I once heard the story about a little boy who was inconsolably crying in the car after leaving worship services one Sunday. His father asked him three times what was wrong, and, finally, the boy replied, “The preacher said he wanted me to be brought up in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you guys!”
Ideally, all homes would be Christian homes because Christian homes have surrendered to the will and the reign of God. In so doing, they assume some unique attributes, three of which will be mentioned in this article.
Christian homes provide a spiritual education.
In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul indicates that Timothy’s “sincere faith” owes its origins to his “grandmother Lois” and his “mother Eunice.” Then in 2 Timothy 3:14-15, Paul instructed Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” From Paul’s words, we can infer that Timothy’s faith was inherited from his family through their provision of a spiritual education. Pay special attention to the phrase “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings.” Paul is saying that Timothy’s spiritual education was provided by his family, who began teaching him God’s word when he was still a child.
The family has always been the institution through which spiritual education is to occur. The responsibility of parents providing such education to their children was prescribed in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, where Moses instructed the Israelites to “teach [these words that I command you today] diligently to your children, and…talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” The same responsibility was prescribed to Christian parents when Paul instructed parents, fathers in particular, to “not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Thus, a Christian home is one in which faith is developed through an education in God’s word.
Christian homes exfiltrate their families from dangerous environments.
Consider for a moment the family of Lot. Lot followed his uncle, Abraham, to Canaan but eventually chose to relocate to Sodom even though “the men of Sodom” had a reputation for being “exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord” (Genesis 13:1-13). Eventually, God instructed Lot to leave Sodom because of its sinfulness, but Lot hesitated to do so (Genesis 19:15-16). As a result of choosing to live in Sodom and becoming comfortable with the environment of Sodom, Lot became homeless, a widower, and the father of the enemy nations of Israel (Genesis 19:26, 30, 36-38). In one of the most disturbing texts in Scripture, Lot’s two daughters got him drunk so they could use him to father their children (Genesis 19:31-35). Where do you think they learned such sexually immoral behavior? Likely from the depraved community to which Lot offered his daughters as sexual deterrents to prevent the community from raping the messengers of God (Genesis 19:8). Thus, by living in Sodom, Lot exposed his family to a spiritually compromising environment.
For us to have Christian homes, we must protect our families from such environments. Paul instructed us to “not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2), and John instructed us to “not love the world” (1John 2:15). Heeding those instructions requires us to make intentional decisions to avoid becoming comfortable with the world. And the Bible consistently recommends flight as the best tactic for combating such comfort (1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). Thus, parents in Christian homes willingly exfiltrate their family from dangerous environments because failure to do so may result in spiritual compromise.
Christian homes correct their members when they are erring.
Do you remember Eli’s family? Eli was a highly respected leader in Israel, but his sons were “worthless,” according to 1 Samuel 2:12. They abused the rights of their role as priests and frequently broke Mosaic Law when it came to how sacrifices were to be made. Eli heard of their “evil dealings” and confronted them, but Scripture indicates that “they would not listen to the voice of their father” (1 Samuel 2:25). One might assume Eli had fulfilled his parental responsibility by confronting them, but God made it clear that Eli had not done enough. Through a messenger, God told Eli that he honored his sons more than he honored Him (1 Samuel 2:29), and He told Samuel that He would “punish [Eli’s] house forever…because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them” (1 Samuel 3:13). Thus, God was displeased with Eli because he failed to do what was necessary to correct the behavior of his sons.
In order for us to have Christian homes, we must be willing to discipline our children when they do wrong. Disciplining a child is not always easy, it is never enjoyable, but it is necessary. The author of Hebrews indicated that God disciplines His children, and he compared the Lord’s discipline to that which children receive from their earthly fathers in Hebrews 12:7 when he rhetorically asked, “what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” His words indicate an underlying assumption that parents will discipline their children, and he indicates why in Hebrews 12:11. Parents discipline because “it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Thus, the objective of discipline is to train the recipient of the discipline, and God expects Christian homes to provide such training as evidenced by Proverbs 22:6, which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Though this is not an exhaustive list of all the attributes of a Christian home, it is a starting point. If you desire for your home to be a Christian home, then start here because Scripture asserts that “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).