I recently shared some thoughts about single moms. I suggsted that single moms and their children are the ‘widows and orphans’ that the New Testament speaks of.
Now let’s back up a bit. Before there can be a single mom, there is usually an intact family. (I say usually, because I’m not speaking of the single moms who have chosen that life. I’m speaking of widows and divorced women.) It is fact now that 50% of marriages in America end in divorce. I think the number is much smaller for marriages that end due to death of a partner. What I want to focus on today is the families that are broken by divorce.
In many, many cases, the cause is a flaw in the worldview of the man. He is the man of the house, the father, the husband, the family leader. I believe that he has the first responsibility to see that his family remains intact. There are two simple scriptures in the New Testament that instruct men on how to do that:
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:3-5
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…” Ephesians 5:24-26
This is where the worldview of the man, the leader, is so important. If a man chooses to follow Christ and serve Him, he will seek to be like Him. To be like Christ means to put others first, to be a servant, to give himself for others. His family is at the top of this list.
There are many reasons that divorce happens to a family, but in my circle of friends, it is almost 100% due to a selfish act or lifestyle on the part of the man. His focus, if it ever was on God and family, has shifted to himself. I have quite a few friends and family members affected by this, and the actual reason for divorce can vary greatly: extra-marrital affairs, molestation of the children, drug use and other illegal activity, alcoholism, a desire for freedom. These have all happened to people I know, and it seems that each man has a different problem.
But the root cause is the same: a desire to please himself, to be entertained, to seek pleasure at the expense of others. The focus is on self, and not on self-sacrifice.
Now let me stop and share my disclaimer: Women are not immune to temptation or selfishness. I do not dare to preach to men or to tell them how to lead a family. I am making an observation, which leads to the 2nd half of this post. Read on:
This epidemic of broken families, with women left to raise children alone and provide an income, and children left confused, hurt, and betrayed, starts somewhere. It starts in the heart of a man. And the heart of a man is shaped and molded in the home of his parents.
I’ll wait while that sinks in.
I may not be able to change what has happened to my friends and family, but I can affect the future with the chidlren I raise. And having boys has really grounded me when it comes to the importance of deliberate parenting (which is the subject of a future post!).
With our two little boys, we are raising future men. I remind myself of this every single day when I tell them not to jump on the couch for the thousandth time, wash their dirty little feet after a long day of play, bandage their cuts when they get hurt, and watch them devour brownies like there’s no tomorrow. They are loud, dirty, rambunctious little guys right now, but very soon they will be men, husbands, fathers and leaders.
Wow. Wow. Wow. What a responsibility! Everything we do in our home shapes them into the men they will become. What are we putting in their hearts and minds?
Are we teaching them that having a good time is what it’s all about? Are we extolling the virtues of a college degree and a high-paying job? Or are we teaching them to die daily to themselves and serve others, to work “as unto the Lord and not unto men?” Are they being shown an example of manly leadership? Do we show them how a true man leads his family? Have they been taught self-control? Boundaries? Humility? Honesty?
These are the things that I think of as each day goes by, not only when I talk to a hurt and exhausted single mom, but also as I talk to my children throughout each day. Every day, every moment, we spend with our children is a chance to influence the future and possibly change the world.
So look at your children and see the future. Do you like what you see?
“Raising children is the most important job in the universe.” – Dr. James Dobson
“The way to find the right person is to run as hard and as fast as you can toward Jesus – then take a look at who is running beside you.” -Pastor Tommy Nelson, on choosing a mate