Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Men, It's Your Responsibility

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall 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.  (Deut 6:6-7)

On Monday, I shared a link on Facebook to a post at Brothers of John the Steadfast entitled “Real Men Catechize their Children” reaffirming the responsibility of fathers to teach their children the truths they have learned from God’s Word.  Thinking on the subject later, I was reminded of what Martin Luther wrote in his preface to the Small Catechism:
The deplorable, miserable condition which I discovered lately when I, too, was a visitor, has forced and urged me to prepare this Catechism, or Christian doctrine, in this small, plain, simple form.  Mercy!  Dear God, what manifold misery I beheld!  The common people, especially in the villages, have no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine, and, alas! many pastors are altogether incapable and incompetent to teach [so much so, that one is ashamed to speak of it].  Nevertheless, all maintain that they are Christians, have been baptized and receive the holy Sacraments.  Yet they cannot even recite either the Lord’s Prayer, or the Creed, or the Ten Commandments.  They live like dumb brutes and irrational hogs.  Now that the Gospel has come, they have nicely learned to abuse all liberty like experts.

O bishops!  What answer will you ever give to Christ for having so shamefully neglected the people and never for a moment discharged your office?  May all misfortune run from you!  I do not wish at this place to invoke evil on your heads.  You command the Sacrament in one form and insist on your human laws, and yet at the same time you do not care in the least whether the people know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or any part of the Word of God.  Woe, woe, unto you forever!
Small Catechism, Preface.1-3

This is a sorry state of affairs but quite common today.  Too many fathers are guilty of dereliction of duty concerning their families.  Somewhere along the way, we determined that religious or spiritual matters are too feminine for a man’s man.  Let mom do it.  If you ask me, the fathers are scared.  They are rightly fear handling holy things, and because there is no good body of instruction or pattern of discipleship, they feel unqualified.  They did not learn how from either their fathers or their pastors.  Luther rails against both for neglecting responsibilities and not teaching others what Christ has commanded.

Parachurch ministries have popped up to help fill the gap.  The Navigators and Verge Network both have discipleship materials and training, but what they offer for a fee should be readily available in the local assembly for no charge because it is common practice, handed from one person or generation to the next.  Think about this: publishing companies were not around when Israel wandered in the wilderness.  The people needed to learn and remember the Law and be reminded regularly through instruction from the priests.  This instruction the parents passed to their families.  I do not fault the parachurch organizations for their work: the blame belongs at the local level.

Scripture is divinely powerful and effectual.  It changed you.  It changes you.  The good work begun in you will be brought to completion at the day of Christ (Phil 1:6).  Pastors, preach and teach the Word rightly.  Fathers (and by extension mothers), teach your children.  Men and women, teach younger men and women.  In other words, follow Paul’s instruction to Titus and Timothy:
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.  Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.  Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.  They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.  (Titus 2:1-6)

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  (2 Tim 2:1-2)
Nothing has been revoked, rescinded, or invalidated.  Teach the abundance of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Excellent post. Unfortunately, those who need to hear won't see it.