Posts tagged ‘Rebellion’

For Fathers Only

Father and Son“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

These famous words from the apostle Paul are meant to call fathers to Godliness as they raise their children.  Negatively, fathers are not to “exasperate,” or anger, their children needlessly or vindictively.  Positively, they are to “bring them up,” or rear them, in the Lord.  The Greek word for “bring them up” is ektrepho, meaning, “to feed.”  Fathers are to feed their children.  But this means much more than simply “bringing home the bacon,” as it were.  This also means feeding children’s souls with time, affection, discipline, and grace.

Sadly, this call to fatherhood is lost on far too many men in our society.  And the effects are devastating.

Kay Hymowitz, writing for the City Journal, a quarterly affairs journal for Manhattan, recently published an article titled “Boy Trouble”[1] in which she attributes much of the dismal performance in school, in jobs, and in life of a great number of boys to absentee fathers.  In other words, fathers who fail to bring their children up in the training and instruction of the Lord because of their non-presence have a profoundly negative impact on their children.  Hymowitz expounds:

By the 1970s and eighties, family researchers following the children of the divorce revolution noticed that, while both girls and boys showed distress when their parents split up, they had different ways of showing it. Girls tended to “internalize” their unhappiness: they became depressed and anxious, and many cut themselves, or got into drugs or alcohol. Boys, on the other hand, “externalized” or “acted out”: they became more impulsive, aggressive, and “antisocial.” Both reactions were worrisome, but boys’ behavior had the disadvantage of annoying and even frightening classmates, teachers, and neighbors. Boys from broken homes were more likely than their peers to get suspended and arrested. Girls’ unhappiness also seemed to ease within a year or two after their parents’ divorce; boys’ didn’t.

Since then, externalizing by boys has been a persistent finding in the literature about the children of single-parent families. In one well-known longitudinal study of children of teen mothers (almost all of them unmarried), University of Pennsylvania sociologist Frank Furstenberg, a dean of family research, found “alarmingly high levels of pathology among the males.” They had more substance abuse, criminal activity, and prison time than the few boys in the study who had grown up in married-couple families.

Hymowitz goes on to consider some of the ways in which societies have sought to compensate for absentee fathers.  Some societies have tried to provide robust social support programs, ensuring single mothers have all the financial resources they need to give their sons opportunities that will serve them well.  But these social support programs have not stemmed the tide of troubled, fatherless boys.  Others have tried to encourage male role modeling in the form of coaches, teachers, and even stepfathers.  But the problem remains.  Indeed, Hymowitz cites one study done on boys who were raised by their stepfathers and notes that these boys were “even more at risk of incarceration than the single-mom cohort.”

Finally, Hymowitz reaches an inevitable, even if unsurprising, conclusion:  “Girls and boys have a better chance at thriving when their own father lives with them and their mother throughout their childhood—and for boys, this is especially the case.”  A household needs a father.

Please understand that I do not mean to belittle or disparage the contributions that mothers – and especially single mothers – make to a household.  Indeed, I know and have known many faithful single mothers who do all they can to raise their children faithfully, compassionately, and evangelically with great success.  To them, I say, “Thank you.”  I am saying to men, however:  You are needed.  The stakes are high.  You cannot afford you to be derelict in your duties toward your families. 

So get with it.  Heed the call of the apostle Paul.  You have more influence than you may ever know.  Which means you have more responsibility than you could ever dream.  Take that responsibility seriously. Little eyes are watching.


[1] Kay Hymowitz, “Boy Trouble,” City Journal 23, no. 4 (Autumn 2013).

January 6, 2014 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

ABC Extra – Authority Issues

In seminary, I had a friend who loved the sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle.”  He watched it religiously.  I myself was not so big a fan, but the theme song for the show, sung by They Might Be Giants, was catchy and still sticks in my mind.  Its chorus was clear and unambiguous:  “You’re not the boss of me now.  You’re not the boss of my now.  You’re not the boss of me now, and you’re not so big.”  What a message of fierce independence!  Apparently, They Might Be Giants had problems with authority.

Problems with authority, of course, are nothing new.  They are as old as the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve first rebelled against the authority of God and ate from the tree of which God warned, “You must not eat” (cf. Genesis 2:17).  There is a seemingly innate tug on the human spirit to declare to God and everyone else, “You’re not the boss of me!”

Considering the difficulty so many of us have with authority, it comes as no surprise that many people try either to minimize or rationalize the Bible’s calls to submit to authority.  Yet, the call of Scripture remains clear.  The preacher of Hebrews declares, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).  There are a couple of especially notable features of this verse.

First, it is important to note that those in authority over others are themselves under authority.  They “must give an account,” the preacher of Hebrews says, concerning how they exercised their authority.  Specifically, they must give an account to the Lord.  As I mentioned in ABC, all human authority is derived authority.  That is, all human authority is given by God to certain individuals who are called to steward that authority faithfully and well.  No human being has a carte blanche authority which is unaccountable to God.

Second, it is important to note that when those under authority willingly and joyfully submit to the authority of others, things tend to go better – both for those in authority and for those under authority!  The preacher of Hebrews says that when people under authority submit to authority, the job of those in authority becomes “a joy, not a burden.”  Likewise, to those under authority, the preacher of Hebrews says that rebellion is “of no advantage to you.”  Submitting to authority makes things go well – for everyone!

Rebellion against authority often appears tantalizing.  After all, it promises the alluring prospect of autonomy.  But such autonomy is illusive and, finally, non-existent.  For at the same time we seek to rebel out from under the authority of others, we end up rebelling into the authority of sin.  And the authority sin wields is tragic and terrorizing.  Paul calls the authority of sinfulness “weak and miserable.”  He then goes on to ask, “Do you wish to be enslaved by it all over again” (Galatians 4:9)?  The authority of sin leads to slavery.  The authority of Christ, conversely, leads to freedom – not freedom from all constraints, but freedom for a joyful and righteous life.  This is why Paul continues:  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Though it is true that some authority is depraved and despotic and ought to be resisted, in general, we are called to submit to those in authority.  For we need authority.  We need authority to provide guidance, protection, and a safeguard against wickedness.  Blessedly, God’s authority provides all of these things perfectly and fully.  Submit to His authority.  And submit to those He has put in authority over you.

Want to learn more on this passage? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Tucker’s
message or Pastor Zach’s ABC!

June 6, 2011 at 5:15 am 1 comment

ABC Extra: Children Who Rebel

Rebellion has become a sort of rite of passage as children move into adulthood.  The teenage son breaks his curfew to sneak out with his friends and party late into the night.  The teenage daughter secretly dates that cute boy she’s head over heals for in spite of her parents’ strong objections.  The Fourth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12), seems of little consequence to many teenagers.

It is a common misconception that it didn’t used to be this way.  Children did not used to so headily and so arrogantly rebel against their parents.  The truth of the matter, however, is that children have been rebelling against their parents for centuries.  Jesus puts it like this:  “Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death” (Mark 13:12).  Indeed, the rebellion of children against their parents goes back even farther.  It stretches all the way back to the Fall into sin.

In Luke 3, the evangelist presents us with a genealogy of Jesus Christ.  And what a genealogy it is!  It traces the Lord’s lineage all the way to the first man, Adam.  It’s especially interesting the way Adam is talked about.  In the midst of a bunch of genealogical standard fare – “so and so was the son of so and so, and so and so was the son of so and so” – we come to this:  “Methuselah was the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan,  the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:37-38).  Luke says that Adam, like everyone else throughout the course of history, was a son.  He was a son of God.  And just like every son that has come after him, he rebels against his parents, or, more precisely, his Father.  God commands His son Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and Adam sneaks off and eats from the tree anyway.  The first sin was one of rebellion.  And children have been rebelling against their parents ever since.

This weekend in worship and ABC, we studied 1 Samuel 2 and the story of the rebellion of Hophni and Phineas against their father and against God.  The author of 1 Samuel is pointed in his analysis of the sons’ character:  “Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD” (verse 12).  Their rebellion was two-pronged.  On the one hand, they took animal sacrifices that were properly to be burned in honor of the LORD and instead kept these animals for private meals (cf. verses 13-15).  On the other hand, they engaged in sexual immorality with the women who served at the temple where they were priests (cf. verse 22).  Eli, Hophi and Phineas’ father, although he condemns the latter sin, does not condemn the former.  We find out why he does not condemn the former sin just verses later when a prophet of God arrives at Eli’s doorstep and rebukes Eli for too partaking of animal sacrifices which properly belong to God!  The prophet asks in the stead of the LORD:  “Why do you scorn My sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for My dwelling?  Why do you honor your sons more than Me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by My people Israel” (verse 29)?

The Hebrew word for the “choice parts” of the Israelite offerings on which Eli and his sons are fattening themselves is re’shi’ith. Interestingly, this word is most often associated with the practice of tithing:  “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God” (Exodus 23:19).  The Hebrew word for “best” is again re’shi’ith. Be it Hophni or Phineas or their father Eli, this is a family that is not interested in bringing their first and best before God.  And so they receive judgment from God.

Does your family bring its first and best before God?  Does your family give the first of its week to God in worship?  Does your family give the first of its money to God in finances?  Does your family give the first of its day to God in prayer and study of God’s Word?  Although the practice of giving the first to God in your family’s life may not prevent those hoary teenage years of rebellion altogether, it is good training in righteousness – for your children…and for you.  And righteousness has a mysterious way of repressing rebellion.

Want to learn more on this passage? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Tucker’s
message or Pastor Zach’s ABC!

May 3, 2010 at 4:45 am 1 comment


Follow Zach

Enter your email address to subscribe to Pastor Zach's blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,096 other followers


%d bloggers like this: