It has been said by many over the years “Parenting is on-the-job training.” I believe this is true to a great extent. I also believe it is a true observation related to marriage and the family in general. Married men do learn on the job if they apply themselves to do so. This is not to say that one can do no preparation for marriage, parenting, fatherhood, etc. There should be much preparation for the job, and the beginning and foundation instruction should come from the father’s home and rearing. That is the Bible principle (Prov. 22:6; Titus 2:1-8; Eph. 6:1-4).
First, the married man has an obligation and a charge to love his wife (Eph. 5:25). The man is most certainly challenged to the highest level when his love for his wife is said to be like the love that Christ had for the church. In case one missed that, another statement is given that the man is to love his wife as his own body (v. 28). After all, the very beginning of the home pictured the man and women in marriage as being “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). There is a lot of difference in love and lust. The world around us pictures through television, movies, music, novels, etc., lust as love. Apparently lust of the flesh is a most prominent means of attraction and marriage in the world today. Men are attracted by provocative women, usually while in the wrong places and improperly dressed. The sexual desires race and often in the promiscuous society of the United States the ending of the first night’s meeting is the sinful act of fornication (Gal. 5:19). The love that God designed for marriage is a selfless love (Eph. 5:25, 28). Our Lord said that the plan was one man for one woman for a lifetime (Matt. 19:4-8). The fleshly desire between a man and woman has its place in the attraction process of marriage, but the physical attraction cannot and will not carry one through a lifetime of marriage. The physical union between the woman and the man is satisfied in marriage (I Cor. 7:3; Heb. 13:4; Rom. 1:26-27). A man who is too lazy to do his part in the marriage contributes to the demise of his home. If he is too lazy to be the head of his house (Eph. 5:23-24), then he robs the world of a good home and leaves the wife and children without proper direction. True satisfaction comes from true obedience to the will of God (Eph. 5:21; Prov. 19:23). If a man loves his wife as God bids him, then there will be no abuse, extramarital affairs, selfishness, laziness, or neglect (I Tim. 5:8). Failure to honor the wife can hinder the husband spiritually (I Peter 3:7).
Next, the married man is responsible for the spiritual training of the children (Eph. 6:4). It is not sissy to pray with your children. It is not effeminate to teach your children the Bible and the ways of the Lord. In fact, it is the most masculine thing a man can do. Be a man like God would have you to be. Dad, do you look in on your children and their Bible study? Are you willing and able to teach them the Bible both in word and deed? It is ultimately the man’s responsibility to see that his children grow and develop spiritually. Which disturbs you more — your son or daughter getting in trouble at school or at the worship service of the church? Which one will get the greater attention from you? Is your child more likely to be punished for neglecting their schoolwork or their Bible class work? It is quite revealing sometimes to evaluate your response in the home. How could a child get the idea that worldly things are more important than spiritual? It might just be they have been listening closely to you, dad! It is a grave responsibility to train up a child, and it is one that we must do with all our might to be the fathers God would have us to be.
Finally, don’t forget the little things. A hug, a kiss, a statement of love, all will go a long way to develop the home as well as keep it together. A father must set aside time to be with his children. If not, it can very well be the case that children come up lonely in a nice, big house with designer clothing on their backs. Some dads are too busy and the hit song of the 70s stated it well when it turned the timetable to show the grownup son saying, I don’t know when I’ll be home but “we’ll get together then, dad, you know we’ll have a good time then.” Yes, the time rolls by, and we do reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7). Don’t forget the most important work you can do, fathers: do your work in the home. The world and the church need you.