Pre-requisite relationships

God first & healthy marriage

Priority 1: Your Relationship with God

If you do not love God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul, your children will recognize this. They know you how you truly are, not how others in the community see you. Our culture teaches us to be on our best behavior when out in public, but when we are home, we can relax and “be ourselves”. You cannot hide from your children; they are not nearly as naïve as you might think.

Memory verse: Deut 6:5 (below).

Thought for the week #1:

If you are not in a right relationship with God, modeling godly behavior, living righteous lives, then you are missing the most important aspect of child-raising.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. Eph 5:1

“Be holy, for I am holy.” I Peter 1:16

We are to live our faith not just on Sundays.

You model God; you are very much like God to your children. What does their God look like?

When your children see you loving God, serving God, especially in ministry, they will want to do the same.

“The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven’s lieutenants.” --- William (Billy) Shakespeare

Two “EE” questions:

  1. If you were to die today, would you go to Heaven?
  2. If you were to stand before God, and He were to ask you, “Why should I let you into Heaven?”, what would you say?

”Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 - NKJV (also below NLT)

Three Principles from these verses:

  1. There is only one God—Holy, perfect, absolute, full of grace. There is no other way of salvation. Jesus is the only way unto salvation—not Mohammed, not Abraham, not through the many gods of the Hindus, not Buddha, not by being good enough. If you are not sure about this very thing, we need to talk.

    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 - NIV

    Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 - NIV

  2. Moral training starts with morality and beliefs of the parents. Parents must not only teach morality but also validate it by daily living.

    Moral training should not be based on negatives — what not to do. Even in conflict, reasons for righteousness should be taught; everything should be brought back to God and His holiness. Negative moral training leads to works—salvation mentality and spiritual pride/“Phariseicalism”. They must understand the “whys” of moral behavior — to bring glory to God.

    Love verses:

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13:4-7 - NIV

    Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. 1 John 4:7 - NLT

    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 - NIV

    By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 - NIV

    For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 - NIV

    But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Eph 5:3 - NIV

  3. Biblical teaching and moral training should be taught at all times and activities during the day, especially at non-stressful, normal times. Your beliefs should be evident to all around you.

    Times of correction must include teaching, but it is not the best time. Look for teachable moments. Learning when to press an issue and when to drop it, and when to apply a certain moral principle vs. when it doesn’t apply is a difficult skill of parenting. Guard against legalism but contextualize, when necessary, situations which are not clear cut. Pick your battles!

    “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children. Deut 4:9 - ESV

    Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Prov 22:6 - NIV

    Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Ps 34:11 - NIV

    Do not lower the standards for moral excellence according to a child’s different personality and temperament, but instead raise the child to the Biblical standard. We are all held to the same standard — perfection.

    Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:48 - NIV

    We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. Col 1:28 - NIV

    For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Heb 10:14 - NKJV

    “To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.” --- Josh Billings

Priority 2: Biblical marriage

There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends. --- Homer

Memory verse:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Eph 5:31-32

Thought for the week #2

Love and nurturing of your spouse should be second only to love for God. The crowning achievement of creation was holy marriage. Our marriages mirror the relationship of Christ and the Church.


  1. By God’s design, marriage is the most basic and important social relationship of man. The role of husband or wife is more influential in the long term than that of mom or dad. The marriage is the basic relationship; children are secondary to that. Marriage will maintain; children grow up and leave! Parenting should not center on the child.

    And the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him.” Gen 2:18 - NLT

    Adam was not alone — God was with him. But he did not have a suitable mate; he needed something to be complete as man is a social animal. The other animals were not suitable, did not complement Adam. In marriage, man and woman are complete; children are not a necessity.

    “We only regard those unions as real examples of love and real marriages in which a fixed and unalterable decision has been taken. If men or women contemplate an escape, they do not collect all their powers for the task. In none of the serious and important tasks of life do we arrange such a “getaway.” We cannot love and be limited.” --- Alfred Adler

    In other words, “divorce” cannot be in the vocabulary of the Christian marriage. It is not to be considered at any time.

  2. Husband and wife must remain one. Being selfish humans, like their parents, children will do their best, sometimes consciously, sometimes not, to divide the parents in order to get their way. Do not let parenting divide the marriage. One parent cannot see it as their duty to make up for the other parent’s shortcomings. They must agree. If they cannot agree, then it is incumbent upon the wife to be submissive.

    Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Gen 2:24 - KJV

    Oneness of a couple should be not only physical, but emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and communal. Man can rule over the animals and worship (under) God—he needed an equal.

    The marriage relationship is a type of that of Christ and the Church; it is essential.

    “The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make - not just on your wedding day, but over and over again — and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.” --- Barbara De Angelis

    “What you are as a single person, you will be as a married person, only to a greater degree. Any negative character trait will be intensified in a marriage relationship, because you will feel free to let your guard down — that person has committed himself to you and you no longer have to worry about scaring him off.” --- Josh McDowell

  3. Any deviation from the biblical marriage has potentially severe effects on the family. As the most basic unit of social man, marriage must be maintained — and healthy — for the family to work properly.

    The marriage relationship is the priority relationship in the family. (Dangers: Wives over-involved with children; men more interested in work or others; either or both serving, even in good things, at the expense of the marriage & family.)
    Priorities: 1. God 2. Marriage 3. Family

    But you say, “Why does he not? [accept my offering to the Lord]” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” Mal 2:14-16

    “All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love. Good battle is objective and honest—never vicious or cruel. Good battle is healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principle of equal partnership.” --- Ann Landers Says Truth Is Stranger…, 1968

    “The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.” --- Robert C Dodds

  4. Children will only feel as secure as they believe their parent’s marriage to be. They feel the love and affection between spouses, and it gives them great security.

    “When there is harmony in the husband-wife relationship, there is an infused stability in the family.” --- Ezzo

    A child will not feel safe and secure when he is worried about the central stabilizing force in his family, indeed, in his world. They can perceive conflict vs. commitment at 2-3 years of age, long before they can understand any issues involved. Low levels of insecurity develop in these children. They fear their world will collapse. Behaviors bear this out.

Things to remember for marriage:

  • Neither life, nor marriage, stops when children are born.
  • Cultivate the marriage relationship “until death do us part”. Date nights, daily “couch” time together, special treats/courting behavior; planning & participating in family events, etc.
  • Show your children what a Christian marriage looks like. Teach them to be a wonderful spouse.
  • Show hospitality. Inviting others over not only is godly but also obligates the family to be at their best form, to behave as they know they should. Just as you clean house before entertaining, everyone will be at their best behavior.

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” --- Theodore Hesburgh

Biblical Submission

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Eph 5:21 NIV

You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything. And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church. And we are his body. > As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Eph 5:21-33 - NLT

But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Cor 7:2-5 - NIV

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1 Peter 3:1-7 - NIV

If families are not marriage centered:

Child-centered parenting, where parents focus on their children more than their partner, brings many problems. Children believe that they are the center of the family.

  1. It reduces the biblical significance of marriage. Child-centered parenting pulls the marriage partners apart as they compete in raising a child.
  2. It creates too great a sense of self-importance and self-reliance in the child, leading to too much expressed/attempted freedom without self-control.
  3. It leads to family independence instead of family interdependence. The child begins to use family relationships to their advantage instead of seeing their rightful place of a loved, welcomed, integral part.
  4. It often comes perilously close to idolatry. Children begin to think that they are to be worshiped instead of God Himself. Parents also lose perspective and do not remain biblical in their approach.
  5. The self-centered attitude cultivated persists well into the adult years.

Make conscious efforts to maintain the marriage relationship before, during, and after child-raising. We strongly suggest repeated, active investment into the marriage in order to remain happy, raise happy children, and please God. (Regular date nights, marriage retreats?, overnights away occasionally, communicate and relate to each other regularly during the week)


  1. Is Jesus Christ the Lord of your life? How did you answer the 2 questions about death and heaven above?
  2. Do/could your children see the importance of God in your life? Indeed, can anyone?
  3. When are we to be teaching our kids regarding godly living? When can we rest?
  4. As a couple, what do you disagree about most? How has this changed over time?
  5. How do you resolve issues about which you do not agree?
  6. When you are angry at your spouse, what is your usual reaction or behavior then?
  7. Do you remember your parents having conflict when you were young? Were you worried about them splitting up? How did that make you feel?
  8. How & why does child-centered parenting potentially yield poor results?
  9. How do you resolve issues about which you do not agree?


  1. Look for times where you can give moral instruction to your child to help him understand right behavior. How did he react to this? How did it change his behavior subsequently? How could you have handled this different or better?
  2. Practice showing how your faith affects your day to day living: practice hospitality, love your neighbor, be actively involved in ministry, place importance on reading and magnifying God’s Word, pray without ceasing. Be willing to talk about how you did next week.
  3. When you corrected your child this week, how did you help them to understand from where our standards come, why we teach them what we do?
  4. Practice “couch time”. This is time side-by-side with your spouse when the children are awake and normally present, to show that your spouse takes priority over the children and the world.
  5. Observe home activities, looking especially for behaviors that are child-centered. Write these down, as well as ways to change these behaviors, for discussion next week.

“After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.” --- Mark Twain

“One of the great illusions of our time is that love is self-sustaining. It is not. Love must be fed and nurtured, constantly renewed. That demands ingenuity and consideration, but first and foremost, it demands time.” --- David Mace

“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Eph. 5:33

The Crazy Cycle:

  • Without Love---she reacts without respect
  • Without Respect---he reacts without love

The Rewarded Cycle:

  • His Love---regardless of her respect
  • Her Respect---regardless of his love

From Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs