Monday, May 03, 2004

How To Be A Godly Father

The following are some of my thoughts on how to be a godly father.

How To Be A Godly Father


Read the following passages of scripture: Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 5:1-20; Galatians 5

Define The Problem

The question of how to be a godly father is not something we would normally hear outside the church. You would probably think it is easy define what a father is, but in today’s society, that is probably harder than it should be. What are some definitions of father today? There are several approaches to this question; for instance, we could discuss what are the right things for a father to do. (Provide financially for the family, stay with the children’s mother, remain sexually pure, attend church with the family, not being violent in the home.) The main thing we want to address in this workshop is the role of a father in teaching godly character to his children. The bottom line up front here is that you can’t do that, not without the help of God. It takes a supernatural act of God to transform our beings, or in this case to transform your children. Having said that, we still have a responsibility to teach our children godly character. An hour and a half is not long enough to deal with this topic. Hopefully we will spur you on toward your responsibility to teach your children to be godly.

What does it mean to be godly? The idea of godly character for the Christian is tied up in our ideas of morality. We all have ideas that influences how we think about what is right and wrong. Often these ideas are very under the surface, we are not articulate about them. I’m willing to bet, oh wait, I might have just broken a moral principle that some of you are holding. What I am talking about is different approaches to morality.

List of Do's and Don'ts

A simplistic version of morality is a list of Do's and Don'ts. Don’t smoke, dance or chew; or go with girls who do. We teach this to our children when we don’t tell them why we have rules


Might Makes Right -

One approach is might makes right. This idea says that if I’m able to enforce my will, or I’m powerful, or if I can get away with something, then its okay. There are ways that we teach this, perhaps unintentionally. When we tell our children that they are to do something because we are in charge. We don’t have to only say we are in charge; we might communicate the same message through non-verbal communication. If we as fathers rule the roost mere by our force of personality, then we can run the risk of creating an environment where something that I call card holding takes place. What I mean by that, is the children don’t adopt our values, but they have a plan. The plan is that if I wait, I’ll be out from my father’s rule.

Don’t Stump Your Toe Approach: Utilitarian – Mitigate Results

This approach looks at the commandments in the Bible as merely God telling us not to stump our toe. For instance, the command about not eating pork is explained as related to the disease triganosis found in hogs. This is a parasite that is harmless if the pork is well cooked but if you eat under cooked pork you might catch this parasite. While there may or may not be any connection between health and God’s command, people often look at God’s commands on the bases of God protecting us from bad outcomes. Certainly there are connections between doing evil and judgment, sometimes brought on by an apparent earthly cause and effect relationship. Once the cause and effect relationship is understood though, then one might figure out other ways to get around the effect. Isn’t abortion an issue that is partly about mitigating effects caused by certain behaviors? If we explain the prohibition in the OT about eating unclean animals as merely a health issue, and now we are more able to negotiate those health concerns, what about other commands. We may teach utilitarian morality to our children when we use punishments as our sole means of instilling morality.

Norms (relativism) –
Rather than talk about morality from a system of right and wrong, some people look at what is accepted and rejected by the group. The person who holds to this type of morality sees world as something might be right in one setting and not right in another. We teach this to our children when we have practices in the home that we change when other people come to visit our homes. I have found in Arab society that if the group does not know something, it is fair game.

Rights –
“We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” What rights to we have? Some parents tell their kids that they need to stick up for themselves. Not only do we teach this by our words but also how we deal with customer service at the store.

Virtue –
A virtue is an ideal type of behavior. One is not merely not stealing, but also respecting the property rights of others. Attempting to find the owner of a lost item. And virtues also manifest themselves in not

Teach Children a multideminsional Picture

Children adopt a lot of these ideas from our actions, and can have an inmature view of morality. So when we teach we need to ensure that they progress from stage to the next in their moral development. This means having a Biblical worldview regarding morality. Unlike philosophers how argue one theory over another, the Bible sees morality as a multideminsional picture. The Bible does not teach simplistic one aspect of morality, but teaches propositional truth about morality. It teaches rules and teaches virtues. It teaches that there is judgement, and God is the ultimate power. In that sense and that sense only, might makes right. The key is to have good in the might and only God is good. The scripture teaches that even when "the Gentiles who have not the law, do by nature what is in the law, they are a law unto themselves". In a sense, even moral relativism has an aspect that is positive. The Gentiles in this way find out their need for grace by entering the "school house of the law" and find their need for a gracious savior through that school house.


E-mail From My Friend Scott.....

Terry

I wanted to post this on your blog but was unable to because the comments must be under 1000 characters. So maybe you can post it.

I enjoyed the topic on how to be a Godly father. About 15 into the talk I was not sure how this was going to end up, but at the end it all came togeather. I loved the part about posting the 10 commandments in the house. Last night when I was saying good night to Steven he was asking why I went away this weekend and I told him I learned from other men in the church on how to be a Godly man, father and husband. So I started to talk about the 10 commandments to him. I asked him if he new any of them he said I think so. So we started with the one that gets him in the most trouble “Honor thy father and thy mother” We read the commandment together then we talked about it for about 5 min. He was excited to listen on what I had to say about this. I was trying to talk to him like a 5 year old and this helped, he said” he would try to do what this commandment says and if he is having problems with this he would ask Jesus for help”.So going back to the basic with your children is great starting place instead of saying “do as I say not as I do” “do as the bible says and has Jesus has done”….Thank you Terry.


Scott
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