reflection:
First, PLEASE NOTE THAT SOLOMON HERE DIRECTS HIS COMMENTS TO HIS SON
Does it need to be said to the Bible believing Christian that sons are not daughters and that daughters are not sons? Does it need to be said that God’s plan for the Christian’s son is not the same as God’s plan for the Christian’s daughter, therefore they should not be raised the same way, with the same emphases? Please do not think from this comment that there is anything wrong with either a son or a daughter being intelligent, articulate, profoundly competent, and well educated to achieve hopes, dreams, and aspirations of all kinds. The virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 is obviously an extremely successful entrepreneur, and complimented for both her business acumen and her wisdom. As well, we find in Acts 16.14-15 that the businesswoman named Lydia, who very likely was not a married woman, was both successful in business and in her newfound faith in Christ. Therefore, it is simply not true that God’s Word in any way suggests women should not work hard, achieve their dreams, and at the same time worship and serve the one true and living God.
That said, men and women are not the same, were not the same when they were children before growing to adulthood, and should not be reared by their parents in the same way. Should boys and girls be raised to be godly? Of course. Should boys and girls be raised to do their best in all that they do? To be sure. However, not only are boys and girls biologically different, there are also spiritual differences between boys and girls, between men and women, that are being ignored these days by parents, by teachers, and by society as a whole, to our great harm.
Proverbs is primarily a book that provides rather explicit detail to a son by his father concerning his raising to adulthood. Of course, there is explicit instruction given by a mother to her son, in Proverbs 31.1-9, which concisely stated boils down to, “Don’t let women run you and don’t drunk beverage alcohol.” The rearing of daughters is to be accomplished in complimentary fashion.
Next, PLEASE NOTE THAT SOLOMON DIRECTS HIS COMMENTS TO HIS SON CONCERNING HIS FATHER’S ROLE IN REARING HIM
“My son, hear the instruction of thy father”
This, quite obviously, shows the primary function of the father in God’s economy with respect to child rearing, and especially to the raising of sons. The father is the provider of principles. The father is the giver of instruction. The father is the superintendent. Implicit in this phrase, and spelled out elsewhere in God’s Word, the father is not the primary parent with respect to involvement in the life of the newborn. When the child is born, almost exclusive of the father is the time, the attention, the affection, the provision, and the intimate protection provided by the child’s mother. This is so much the case that it is not unusual for children to be initially a bit fearful of dad, because of his size, because of the deepness of his voice, because he must be away from his newborn to provide a living during the course of the day.
It is as the child grows that his or her ability to relate to the father develops, and when things happen the way they ought to happen, with the encouragement and deference shown by the mother toward the father, he will become a bigger than life figure in the lives of both sons and daughters, but in different ways and to different ends. The son will see his father, with mom’s encouragement, as something to aspire to, someone to someday be like. The daughter will see her father, with mom’s encouragement, as the standard by which to measure all other men, including the man she marries if that is God’s will for her life.
Want to see how boys and girls are different? As boys grow up they unconsciously recognize that mom and dad are different. They also recognize that boys are potentially like dad and not potentially like mom, except where there is serious sexual role confusion in the child’s life. Thus, at some point the boy will need to step away from his mom so that he can emotionally bond and become dramatically more like his dad, as a means of maturing to manhood. Good moms do not resist this move. Bad moms strongly resist this move. When the mom is the strongest personality in the home, even if mom is not bossy and instead exercises veto power over the dad, the boy can become very confused about what he should do to become a man and to be manly.
To this end, look at the father’s primary function with his son. It is here translated instruction, with the Hebrew word being the word for moral discipline and correction. Thus, it is the father who is the primary parent with responsibility for setting the course of his child’s direction in life. And when the child goes off course, it is the father’s responsibility to provide midcourse correction.
Finally, PLEASE NOTE THAT SOLOMON DIRECTS HIS COMMENTS TO HIS SON CONCERNING THE MOTHER’S ROLE IN REARING HIM
“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.”
The word law in this verse, describing the mother’s role in rearing her child, particularly her son, is the Hebrew word for law, which in English we pronounce Torah. It refers to a much more detailed type of instruction than is customarily provided by the father. Thus, the mother is the details person when it comes to teaching and training, with the husband providing broad strokes oversight. Thus, it is clearly inappropriate for the child for the mother to join the military and go off on deployment while dad remains at home. The kind of parenting called for in God’s Word for the father is clearly the type that does not require so much constant attention to detail that is so crucial to good mothering. She is the one who fills in the details of her husband’s general instructions. She is the one to implement the directives of and thereby honors her husband while he is at work. As well, implicit in this pattern is a recognition of the line of authority that exists in the home, with the father the spiritual head of the household and the mother subordinate to the children’s father. She provides the detailed instruction, the minute by minute, hour by hour guidance, with the father arriving home from work to provide reinforcement and possibly clarification concerning the compass heading he wants established for his family.
What simply cannot be inferred from this verse in God’s Word, and what is to be found nowhere else in God’s Word, I might add, is a situation in which the Christian mother puts her foot down and vetoes the instruction or heading established by her Christian husband. Granted, things get complicated when a Christian is married a Christ-rejecter. However, that is recipe for difficulty, to say the least.
May I make a comment about something my own mother did when raising me and that my wife also did while we were raising our daughter? Though I doubt they collaborated on this, both my mom and my wife employed a strategy as mothers that is remarkably similar to a pattern to be observed in the military. I first consciously observed this pattern in one of our church moms, in her child rearing.
In every military unit, which is little more than a well-structured organization that bears resemblance to a family, there is a commander and an executive officer, a CO and an XO. Typically, the XO provides the detailed directives that order the lives of those serving in that unit, as well as the most obvious discipline. The CO, the commanding officer, is allowed to function in his role much as a father figure, benevolent, the one with the good news, the one with the more gentle hand, the one who grants leaves and gives promotions. Though I somewhat hesitate because of the adverse reaction some people have to all things military, there is much of the family atmosphere in successful military units, and as is the case in great military units with a good CO and XO, a number of the moms I know and have observed raised their sons in such a way, and performed their duties in such a way, as to allow dad to be the benefactor, to be the blesser, and to be credited for successes in the family. I well remember how my wife coached our little girl to welcome me when I came home each day. She elevated my stature in my daughter’s eyes. She encouraged my girl to treat me with respect, admiration, and some degree of adoration.
This reflects, in my opinion, a recognition of the two considerably different roles in an intact family unit of a father as opposed to a mother. Both parents wield authority. Both parents provide instruction. Both parents work together in harmony. However, God has decided that one parent is to be the leader, and He has decided which one that is to be; the father. He has also decided that how the father and mother function in the lives of their children, with the role played by one parent somewhat diminishing over time while the role played by the other becomes somewhat more significant over time.
What couple wants their son to turn out to be a version of snotty-nosed punk, Justin Beiber? What couple wants to raise a daughter with such a sense of entitlement that she thinks her parents owe her a living while she disobeys them, as though they have some moral obligation to subsidize their child’s sinful rebellion, much less their child’s laziness? What kind of parents succeed only in raising a daughter to be a bossy shrew? I will tell you what kind of parents raise that kind of child. Parents who think they are wise enough to decide for themselves the roles they will occupy when rearing their children. Parents who before that thought they were wise enough to decide for themselves how to go about the business of finding and then marrying a spiritually qualified spouse. Parents who value talent more than character and academic success more than humility. Dads who take a back seat in child rearing to moms. Moms who think dads are not crucial to the process of raising both sons and daughters.
When you think about it, it is not really Justin Beiber’s fault he is a punk. His parents are the ones at fault. However, if he remains a punk for much longer, it is his fault. As well, the 18-year old is likely the product of her parent’s indulgence while growing up. Now look at what they are faced with to show for raising a daughter to think she should get her own way. As for the campaign by bossy women to boss other people around so they will not hold opinions and express those opinions out loud, that some women are just bossy? What do you expect from shrews?
I think Christians should consider, prayerfully ponder, and recommit ourselves to the Biblical pattern in marriage and parenting, so we don’t end up trashing the lives of our children as parents obviously did in these three tragic examples I have referred to. And do not despair if you find yourself a single mom raising a son, wondering how you will set before him good and godly men to be examples of manhood and manliness. Two things to leave you with, mom: First, there are God’s promises, found in Psalm 68.5,
“A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation,”
and Psalm 146.9,
“The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.”
Second, there is Christ’s church, populated with many godly Christian men who serve as wonderful mentors and examples of Christian manhood for every woman’s son.
 Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), page 416.
 Ibid., pages 435-436.
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