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Pastor's Desk

From The Pastor's Desk

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Families in the Covid Crisis

This coming Sunday is Mother's Day. It is the first of two family markers on our calendars, the other being Father's day to come in June. Both of these celebrations came into existence as tribute to two major roles that are important to form our lives. There are many statistical studies to demonstrate the importance of moms and dads in the lives of children. Stable homes where there is a mom and dad are far more likely to see healthy children emerge from them. Some time ago Eric Metaxis drew attention to this:

Not surprisingly, the impacts [of fewer marriages] are felt most keenly by children. Less marriage means more insecurity for children. As W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia told the New York Times, “kids are much more likely to be exposed to instability, complex family relations and poverty.” The difference that marriage, or more precisely, the lack of it, can make in a child’s life is startling: boys reared without their fathers are two-thirds more likely to end up in prison; 35 percent of adolescent girls whose fathers left before the age of six become pregnant out of-wedlock, compared to just 5 percent of girls whose fathers did not leave before that age. When you add the undeniable link between childhood poverty and family structure, you have to wonder how Americans can be so casual about the future of marriage.

Why then is our society so casual about marriage and about the role of moms and dads in marriage? One of the main reasons of course is that family has increasingly taken a back seat to the goal of self-fulfillment. The push to redefine marriage away from the biblical view of one man and one woman committed exclusively to one another has self fulfillment in view. Even having children is often about feeling fulfilled. This is true for both men and women. Hence when children enter one's world and begin to upset the routines, stress, anxiety and depression set in. We do not want our world to be upset so that we cannot do what we wish to do!

That is the very opposite of what the biblical picture is. Jesus said on one occasion, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt 20:26-28). What makes for exceptional moms and dads is that they are servants of their families.

Now this does NOT mean that the children and their interests run the household while moms and dads cater to their every whim. Our culture has frequently elevated the status of children to the point that too often parents are simply the children's valets. That is destructive because it places the child at the center of the world and leaves them with the notion that everything turns about them.

Rather healthy “serving” here is about understanding what it is that children need to know and do in order to thrive within God's word and imparting that to them. That is why in Deut 6, parents are urged to train their children in God's ways. This will help them to have a godly worldview that takes seriously their sin and God's grace and to understand that life is found in obedience and submission to his gracious rule. The wise man in Proverbs also urges “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6) and Paul, thinking about Deut 6, urges fathers (and mothers) to “bring children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). That is when we are really serving our children and their well-being when they are led to live under the life giving rule of the LORD.

Just perhaps the shutdown of so much that has deprived families of being families together will have the beneficial effect of causing families to recover the joys of spending time together and of moms and dads to take seriously their role of forming their children instead of leaving that to educators and child care workers. These circumstances that are so limiting might actually bring blessing in disguise.