Colossians 3: 19-21 “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Ephesians 6:4 “Bring up your in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
This is a Lutheran Catechism. Our Lutheran Catechisms are public documents. Our Lutheran Catechisms are a set of statements which we believe, teach and confess regarding the Christian Faith. These statements in Catechetical form may easily be found in public libraries and on the internet. The Catechism is very systematized as it is broken down into six chief parts of the Christian Faith. Lutheran pastors have used the Catechism since the time of Luther to inculcate and pass down the Faith of the Christian Church to our children and grandchildren. The word “catechize” means “to teach.”
Someone once said, “Your kids will be catechized whether you like it or not It.” It has also been said, “If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.”
This world has its own catechism. It is not necessarily codified and bound in a single volume as is the Lutheran Catechism, but it is there just the same. This catechism is taught in our public schools. Its doctrines are posted and disseminated in our public libraries, our primary places of public education as well as our public universities and colleges and now in the media with such applications as Facebook. And this catechism is even creeping into some “Christian” churches and schools as Christian churches, colleges and seminaries move away from Biblical teaching by adopting the culture around them.
This world catechism teaches that men can marry men; women can marry women; a man can become a woman and a woman can become a man. This catechism is clearly designed to contradict the values the Christian family teaches: societal cohesion and racial harmony, morality and personal responsibility. This world catechism boldly teaches that ultimately there is no God. Yes, the world is busy catechizing our children.
However, there is one great wall of defense which God in His mercy has given us that stands between our children and the inculcation of this world’s catechism: Christian parents, particularly Christian fathers. Statistically, a Christian father, more often than the mother, determines if that child will remain in his or her baptismal grace. On the basis of our lessons, I want to share with all of us on this Father’s Day:
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN FATHER.
- It means to love his wife as Christ loved the Church.
- It means to raise his children in the Word of God.
- It means to live his life in repentance.
TO LOVE HIS WIFE.
It should go without saying that to be a Christian father, there must be a wife. This is the way God designed for man to have children and become a father although this may not be so obvious today. But that very truth is under attack today with the present definition of marriage open to what ever one wants it to be. Therefore, the definition of love is now whatever one wants it to be. So, we are told “love is love.” If you suggest otherwise, you are considered bigoted.
But Christian men need to ignore the worldly definition and cling to what the Word of God tells them. And this is what God tells them about love: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).” Christ loved the Church, not merely by defining love but by demonstrating love. That demonstration took place on the cross. Jesus loved His Bride the Church so much that He willingly gave up everything for her; He shed His blood for Her.
In like manner, the husband is to love his wife, the mother of his children, the bride of his life by giving up his life to take care of the needs of his wife and children. He must view his wife, not as the world views her, as something to use and throw away when he tires of her, but as God wants him to see her, as a gracious and precious gift from God.
St. Paul goes on to demonstrate how Christ loved the Church: “That he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Once again, our Savior does not merely define love, but demonstrates explicitly how He loved the Church: “By the washing of the water with the Word.” That of course, is Holy Baptism.
In like manner, a Christian father will want to demonstrate this same kind of love by leading his bride and the little children she has borne him in the still waters of God’s Word. Like his Savior, the greatest gift and sacrifice he will want to give her and her children is instruction in the comfort of God’s holy Word. Week-by-week, the Christ-like nature of the Christian father will find him in the heavenly Father’s House, sitting at the feet of His Lord and dining at the table of Jesus where she and her children are fed with the Bread and Elixir of eternal Life.
TO RAISE HIS CHILDREN
On a recent Jeopardy program, the contestants were asked to fill in a single word in the Lord’s Prayer. They were given the words “Our Father who art in Heaven _______ be Thy Name. Not one contestant could provide the word. Dear fathers and grandfathers, can your children and grandchildren fill in that word? Not only are many families ignorant of God’s word, but the Christian faith is brazenly mocked. Bill Maher is quoted as saying, ““Faith means the purposeful suspension of critical thinking. It is nothing to be admired.”
Secondly this Father’s Day, the meaning of a Christian father is that he raises his children in the Word of God; in the faith of the Christian Church. One of my boys, early on in his marriage was frustrated with his children and how difficult it is to be a young father. I laughed and told him, “Ah, the joys of parenthood.” But as with his wife, so also the father is not merely told “Children are an heritage of the Lord,” raise them any way you think best, but he is given specifics on raising children: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Martin Luther believed and taught that the Christian training of Children in the Word of God is a sacred duty especially incumbent upon the father. Luther wrote words that in today’s culture would have been deemed offensive at the least and worthy of removing his children from his home by the state:
Nothing can more easily earn hell for a man than the improper training of his own children, and parents can preform no more damaging bit if work than to neglect their offspring, to let them curse, swear, learn indecent words and songs, and permit them to live as they please.
Can you imagine how the very mention of hell would sound today to the unbeliever? If that would not be enough to land Luther in hot water with the state and our culture today, he also had this to say:
Let everyone know, therefore, that it his duty, on peril of losing the divine favor, to bring up his children above all things in the fear and knowledge of God.
The teaching of the children placed by God under the care of the father is not to be left up to the pastor or the school, especially the public school which will gladly take and teach our children in the ways of the world. Luther is touching on the instruction in the home. Luther often referred to the father as the “pastor” of his family and children. So again, Luther wrote: “It is the duty of every father to examine his children once a week and ascertain what they have learned of it and if they do not know it, to keep them faithfully at it. (LC, preface, 4.) Fathers are to teach them The Faith of the Church.
TO LIVE IN REPENTANCE.
Dearly beloved in Christ and especially you husbands and fathers. With every sentence I put down on paper; with every admonition I received from the Word of God, and with every sentence from the words of Luther, I was agonizingly reminded of my failures as a Christian husband and father. And the devil made sure I would see my guilt as he trotted before me all my failures in my heart and mind. But finally, this morning as we consider the meaning of a Christian father, the greatest of all is that we get to live a life of repentance. Once again, Luther’s first Thesis in his list of 95 reads: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
Men of God, we have failed to love our wives as our Lord has commanded. We have often become angry with them forgetting the admonition of Peter, “ Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life. (I Peter 3:7).” Men of God, we have often failed to be the pastors of our own homes teaching and applying the precious words of life to our children. And we have so often failed to see our faults and deeply repent of them.
But as Christian Fathers we have a Heavenly Father who sent us our Savior who knew we would sin; who knew we would fail; who knew we would even neglect our duty as heads of our households out of laziness and apathy and a desire for the fleeting material trinkets of this life. Into your life, your Savior has given the gift of repentance.
- Where you have failed to love your wife, Christ died for you His eternal Bride and covered you with the wings of His holy life and innocent death.
- Where you have failed to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord because you were too busy, or too lazy, Christ, who knew you would neglect your children, has graciously nailed those sins to the cross never to be mentioned again.
- Where you and I have failed to repent as we should each day for our sinful thoughts, words and actions as husbands and fathers, Jesus calls you back again into His gracious arms. In the arms of our resurrected and glorious Savior, we rest in the arms of our Heavenly Father.
Now with a clear conscience, and with a joyful heart, love your wife a Christ loved the Church, nurture and admonish your children and grandchildren in the eternal Word of God, and live in humble repentance each day as you apply the words of your Savior to every aspect of your vocation as a Christian father, “Whoever comes unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.” Go in Peace. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria.