Family: The Need to Define it Rightly and Lead it Righteously

What in the World are You Thinking?

In our Western culture, we are constantly presented with different worldviews on marriage and family issues that include homosexuality, affairs, divorce, and a host of other alternatives. What are the effects of presenting and living out these views? How do these living conditions affect us, our beliefs, and our children? God has a clear definition of what marriage and the family should look like, but what message are we as the church really communicating to our children and the world around us?

Todd WagnerDec 7, 2008

We have been having a lot of fun with a little series called What in the World Are You Thinking? What we're dealing with here is the basic idea of a worldview. We talked about how worldviews have a specific framework. All of them do. It's a basic understanding of who God is, of who man is, and why man is in the state and condition he's in, and what we do to restore what God intended man to be or for man to be the full glory of whatever it is he was designed to be.

We have been working through both the framework which constitutes that idea and then individual implications of it. We had some fun looking over these last weeks at some specific areas where worldview manifests itself. We looked at a biblical worldview of government and the role of government, which is to prosecute evil and to protect against terror. We talked about other divine institutions in the context of that message.

The second one was the church. The role of the church is to correct, to reprove, to remind, to show compassion, and to exhort. The third divine institution is the family, and the purpose of family is to educate. What I want to do tonight is focus on a biblical worldview of the divine institution called family and whether or not we have a right to redefine that. Governments all around the world are in vigorous debates even now about whether or not a family should be defined as one man and one woman.

There is much discussion as to whether it shouldn't just be a covenant commitment and an agreement to love and serve one another between any two individuals. There's even a debate whether we need to even limit it to two individuals, and in other places there's a debate as to whether or not that covenant even needs to be made. Is family something that requires an expression of lasting commitment to one another?

One of the things I wrestled with as a young man was a view of who this God is. Is he a wonderful maker or is he a wonderful oppressor, someone who wants to rip me off, who wants to jerk away from me the freedom and fullness of life I thought could be found as I went my own way?

As I grew and then eventually, by God's grace, began not to identify him for what I thought he was but to listen to him and to watch him work in and through lives of others, I saw who God has always been and who history has revealed him to be, which is a loving God who wants me to understand that whenever I try to redefine life in any way apart from him, it produces horror and suffering in my life and in the lives of others.

That is true when you redefine the idea of government. It is true when the church wavers from its purpose. It is true when you redefine how you can find life in relationships and what ultimately is the most significant of all human relationships in the context of marriage, in the context of a male and a female and the origins of a family.

What I want to do is spend the first part of my message tonight focusing on the consequences of our world drifting from family, from God's purposes for it and God's definition of it. In other words, family and marriage was not something humankind invented; therefore, it is not ours to continually reinvent or to redefine or to reconstitute. It is something that was here before us and will be here after us.

Whenever we drift away from the standard for family, the standard for government, or the standard for church, there is immense suffering. The people in Goma are suffering now because government has no ability to protect and has no will to prosecute evil. There is lawlessness and terror in Goma because there is no divine institution. There is no strength of unity and coalition of man that says, "This is evil, and this is good."

What you have is a number of individuals who assert their own authority and power, and they have called things that are evil right and justifiable. I will tell you who is suffering most in the context of Goma. It is women and children. It is the weakest among us, and it is always that way. Guess who suffers when we redefine family, when we redefine marriage as a matter of convenience for our sexual identity and expression.

Guess who suffers when we say marriage is only something we should stay in as long as it emotionally is palatable to me, as long as my will allows me to continue to cohabit with somebody. Guess who suffers when we even move away from the necessity of covenant commitment and believe cohabitation is appropriate. It is the weakest among us: women and children.

Now, what I want to do to begin is not take you back to Genesis where God says this is part of his divine institution, which every civilization should build upon the most intimate expression of human relationship: male and female who together reproduce, are fruitful, and multiply. Every time you see marriage, it is always expressed in the constitution of procreation and the purposes of your leadership in that procreation, and to redefine it outside of that causes women to suffer and children to suffer every single time.

What I want to do is not focus initially on Genesis. I want to show you that the sciences are our friends, that when you look at God's claims of truth, when you look at who God says he is, you can look to the sciences, even as we did on the week in this little series when we talked about how the first framework for a worldview is "Who is the Creator? Why are we here?"

We looked at the sciences to show you that the evidence that there is an eternal God who is at the origin of our very existence is supportable by science, that there is no science that would suggest there is any other alternative which is within reason. We can philosophize and we can theorize and we can hope all day long that there is no God we're accountable to so we can create our own reality, but there is no scientific evidence or support for it.

What I want to show you is that there is scientific evidence for us maintaining God's description of family. So let's start. I want to start by looking at a statement from five Dutch social science professors who wrote a work on the deterioration of marriage in the Netherlands. I was in the air and traveling for about 50 hours this week, and part of that put me next to some folks, so I had some interesting conversations.

One of the conversations on row 21 from Dallas to New York had me flying next to two men…one who had redefined marriage to fit his preferences and another who was from Switzerland who did not believe there was any view that should be exalted over another view. He said, "This is good. The Swiss have always been in the middle. Let me mediate this conversation between you."

His view was tolerance was always good, and his view was, "If you believe marriage should be defined this way and he wants marriage to be defined that way, what's the problem? We have redefined marriage in many ways." In fact, the one gentleman said, "Yes. America is primitive. It is still clinging to oppressive, Dark Age ideas, and it is limiting us as a people."

He offered up Europe and, specifically, some of the Netherland regions as examples of progressive enlightenment, that intellectual advancement and progressive secularism have helped Europe move ahead of America. Unbeknownst to them, it happened to be a part of what I had been reading this week. I said, "Really? Do you want to look at Europe with me?" I offered a little bit of commentary about some of the social sciences.

Now, let me just say this. In case you haven't focused lately on Dutch social science professors, they are not what you would call, by nature, evangelical. They are, by nature, more in the left camp or more of the liberal camp. In fact, we're going to hear from these five professors in their effort to reveal the study of the social sciences: one who's a professor in contract law, one who's a professor in family law, one who's a professor of philosophy, one who's a lecturer in social theory, and one who is a lecturer in social and political science.

In July of 2004, this was a study they released. I want to read to you from some of it, and I want you to see the reason God has revealed truth to us is so we might prosper in it. Like any father (and God's favorite name for himself is Father), he wants his children to live lives that are not attacked by deceit, that doesn't declare war on their soul, that doesn't rape them of hope. God is not some cosmic killjoy.

He's not trying to keep you away from life in high school and college and in your 20s and 30s and 40s and 50s and 60s and 70s. He is trying to introduce you to life indeed, and he's saying, "Son, daughter, when you run and find meaning and acceptance and pleasures in these things, there is a price to pay. I love you. Listen to me." Now look at what these men have found as their nation has redefined which wasn't theirs to invent and, therefore, wasn't theirs to define. These are their observations.

They say, "At a time when parliaments around the world are debating the issue of same-sex marriage, as Dutch scholars we would like to draw attention to the state of marriage in the Netherlands. The undersigned represent various academic disciplines in which marriage is an object of study." I've mentioned those guys to you already. "Through this letter, we would like to express our concerns over recent trends in marriage and family life in our country.

Until the late 1980s, marriage was a flourishing institution in the Netherlands. The number of marriages was high, the number of divorces was relatively low compared to other Western countries, and the number of illegitimate births also was low. It seems, however, that legal and social experiments in the 1990s [through intellectual elitism, through social progressivism, secular progressivism] have had an adverse effect on the reputation of man's most important institution."

The reason government is suffering is because those we are raising today who are the future leaders of government tomorrow have been raised by secular progressives and by families that no longer educate a child in the way of righteousness so that when they are old they do not depart from it. So now that they're in positions of influence and leadership and of voting age, they do not continue to have a social construct in the government that prosecutes evil.

There is a raping of our children, and there is immense suffering in our land. It's interesting. I am not here to throw our government under the bus or the Netherlands' government under the bus. I am not here to kind of wag my finger at families that aren't raising children in righteousness. I will tell you why we're doing this series. My problem is not with the institution of family or the institution of government as it is known in the world today.

I am consistently concerned about the institution that is also divinely inspired by God and ordained by God that is not doing its job, so it causes the family to not live as it should and allows government to exist, as those families inform it, in a way that is inconsistent with our good. It is the church. This is the church's problem. So I speak to you as the hope of families and governments around the world.

It is the job of church to rebuke, remind, restore, reprove, correct, and to show compassion in the midst of suffering. I will come back to these social scientists and their observations. This week, I visited a friend I have made, a gentleman I got to know when he was here in the States. He's named Bishop John of Rwanda. Bishop John of Rwanda is part of the Anglican Church. We know it as the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

His diocese is in Ruhengeri, Rwanda, which happens to be on the road from Kigali through Rwanda as you get to the border and walk across. I texted Bishop John when I landed and said, "Hey, I'm going to be here. I'm going to be coming back through Ruhengeri on Thursday night." So we got together for a cup of chai and chatted this last Thursday evening.

The reason I love to meet with him is because Bishop John is a unique individual. I don't know if you've been paying attention to the Episcopal Church in America, but it has lost its voice. It is no longer reminding, rebuking, correcting, and restoring. It is, in fact, endorsing the idea that marriage can be redefined, that leadership is flexible, and that the Scriptures are not, in fact, words of life but that they need to be secularly, progressively moved to meet the spirit of the age.

There are a number of Episcopal priests and rectors and leaders in this country who have been defrocked or been intimidated by their bishops that if they do not subscribe to the liberal views of the bishops and the American Episcopal Church as a whole, they will lose their positions of authority, they will lose their specific opportunity to serve, and they will lose their people.

There were a number of guys…in fact, our friend up there at Christ Church, one of the largest Episcopal churches in this region…who held firm and said, "Look. You can take away my church, you can take away my salary, you can take away my job, you can ruin my career, but I will not drift with you. I serve Christ, and as long as our church serves Christ, I will serve with you."

As he was getting ready to be excommunicated by the Episcopal Church, another bishop rose up and said, "You are being kicked out of that diocese, so I will extend my leadership to you." A young little bishop in Rwanda in Ruhengeri said to our little friend in Plano, "How about being in my diocese?"

So my friend Dave and others, 142 pastors in America, are part of the diocese of my friend Bishop John in Ruhengeri, Rwanda, because he said, "The bastard American church no longer educates, no longer rebukes, no longer restores, no longer corrects, but the church of Christ does. Come pursue him with me." We talked, and we were discussing the role of the church and different things, and one of the things Bishop John said that you're going to see show up right here in these social sciences…

He goes, "Todd, I need to tell you this. Continue to call the church to be the church of truth, the church of Scripture, because I have lived and seen the horrors that happen when people turn and kill one another. I have seen physical genocide decimate women, children, and men in my country, and you need to know there is a spiritual genocide that is happening in America that has not yet had its full effect, but women and children will die if this is not addressed."

Folks, this is why we're doing this series. There is an active movement… What happened during the physical genocide in Rwanda in 1994 is effort was made… People were using their life resources. They were pulling all their energies into physically assaulting and destroying a specific tribe of people. What is happening in America today is there is an all-out assault.

People are using resources, they're using their influence, and they are attacking the tribe of Jesus Christ and those who hold true to his Word. They are trying to redefine all that the tribe of Christ holds near and dear and true, which is a right representation of the love of God expressed through his Scriptures revealed in his Son. And I will tell you who's going to suffer first: the weak and the vulnerable among us, women and children especially.

Now watch what these guys write. "Over the past fifteen years, the number of marriages has declined [in the Netherlands], both in absolute and in relative terms. […] [There has been] a spectacular rise in the number of illegitimate births." He goes on to say, "There is a broad base of social and legal research that shows marriage to be the best structure for the successful raising of children. A child of out-of-wedlock parents has a greater chance of experiencing problems in his or her psychological development, health, school performance, and even the quality of future relationships."

Listen to these studies from the Americas. It has not been as extensive in terms of redefinition of marriage, but there is, in our country, a devaluing of commitment. We know that children from fatherless homes are 5 times more likely to commit suicide, 32 times more likely to run away, 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders, 14 times more likely to commit rape, 9 times more likely to drop out of school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

What these men are observing is that children are suffering because we have been on an active crusade to redefine what God says is the foundational institution for our society. They say, "In our judgment, it is difficult to imagine that a lengthy, highly visible, and ultimately successful campaign [genocide against] Dutch citizens [to redefine marriage and say it does not need to be] connected to parenthood and that marriage and cohabitation are equally valid 'lifestyle choices' has not had serious social consequences."

Listen to this. "We call [therefore] upon politicians, academics, and opinion leaders to acknowledge the facts that marriage in the Netherlands is now an endangered institution and that the many children born out of wedlock are likely to suffer the consequences of that development. A national debate about how we might strengthen marriage is now clearly in order."

Yet many will offer to you the progressive nature of that part of the world, and that part of the world is speaking up and saying, "We have not progressed toward good, so don't hold us up as some enlightened people who have insight into human development and evolution. What we are is a society that has devolved, and the weakest among us are suffering the most."

There are a number of studies I've found over here from the social sciences. Recently, in fact, just two weeks ago, a paper was released that is titled "The Relationship Between Family Structure and Adolescent Sexual Activity," and it shows that adolescents from intact families are less likely to have sexual intercourse, have had fewer sexual partners, less likely to have STDs, and are less likely to have ever experienced a pregnancy or live birth when compared to their peers from families that are non-intact.

There's a study here that has recently been released where the French government… I don't know if you've been following what has been going on in France, but it is not the bastion of orthodoxy right now. They have a study that was released in March of 2006, a French parliamentary report that was made up of numerous international roundtables and several visitations to countries all around the world that have either legalized or taken steps toward legalizing same-sex marriage and other redefinitions of marriage.

They have found: "Marriage is not merely the contractual recognition of the love between a couple; it is a framework that imposes rights and duties, and that is designed to provide for the care and harmonious development of the child." In other words, when you in your self-exultant will take what God has said is good and call it unnecessary, you will suffer, but even before you suffer and die, the weak among you will suffer first.

Lincoln is the one who said, "The children of this generation will be the leaders of our government tomorrow." And we wonder how we got here. Answer: we have the government we have today because we've had the families we have had for generations. Now let me throw one more thing out, because I don't want my single friends to think I've forgotten them who have not yet become part of a traditional family.

There is, largely amongst your community, an effort to redefine how best to prepare for marriage. The idea has been not just floated but has been pursued that cohabitation, trying each other out in the context of living intimately together, physically, financially, and geographically, helps you decide if, in fact, you should make the commitment to move into traditional marriage. We've redefined even how we pursue marriage, not only how we flesh out marriage.

You need to know this about cohabitation. Living together weakens your view, ultimately, of what relationships are founded on. Social sciences have told us that affairs are twice as common among couples that have lived together than married couples that did not. Couples that cohabitated before marriage are less sexually faithful after marriage than those married couples that did not live together at first.

Seventy percent of cohabitation couples never get married at all, and those who do have an almost 50 percent higher rate of divorce than couples that did not cohabitate before marriage. Physical and sexual abuse is higher in cohab relationships than in married relationships. Kids who live with cohabitating parents are far more likely to be abused than those whose parents are married to each other. Behavioral issues, financial issues, and abuse are rampant within this genre.

Cohabitation dramatically increases a person's acceptance of divorce. Cohabitating couples that marry are 50 percent more likely. It is called in social sciences the cohabitation effect. So, the reason God is telling you to not act like man and wife before you're man and wife is because he loves you, not because he's trying to rip you off. It is true in every area of life.

We cannot simply move away from God, move away from truth, and not reap the consequences of it. Let me take you to one section of Scripture, and then I want to leave this particular part of our conversation, and we're going to spend about 10 minutes in the arts to shift to where we want to focus in our closing minutes together, which is not just to talk about the world gone bad but to challenge those of us who by grace have come to understand that God is good, to remind us what he wants us to do.

I will tell you that just like children in nontraditional marriage have an increased likelihood to experience STDs, God intends that people who come together in Christian marriage should also be more likely to give their children an STD…not a sexually transmitted disease but a spiritually transmitted devotion. The reason we have, even in the church in America, so few children of traditional marriages growing up to faithfully love Christ is because many of us in the church don't have the disease. We're not sick with our love for Christ and surrender to him.

Just like, many times, we give people shots so they will not get the full flu…we give them a little bit of flu in a small amount so they won't get the real thing…too many people in the church today are living lives that are half devoted, a small percentage devoted. What you're doing is inoculating your children with a mild enough form of Christianity that they will forever be immune from the real thing.

What I want to call us to do is to get the full disease so we can pass on the sickness of love and surrender to Jesus Christ. In Revelation, chapter 2, you have God who screams at us, and he's talking about what happens when the church moves away from God's intention. He says, "I know what you've done, and there have been some good things and even some things that have gotten better from when you started."

In Revelation 2, as he writes to the church in Thyatira, he says in verse 20, _ "But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess…" _ In other words, she has other ideas of truth. She has a different worldview. It is the worldview of the moment. "You have not stayed faithful to your bridegroom Jesus, but you have given yourself away to the adulteress Jezebel."

_ "…she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols." _ In other words, they serve another god. They serve another idea. They have another view of reality, so they sacrifice their lives toward it. Verse 21 says, _ "I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality." _ Beware that if she doesn't pull the weeds that are in her church, eventually there will be no fruit, because the weeds will choke it out.

_ "Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who _ [wed themselves to her idea, the worldview of the age, those who] _ commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds." _ See Europe. See much of America. Watch what he says. See if it doesn't match what Bishop John said happened in Rwanda, women and children first. See if it doesn't match what the social scientists in the Dutch Netherlands have said. See if it doesn't match what I said to you already. Watch what he says. Look at who will suffer.

_ "And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds." _ In other words, you're going to reap what you sow. Your children are going to get a disease, which is not a spiritually transmitted devotion, but it will be a pestilence that will destroy them and destroy the nations they live in, and there will be terror among them and suffering that is unspeakable.

Folks, I don't want my children to lie on a bed of pestilence, so I must learn to sit in seat 21A and have conversations with others who are influencing our nation, who are influencing their communities, who are influencing others. I must learn to love my friends at the office and compete with them through sophisticated arguments rooted in scriptural truth and the social sciences so that they might see that God is a God of love, that the Father is not oppressive but is calling them back to hope.

We must reclaim truth, because truth is what sets us free. Are you people of truth? Then this today is not about the Netherlands. This is not about those who want to redefine marriage. This is about our responsibility, where we are in the world where there is war on the soul and where we are today where there is opportunity to educate in righteousness so our children will grow to be the prophets and leaders of tomorrow.

But let me take you into the world of innocuous Christianity, and let me give you a real-world taste through the arts of what happens when we don't vote for same-sex marriage but when we are unfaithful in our traditional marriages. Listen with me.


As I said, it's way too easy when we're talking about impacting generations to make it so broad we can just wag our fingers and lift our noses up at folks who are in a political arena trying to redefine what marriage is when those of us who are in the context of family relationships don't realize the battle for individual hearts that we have been given specific stewardship over.

Here's where I want to drive this thing home tonight. Here's what I want to do because we have a biblical worldview of family. I want to remind you of the role of family, which means I want to remind you of your role. If you're in a marriage relationship, if you have been given children, or if you are heading that direction, you can still be fruitful and multiply and be part of God's family where he expects you to be a minister of his gospel, a shepherd of his people.

One of the things that consistently haunts me when I am alone is that I know, because of the role God has allowed me to play with this community, that by and large, the spiritual temperature of this family is not going to rise above the level of passion that I and other key leaders at this church set. There will be a few who by grace will push on and persevere and do more.

There will be some who don't give themselves away to the Jezebels that I date, but by and large, this community is going to only rise to the level of passion and commitment to God's Word and faithfulness that God's sovereignly appointed leaders and shepherds pursue. I need to remind you that while that is my terrible privilege in the church, in this institution, you are the shepherds and leaders of another divine institution that will be called into equal account.

Let me say it to you this way. You can do whatever you want in terms of educating your kids in writing and reading and arithmetic if you want. You can send them to public schools, like I do, or private schools if you want. You can send them to great places like Watermark. I've never been around a church that has such excellence for kids from newborn through 18 as we have here, but you can never, ever allow Trinity Christian Academy or Providence or Covenant or Watermark to substitute itself for your role to educate your children.

It is your job to train up your children in righteousness, not Watermark's, not TCA's, not some curriculum in your homeschool program. It is your job. I want to let you know the Wagners go to public schools. My kids are homeschooled, not in reading and writing and arithmetic but in righteousness.

There is never a way that I can ultimately steward the greatest impact and that training away from me in the way I treat my wife, the way I touch my wife when we walk out of restaurants, the way I shepherd our family through commitments monetarily, through their opinion of debt, through their opinion of material possessions, through their opinion of needing to care for others. It falls on my shoulders. It's not the church's job.

I'm grateful that Watermark did a Displace Me opportunity for junior high kids this weekend to identify with poor kids in the world, but that is a supplement to my training and never a substitute. God calls us to be the shepherds, church, and you can never, ever give that away. Do you define marriage the way God wants marriage to be defined? Do you define family biblically? Wonderful.

How are you doing in your biblical role? How are you preparing yourself for that biblical role? The hope of the world starts right here in the way we lead our families. That has been God's call from the beginning. The very first man God lifted up to lead his people out of darkness to a place of freedom, the father of a nation in bondage, when he was getting ready for his leadership moment to end, gathered the people one more time and retold them key important principles.

He gave four messages as he reminded folks of the good word of our Father in heaven. We find those four messages in his second telling of all of them in a book we call duet-nomos, second law, the second telling of the Father's word for you to prosper and not to suffer in bondage to that which declares war against your souls. And guess what he said.

In Deuteronomy 6, he said, _ "Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the _ _ Lord _ _ your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it…" _ "You're leaving the land of oppressive Pharaoh, and we are going to drive out the Jezebels. It's up to you now, family, to wed yourself to me so you can experience freedom."

_ "…so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the _ _ Lord …" _ "That you would know that if you ever redefine any aspect of life apart from me, it will cost you. It will be a bed of pestilence. You need to know this." _ "O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the _ _ Lord , the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey." _ It will be life indeed.

Let me just say this: you should listen and you should do it. He says this. This is important. _ "Hear, O Israel! The _ _ Lord _ _ is our God, the _ _ Lord _ _ is one!" _ In other words, let's start with a biblical worldview as we go. There is a Creator, he is there, and you are accountable to him. He says, _ "You shall love the _ _ Lord _ _ your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." _ Don't fall away from that.

_ "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." _

Listen to me, Christian church. He is not suggesting here that we wear only "WWJD?" bracelets or that we cross-stitch Bible verses and hang them in our homes, that we have welcome mats that say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," that we put crosses in our kitchens and wear them around our necks. You should listen and do it.

The problem is that too many people in the church who have a biblical view of marriage and family, who have cross-stitched verses and doormats with Christ on them and crosses in their kitchen and around their necks, have a mild enough form of Christianity that they are inoculating their kids from getting sick with the real thing. You are not educating your kids in righteousness; you are conforming them to the lukewarm church.

So our government is, at best, lukewarm, and we don't call evil evil and good good anymore, because children have not been taught passionate pursuit of Christ. Last week, Michael Fleming was here, and you heard Michael speak. Michael shared with my kids about some things as we were having lunch together. He turned to them and said in my presence, "Hey, let me ask you guys a question," as if I wasn't there.

He said, "What's the best thing your parents do to raise you?" I thought, "Uh-oh. Let's see what comes out now." I want to tell you, by the grace of God, one spoke up first and said, "They teach us to order our entire lives by God's Word. Last summer my dad gave us 30 verses and said, 'We're done with reading, writing, and arithmetic for a season, so we can focus on righteousness. Let's hide these words in our hearts so we can begin to order our lives in a way that wherever we are we might live this way for him.'"

Another one chimed in and said, "I learned from my mom, specifically, about how we don't need to be sucked up into the vortex of materialism and consumerism and dress the way many of my friends are in this community. We buy things cheap at garage sales or we don't buy them at all. We don't need clothes to make us beautiful. Real beauty comes from somewhere else." Another chimed in and said, "The words servanthood and leader are consistently spoken in this home."

Another one said, "We don't just eat rice and beans around here. When we eat rice and beans, we go to Scripture and we talk about compassion and caring for the poor and why we live this way." Another one said, "We don't just decide to have Christmas be something that's about more than us. We don't just redefine Christmas; we go to the Scriptures to see why God wants us to think about Christmas differently than the rest of us." The consistent theme was, "Our parents show us that everything we do we do because our loving Father who cares for us speaks to us and shepherds us toward life."

Now I have to tell you something. Had he asked the question, "What are some things your parents do wrong?" I think we could have had the bell rung a number of times just as frequently, because my kids do not have a perfect parent. My kids have a perfect Father in heaven, and I am a steward of leadership over them for him. I often have to look at my children and say, "Oh man, may God's grace be on you," because there is much that I model that is not of him.

But by his incredible grace, the strong leaning and bent of my leadership in my family is toward Christ and his Word, and I am training my kids up to love him. I've asked their forgiveness consistently when they are in the presence of a man given to anger, lest they learn his ways. I call it sin in my life when it happens, and I show them where in God's Word they need to be forewarned to solve things with a three-second flash like I sometimes do.

I want you to know it is your job, family of God, to raise the future prophets of this nation, the future ministers of this church. It's your job to raise kids who will be righteous in their schools. You will never do that if you don't know how to do that or where to go to get that. So listen to your Father who wants you, as a steward of his children, to love them and lead them well. One of the things I did is I sat down and went, "What am I trying to produce?"

So here's my list. I ask myself all the time, "Are the things I'm doing going to produce what God wants me to produce in my kids?" Here are some of the things on my list. I said, "Lord, I want to raise kids who aren't going to make a temporal splash but are going to make an eternal impact. I want to raise kids who won't be rich and good-looking but will be rich in good works." So I order my life to train them for that.

"I want kids who aren't just going to be beautiful. I want kids who are going to be sanctified. I want kids, Father, who are going to not be politically correct but who are going to be theologically sound. I want kids who are not going to be safe and cautious but who are going to be surrendered and ready. I want kids who are not going to be easygoing masters of comfortable conversations. I want children who are going to be wise prophets who speak the truth in love."

So I model that for them, I coach them, and I tell them to brace themselves. I don't want them to be kids who are spoiled and consumed with comfort. I want them to be servants burning with compassion. I don't want kids who are soft and conforming to others. I want kids who will step up and speak out when nobody else will, because that's what God wants. I don't want lemmings; I want leaders. I don't want people who will fear man; I want people who will fear God to come from my home.

I don't want somebody who is Heisman trophy bound as much as I want somebody who is worthy of a heavenly crown. So I have to ask myself, "Am I driving him as much toward that end as I am toward athletic excellence and joy?" I don't want kids who are churchgoers; I want kids who are Christ followers. I don't want cowards; I want those who are strong and courageous. I don't want those focused on earth but who are heavenly minded.

I don't want professors of Christ but kids who are possessors of the Holy Spirit. I don't want kids as much who are Ivy League educated as I want kids who are heavenly approved when evaluated. So, the emphasis in my home is more toward victory in Christ than valedictorian-ism. How are you doing? You have to come up with your own list, because you are the shepherd of God's family and you will be held into account.

Church, we can say all we want about the problem with people redefining family or we can start by being the family and being the heads of it that God asks us to be and to prepare for the moment when God gives me the precious privilege of aiming an arrow so that when it flies it flies where God says the target is: toward truth and righteousness. That is the hope of the country. That is the hope of the world. That is the delight of our Father, to have that expressed through us, and it is what will allow our children to be living lives that are blessed.

Anything else is not the world's problem or the government's issue; it is our failure, church. How are you doing? How are you doing with your biblical worldview of family, Dad? Here's your application. Are you ready? Two very quickly. First, in all of the ways you haven't been about these things, that you've never sat down on purpose to figure out where your children are going to grow and go, gather them around the table tonight and ask their forgiveness.

Maybe call the ones who have already left your shepherding and leadership and acknowledge the pain and the confusion that's in their lives because you failed to be that man in the moments God gave you to be that man, that you didn't love their mom the way God says you should love their mom, that you didn't shepherd them the way God says you should shepherd them, that you gave your heart to other things and you left them as orphans and Jezebel wooed their hearts.

You tell them that you grieve and need their grace and forgiveness, but that changes not the fact that the Father in heaven still loves them and there is no reason for them to destroy their lives, even though you didn't build into them. You ask forgiveness. You make amends where you can, both in the long past and in the present day.

Then secondly, while you still have a moment, you either prepare for that moment that you're a daddy, that you're a mama, or tonight you say, "Never again will I not fulfill God's purpose for me in family, and I will begin to order my life. I will ask God, 'What do you want me to produce?' and then I will build a strategy in the context of community under other more experienced family members in the body who will help me be that mother and that father for the glory of God and the good of my children."

And you connect, and you commune, and you ask for others to speak, and you ask for others to observe, and you lead. This is not about us getting the Federal Marriage Amendment passed, though we ought to speak loudly and persuasively for it to be. This is about us amending our lives so we, the church, live as his family should live. Amen? That's worship.

Father, I thank you for a chance to be this family tonight and to be reminded of these things. Let us go and do both and ask forgiveness and repent and gather children to us and speak of the way we have inoculated them with a mild devotion toward you and ask you and them to be gracious toward us as our hearts are recaptured by purpose and our lives are again brought to the attention of Scripture and as we yield ourselves to you and your purposes.

Father, then may we listen and do. May we follow you with full devotion, not blaming the church, society, school, or culture, but standing up, shepherding as you would have us lead because we worship you. May we connect with others who will spur us that direction and lovingly call us into account where we fail.

May your grace be upon all of us, and may we, Father, walk with you as obedient children, that we might lead the children you gave us in the way that you, as a Father, long for them to be led. We pray this for your glory and their good and for the hope of the world until you come and deal with the evil that is so thick among us. May we love our Jesus and run from the Jezebel that seduces us to compromise. In Christ's name, amen.

About 'What in the World are You Thinking?'

How do you look at the world? What influences your perspective on the challenges and people you interact with every day? In this 10-part series, Todd Wagner explains why your worldview ? the lens you look at the world through ? matters. You?ll discover what it means to have a biblical worldview, and how our failure to look at the world through God?s "lens" impacts our lives, culture and our world.