“TRAINING YOUR SON TO REBEL”
First Kings 1.6
It is one thing to be a man; it is another thing to be a father. We live in a society in which manhood and fatherhood have been under assault for a long, long time. We are so far removed from the day when most guys were men and many men were real fathers that the two are for the most part lost concepts anymore. It is a great tragedy that so many men fall prey to the vicious and dishonest assault of feminism on manhood that generation after generation of boys have been affected to the point that they simply do not know any longer how to be men. There is no longer any cultural memory of real manhood.
Just as great a tragedy is that of those few guys who do grow up to the full stature of real manhood, so many of them will end up as failures as fathers. As pathetic as a guy is who has not really reached the flower of real manhood, it is just as great a tragedy when those few guys who really are men end up failing at the finish line of the race by then failing as fathers.
Consider that though a boy is delivered by his mother, is nursed by his mother, is bathed and fed and changed by his mother, he must at some point in his life push away from being the clinging, frightened, cry baby little boy, to assume his place among the men.
We must come to grips with the fact that western society has perverted God’s plan for a boy to develop from childhood to manhood by inserting an artificial phase called adolescence, where boys are allowed some of the privileges of manhood without bearing the responsibilities of manhood. The entire process ends up being more complicated than it needs to be. This results in confusing many little boys, who wrongly think it is acceptable to model their personalities after their mother’s, rather than adopting the masculine characteristics of their fathers, who they will think are too loud, or to mean, or too something. That is in those households with boys whose dads are real men, and not the sissies and wimps that we so oftentimes find married to gals these days, or not married to gals these days. As well, this confusion hinders the natural and normal process of little boys moving to an emotional arm’s length from their mothers, so they will have enough distance from their mommies to turn about and adopt manly personality traits. Good night, how very unattractive it is for a boy to cling to his mother’s feminine personality characteristics as he enters puberty. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I see it.
Mothers who are unwise and mothers who are unfamiliar with the maturation process of a boy growing into manhood, will sometimes resist this emotional distancing, and will mistake what is happening for rebellion or rejection. It is not rebellion. It is not rejection. It is a little boy who is trying to grow up.
Wise mothers understand that a son who finds it increasingly difficult to stay with the women when there are men around, and who chaffs when his mother seems to be overly concerned for his safety when he plays or tries to show some independence, is not always being rebellious. He is sometimes simply trying to adopt the persona of an adult male, which he cannot succeed in doing without shedding himself of the effeminate traits that are prominent in his mother’s personality, or that should be prominent in his mother’s personality.
In those cases where a boy is somewhat backward in his progress toward manhood his mother needs to speed him along, rather than satisfying her own compulsion to be a nurturing mother to a child who now needs just a little bit less nurture than when he was younger. You simply do not use your own children to compensate for what you think was lacking in your own childhood.
How does a mother encourage her son toward manhood? This is partly done by altering her expectations of her son, no longer delighting in his sissiness, no longer tolerating him crying every time he gets a minor scratch, no longer being patient when he shows fear of almost everything, no longer allowing him to work you the way a girl works her dad and a son should not work his mother. At some point, a wise mother begins communicating to her boy that she is no longer satisfied with him being a little boy, but that she expects him to become a man and to gradually take on more manly behavior. Understand, however, that manliness cannot be reduced to athletic ability or academic achievement.
When Paul exhorted all Christians (including women) to “quit ye like men,” First Corinthians 16.13, he was not referring to either intelligence or physical strength. Contrary to feminism’s view of things, manliness incorporates a set of virtues that everyone would do well to adopt, very much including little boys who are growing into manhood.
It can be the mistake of boys without real fathers, or boys who are basically raised by their mothers even if there are dads in the home, especially brutal and hateful fathers, or pathetic and ineffective fathers, to think they can achieve manhood by being good in sports, or by being good in school, or by being violent, or by being promiscuous.
Ernest Hemingway was a picture of this kind of lad, with a father he deeply loved, but who was a pathetic wimp in the face of a domineering and overreaching mother. Look how he turned out, even after regularly attending church as a boy and hearing many of the great preachers associated with Moody Bible Institute. He ended up decidedly antichristian, yet was an outdoorsman, a wildly famous intellectual, and a very promiscuous man, before he committed suicide.
Though I am in favor of doing well in school, in favor of participating in sports, and am opposed to violence and promiscuity in all its forms, doing these things or not doing these things are not avenues by which anyone approaches real manhood, and it is a terrible perversion of reality to think otherwise. It has been my observation that intellectuals and athletes tend to fall just as far short of real manliness in our culture as do gang bangers and whoremongers. Each in their own way substituting something for the traits of real manliness, be it cleverness, strength and quickness, violence, or promiscuity.
We have an entire country populated by so many guys whose emotional and spiritual development is just stunted. Many of them do not work steadily when they could, do not support their families when they should, and do not provide spiritual leadership for their spouses when they ought to.
I think we recognize that a great portion of our ministry here at
It is a work in progress. None of us has arrived. Each of us has shortcomings, areas of immaturity and foolishness, and blind spots in our field of vision. However, we know that a man who does not work should not eat, that a man should be strong and of good courage, that a man should demonstrate humility and grace, and that a man to be a man needs to be a man of God. However, the ministry God has given us to boys and men does not stop with evangelizing them and guiding them to Christian manhood. It extends to fatherhood. Understand that there is a big difference between being a real man and a successful father.
Being a man has to do with stature, with your standing in the eyes of other men, and with your attitude and disposition toward women (including your own mother and your wife), and with your relationship with God. Being a father, on the other hand, is far different from manhood. Fatherhood has to do with a very narrowly focused relationship with a child. It is far more difficult to be a successful father than it is to be a successful man. Do not get me wrong. I believe manliness is important. Not nearly enough guys in this country really get their arms around this concept I call manliness. However, far more difficult than manliness is this issue of fatherhood.
How difficult is it to be a man? It is very difficult to be a man. Most guys are not men in any real sense of the word, at least not manly men. Most guys are what our governor would call girlie men, displaying a deference to their wives and to women in general that exceeds the boundaries of scriptural propriety, while failing to demonstrate the moral clarity and courage that is truly characteristic of those who are actual men. This is understandable. Women can be very intimidating. Women are smart, insightful, typically better-organized, and harder working than many men. Therefore, if a guy is not a breadwinner, if a guy has the maturity level of a little boy in a grownup’s body, or if a guy is not willing to shoulder the responsibilities of courageous manhood, of course he will have problems with women. What kind of man will tend to be intimidated by the thought of having an appropriate relationship with the women he meets and associates with, including his own wife? What kind of man will tend to treat women as objects, or will cry if his wife does not act like his mommy? That is an easy one. It will likely be the guys who were athletes, the guys who were intellectuals, the guys who were violent, or the guys who were promiscuous.
Of course, I am generalizing, but each type of guy I have mentioned typically has, in his own way, erected defense mechanisms that make it difficult for him to interact with a woman the way a man really should, according to God’s Word. “Pastor, almost every guy I know fits into one of those categories.” I know. The guys in our country have real problems with manliness, and this is reflected by the problems they have with women, in one way or the other. I am not saying these guys are not tough, or that they are not smart. I am just challenging their manliness. This may be a reaction to women being raised to be so overreaching these days. By overreaching, I am not referring to equal pay for equal work. I favor equal pay for equal work. I do not want my daughter to be paid less for doing the same job a guy does. I am referring to women who are crossing over the threshold from femininity to masculinity.
What was a more subtle problem in Solomon’s day, has become a looming problem in our day. Sadly, Bathsheba’s advice to her son is no more followed by men today than Solomon followed her advice in his own day: “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.” Men do not know how to react to this kind of assault. How rare is the man, these days, who is manly enough to do what King Asa did, when he removed his own mother from being queen, because of the sins she committed, and evil influence she had on his kingdom? How rare is this quality I call moral courage, which is so lacking among men in their dealings with their mothers, with their wives, with other women in their lives, and in other areas of life?
I could go on and on about manliness, but this is Father’s Day, and I want to speak about dads. Just because a guy has a high enough sperm count to make babies does not mean he is a real father. We have punks all over
Though I never listen to her radio program as a rule, Dr. Laura has a phrase for the guys who just make babies and do not function as fathers. She calls them sperm donors. Though she typically uses the term to describe a guy who makes a baby out of wedlock and then leaves the pregnant girl on her own to raise the child, my own definition of a sperm donor would encompass a larger portion of the population than hers. I would include as a mere sperm donor the guy who makes the baby but does not support the family, whether he is there or not. This is the guy who, if he has a job, is unwilling to finance the upbringing of his own child, and would just as soon live on momma’s money and use his money to play with. Guys are supposed to work to support themselves, their wives, and their children. That used to be the threshold of manhood in days gone by. In addition, all but the most radical feminists cannot help but resent a husband and a father who will not wear himself out to support his family.
However, try not to be too hard on this type of guy. After all, he does not know what being a man is, much less being a father. A man supports his wife. A father supports his child. That is only the beginning. Turn to First Thessalonians 2.10-12:
10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
Here we see Paul showing the Thessalonian Christians two things: First, he showed them what his ministry was when he was briefly with them. Second, he showed them how real fathers conduct themselves. How helpful this must have been for those new Christians, and also for the lost folks in the assembly when this letter was read in public. Real guidance for being a father!
Holiness, verse 10, relates to a man’s relationship with God. Justice relates to that man’s relationship with his own child. Being unblameable has to do with that man’s relationship with other people. Kids can see evidence of all three of these kinds of relationships, and when they do not see holiness, justice, and unblameableness, their level of respect for their dads plummets. On top of that, the father is someone who exhorts, who comforts, and who charges his children. However, these things are all covered in other messages I have preached. My purpose in showing you this passage this evening is to remind you that God’s Word shows men how to be fathers, and to show you that the bar is set very high. The bar is set so high, in fact, that though a guy can be something of a real man without being a Christian man, being a godly Christian is no guarantee you will be a successful father. Consider King David, who was a man after God’s own heart. Though he was reputed to be a godly man, a man of God, he failed miserably as a father.
My text for this evening is in First Kings chapter 1. While you look for that chapter in God’s Word, let me set the stage for you: David is now an old man, near death. Though he started out well for God, he badly stumbled later in life by sinning on a number of occasions. First, there was Bathsheba. Then, there was Uriah, her husband. Then there was the numbering of the people, which resulted in the deaths of 70,000 men who were slain by God as punishment for King David’s sin.
Fellows, do you think the kind of life you live has no effect on your child? Do you really think you can sin without a lasting imprint being left on your child? Whether it is your work habits or your faithfulness to church, your treatment of your child’s mother or the sins you never seem to take very seriously or conquer, you have a young audience who is always watching you, always evaluating you, and always using you as a yardstick by which the unseen God will be measured. However, these are things you already know. What you may not realize is how your raising of a child is affected by something you have never considered. Stand at this time and read First Kings 1.1-6 with me:
1 Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.
2 Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat.
3 So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of
4 And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
5 Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.
6 And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.
Focus your attention on verse 6:
6 And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.
Three things for you to notice:
First, TAKE NOTE OF WHAT ADONIJAH HAD DONE
According to verse 5, Adonijah exalted himself. “What is wrong with that?” you say? His father is still alive. If he succeeds in his plan to usurp the throne, he will have to kill his father.
Did you notice that Adonijah is the younger brother of Absalom? Do you remember that Absalom did the very same thing some years earlier, without success? Where do you think Adonijah got the idea for his sin? From his older brother.
Dad, younger children learn how to sin again their fathers from their older siblings. Therefore, if you do not deal with an older child properly you are guaranteeing a problem with your younger child. As well, notice the timing of Adonijah’s rebellion. It could not have come at a worse time for David, and for the kingdom. However, this is why Adonijah chose that time to attempt his father’s overthrow.
If you have children who are not converted to Jesus Christ, you have children who will at least look for opportunities to sin against you. As well, they will sin in such a way as to cause the most damage to you, to your ministry, to your legacy, and to your family.
The only kind of father who is not concerned about such sins is a father who does not stand for anything, does not care about his legacy, and could care less what happens to his children.
Next, TAKE NOTE OF WHAT DAVID HAD NOT DONE
First Kings 1.6 informs us that David “had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?” In other words, David did not hold his son accountable for his sinful behavior.
I am intimately acquainted with the history of some boys whose fathers did not displease them at critical times in their lives. One boy got in trouble with the law and was arrested. When his dad got him home, the boy shook his fist in his much larger father’s face and cried, “Why don’t you stop me from doing these things?” The boy’s father said, “I can’t,” and went to his room. The father went to his room. Another boy was suspended from school for some serious misbehavior. When his dad got home from work and went to his room, the boy became despondent because the father did nothing more than tell him how sorry he was for being let down by his son. The boy’s thoughts were, “If this guy really loved me he would thrash me for what I have done.” Then there was Pudge and Stephen. We had two boys in our school at quite different times. In both situations, the boys expressed to me their desire that their fathers hold them accountable for their crimes and other kinds of misbehavior. Their dads refused, and completely lost control of their sons.
Remember, Adonijah was not the only child David had who was treated this way, who was not held accountable for his sins. So, how was it that David, who had been such a godly man, who served God so well, who was so brave in battle against God’s enemies, was so pathetic with his kids, especially with Adonijah?
My friends, I honestly do not fully know what the problem was with David. Did he lose his paternal authority in his own eyes when he committed such serious sins in front of his children? I am very sure he felt the hypocrite, and could not bring himself to challenge his children’s misbehavior with his own sins on his mind. That lies back of much bad parenting in our own day. It may also have been that being a father was something David simply did not understand well. Sometimes guys are wonderful men and godly husbands, but just do not get being a father. Whatever David’s reasons were, he miserably failed when it came to checking his son’s sins, when it came to holding him accountable, and when it came to strongly correcting him when he had done wrong.
Can you imagine what it must be like to raise a child in such a way that the child is never displeased? How indulgent David must have been. How spoiled that youngster must have been growing up. The whole thing makes for an irrational adult who feels fully justified in demanding whatever he wants, no matter how unreasonable or inconvenient to other people.
Finally, TAKE NOTE OF WHAT DAVID SHOULD HAVE DONE
Of course, First Thessalonians 2.10-12 informs us that fathers should exhort, and comfort, and charge their children. This obviously cannot be done without being thoroughly engaged in the lives of your children. This is not possible to do if you leave the rearing of your children to their mother.
As well, take note of Hebrews 12.6-8:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
When you are dealing with a population that has a clear idea of human nature and the natural disposition of children, there is no argument about the necessity of chastising, which is to say spanking, in child rearing.
In such cultures as ours used to be, it is understood that the only explanation for refusing to spank a child who needs a good busting is that he is someone else’s kid. Your own kids, who you want to turn out right, get theirs whenever they need it. It is good for them. Thus, David had been godly and spiritual for the most part, but he severely damaged his chances to succeed as a father when he compromised himself in his children’s eyes by his sins. As well, his own feelings about his sins probably explains his reluctance to correct his children for wrongdoing.
What are fathers to learn from David? There are many things to learn about spirituality and godliness from those portions of God’s Word that he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write. However, when it comes to David, there is nothing positive to learn about succeeding as a father. Look at what happened to his kids. Rape and rebellion, murder and promiscuity. Sin demands a high price.
If we are to learn from a negative, let us learn from the inspired comment we find in First Kings 1.6: “And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?” My friends, this is not a compliment. This is God’s way of reminding fathers that you are supposed to yank your kid’s chain when such action is called for. Fathers who do not hold their children accountable raise children who will rebel against them.
Is being a Christian important? Extremely. Only Christians enjoy communion with God and look forward to an eternity in heaven. Is being a godly Christian crucial? Absolutely. Only godly Christians have the requisite testimonies that will enable them to take friends and family with them to heaven. In addition to these things, you fathers must represent God in your homes, holding your children accountable for their misbehavior and exacting punishment that is appropriate. If not, your kid will have no respect for you or your God.
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