Editor's Note: This is an edited transcription of my recent recorded Bible study, with discussion here:.
The chairman of Barilla Group, the world’s largest pasta company, recently enraged homosexuals by declaring it was against his family values to feature a homosexual family in Barilla advertising. He said, “For us, the 'sacral family' remains one of the company’s core values.” Food chain Chic-fil-A’s Christian president Don Cathy also took a stand for traditional marriage. I had hoped the testimony of these leaders would be a beachhead for moral renewal. Unfortunately, inundated by criticism as homophobic and threat of boycott, both men have largely backed down.
What are family values?
Many evangelicals today falsely believe God wants every Christian happy and materialistically fulfilled. To them, family values largely mean guidelines to achieve social harmony and happiness, upward mobility, and a wide network of friends. People guided by such family values are very reluctant to correct or reprove others for moral failings. They promote unconditional forgiveness, regardless of repentance, and teach their children to do the same—trying to forget what may be grievous wrongs. They believe everyone in their circle of family and friends should feel unconditionally loved and accepted. Church is primarily useful for its activities and fellowship. These family values require avoiding potentially divisive issues, especially politics, religion and even glaring sins in people’s lives.
But our values should come directly from God, not our social desires.
Here are thirteen of the most important family values with which I was raised, and which I teach. Such values have proven themselves over a lifetime to produce only good fruit.
- Obedience to God is the greatest duty of man. Faith in our Creator is not meant to be just a part of our lives. We are to be completely involved in serving the One in whom we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
- We must love our neighbor as ourselves, with or without reciprocation. God’s love in us is willing to be deprived for the good and ultimate salvation of others. This means practically and financially helping those in genuine need whenever we can.
- A monogamous heterosexual Christian marriage is the foundation of a stable and happy family and society. This is based on the edict of Christ: Once joined as one flesh in matrimony, a man and a woman cannot divorce and remarry unless adultery has been committed. It is sin for a minister to divide asunder a marriage by marrying a person who has divorced from their former spouse without adultery having occurred. He is condoning active adultery. (See What Christ Really Taught About Divorce and Remarriage) If one spouse is so abusive that the other spouse’s or children’s health or safety is threatened, the innocent spouse has the right to separate. Such separation may occur in divorce court as long as the separating party does not remarry. If adultery has occurred before the separation or after (including as a result of remarriage), the person sinned against may remarry in the Lord.
- The unborn child has all the rights and dignity of any other human.
- Every child from the earliest years should be encouraged to think of God and His mighty works and trust Him as their Savior. As much as possible, this should occur at the age children become aware of their conscience and develop a personal sense of right and wrong, typically around age eight. You will almost certainly lose your children to the world if you tell them to feel free to make up their own mind later. Getting children soundly converted is the only way to make wholesome truthful family values workable as a family. Only self-denying love makes true peace possible in families. Self-will must be divinely transformed as early as possible. A child who has given their heart completely to Jesus is fully capable of understanding and exemplifying self-denying love. They can also begin to understand justification by simply trusting Jesus, not by good works. As such, young children past the age of accountability are empowered to be full-fledged members of a Christian family, which serves the highest values and pursues the noblest goals.
- From their earliest years children should be consistently prejudiced against tobacco, alcohol and drug use as well as profanity, sexual impurity, and gratuitous violence that permeate much of entertainment. Rock music also jams our ability to hear our conscience as well as, for Christians, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Children must be given the necessary truth and values even in early grade school to prepare them to resist the tidal wave of corruption that will assault them in their junior and senior high school years as the big Jewish and Hollywood media attempt to destroy and alienate them from their parents. (See "Jews DO control media," Times of Israel)
- A loving accepting Christian family is the best atmosphere in which to create normal confident children. Yet, as Solomon said, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child.” The Christian parent, having brought eternal souls into the world, must bear with them even in teen rebellion, doing so with prayer, flexibility and patience. However, Hebrew parents in the Old Testament were allowed to actually stone a rebellious young adult if all other measures to make him a peaceable member of society had failed. Similarly, modern parents have every right—and even a duty—to kick out of their homes a rebellious child after age 18.
- All family members should accept that God has created us differently. However, "different" does not mean in violation of God’s law. I Cor. 5:11 indicates there can be no real acceptance in a Christian family of a member who claims to be a Christian but is a fornicator, sodomite, drunkard, reviler, etc. Shunning of hypocritical self-professed Christians is necessary because their sin weakens the church and tarnishes its testimony to a skeptical world (Gal. 5:9). People who claim the name of Christ yet live in blatant sin must be shunned whether they are family members or not. Unlike the church, families are biological combinations of independent free will beings, some of whom did not choose to be together. Each is very much in the process of soul making or soul destruction. Therefore, past the age of 18, the right to be part of family activities is conditional.
Considering the unspeakable depravity of homosexual sex and its profanation of the laws of God and nature, I do not believe any practicing sodomite—related or not— should be invited to a Christian wedding. But can such a former family member be invited to a funeral? That is up to the Christian parents or siblings as they find the Lord’s leading. Parents may be legitimately apprehensive of inviting a fornicator or practicing homosexual to get acquainted with their adolescent children. Certainly, children should be adequately prejudiced against such a relative. On the other hand, God may well want to use the solemnity and testimony of a Christian funeral as a powerful and convicting reminder to a lost prodigal of his only hope. Obviously, church doors should always be open to anyone who wants to attend sermons, but membership requires the clearest profession of obedience to Christ.
- All family members should honor vital truth even when it comes in the form of correction and reproof. The mark of a true Christian is that they do not view Spirit-led correction as an attack. Solomon said, “He that hears reproof gets understanding” (Prov. 15:32). We are mortal. God, for our good, corrects and even chastises those He loves. Family members who have given their hearts to Jesus must be taught not to make a case or hold a grudge against anyone who speaks the truth to them. If they react with humility and gratitude, there is no limit to the potential of that family to become a cohesive fighting machine for God and freedom.
Churches today, however, are filled with immature, fleshly and untested members who respond to godly correction by trying to punish the corrector. They are little gods who feel they are so divinely favored and autonomous that they have every right to expect others to defer to them in their indulgences of the flesh. As a result, they impute judgmental motives to the reprover. They nurse a grudge that only becomes deeper and more obsessive. This creates rivalry and tension in the church or family unit, dividing and destroying its effectiveness for God.
- We must be thankful for all things God allows into our lives, both good and evil. As Satan told Job, the Almighty has a hedge of protection around every believer. If God chooses to allow Satan to break through, it is because He has a higher plan that will result in greater good. We thus have no case for anger against God. God is love and He is able to give us a much greater long-term good with His allowance of adversity than by protecting us in ease.
- Every family member should be diligent in work and study, doing, as Paul said, “all things as unto the Lord.” Young people should prepare to be self-sufficient. On the other hand, many evangelical families make it the highest good to get set up for life financially. But God must have the right to actually lead some He loves into spiritual vocations or into decisions of taking a Christian stand which jeopardize their academic or long-term careers. This way of life is abhorrent to most respectable and affluent Christian parents who are very disappointed if their children truly put the kingdom of God first. But this is true Christian discipleship. This is how I was reared.
- God has ordained that families be led by fathers. Scripture says God is male. A godly father is representative of God Himself in authority over His church (Eph. 5:23). The father should thus not leave religious zeal and instruction to his wife but be the primary spiritual authority and inspiration to his family. Young people should be taught the greatest respect for those in authority, especially for those leaders who are not unduly politicized, such as police, teachers and pastors.
At the same time, just as the small boy Samuel delivered a message of divine disapproval and judgment to the cowardly and permissive high priest Eli, Scripture tells young people not to allow anyone to despise their youth (1 Timothy 4:12). Every Christian young person has the God-given right to respectfully ask questions of leadership, as did the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple. Youth should be especially free to question liberal or heretical ideas which are portrayed as fact in the classroom or in Sunday school. Although most liberal teachers and many in church leadership will interpret such questionings as insubordination, they may actually be sincere attempts to verify truth according to reason and Scripture, not just get good grades or please others. This is praiseworthy. It is very important that parents realize that finding and speaking the whole truth is much more important than getting perfect grades. A primary reason more than 90% of young people leave the church after high school is that no one has successfully inspired them and patterned such idealism for them. I am who I am because as a youth I constantly saw my parents willing to suffer for truth.
- When we tell someone we will do something, we must do it. Many people think that unless we say “I promise,” a promise has not been made. In reality, when we say we will perform a task, a solemn promise has been registered in both heaven and earth. In my college days, I spent much time helping inner-city, mostly fatherless, youth at our ranch. Our program involved Bible teaching and activities but also work. We discovered that such young people revealed a consistent pattern of behavior: Told what work they must do, they cheerfully agreed, but unsupervised, they soon became distracted, seeking pleasure, and nothing was accomplished. Only by camp counselors spending nearly full-time working to exhort and reprove them to work could any task be fulfilled.
Such cajoling should never be required by a Christian. A person’s word should be his bond. A family member, young or old, should need to be told only once that a job needs doing. When he or she says they will do it, they have given their word and should do it without reminding. Yes, exceptions can be made for fatigue and honest forgetfulness, but if we do not sincerely attempt to fulfill what we have agreed to, we have not only failed others but degraded our Christian witness. I’m not about to call every lapse of promise by a people-pleasing Christian to be sin. There may be complicated psychiatric or emotional reasons for such lapses, but the end result will be for the person to acquire a reputation of being undependable, or as Scripture warns, “being slothful in business.”
To conclude, our nation cannot be turned back to God if Christian parents agree with the world in its obsessive rush to obtain perfect physical and financial security or live at peace with everyone. Such materialism and man-pleasing only increases the fear and precariousness of our lives. Instead, Christian families must return by faith, not to the humanistic values of the world and the pop theology in the church over the past half century, but to values solidly rooted in the Bible and centuries-long experience. Such return is not going to happen quickly or on a massive scale, but it can powerfully begin in your heart as you give all to Jesus and put His family values first.
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