Counsel of Chalcedon
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1989 Issue 7

The foundation of family and marriage in contemporary thinking is romantic love. The motivation which brings two people together to unite in marriage is very commonly romantic love and too often little else.

Romantic love as the motive of marriage is not a new force in history. It has a long history behind it. In Roman history, even more plain, sexual love was held to be, by the third century of the Christian era the best reason for marriage. In terms of this idea of marriage, it was expected that the man rival the gods as a great lover, while the woman was expected to out-Venus Venus. Technique in marriage was held to be everything, and anyone not interested in sexual sophistication was despised as an amateur. Instead of increasing marital happiness, this Roman emphasis on sexual love only intensified marital disharmony and increased the breakdown of marriage and the family.

Is it possible to have a Christ-centered home in today's world of trouble and sin? If you are a Christian you are concerned about this problem. You may be concerned mostly because you recognize that your home falls far short of any such description. If this is true, it is by no means true of you and your home alone. You are in the company of many other Christians who, in their frank moments, will tell you that they too are facing the same difficulty. Let's not fool ourselves. For the most part, Christian homes come pitifully short of the Biblical norms; and we are all aware of it.

The family can be a major source of counseling problems. It is here that different backgrounds and habits are brought under one roof. The different family members are influenced by various and diverse surroundings. All of these differences allow for confusion, misunderstanding and rebellion. Added to these common problems is the pressure of a humanistically oriented society whose faulty and flawed presuppositions are based on its own fallen rationalism and depraved experience. Who will counsel those who have been influenced by these pseudo-alternatives?

Counseling the family as a unit or as individual members has its foundation in theological presuppositions, not in the presuppositions of secular humanism. The family is a divine institution, established by God at creation. The family is not the result of a social evolutionary process but of a divinely ordained institution.

God has delegated to parents, not to the church or the state, the most basic powers of human life and society. Parents are given: (1) The Control of Children, Gen. 18:19. The control of children is the control of the future; and that is why the state is increasingly claiming this power. (2) The Control of Property, Exod. 20:15. God has placed the control and stewardship of property into the hands of the family. The state, however, is usurping this power through taxation, confiscation, regulation, and eminent domain. (3) The Control of Inheritance, Prov. 13:22. The children of Christians are blessed by an inheritance, spiritual and material, and God's work flourishes as a result. Now the state makes the claim of being the real executor of the estate. (4) The Control of Welfare, I Cor. 5:8. Welfare of the family, old and young, is the responsibility of the family, with the assistance of the church and voluntary associations, not the state. The church assists the family through the diaconate, Acts 6:1f. (5) The Control Of Education, Deut. 6:1ff. Parents are given the responsibility of educating their children, with the help of the church, not the state; but, the state claims the right to control and provide education from a humanistic, socialistic, anti-Christian perspective.

"Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment." James 2:1 weighs heavy on my heart and mind and is a constant reminder of the awesome responsibility of coming before others as a teacher of God's Word. As we approach the subject of Biblical discipline together, allow me to humbly confess my own inadequacies and praise God for his grace in spite of my unfaithfulness. It is my prayer that the Lord would use the words of this sinner to build up the congregation of the Lord and to bring about true repentance and reformation in the area of Biblical discipline.

Discipline is a way of life and not only involves education in God's ways but, also training to do His will, chastisement to correct errors and encouragement to spur us on to more perfect obedience. In other words, Biblical discipline is a labor to bring God's authority to bear on our children.

An important aspect of the Christian marriage service, which was once common in many areas and still survives in some, was the crowning of the bride and groom. In the Armenian wedding service, a crown with a cross was worn. Prior to the wedding, on the eve thereof, in the home of the bridegroom, and, separately, in the home of the bride, bride and groom were crowned and seated on a chair, symbolizing a throne. Friends and relatives then danced the circle dance around the crowned person, singing the crowning song. After each stanza, the chorus took the crowned person on a tour of the great Armenian monastaries, declaring in song, "Now you are facing (the Monastery of) the Holy Cross, wearing red and green. May God keep you blameless to enjoy your Queen," or "Now you are facing (the Monastery of) St. Thomas, wearing red and green. May God keep you blameless to enjoy your Queen," and so on.

From the earliest period in the history of the Church, the duty of Family instruction has been emphasized as the most important of all agencies in perpetuating the knowledge of Divine truth. In Deuteronomy 11: 19, the command is thus laid upon Israel: "Therefore shall ye lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes; and ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." The same injunction is renewed in the parting address of Moses, just before he ascended Mount Nebo to die: "Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day; when ye shall command your children to observe to do all the words of this law." In the new Testament, it is only necessary to refer to Paul's commendation of Timothy, as one that "from a child had known the holy Scriptures," and in whom the immense advantages of a pious descent were signalized, as he "called to remembrance the unfeigned faith that dwelt first in his grandmother Lois, and in his mother Eunice." Without pausing to collate the testimonies upon this topic, it will serve our purpose better to indicate the conspicuous advantages possessed by the Family for the transmission of this traditional knowledge and influence.

Who has not seen a plaque on a living room wall that read, "God Bless Our Home". That is certainly a proper prayer and desire. Blessing and happiness in the home and family is a Biblical ideal and goal. However, we need to change the quote to read as Proverbs 3:33 tells us, "God bless the Home of the Righteous." Only those who live in terms of the Word of God can pray and expect God to bless their home. (I really wish someone would produce plaques or "stitchery" with that verse on it. It would be a good evangelistic conversation starter). This article is an outline from Proverbs for Wisdom for the Family.

"Body" Verbs - Proverbs 4:20-27, 6:12-19, Romans 3:10-18.

Eve is the mother of us all. She is the one woman who embodied potentially all that is female. If you want to know what it is to be truly woman, look at Eve. You resemble her physically and spiritually, because, when she lived on the earth around 6000 years ago, you were in her loins. You, very literally, are her daughter.

(Genesis 1:26-28) Eve was made with Adam. God created Eve, as Adam, in the image of God, as the crown of creation, with true knowledge, Col. 3:10, true righteousness, Eph. 4:24, true holiness, Eph. 4:24, and dominion over all creation. She, with Adam, was commissioned by God to multiply, replenish the earth, subdue it, rule over it, and benefit from it under the word and blessing of God, the Creator. This Image and Mandate define the meaning of personhood for women, as well as men. Eve, with Adam, was to be a prophet, priest, and king under God in fulfilling the Dominion Mandate.

In the early history of this country, the courts, especially the United States Supreme Court, upheld traditional family autonomy. These early cases rested upon a Christian understanding of the marriage relationship. The United States Supreme Court's 1888 opinion in Maynard v. Hill is illustrative of this long line of precedent:

Whilst marriage is often termed by text writers and in decisions of courts a civil contract ... it is something more than a mere contract. The consent of the parties is of course essential to its existence, but when the contract to marry is executed by the marriage, a relation between the parties is created which they cannot change. Other contracts may be modified, restricted, or enlarged, or entirely released upon the consent of the parties. Not so with marriage. The relation once formed, the law steps in and holds the parties to various obligations and liabilities. It is an institution, the maintenance of which in its purity the public is deeply interested, for it is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.

The enterprise of Christian education must be understood within the context of the mission of the church in the world. The Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 gives the church the three-fold mandate of discipling the nations by the gospel; planting the church throughout the nations; and educating those who are discipled by the gospel; "teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you...." This makes Christian education essential to the Great Commission, not a project to be undertaken alongside of the Great Commission. If the church is not involved in Christian education it is being unfaithful to the mandate of her Lord and Savior.

A man presents himself to his physician, prior to his trip to South America. He requests penicillin, the long acting kind, prior to departure. He states that he intends to engage in sexual intercourse and knows from previous experience that he will most likely contract certain venereal diseases. Would you "prophylactically treat?"

This example is analogous to decisions we must make regarding teenage pregnancy. Several years ago, a favorite topic of social planners and politicians was the issue of adolescent sexuality. The actual focus of the discussion was on preventing the consequences, since that was the tangible aspect. At that time, the consequences were pregnancy and various sexually-transmitted diseases. The diseases have changed through the years but pregnancy was usually of more concern than the diseases. The problem has become even more imperative now because no longer are the consequences simply annoying; with the advent of AIDS they are fatal. The solutions that have been proposed are faulty because the focus on consequences is faulty.

For the second time in four years we gather together in the presence of God and these witnesses to receive a young baby into the Lord" (Psa. 127:3). Consequently they are divine blessings that involve spiritual obligations.

In this ceremony we do not receive a biological child of the parents, but we place this child into this family by an act of adoptive love. Both means of receiving an "heritage of the Lord" are God-blessed and equally strong.