THE BATTLE FOR THE FAMILY
Fair Avenue Baptist Church
Sunday Morning Sermon
February 22, 1998
During the critical Civil War battle at Gettysburg, a key engagement occurred near the crest of a hill called Little Round Top. On that wooded hill, Yankees from Maine and Confederates from Alabama slaughtered and maimed one another in one of the bloodiest skirmishes of the war.
Commanding the 20th Maine Regiment was a young colonel named Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Prior to the Confederate attack, Col. Strong Vincent explained to Chamberlain the importance of defending their position on Little Round Top.
“This is the left of the Union line,” Vincent told him. “You are to hold this ground at all costs.”
Chamberlain was well aware that if the Confederates could breach or flank his unit, the rear of the Union army would be exposed, the battle would probably be lost, and the forces of the South would have an unobstructed route to the Capitol in Washington. The small piece of turf on a Pennsylvania hillside had to be defended.
That’s precisely what Chamberlain and his men did. Again and again rebel soldiers stormed their position. Again and again the regiment from Maine held the high ground. They didn’t retreat. And they didn’t surrender. The unwavering bravery of those men helped seal the victory.
I believe today we are now embroiled in the most pivotal battle of our generation, the fight for the family. Our “Little Round Top” is the family.
And like Gettysburg, this battle demands courage:
the courage of husbands and wives who will turn from the seductive voices of the culture and make their marriages work;
the backbone of dads and moms who will reject the poison of materialism and shape the conscience and character of the next generation.
Each family is an irreplaceable stitch in the fabric of social order.
When one stitch frays, the fabric is weakened.
When several stitches fray, the fabric tears.
And when most of the stitches fray, the fabric disintegrates.
And the sound of stitches fraying is heard every day.
An anguished wife discovers her husband’s adultery,
a teenage girl looking for love get pregnant,
another husband leaves home.
These are the sounds of America’s tattered families, firsthand witnesses to the rapid decline and relentless disintegration of our culture.
What could possibly halt this unraveling? The Word of God reveals three simple and important themes related to the family.
FIRST, God gave us His Word to help us survive in a hostile world.
Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Christians often complain about the fact that the Bible can’t be read in public schools.
But do we faithfully read it in our own homes?
Aren’t we just a little hypocritical?
The lamp cannot light a dark pathway if it’s lying covered with dust, on an end table in the family room.
SECOND, God blesses those who honor and obey His Word. The Bible is full of stories showing how God blesses people who obey His commandments.
The 11th Chapter of Hebrews reminds us of a select few: Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Moses. These all-too-human heroes “trusted and obeyed” and were blessed of God.
The pattern holds true in families. When a man and a woman are married in a holy, lifelong commitment to God, and when they raise a family according to God’s principles, they receive His blessing.
Psalm 119:2, “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.”
Does this mean they never have problems? Of course not.
We are all soldiers fighting battles in enemy territory against a fierce opponent.
Your family and mine will take hits.
But we can overcome our setbacks when we do things God’s way.
THIRD, the Word of God shows how God established the family as His primary way of passing on the truth of His Word from one generation to the next.
Our text in Psalm 78:5-8 is clear!
“that they should make them known to their children” (V. 5)
“even the children which should be born” (V. 6)
“declare them to their children” (V. 6)
When parents do not pass on a godly legacy to their children, the entire nation suffers.
Some of us remember a time when our families and our nation were guided by Biblical principles,
a time when divorce was a disgrace,
when the roles of men and women were clear,
when fathers and mothers were more tuned in to their children.
Even those Americans who did not believe in Christ as Saviour believed in a morality based on the Bible.
At some point in the last 30-35-40 years the family began to deteriorate.
Homes broke apart, and more children grew up with Mom or Dad absent.
The Biblical chain of one generation passing its godly values to the next virtually stopped!
And the culture drifted from its moral beginnings.
You see, family is culture.
One family plus one family,
multiplied over and over ten thousand times,
creates a culture.
One family minus godly values plus another,
multiplied over and over ten thousand times,
creates a culture and society without God.
Societies are destroyed one family at a time,
BUT THEY ARE REBUILT THE SAME WAY,
One at a time!
You may feel powerless to fix the problems of crime, welfare, health care, education, politics, the economy or the environment.
BUT YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR FAMILY!
Let me give you four thoughts this morning that will save your family and get it on track for the Lord:
I’m talking about personal repentance and purity.
We must become broken and contrite in heart if we are to truly experience the presence and power of God.
From the ashes of personal repentance, God forgives and refashions a new individual - one who seeks to obey His will in all of life.
God, through the guiding power of the Holy Spirit, then takes and turns the repenter into a reformer = a family reformer.
I’m talking about the sacred covenant of marriage.
Keeping a marriage covenant is more than just pledging to remain married.
It also involves making a holy promise to God and your spouse to care for, love and remain faithful to your spouse for life!
It means making your marriage all that God intended for it to be.
I’m talking about the sanctity of God-ordained roles in the family.
A family will never change without recognition of the UNIQUE, BIBLICALLY prescribed responsibilities of men and women in the marriage relationship.
That means their must be a reversal of the roles of the 20th century marriage.
Among other things, the Bible champions the husband’s role as the leader-head of the family and the wife’s role as a lover-helper.
Tragically, many Christian men have failed to lead, love and help their wives.
Many Christian women, too, have failed to lovingly submit, support and encourage their husbands in the Lord.
Psalm 127:3, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”
Children are indeed a gift and a responsibility.
And we as parents,
parents who want to live for God,
parents who want to teach the next generation,
parents who want to reach the next generation,
we must recognize that the Christian life is like a relay race.
One of the most exciting things in sports for me to watch is the relay race at a track meet. It gets my adrenaline flowing faster than anything.
The first runner takes off, running with all he’s got,
he then hands off to the second runner,
who hands off to the third runner,
who finally hands off to the fourth runner, who is called the anchor man.
Those guys practice and practice and practice ...
What do they practice?
They practice handing off to the next guy.
They practice and practice and practice handing the baton to the next guy.
They practice their steps,
They practice their voice signals,
They practice to get their rhythm together,
They practice and practice and practice.
What happens if you drop the baton?
You guessed it. YOU LOSE!
What happens if you fumble the baton and almost drop it?
You guessed it. YOU LOSE!
When we as parents fail to hand the baton of God’s Word and God’s values to our children,
guess what? WE LOSE!
When we as parents fail to practice and practice and practice with our children, we do one of two things:
We either drop the baton or we fumble it, either way, WE LOSE!
We fumble away the opportunities to teach our children and help them be what God intended for them to be.
Therefore, they grow up out of God’s Will and they will never be happy or used completely of God.
Or worse, we drop the baton and our kids end up living for the devil more than they are living for the Lord.
And the truth is that we have lost the next generation in our churches today.
We have not made “them known to their children.” (Psalm 78:5)
We have not taught “the generation to come.” (Psalm 78:6)
We have not declared “them to their children.” (Psalm 78:6)
We have not “set their hope in God.” (Psalm 78:7)
For us to win the battle of the family it is going to take four things:
1. Repentance - asking God to forgive us for the mistakes we’ve made in our families;
2. Resolve - making a stronger commitment to our spouses to make our marriages work;
3. Reverse - reversing the modern trend where the men have failed to provide the proper leadership in the home, and reversing the latter 20th century blatant violation of Scriptural submission for wives and children;
4. Relay - passing the baton of God’s Word, God’s values, and God’s Will to the next generation.
Will you win the battle for the family?
Will you and I win the battle for our family?
(1998 SERMONS I / BATFAM)