Working Together for the Unity of the Family
1. (a) What kind of expressions and attitudes do Christian households want to avoid? (b) What is the good advice of Colossians 4:6?
“I TOLD YOU SO!” “You never listen to me!” “Didn’t I tell you that would happen?” All too often such expressions become a part of family discussions among marriage mates and their children. They are said in a tone of disgust when something did not go right and it was the mate’s idea. The wise man wrote: “Better to live alone in the desert than with a nagging and ill-tempered wife.” (Prov. 21:19, New English Bible) The same can be said for living with a nagging and ill-tempered husband. The dictionary defines the word “nagging”: “To annoy by faultfinding; to irritate by persistent scolding.” This form of irritation certainly has no place in the Christian household. Both partners in the marriage arrangement must guard against it. Good advice for all of us is to be found in the apostle’s words to the congregation in Colossae: “Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one.” (Col. 4:6) Making that kind of reply to one’s marriage partner will certainly be to the blessing of both parties.
2. How was timely information on kindness given to readers of this journal in the past?
2 Not long ago in the pages of this journal there appeared an article dealing with kindness. Among other things it said the following: “Those who profess to be Christians want to watch that their kindness may not be less than the kindness . . . sometimes shown by persons who do not claim to be servants of God. . . . We see and read about acts of extraordinary human kindness that may, by contrast, reveal less kindness on the part of some who profess to be dedicated servants of God.” How very sad it would be if, in our family circle of dedicated worshipers of Jehovah, we fail to show kindness in dealing with one another.
3. How does the term “like manner” apply to the way husbands should deal with their wives?
3 To husbands, the apostle Peter gives this fine counsel on showing proper concern for their wives: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with [your wives] according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one, since you are also heirs with them of the undeserved favor of life, in order for your prayers not to be hindered.” (1 Pet. 3:7) The “like manner” referred to by Peter is outlined in his previous words, starting from chapter two of his letter, where he gives counsel on proper subjection and related subjects. Speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, Peter wrote that he had left his followers a model to follow. Of Jesus, he said: “When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.” (1 Pet. 2:23) That really was the course of kindness, a truly worthy example for husbands to follow in like manner.
4. How should wives in “like manner” show kindness?
4 Of course, Peter also had some wise advice for the wives to follow in “like manner” as well. He spoke of women having “the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.” That, indeed, is the way of kindness for wives professing to be servants of Jehovah and Christ Jesus.—1 Pet. 3:1-4.
5. Show how the advice of Peter applies to all in exercising kindness.
5 But that is not all. When it comes to showing that kind spirit in the family circle, parents are not the only ones called on to refrain from being naggers and faultfinders. Peter’s further words were: “Finally, all of you be like-minded, showing fellow feeling, having brotherly affection, tenderly compassionate, humble in mind.” The fine reward that comes from following this counsel Peter spoke about just a few verses later, when he said: “For the eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their supplication.”—1 Pet. 3:8, 12.
PROPER CONCERN FOR CHILDREN
6. (a) In showing concern for children, how must both father and mother shoulder responsibility? (b) What Scriptural advice do we have regarding child training?
6 Then there is the matter of building up the children in the family circle. In the previous article of this discussion we read about the weight of responsibility on the father in raising the children in the discipline and mental-regulating of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4) But it goes without saying that the mother, too, has much responsibility in caring for this important part of the family circle. (Prov. 6:20; Eph. 6:1, 2) In a world where delinquency is rampant, where child and teen-age crime statistics paint a grim picture of violence, it can readily be seen that the training given by Christian parents to their children can be a matter of life and death. When both parents are believers they can cooperate in applying the wise teachings of God’s Word with respect to child training.—Prov. 13:24; 22:6.
7. How should differing views in child discipline be handled by a father and mother, and why?
7 United action by both parents in lovingly disciplining the children can contribute much toward a happy family atmosphere. Parents can talk over differing views of child discipline when alone and out of earshot of the children, and their coming to sound conclusions together will be to the benefit of the children. These can be encouraged to grow up with respect for the advice and discipline of both parents, and not to seek to divide the parents over issues and problems that come up in their young lives.
8. (a) What fact must be faced in raising children? (b) Therefore, what must parents strive to do?
8 It is true that some young ones do not respond from the heart to the truth of God’s Word. As was the case with Cain, Esau and others, some children refuse to respond to the truth. They do not let it become a guide in their lives, making for a harmonious family circle. This, indeed, brings great grief to the believing father and mother. ‘Where did we go wrong?’ they might say. There are times when parents truly have done everything possible to train up their children in the ways of righteousness, applying Bible counsel and discipline, and still these become rebellious and refuse to be obedient children of God. In such circumstances the words of Proverbs 17:21 and 25 are significant. There the wise man wrote: “The father of a senseless child does not rejoice. A stupid son is a vexation to his father and a bitterness to her that gave him birth.” How vital, therefore, that parents do everything within their power to give their children the good start in life that they deserve! This they can do by following the Bible’s advice on rearing their offspring. (Deut. 6:4-9) It is an integral part of working together for family unity.
9. (a) What more is needed than just studying the Bible with children? (b) In what areas can parents show interest in their children?
9 It is wise to remember that in training our children and raising them in the mental-regulating of Jehovah more is involved than just studying the Bible with them. Practical application of Bible principles is vital. If you have children, then as a wise parent you should set a fine example for them in industriousness. Would it be wise for a mother to let her young ones get their own breakfast in the morning, get ready for school and go off on their own, while she sleeps? Unless there is illness or other valid reason, Christian parents striving for a united family should make efforts to be up with their children in the mornings, getting them ready for school, providing a proper breakfast for them and seeing that they are adequately clothed. They should be interested in how their children are doing in their studies in school and that their conduct is always that of well-trained, well-mannered servants of Jehovah. They should inculcate in their children respect for older persons and high regard for the property of others. All these things and many others can assist in raising children that will not be a vexation to the spirit of the parents, but a praise to their Creator and a satisfaction to the mother and father.
10, 11. What type of conduct is becoming more common among people in our day, and what argument do some use?
10 Then there are the ever-present problems in the intimate marital conduct between a man and his wife. In the world, so much has been written about this field in the last few years, some of which is directly contrary to the good counsel of God’s Word. It is common today for people to live together without benefit of marriage. Of course, this is not something new, but it is in our days that so many seem to think that it is the “smart” thing to do and to let it be known publicly, not caring for the feelings of others, or the moral teachings of God’s Word.
11 Even in supposedly Christian lands so-called “religious” people live together without benefit of marriage, saying that there is little or no meaning to public pledges made or a piece of paper stating that you are bound to another individual in marriage. And there are large numbers of people who openly live with many mates, flitting from one to another with reckless abandon. This, of course, has given rise to increased venereal diseases, broken lives and delinquent children. But many seem not to care so long as their selfish desires are satisfied.
12. How must a Christian couple view these styles of living?
12 To the Christian couple, of course, these ways of life are forbidden because God disapproves, and they have the good sense to know that pleasing God and doing his will is the most important thing in their lives. It brings his blessing. Nevertheless, the Christian couple must be careful that their marital relationship does not become debauched by unnatural practices, practices contrary to the principles in God’s Word. Both parties in the marriage arrangement need to take into consideration the Christian feelings of the marriage partner in the matter of sexual relations.
13. How can a husband show that he loves his wife?
13 Our Creator made man and woman to enjoy a close, warm intimacy in marriage. For that reason the woman was made as a “complement” to the man, that is, she serves to make the man complete. The man and woman are to be “one flesh.” (Gen. 2:18, 21-24) For this arrangement to work satisfactorily for both partners in their intimate relationship together, each has a role to play. For example, the apostle Paul wrote: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it.” (Eph. 5:28, 29) For a wife to be genuinely happy she needs to feel that she is wanted, loved. In the intimate lives of the man and wife this love needs to be made manifest if the two are to promote family unity and understanding.
14. What is to be avoided in their relationship as man and wife, and why?
14 The conduct of the man and wife in fulfilling their responsibilities should be based on the Word of God. (1 Cor. 7:3-5) While the man and the woman are to delight in each other and their closeness in the husband-wife relationship, they are to avoid unnatural practices, such as sodomy, oral copulation and the like. We say “unnatural” because the man and the woman were clearly not designed for these practices by their Creator, and his Word stresses the need to avoid the unclean practices characteristic of the world.—Lev. 18:1-30; Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Thess. 4:3-8.
15. What is to be avoided if one is to put on the new personality? (Compare Jude 7.)
15 In this corrupt system of things where Christians have to live and conduct themselves within the bounds of Christian teaching, we must avoid developing the thinking and viewpoint of those who advocate wrong conduct. On all sides it seems that sex of every kind is a commodity to be bought and sold. Many coming to a knowledge of the truth have had experience in the old system and have in times past governed their lives by its thinking. Now they have come out of that system into God’s arrangement of things. They have made their minds over, put on the new personality and want to live lives in accordance with the righteous standards and principles of God’s Word.—Eph. 4:19-24.
16. (a) Against what must a Christian be on guard in giving consideration to his moral conduct? (b) How do events of Noah’s day and of the time of Sodom and Gomorrah bear on this matter? (c) Show how the application of Romans 2:12-16 is of value in this regard.
16 It is vitally necessary that all of us who have been called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light of truth seriously consider how we think and how we act. We do not condone what God condemns. We should not want to walk as near the brink of wrongdoing as possible, feeling that we have certain rights and determinations that we ourselves can make if we choose. Nor should we excuse ourselves by saying that there is no direct writing in black and white in the Scriptures dealing exactly and in the most minute detail with a certain course of doubtful conduct. There is no evidence that, in the days of Noah, there was a written law condemning what the angels were doing in cohabiting with the daughters of men. But it was nevertheless wrong, immoral and wicked. God saw that the earth came to be ruined and filled with violence. He destroyed that world of wickedness, saving only eight righteous souls. (Gen. 6:11, 12; 1 Pet. 3:19, 20) Later God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for the wicked practice of sodomy. But there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that the people of that time had any written rules laid down in black and white from God specifically forbidding such practices. (Gen. 13:13; 19:24, 25) God had put the faculty of conscience into man from the beginning. Man fundamentally knows what is right and what is wrong, what practices are evil and condemned by God. (Rom. 2:12-16) Man basically knows what God intended when he put the procreative powers in the man and woman and made it possible by the sexual union of the two to produce offspring. Therefore, man basically knows that sodomy is wrong, that oral copulation is wrong, that bestiality is wrong, along with adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and like practices. That is why, in order to promote family unity, both husband and wife must act within the bounds of godly thinking, based on the principles of the Word of God. This can result in lasting joy and happiness in the family circle.
17. Name another pitfall to be avoided in the marriage bond.
17 It is also to be noted that the intimacy of the marriage bond is not to be used as a weapon against one’s marriage mate for some selfish gain, or just in one’s own interests. The apostle Paul counseled: “Let the husband render to his wife her due; but let the wife also do likewise to her husband. Do not be depriving each other of it, except by mutual consent.” Each mate should consider the needs of the other in the marriage bond, even as Paul wrote: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1 Cor. 7:3, 5; 10:24.
18. Where do we get sound advice on marriage and on keeping it honorable?
18 Jehovah’s visible earthly organization has provided much helpful information for married persons to consider, which can be to their blessing. This counsel and advice come from none other than Jehovah himself through his Word. When the apostle Paul wrote that marriage should be “honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement,” he meant just that, and those who are interested in a happy, joyful married life together can have such a marriage by adherence to that good advice of Paul to the Hebrew Christians.—Heb. 13:4.
19. What further problems will be discussed bearing on the matter of marriage, family unity and peace among God’s servants?
19 Herein we have discussed a happy marriage arrangement where both husband and wife are dedicated and baptized Christians working for the same goals and interested in the same things. Many servants of Jehovah, however, find themselves in the position of being married to an unbeliever, or perhaps separated from their mate. How do those in such a position, who have children to rear and who want a happy life, meet their many problems? What is the advice of God’s Word for these servants of Jehovah? The next article will discuss these points.
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Both parents should cooperate in matters of discipline
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Do you get up early enough to help your children to get ready for school?