The Threats We Face (Part 2) — Threats in the Home

The importance of the family unit cannot be overemphasized. As Christian families, are we taking the necessary, proactive measures to protect our families against the many threats that exist? Remember, Satan is seeking to destroy you and your loved ones (1 Pet. 5:8)! Satan hates the family unit and wants to do everything possible to dismantle and ruin it, and he has desired to do so since the beginning (Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Lot and his daughters, etc.). If you are not conscientiously on guard against Satan’s devices to ensnare your family, then you are asking for disaster.

In this article, we will briefly consider the threats to the family that exist within the home itself. You see, especially in fundamentalist churches and homes, we like to shout very loudly against the threats that originate in the church and in the world. We like to blame these other threats for the problems in our families. We like to blame the music of the world, the television, the movies, the public schools, the Christian schools, etc., so we focus all of our attention on the “evils” of these things while totally neglecting the real threats in the home and family. Most often, however, Satan is going to begin attacking a family within the walls of the home. A strong, godly family begins with individual people who are resisting Satan’s attacks in the home. Why do you think so many godly parents who attend good, Bible-believing churches have children who walk away from the home engulfed in the world and enamored by it? Because so many parents are doing everything possible to keep their kids from the threats of the world and the compromising churches, but the damage has already been done within the home itself. Let us now take the time to notice the threats that endanger our homes and families and our line of defense against these threats.

Threat #1—Failure to Spend Time Together

The first threat that can lead to problems down the road is that families fail to spend time together. In a survey conducted for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Corp., thirty-five percent of participants pointed to time constraints as the most important reason for the decline in family values. Another twenty-two percent mentioned a lack of parental discipline. Amazingly, despite their expressed desire for more family time, two-thirds of those surveyed said they would probably accept a job that required more time away from home if it offered higher income or greater prestige. Satan’s subtle attack upon the home is that “family time” is no longer a priority in the Christian home.

Several root causes contribute to this failure by Christian families to spend time together. We live in an age of mobility—we are always on the go. Since the invention of the automobile, life has never been the same. As a result, long work commutes, kids’ sports and music activities and various commitments within the community or the church leave the family scattered and exhausted once they are reunited each evening. While obviously nothing is intrinsically wrong with having to drive a distance in order to work or being an active participant in one’s school, church or community, when the believer allows these things to usurp the time that should be spent as a family unit, then a change needs to be made.

 Another reason why families fail to spend time with each other is that we live in an age of self-centeredness—we are always striving to fulfill our own desires. Dad is working to climb the corporate ladder while Mom is busy running the PTA while Johnny is playing on the school basketball team while Susie just wants to hang out with her friends. We do not take the time to get to know one another because we are too busy pursuing our own personal interests at the expense of pursuing a proper relationship with our spouses or children or parents or siblings. We do not consider the needs or best interests of others within our family because, sad to say, we often are not even thinking about them. We are only interested in going where we want to go, in buying what we want, in meeting our own perceived needs. Just like the world around us that we are so quick to criticize, life is all about “me.”  But if we truly love those to whom we are the closest, we will take the time to seek their best interest, not our own.

A third underlying cause why families fail to spend adequate time together is simply the age in which we live—that of the “soundbyte.” We are always looking for shortcuts and quick fixes and shallow, superficial answers to life’s questions and problems. People today want everything now, and it had better not take too much of their time! Sadly, this “soundbyte age” has infected the Christian home as well. We do not take the time to work out real solutions to problems or concerns that arise in the family—problems or concerns that need time. Furthermore, we fail to make our time spent together as a family quality time. Instead, we spend “family time” being entertained by someone or something else, whether it be television, movies, amusement parks, etc. While we physically may be spending time together as a family, our “togetherness” in no way enables us to grow closer personally, spiritually or emotionally.

A final reason why believers fail to make family time a priority is that we live in an age of distractions—we allow television, video games, shopping, hobbies, etc., to take up all of our spare time. It is so easy to forget what is truly important in life and to allow life’s vanities to consume us. Again, nothing is intrinsically wrong with hobbies or amusements, but what place do we allow them to have in our lives? How much time do we allot to them in comparison to the time that we spend with the family?

Threat #2—Failure to Communicate

The second threat to the family unit—and probably the most common—is the failure to communicate. The lack of clear, honest, consistent communication is the primary cause of most problems in any type of relationship, whether it be in the home (between husbands and wives, parents and children), the church (between pastors and laypeople) or even in the Christian life (between the believer and God). Just as our fellowship with God is hindered when we fail to consistently communicate with Him through prayer and study of His Word, our relationship with members of our family suffers when we do not communicate regularly, clearly and honestly with them.

It is vitally important that husbands and wives communicate openly with one another. No subject should be “taboo” or off limits for discussion within the bond of marriage. When this is the case, frustration, anger or bitterness often take root in one or both spouses, which, in turn, can lead to untold problems. Husbands and wives need to remember that communication is a two-fold process involving both speaking and listening. Both spouses need to speak honestly and openly in a manner that is sensitive to the other spouse’s feelings, and they also need to listen with the intent of understanding the other’s viewpoint. Furthermore, husbands and wives simply need to communicate the day’s events—keeping the lines of communication open is vital to a good marriage.

Parents need to properly communicate with their children. Expectations and limitations need to be clearly expressed, and proper correction should result when those expectations are not met or when those limitations are flouted. Proper communication with our children, however, also entails praise. As parents it is so easy to point out our children’s failures, but how often do we encourage and praise them for meeting our expectations? In addition, we need to get to know our children—their likes and dislikes, their friends and companions, their fears and aspirations. We accomplish this by communicating with them!

Parents also need to make an intentional effort to provide a proper atmosphere in which their children can feel free to communicate with them about anything that is on their mind or happening in their life. Often children or teens are too afraid, embarrassed or simply averse to talking with their parents due to the reaction that they know they will receive. Frustration and misunderstanding result when communication is lacking, which can lead to even greater problems that mar the relationship between family members.

Threat #3—Failure to Model Godliness

The third threat to the family within the home itself is the failure to model godliness. Hypocrisy abounds in Christian homes—children see their parents talk one way at church and act another way at home; they hear their parents tell the pastor they appreciated hearing God’s Word but then at home criticize the teaching of Scripture; they tell their children to make their relationship with God a priority in their lives but then lead their children to make everything but God a priority. At other times, Christian parents are not even hypocritical about their lack of godly living—they blatantly defy godly, righteous living while their children observe their behavior. Then, they expect their children to act or believe otherwise. It is no wonder that so many who grew up attending good, Bible-believing churches are forsaking the faith—they never saw that faith demonstrated firsthand in the home.

Threat #4—Failure to Perceive the Weight of Responsibility

Finally, the last threat to the family unit is a failure to understand the weight of responsibility that Scripture places upon each relationship. The Bible is certainly not silent when it comes to how each family member is to treat one another and what God expects of each relationship.

Husbands and wives have the God-given responsibility to cherish and edify one another until death. This is not to be taken lightly. Divorce is simply not an option when two believers are in the bond of marriage. If problems exist in the marriage, then it is likely due to one of the aforementioned threats—lack of time spent together, selfishness or lack of communication. Spouses need to fix, not flee, their problems, looking to God for the grace needed to get through them.

Parents have the responsibility to train up their children to know and love God. This is not to be taken lightly. So many parents are concerned about their children’s academic, athletic and musical endeavors or their social well-being that they lose sight of what is most important in light of eternity—children who grow up to love and glorify the Lord in all things.

Children are responsible to love, honor and obey their parents. This is not to be taken lightly. Obedience and respect are not optional, nor are they to be intermittent. A family cannot properly function without the children fulfilling their divinely given responsibilities as well. Unless every family member understands the gravity and the importance of our family relationships and our responsibilities to one another, the family unit will break down.

So now that we have identified the threats to our families, what is our line of defense against these threats?

Response #1—Make Time with Family a Priority

First, we must make family a priority (Prov. 4:1-4). Besides our relationship with God, nothing is more important than our relationship with our family. If family is truly a priority to us, we can and must make time for it. Where there is a will, there is a way. According to the results of a recent survey, husbands and wives engage in meaningful, one-on-one conversation only 27 minutes per week (4 minutes per day). Children and parents engage in meaningful, one-on-one conversation only 7 minutes per week (one minute per day). Lack of time is obviously not the cause for this staggering breakdown in communication because in 2004, adults on average spent 4.5 hours per day in front of the TV while children spent approximately 2-3 hours watching television. Nielsen Media has reported that the number of hours per day that the television is on in an average American home is just under 7 hours per day. We make time for television, the internet, video games and other forms of entertainment but not for communicating with our families. Husbands and wives and parents and children must spend time together. Life is short, and our days are numbered (Psa. 90:3-6, 10, 12). If change is needed, do it today!

Response #2—Communicate Clearly

Second, we need to communicate clearly (Prov. 4:1, 20-21)—clear communication begins with being quiet. Take the time to listen to your spouse or your child. Then, once you have taken the time to listen, you can clearly make known to him or her:

1.     Your expectations—husbands and wives need to spell out what each expects from the other in the home and family, and parents need to tell their children exactly what they expect from them.

2.     Your values—Parents need to teach their children what is right and what is wrong and why it is wrong or right.

3.     The consequences—Parents need to clearly relay the consequences of forsaking biblical values (Prov. 3:35) as well as embracing such values (Prov. 4:10)

4.     God’s revealed will—To what end must we teach our children the truth as revealed in the Word of God? So they will possess wisdom in order to exercise discernment in all areas of life, thereby glorifying God (Prov. 4:20-22; 5:1-2).

Solomon clearly spelled out to his children expectations, values, consequences and the will of God throughout the entire book of Proverbs. We need to follow his example in our own families.

Response #3—Live What You Preach

Our words and our actions should not conflict with one another (Prov. 4:11). Biblical leadership means leading by example. If what we say does not line up with what we do, then we are nothing more than hypocrites. Remember, many eyes are watching you, and actions truly speak louder than words. Whether we realize it or not, and whether they seem to be or not, our children are watching us. Do you want your kids to be honest? You be honest. Do you want your kids to love God’s Word? You love God’s Word and live it. What is important to you will likely be important to your kids when they get older; what is not important to you will not be important to them, most likely. For example, we often give sports or other activities a higher priority than going to church, and then we wonder why our kids do not like church. We later lament the fact that when they are out on their own they do not even go to church. Be an example!

Response #4—Understand the Purpose of the Family Unit

It is vital that we realize the purpose of the family unit. God created families for His glory. We all are created to glorify God. This is our sole purpose. From the beginning of our spiritual life in Christ until we are with Jesus Christ forevermore, we are to live “to the praise of [Christ’s] glory” (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). Throughout all eternity we will glorify Him (Rev. 4:11). Because we are “bought with a price,” we are to “glorify God in [our] body, and in [our] spirit” which belong to God (1 Cor. 6:19-20). This is our sole purpose and reason for existence as individuals, and this extends to our purpose as families as well.

We have certain responsibilities in Christ—means by which we glorify God, but these means must never become our purpose for existence. When we understand that we were created to glorify God and that God created the family unit, then everything we do within the family unit (within our relationships with one another) will glorify the Lord, and our families will be everything they need to be—everything God wants them to be.

Response #5—Make Your Home a Safe Haven

Finally, we must make our home a safe haven. How? First, by simply using common sense—do not just naïvely “trust” your child to make the right decisions. We are sinful people, and as such, we are prone to take the wrong path. Make boundaries for your child and enforce them. Second, we must not try to protect our children by isolating them. The “real world” is out there, and our children must one day confront it. We must allow our children to “exercise” themselves unto godliness (1 Tim. 4:7), reinforcing the fact that they are “in” the world but not “of” it (Jn. 17:14-18). Yet, we must always be there for them when the pressures become too great.

Be aware that Satan is trying to destroy you and your family. Nothing would delight him more than to see lethargic parents, rebellious children and families being torn apart from within. Stay alert, and be wary of his tactics. Do not allow these threats to invade your home.

— Matt Costella