Many conservative Christians know that the culture war we are fighting is a desperate battle for our children. Now fighting for your children and grandchildren is a noble enterprise. It is what we are called to do. When such fighting is necessary, as in a fallen world it constantly is, it is something we are called to do for the sake of others, and this includes our children.
“And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses” (Neh. 4:14).
But as good as this is, we need to move past it. Once we realize that we are in a long war, a war in which the first blood shed was that of Abel, and the last blood shed will be that of the final martyr, an honored someone who will no doubt not be born for many centuries yet, we will finally recognize the importance of the time we are called to invest in our children.
Because it is a long war, it crosses generations. In a very short space of time, your children will join you in the line, and a short time after that, their children will join them. This means that we begin by fighting for our children, but we must end by fighting by means of them. We must do two things simultaneously — we must fight today’s battles, and we must recruit and train tomorrow’s warriors.
If I am allotted more than the proverbial three score and ten, I hope that as my children and grandchildren are hitting their stride, and my contribution is that of making penetrating geezer comments from the corner of the living room after sabbath dinner, I will see myself as still fighting through them.
I see this in my own father — still fruitful in his own ministry — whenever he hears of any skirmish or battle that his descendants have gotten into. He is an old war horse, restless in his stall, wanting to get into it himself. But he actually is “into” it. None of us would be where we are now without him, and I hope that I have the same privilege that he has been given — that of seeing a lot of downstream damage done to the work of the adversary.
Decades from now, when my descendants are giving fits to whatever progressives are calling themselves in the 22nd century, I hope that my name is a hissing and a byword to them. That’s a pious wish. So a short-sighted man who throws himself into ministry, neglecting his family in order to do so, is not just demonstrating for us that he doesn’t understand his wife and kids. He is demonstrating for us the fact that he doesn’t understand the nature of true ministry.
“One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Tim. 3:4-5)
“If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly” (Tit. 1:6).
This is not just thrown in there as a mindless rule, so that ecclesiastical fussbudgets might have something to agitate about during elder elections. If a man’s children don’t care what he believes about the Bible, then why should we? This is a line of argument that Paul endorses. If his children have walked away from what he says is important about the Bible, but we are still hanging on to his every word, the chances are good that we have adopted a false and unbiblical set of weights and measures, and are hanging on to the wrong words, or to good words for the wrong reasons.
Jesus said that we were to evaluate teachers by the kind of fruit they produced. And what better place to check than their garden at home? A man who is wrong about children will find it difficult to be right about anything else.
So what we need are more children with the right kind of bright in their eyes, like Jonathan after he ate the honey. But in that case, it was in spite of his father’s foolish prohibition. May God spare us from the indignity of having children who do well despite us. We want children who have that kind of bright in their eyes because they have fathers who gave them the honey.