By Josh Mulvihill
I want to share with you five exciting developments in the 5-6th grade ministry! I believe that these changes will help us better achieve our mission to glorifying God by making disciples of Jesus Christ across the street and around the world in the 5-6th grade ministry.
First, the 5-6th grade ministry has a new name. With the leadership of Suzanne Schmidt the 5-6th graders choose the name 56th Street and the theme “faith working through love” from Galatians 5:6. The name change applies to both Wednesday and Sunday, will give us a fresh look and feel, and will help visitors identify the ministry that applies to their 5-6th grade child.
Second, the 5-6th grade ministry has a new location. At some point this fall, the 5-6th grade will move across the terrace level to what is currently adult classrooms. This space will be repurposed with a 5-6th grade flair. The move opens up space in the elementary wing for future growth, provides 5-6th graders with a place of their own, and reflects in meeting space what we believe in philosophy: 5-6th grade ministry is a distinctive age group with unique ministry needs not simply a continuation of elementary school.
Third, the 5-6th grade has new curriculum. I want to be intentional with the two years that I have your children. I don’t want to waste a teaching opportunity. On Wednesday nights we will be studying Proverbs 1-9 and I will be the primary teacher. On Sundays we have a two year curriculum with Suzanne Schmidt as the primary teacher. Wednesday’s are expositional while Sundays are systematic theology.
Fourth, the 5-6th grade has additional leadership on Wednesday night. Suzanne Schmidt will be joining us on Wednesday nights to bridge the Wednesday and Sunday 5-6th grade groups. I felt there was a disconnect between the Wednesday and Sunday 5-6th grade groups last year. This will create continuity for this ministry and allow for greater shepherding to occur.
Five, Wednesday night has a new end time. 56th Street will now end at 8:30 instead of 8:15. The extra 15 minutes affords us time to make small groups a major focal point of the Wednesday night meeting. Small groups will become the vehicle to discuss the lesson, grow relationships with other students, and provide the time to spiritually shepherd each child.
By Josh Mulvihill
Beginning Sunday, September 16th we will introduce new curriculum into all classrooms ages two to nine years old. The Gospel Story Curriculum focuses on Jesus Christ as it teaches children 78 Old Testament lessons and 78 New Testament lessons that highlight God’s plan for redemption. This curriculum comes from a reformed theological perspective, is gospel-centered, and teaches children a biblical theology centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
A high percentage of children’s curriculum is moral teaching that misses the main storyline of the Bible. Morally driven lessons sound like this, “Joshua was courageous so you should be courageous.” One of the elements I appreciate most about this curriculum is that it keeps a laser focus on Jesus Christ and the gospel, revealed in part in the Old Testament and fully explained in the New Testament while making moral applications where appropriate.
It is my hope that upon completion of this curriculum children are familiar with the big picture of the Bible as well as the major themes, people and stories. The Bible has four major components, and with the help of this curriculum, children should recognize and understand each of these: creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. The four major themes of Scripture will be taught to your children in the following way:
1. God made the world good (creation)
2. Sin made the world groan (fall)
3. Jesus broke the chains of sin (redemption)
4. God made the world new (consummation)
One of the components that I love most about The Gospel Story Curriculum is the accompanying devotional book to use in the home. The Long Story Short is one of the best devotional resources I’ve ever seen and can be used with or without this curriculum. However, it is my hope that the devotional book will be used in partnership with what we are teaching on Sunday. Here is a short blurb about the devotional book:
"Long Story Short will help busy parents share with their children how every story in the Old Testament points forward to God’s story of salvation through Jesus Christ. You won’t find a more important focus for a family devotional than a daily highlighting of the gospel of grace. Clever stories and good moral lessons may entertain and even help children, but the gospel will transform children."
Grace Church has purchased 250 copies of The Long Story Short and will be handing them out until they gone on Sunday, September 16. If you do not get a copy on the 16th the book can be purchased at the church bookstore or at amazon.com. I highly recommend that every family have a copy of this book. A 2012-2013 Sunday School curriculum schedule has been attached if you are interested in utilizing The Long Story Short in conjunction with what we are teaching.
Lastly, I want to invite you to serve as a Sunday School teacher or a table helper this year. There is nothing more exciting than seeing the gospel transform a young person’s life or seeing a child’s eyes light up as she begins to understand scripture. The Bible claims that scripture does not return void. This means that weekly teaching from the Bible has a profound impact on children and the investment of a few hours a week pays eternal dividends. A former student of mine contacted me this week to share this very truth. He had this to say, “I wanted to stop by and say thank you for the discipleship that you gave me when I was a child. It changed my life in so many ways. The challenge you gave me to read by Bible everyday stands at the top. Your labor was not in vain and never will be.” I share this truth as a reminder that being a children’s Sunday School teacher is both strategic and impactful and I’m hopeful you will consider serving children this year. I’m looking for men and women who love Jesus and are interested in using their life for God’s glory and the good of others. If interested, please contact me.
By Josh Mulvihill
Minnesota for Marriage has written a helpful guide about the marriage amendment and the push to redefine marriage. The article addresses thirty-three myths argued by those advocating for same-sex marriage and is worth your time to read. Minnesota for Marriage reports that at least 56% of Minnesotan's agree that marriage should be between one man and one woman and that virtually every society throughout history has defined marriage between one man and one woman. This is helpful to know as we are one of the first societies to go down the path we are going as well as recognizing that the majority voice is not in favor of homosexual marriage. As we talk about homosexual marriage and heterosexual marriage, MFM notes that they are not the same thing and this is recognizable in higher rate of fidelity and managomy in heterosexual marriages.
Also of note is the impact that homosexual marriages have on children. And the impact is great. A handful of studies have come out over the past 10 years claiming that there is no difference to children raised in homosexual verses heterosexual homes; this simply is not true as claimed by MFM. To support this I claim I would point you to an empirical study conducted on the studies that claim "no difference." Children raised in homosexual homes have a higher level of anxiety and depression, fair worse on educational attainment, have lower levels of family security, smaller household incomes, report worse physical health, and think their current romantic relationship is in trouble more frequently. In addition, they have a higher use of drugs and alcohol abuse, have been arrested more, and report greater numbers of sexual partners. Children were created to need a married mother and father. Marriage matters and how we define marriage in Minnesota matters.
By Josh Mulvihill
One of the priorities every parent should have early in the life of their child is to see their child treasure the Bible and read it daily. The Bible is unlike any other book in three ways. First, it informs. The Bible reveals who God is and answers all of life’s questions. The Bible provides everything we need for life and faithfulness to God. Second, it transforms. The Bible changes people from idol-worshipping, self-indulgent, evil-intoxicated sinners to Jesus-worshipping, others-centered, righteous-imputed saints. Of course, this happens through faith in Christ, but it is the Bible that is alive and active and brings us into contact with Jesus. Third, it conforms. We are not free to live however we choose. The Bible demands holiness, tells us how to live, and determines what is true and right. The Bible is our measuring stick. We want our children to read the Bible because we want our children to know God, be changed by him, and follow his ways.
If that were not enough to convince you, Psalm 119 provides plenty of reasons to read the Bible:
• To receive blessings (119:1)
• To know God’s laws (119:1)
• To walk rightly before the Lord (119:3)
• To fix their eyes on God and his commandments rather than the fleeting idols of our day (119:6)
• To learn God’s righteous rules (119:7)
• To live a life of purity (119:9)
• To avoid wandering from God (119:10)
• To memorize God’s word so as not to sin against him (119:11)
• To meditate on God’s precepts (119:15)
• To delight in God and his statutes (119:16)
What parent would not want these ten things for their child? One of your primary responsibilities as a parent is not only to read and explain the Bible to your child, but to direct your child to its pages. If your child cannot or does not read the Bible, their mind is being filled with other voices competing for their allegiance and fighting for their heart. That should trouble any parent.
It is my conviction that every child should be reading the Bible from his earliest possible days. It is the parent’s responsibility to see this happen. The earlier a child can read the earlier a child can read the Bible. Teaching a child to read is one of the best gifts a parent can give a young person because the parent has just made it possible for the child to read the Bible.
Up to this point I am trying to convince you that your young child needs to be reading the Bible. If I have succeeded in that attempt, the next question becomes, “what Bible should he read?” There is no shortage of Bibles available for purchase. Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May have written a short list of criteria for choosing a children’s Bible. Choose a Bible that:
• Portrays a God who loves and is holy
• Provides an overview of the whole biblical story, including age-appropriate Old and New Testament stories
• Is true to the Bible story
• Uses language that is concrete and vivid and has an engaging flow
• Story length is appropriate to attention span
This is a helpful list of criteria, but I will add a couple of cautions. First, many children’s Bibles should not be called Bibles because they take liberties with the text or contain so little of the Bible that it is misleading to use this title. Second, many children’s Bibles end up presenting the Bible in a moralistic manner. In other words, the explanation and application of scripture becomes a list of do’s and don’ts while missing the gospel. This leads me to my third and most important point. Many children’s Bibles do not include the gospel or the storyline of the gospel throughout its pages.
Jen and I have plenty of children’s “Bibles” in our home. I hesitate to call these books Bibles because so much of the Bible is missing. After looking through dozens of children’s Bibles a couple that rise above the rest are The Big Picture Story Bible, The Jesus Story BookBible, and The Read With Me Bible. One of my all time favorites is The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. We have worn through multiple copies of each of these Bibles.
By the age of four we graduate our children to the Learn to Read Bible. Our oldest child learned to read using this Bible and our second child is now utilizing this same book for this purpose. I can think of no better way to train a child to read than by using the Bible itself.
At the age of five we purchase our children a full-text Bible. This is the Bible I want my child to have until they reach their early teen years and can be replaced by a leather bound Bible. The Bible I like best is the Seek and Find Bible. I like this Bible because it contains the entire Bible (something difficult to find in children’s Bibles), is ESV, has full color with 120 vivid illustrations of biblical texts, contains key Bible verses to memorize, has simple reflection questions, and profiles dozens of biblical characters. My goal is to stretch a child in their early elementary years with this Bible, yet still have a Bible that would be used by a 6th grader. I feel this Bible accomplishes that.
When you get your child a Bible here are a few suggestions:
• Put the Bible within reach of your child. Allow your child to look through it pages and do not be surprised if pages get ripped. Remember, a Bible is to be read. Don’t treat it like it is a relic in a museum.
• Train your child to respect the Bible and treat it gently. Bibles are not to be thrown or stepped on. We treat the Bible with reverence and awe because the God within its pages is worthy of reverence and awe.
• Even if a child cannot read you can still train the child to have a “quiet-time” by looking through the pages of the Bible for 5-10 minutes each day.
• When your child has a full-text Bible, make it a requirement to bring the Bible to church. It brings me great joy to see a child walk in on a Sunday morning carrying a Bible. This tells me this child values God’s word. It will also help the child follow along while the pastor is preaching.
By Josh Mulvihill
Roughly 20% of Americans have a disability of some kind. Grace Church is not immune. In fact, we have been blessed with many children and adults who have disabilities of various kinds. Often, the world responds to those with a disability by seeing and avoiding. But we are not the world. We are followers of Jesus. All children are precious, made in God’s image.
What is God’s good design for person’s with a disability? John Piper asks and answers this question in a helpful resource called Disability and the Sovereign Goodness of God. The Bible is not silent on the topic of disability. God has not left us alone to despair, but to show his glory in our weakness. God’s purpose for those with a disability is “that the works of God may be displayed” (John 9:5). I commend this resource to you.
By Josh Mulvihill
Four years ago my mother died of ALS. One year ago my father remarried a wonderful, godly woman and we entered the realm of blended families. Pam, or Grammy Pammy as my children call her, is a blessing to our family. But, as I have learned, any time you add a new member to a family it changes dynamics and takes time to adjust to a new normal. Pam has two children of her own; meaning, I have two step-brothers. One of them is also named Josh.
I have a much greater understanding of the challenges of blending families and a greater empathy for those who are navigating this new phase of life. Blending a family as an adult child rather than a young child is a different experience, yet there are principles I have learned that may be applicable to both situations. If you are blending a family or planning to blend two families here are four principles I have learned:
1. Think crock pot, not microwave. Relationships take time to develop and should not be forced. It is unlikely that a child will develop an intimate relationship with a step-parent over night. When blending a family think crock pot; give it time, keep the heat on low, and let things develop slowly. A parent, overly zealous that a child and step-parent connect, can create tension and hard feelings by pushing a relationship to a place it isn’t yet ready to go. Our family found a great way to get to know Pam without forcing things. The fourth Sunday of every month we have a Mulvihill gathering for four hours and this was an ideal venue for Pam to attend. It provided an informal, regular opportunity for each of us to get to know one another and proved to be invaluable in laying a foundation for the relationship to form. Parents walk a fine line between providing opportunities for new family members to connect but not pushing too hard.
2. Be inclusive. In God’s family, there is always room for another person. God sought us out while we were still sinners and made us part of his family. What Jesus did for us, we should do for others. I believe there are major wounds caused, sometimes irreparable damage, if a new family member feels they are not wanted or invited to be part of the new family that is formed. When a family is formed, there are not first class citizens and second class citizens. All are equally valuable and should receive equal status. Our family had a number of long discussions about who should be invited to what family events. It is my opinion that every new family member should be invited to every gathering that is a full family gathering. With adults blending families, the slightest hint of “you’re not wanted” call spell disaster for the formation of relationships. My motto: when in doubt, don’t leave them out.
3. Don’t sever the parent-child relationship. The leaving and cleaving principle taught in the Bible means that when a marriage occurs a parent’s relationship with a child is redefined, but not destroyed. The husband and wife relationship is the priority over the parent-child relationship. This principle is true for blended families as well as all others being married. In a blended family situation a parent must be keenly aware of the feelings and fears of the child during the dating days and early period of marriage. From the child’s perspective, she had a greater portion of the parent’s time and attention when single and often is fearful of losing the parent’s affection due to the new marriage. It is wise for the parent to continue to spend time with a child, individually and as an entire family. How this plays out will depend on the needs of each child; but my encouragement is to not feel like a new marriage requires that all time spent with the child must occur as a new couple. My dad, with the best of intentions, regularly talked with us children on the speaker phone so that Pam could get to know us. While this helped Pam and step-children become acquainted it limited the content of discussion with my father. There is a time for speaker phone and a time for individual conversations. There is a time for full family activities and parent and child only activities. Think both, not one or the other.
4. Start fresh traditions. A new family means new ways of doing things. This is just a reality. And the sooner everyone comes to accept this fact, the better things will be. We found that it was helpful to anticipate these changes and talk about expectations. For most families this includes daily routines, house rules, what step-children call step-parents, and holidays. The principle is: everything changes. That is hard for some to swallow, but it is the new reality. I feel like I have two periods of life; one was with my mom and we did things a certain way. This time should be remembered and celebrated. A second is with Pam and this time should be enjoyed and celebrated. There will likely be elements that are the same in both worlds, but the truth is, they are not the same world. And I have found the more flexible I am, the better.
Blending families is hard work, but so is welcoming a new baby into the home. Anyone who expects a worry-free, bump-free transition is either ignorant or uninformed. Know that it will take time, but with God’s grace and much flexibility, a great family will form.
By Josh Mulvihill
Jed and Sarah Culbertson created a helpful resource that I want to make available to parents. This resouce is a concise tool to evaluate educational options for your child. When looking at a handful of educational options it can be difficult to know what to look for or how to differentiate one school from another. This resource provide five criteria to think through in educational decision making.
By Josh Mulvihill
I've had a number of families request a copy of our VBS songs this year. We used two songs from The Rizers and they can be purchased here. This group is one of my favorite children's worship groups. Their name stands for memorizers and all songs are scripture verses put to pop music. Your children may be signing these verses well into their adult years!
By Josh Mulvihill
Between my roles of parent, pastor, and Ph.D student, my free time is very limited. I don't watch many movies or much TV; unless its football season. Last night was one of the rare occassions that Jen and I watched a movie; the Wrath of the Titans. It was entertaining with enough yelling, fighting, and explosions to appease the average man and make the average woman roll her eyes. I was reminded that scores of children at Grace Church have probably seen this movie and walked away without any help identifying the underlying message. There were enough doctrinal half-truths and theological heresies in this movie to give Jesus-confessing, bible-believing Christians a bad eye twitch. Like most movies, the message was subtle, but powerful. Here are a few themes I picked out:
- God's power is dependent on human beings.
- Human's can be self-relient and do not need God.
- God is dead.
Not only were there powerful messages communicated about Greek mythology, but there are messages communicated about who God is and how man should interact with God. While your child may or may not ever watch this movie (I suggest not) the principle is that they need help thinking through what it is they are watching in light of the truths of Scripture. It is too easy to turn on the T.V. and walk away or send a child to the movie theatre without following up on what they are watching. Parents must be diligent when it comes to the powerful medium of media and this post is a reminder to filter what a child watches and follow-up what they see with converstaion and teaching. Let us train our children to discern right from wrong and truth from error in that which enters their mind.
By Josh Mulvihill
I love reading about Theodore Roosevelt. I have an entire shelf of books written by him and about him. Not only is he a great leader, but he exemplifies masculinity in an era that has lost a vision for what a man is. With three boys of my own, it is a priority of mine to see that my boys grow into masculine men who treasure Christ and live for his glory. Biblically, a man’s role in the family is to lead, protect, and provide. Theodore Roosevelt has written Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail which I believe is a helpful resource parents can use to help raise future men.
Roosevelt spent a majority of the 1880’s as a rancher in North Dakota and recounts his adventures, responsibilities, and dangers in his book. This book will wisk teenage boys away to a vanished frontier world with thrilling accounts of bronco busting, cow herding, horse thieves, encountering Indians, branding cattle, and deer hunting. What I appreciate about the book is the picture it gives of a man – a leader, protector, and provider. I commend it to you.
By Josh Mulvihill
If you are a parent, it is worth five minutes to watch this video. Parents know that sending a child to college will cost a small fortune. Recently, a report stated that student dept has surpassed 1 trillion dollars. Thats more than credit card dept and auto dept. The average American grauduates with 25K in student dept; with many much higher. A few years ago I was told that the average student graduates from Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN with 45K. That number has been true for a number of family and friends, so I believe it is in the ballpark. Student dept has become debiltating and has not always delivered on assumed jobs or prosperity. Is education worth it if high amounts of student loans are to be taken out? That is a valid question. I still believe it is so long as a student works hard to minimize student loan and devotes the years immedietly following graduation to serious student loan repayment.
By Josh Mulvihill
Growing up I wasn’t the biggest fan of school. I got slightly above average grades. Most subjects came easy, but I didn’t devote much time to studying. But I loved baseball, specifically, the Minnesota Twins. I knew every player and had memorized an impressive amount of statistics. While school work continued to be uninspiring to me, learning about the Twins was effortless joy. I loved to watch them, read about them, and think about them. I spent countless hours collecting baseball cards, organizing them in books, and studying them diligently.
Why was this kind of learning so enjoyable when classroom learning wasn’t? What made the difference?
Passion. I wanted to learn about what I loved.
There is an important principle for parents to learn in this story. Children will be interested in what it is they treasure. School wasn’t interesting to me because I didn’t treasure it. Children who do not love Jesus will find involvement at church about as desirable as going to the dentist. Children who do not treasure Christ will spend as much time reading the Bible as they do reading the Newspaper.
Children who love to read the Bible and be connected to a community of believers love these things because they love Jesus. One is an outflow of the other. We should encourage our children to read the Bible and require they attend church, but what will make them come alive for a child is when their heart is transformed. So what’s the principle for parents?
It’s a matter of the heart.
Parents need to be keenly aware of what their child treasures. What a child talks about, spends money on, and invests time in reveals what captures his or her heart. What is that for your child? Is it sports? Academics? Clothes? Movies and music?
BY Josh Mulvihill
Trip Lee runs through the gospel in two minutes. If you have a child who enjoys rap music; this may connect with them.
By Josh Mulvihill
Doug Wilson's recent lectures at Indiana University are engaging and worth listening to. I have great respect for Wilson. He is theologically sound, insightful, and after these lectures I will add courageous to the adjectives that describe him. Wilson speaks on two themes: (1) Creation and sexuality and (2) Redemption and sexuality. I appreciate that the gospel is central in these talks. Wilson states that the gospel is worth defending, and due to the reality that marriage is a picture of the gospel, it is also worthy of defense. America has made marriage a romance-intoxicated, self-fulfilling, Jesus-less "thing" and that is obvious as those listening to Wilson respond, sometimes very rudely, to God's Word. Just a warning, once you start watching, it's hard to stop. Sexual By Design can be found here: http://www.canonwired.com/bloomington/ Grab a bowl of popcorn and a note-pad and enjoy!
Earlier this week the USA Today ran an article that has left me deeply disturbed. This hit especially close to home because my wife Jen is six-and-a-half months pregnant. If I was Chinese, that could be my child lying dead on the table.
For the past 30 years China has enforced a horrific “family planning policy” restricting couples who live in an urban area to have only one child and couples who live in a rural setting to two children. If a couple becomes pregnant beyond the legal limit they are forced to either pay a hefty $6,300 fine or have an abortion. Forced abortions occur, probably on a regular basis, but the heavy handed Communist Party has been able to keep couples quiet due to coercion or threats of violence.
Recently, the heart wrenching story of Feng Jianmei has gone public. Feng was contacted by Chinese authorities and required to pay a fine for having more children than are allowed by law. Because Feng and her husband are poor they could not pay the fine. While Feng’s husband was at work authorities showed up at her home, abducted her and forced her to abort the baby. Feng’s sister witnessed the entire episode and took a picture of Feng laying in her hospital bed next to her murdered daughter. It is a difficult story to read, but I encourage you to do so.
By Josh Mulvihill
This week, at VBS, we are studying identity in Christ; who we are apart from Christ (Eph. 2:1-3) and who are in Christ (Eph. 1). My prayer for the children who attend is that they will hear and respond to God’s work in their heart. If you are a parent and your child is attending VBS, you should read this brief overview of identity in Christ and our focus each day this week. This will allow you to ask insightful questions and follow-up after each day is ended.
For the past two weeks I have been in Louisville Kentucky at The Southern Baptist Theological seminary for Ph.D classes and had taken a short break from posts. While there I ran across a statement called the Humanist Manifesto. In short, the Manifesto is an alternate worldview to Christianity, is atheistic in nature, and is primarily concerned with radical self-fulfillment. One of the most quoted lines from the 1973 Manifesto are, "No deity will save us; we must save ourselves," and "We are responsible for what we are and for what we will be." The Humanist Manifesto desires to see Christianity removed from public life and public schools. The following statement reveals much about the current state of public education:
Expanding upon the role the public education establishment should play to bring about the goals described in the Humanist Manifesto II, John Dunphy wrote: "I am convinced that the battle for humankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers that correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being...The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new -- the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with the promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of 'love thy neighbor' will finally be achieved.”
Every parent needs to be aware that when they send their child to the public school they are not sending their child to a morally or religiously neutral territory, but one that has a spiritual agenda. The agenda that has been identified is the establishment of a religion called humanism, using the public school as its vehicle for the conversion and discipleship of children, while seeking to abolish Christianity. From my perspective, this goal has nearly been achieved and should make any parent think twice about placing their child in such an environment.
By Josh Mulvihill
Yesterday, President Obama became the first sitting president in American history to endorse same-sex marriage reinforcing the need for parents to teach children a biblical view of marriage. Kevin DeYoung has written a helpful article reminding Christians why they must publically and winsomely oppose same-sex marriage. The same principles apply in the home. Parents must speak up about marriage. They must do so early and often.
Our children are vulnerable and are under direct assault as the media and public schools seek to destroy and redefine the definition of marriage. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological seminary, believes that it has become the agenda of the public school system to teach “that there are no normal families, and that all family structures are equally valid” (Culture Shift, 54). In some schools, beginning as early as kindergarten, children are taught about homosexuality, sexual matters, and liberal views of marriage. The world is not waiting to teach your children about these important matters, nor should you.
When teaching marriage, where do you start? Begin with Genesis 2:24. A five year old and a 50 year old can understand this passage. New Testament writers refer to this passage regularly and Jesus quoted it when speaking of marriage. Three points from Genesis 2:24 to teach children: the pattern, the priority, and purity. First, the pattern of the bible is that marriage is between one man and one woman not two men or two women. Second, the priority for a married couple is faithfulness; to hold fast to one another. To combine the first two points together a parent can teach a child that marriage is between one man, one woman, for one lifetime. Third, absolute purity is expected in the Bible. Adolescents think they should save something for marriage. The Bible teaches they need to save everything for marriage. Genesis 2 teaches that husband and wife hold fast and then become one flesh. The order is important: marriage first, sex second.
Teach children what marriage is and they will be able to understand what it is not. I tell my children, “If you are a boy, God intends for you to marry a girl. And if you are a girl, God intends for you to marry a boy.” As the creator of marriage, God alone has the right to set the parameters of the institution. One of the parameters is that marriage is not between two men or two women. Homosexuality violates God’s design for marriage in three ways:
- Heterosexuality. Homosexuality is at odds with God’s design for marriage at the most basic level – between man and woman. Genesis 2:24 speaks of marriage in heterosexual terms, not homosexual. Homosexuality is never encouraged or endorsed in the Bible.
- Complementarity. Homosexuality violates the complementary roles God gave to man and woman. According to Genesis 2 and 3 man is given charge of his wife as the head, while the woman is placed alongside him as a suitable helper. Differences in gender are critical to marriage because marriage roles are tied to gender. Thus same-sex marriages cannot participate in this aspect of marriage.
- Fertility. Homosexuality does not fulfill God’s command to “Be fruitful and multiply.” Having children is not a choice of marriage, it is a biblical command. Having children is a central element of marriage and part of God’s design; which is one of the reasons infertility is so painful.
Homosexuality is a drastic departure from the biblical model of marriage. This is one of the reasons it is severally spoken against in the Bible (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:26). When I talk with young people today there is much confusion over the definition and purpose of marriage. May it be your duty and delight to teach your children these crucial biblical principles.