Recognizing Modern Idolatry Day 10: The Idol of Family Relationships, Part 2
We asked a searching question yesterday: Is it possible to place too much value on our spouses and children? Then we looked at two examples from the Bible in which people did exactly that—idolizing their families by placing them above God in their hearts, and choosing to do something that pleased them but dishonored God.
When we get married, it is easy to be distracted from our relationship to God as we adjust to living life beside a new person. We become very concerned with what our spouses want and how we can increase each other’s happiness. Often, as time passes, we adopt our spouse’s way of speaking and living without even realizing what has happened. When we marry a partner who draws us toward Christ and His Word, this is a good thing. But when we begin patterning our life after an immature or unregenerate spouse’s life, disaster follows. Additionally, as parents, our protective instincts are strong when it comes to our kids; of course we don’t want them to sin, but we also hate to watch them suffer consequences for their own sinful choices. Unfortunately, this urge to keep children from reaping what they sow is directly contrary to the Bible. As believers, we and our families must come under the authority of God, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. The Lord Jesus Christ leaves no space for us to worship at the altar of our marriage or our parenting—He alone will have first place on the throne of our hearts.
I often hear fellow Christians say, “Family first!” or, “My family is everything to me” or, “I will do whatever it takes to make my children happy.” While I understand the sentiment and know that family is extremely important, this line of thinking can certainly get us into trouble. Think about a couple of different scenarios. How about when our kids’ beloved baseball team switches their schedule to all Wednesday night practices and Sunday morning games and he begs us to take him? Do we throw up our hands and say, “Well, I know baseball means a lot to you so I guess it’s okay if we have to skip Wednesday Bible study and Sunday morning services for a few months to finish your season”? Surely that decision would not honor the God who commands us not to abandon meeting with brothers and sisters for worship. Or, what happens when a family member decides that if we do not agree with their choice to live in a sexually immoral fashion that we no longer love them? Do we throw up our hands and say, “Well, loving you is the most important thing so I guess I can rethink what God says about this”? That response would be profoundly ungodly and profoundly unloving.
If you weigh every significant decision based on the preferences of your spouse and children but do not seek God for wisdom, you may be worshipping the idol of family relationships. If your spouse or children commit blatant sins that cause other people to think poorly of God’s church and you do not want to confront them or reprimand them about it, examine your heart before God to see if you are caring more about family comfort and your own reputation than you care about God’s people and God’s glory. Confess your idolatry and repent.
Instead of loving our families more than Christ, we can show we love Him over all things by willingly submitting to His authority and developing a heart of leadership. When we love God first and want to live in His ways and under the teaching of His Word, we will learn how to lead others to do the same. Our spouses and children will benefit from our submission to God’s authority because God knows best what we need to live lives of peace and joy. Husbands, you can bow to Christ by leading your wives and children spiritually and making decisions that follow God’s will for your whole family unit. Wives, you can bow to Christ by supporting and honoring your husband’s leadership and by guiding your children in wisdom and in knowledge of the gospel. Authority is not the dirty word our culture wants us to think it is. Understanding God’s rule reminds us to continually put His priorities above our own and above even those of the people we love the most.
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-37, ESV)