Probably the most delightful of fragrances for me is that of lavender. Every time its scent reaches me, my thoughts are immediately transported to another dimension, and I could glimpse an infinitesimal vision of Eden restored to full bloom when Christ comes.
But nature is so designed that every such gift created for man’s olfactory pleasure passes by us only for a brief while, enough for us to enjoy it during the few seconds it fills our senses. And then, having given us a forescent of the wonderful world awaiting God’s people, it departs, to waft to us again the next time we pass by that area.
However, if we bottle up a synthetic similitude of that scent, we are able to experience its fragrance everytime we open the bottle and dab a portion of the delight on ourselves. But, after a few seconds the scent vanishes from our senses, and we do not think of it until we spray it or dab it on us again the next day. That’s the wonder of all the wonderful sensations we experience, that’s the beauty of all beautiful things we behold.
All delightful experiences, when assimilated continuously beyond a short period of pleasure, take flight from us for our own good – so that we can continually, forever, enjoy the pleasure they give us without being surfeited by them.
The most sensual scent for a man however is not from the plant kingdom or from the great perfumeries of the world, no matter how exquisite they are by themselves. For a man that God has blessed with the second greatest gift for enjoyment of his life – after the gift of the person of Christ – there is nothing that comes even close to the scent of a wife snuggled close to him.
I may state, on the basis of the testimony of at least one wife – that this scent, in its masculine form, is equally true for a woman. The scent of her husband is her supreme sensuality, as long as the emanations from his body do not end at her nasal terminals but permeates deep into her heart that is filled with love for her man.
A heart that has little love for the spouse receives chemically the same smells from the wife or husband, but they are absorbed only by the physical faculties and do not suffuse the deep chambers of the heart. It is the emotional essences that convert even perspiration soaked molecules into reassuring vibes of delight for a husband or a wife. Without overflowing love in the heart of the scent recipient, the daily smells of a spouse have nothing alluring in them, and may sometimes be even an odoriferous experience for the wife or husband.
Now let me tell you what I really mean by scent of a wife. I am not merely referring to the physical sensing of the body smells of your beloved, delightful as they are. It is the sense of togetherness, of the sychological effect of having a lifemate beside you constantly, that the scent of a wife brings you. It is an extended recreation of what Adam experienced when he first beheld Eve. Until then, he was not feeling complete, he was lonely, and God said that this state of not being able to scent a mate, which all the animals in Adam’s care were able to, was ‘not good’ for man.
It is when a man leaves his wife for a few days, or a longer period, that he acutely misses the scent of his woman. A prolonged deprivation in a man of the scent of his wife can do severe damage to his syche. Such deprivation in a man who is not protected by the Holy Spirit puts him in great risk of straying into places where he could get substitute scents illegitimately.
For husbands in God’s family, when situations arise where they are forced to be separated for long periods from their wives (such as imprisonments) they suffer much because of the absence of the daily marital scents. But they are able to patiently endure this suffering, and every other suffering through Christ whose personal fragrance strengthens them Phil 4:13, and when they are restored to their wives their appreciation of the blessings of having a life-partner constantly beside them is increased many times. If they had taken their wives’ scent for granted before they were separated, then they vow never to take it for granted again. Which is what I want to tell you finally.
Appreciate every tangible and intangible blessings of married life. It is so easy to take them for granted, so easy for you to lose scent of the wonderful emanations of love from your wife after inhaling them day and night for years. The way to regain scent of the wonderful fragrances of married life is to daily renew your conscious appreciation of all that God has given you in your wife, and to daily praise God and thank him for this most beautiful of scents that fill up your senses every day and every night.
Remember the hit song that conveys the intense longing of the singer whose senses are overwhelmed by the memory of his separated wife?
‘You fill up my senses
Like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again’1
If you haven’t done it so far in your married life, try this: The next time you go near your wife, take a deep breath, and sniff her in the neck or bosom. Then kiss her. Let the subtle shades of the natural scent and flavor of your wife overwhelm you, thrill you and cause you to praise God for his marvelous creation.
‘You, my love, are beautiful. So beautiful!… Your love is more pleasing than the finest wine, and the fragrance of your perfume brings more delight than any spice! Your lips taste sweet like honey off the comb, my bride; milk and honey are beneath your tongue. The scents of your clothes are like the fresh air of Lebanon… your breath is the aroma of apples. Kissing you is more delicious than drinking the finest wine. How wonderful and tasty! Song 4:1,10-11;7:8-9
1′Annie’s Song’ by John Denver. It is the second most melodious song I have ever heard, second only to ‘Unchained Melody’ by the Righteous Brothers. If you haven’t heard them yet, you can find them easily on YouTube.
Are you lonesome tonight,
Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
Does your memory stray to a brighter sunny day
When I kissed you and called you sweetheart?
Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare?
Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?
Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?
Those words aren’t mine. I have borrowed them from the favorite singer of my boyhood days – Elvis Presley. This 1960s song was a world hit, and is probably the most loved song among Presley’s fans. Perhaps people everywhere, at some point in their lives, could feel their own heart resonating with the emotions so poignantly conveyed through this song by The King, as the singer is admiringly known among his fans.
Considering Presley’s own tragic married life, perhaps the lyrics must have personally touched a strong cord in his heart, giving an extra depth to the way he sang it. He must have felt lonesome on many a night after being separated from his wife. Truly, a man without his wife sleeping beside him is a miserable human being indeed.
Another great singer, the former Beatle, Paul McCartney, sang a similar song more recently. Ever since his beloved Linda was snatched away from him he must have often longed for the time when the nights would no more be lonely.
May I never miss the thrill of being near you
And if it takes a couple of years
To turn your tears to laughter
I will do what I feel to be right
No more lonely nights
Never be another
No more lonely nights
You’re my guiding light
Day or night I’m always there
And I won’t go away until you tell me so
No, I’ll never go away
Perhaps you who are reading this aren’t lonely in the nights, thank God. But don’t take these nights, when you still have your wife or husband on your bed with you, for granted. We just can never know in this life how long each of us can have the joy and pleasure of feeling our loved one snuggled peacefully by our side. We just don’t know how long before the lonely nights come upon us too. Let’s pray they never will.
And if there’s anyone who is reading this whose wife or husband is temporarily separated from you, or not sleeping on the same bed with you anymore, perhaps you should pick up the phone now and serenade the above words of Elvis to your spouse, ending them with…
Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?
Understand what really happens to the syche of a man and his wife who watch a pornographic video together.
I wish this message was directed only to couples who do not know Christ and his teachings. But sadly, this message is meant for people who consider themselves Christians and who are confident their marriage is on the right track but who do not yet have the understanding of certain marriage-destroying acts that they may be practicing in their private lives.
I know Christian couples who have adult videos or literature stacked away in their closet. No, I did not go snooping into their closets to know this. They themselves have divulged this to me, or Christians who personally know such couples have mentioned it to me in their concern.
What exactly is the harm if married couples use a sex video to impassion their own feelings toward each other? They are not participating in any act of adultery, but using it to enhance their own marital life. In fact, that’s what many popular magazines, such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour, advise their readers. Here’s one such recommendation:
“From the moment you select a skin flick to watch to the moment when you are both breathless, taking the plunge into porn will add fiery fervor to your real-life bump and grinds. If you’re freaked out by the idea of porn, don’t be: Your guy is likely going to only spend about 30 seconds watching the movie before he can’t take his eyes off your reaction. So be daring and let your inhibitions go tonight!”
Yea, be daring and take the plunge into hellfire! For all who follow such advice, that is surely where they are going to finally land up in. I don’t mean the hellfire in the afterlife, I mean the consuming flames fanned by the devil in their married life.
Of course, the world is being taught that porn is ok, provided one doesn’t use it to harm others. It can, sex experts assert, act as a safe catharsis for one’s pent up sexual frustrations, if he is single, or if married, as a shot in the groins to rev up a flaccid bedroom life.
If such counsel was found only in little dirty books sold in sex shops, it does little harm to decent people who don’t read such filthy stuff. But millions of decent people who call themselves ‘Christian’, read Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and hundreds of other such magazines you can easily find in supermarkets. Even a reputable family magazine such as ‘Good Housekeeping’ has its share of advice on this subject: Here is one of their announcements:
“Spice things up in the bedroom with advice from relationship pros. 4 Steamy Reads. Here are four sexy romance books to enjoy, from the first English-language erotic novel to this season’s toe-curlers.”
The four advertised novels, including Fanny Hill and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, are books that no Godly couple should pick up to even glance through. Because even an erotic sentence you inadvertently read in it, will embed in your memory and keep sprouting its filthy image over and over again in your marital life.
‘Relationships pros’, such as the ones mentioned above, get their PhDs from universities that have evolution as the foundation of all their teachings. Evolution teaches that marriage is an evolved form of the primeval mating behavior driven by an animal’s instinct for survival. That’s why when humans show animal behavior in their sexual life, these relationship pros do not look upon them as abominable acts, but as behaviors classified under medical nomenclature such as ‘sexual orientation disturbance’. But, to be fair to their species, even brutes are not disturbed by certain orientations that humans display, such as homosexuality.
The secular sex counselors practice their profession by this universal dictum:
‘There are no objective norms for human behavior to be found in nature. There are only man-made moral norms more or less widely accepted in society.’ Quote from Humboldt-Universitat zu Berline’s website, which is cited as “Worldwide, the best internet offer in sexual medicine” by the German Central Library of Medicine, Cologne
The only pros whose counsels you can trust are those who get their expertise from the very Authority that created the marriage institution itself. And this Authority already has a marriage manual that all couples can easily access in any language. It has counsels for every aspect of married life, and any couple who follows them need never watch a video or literature, or visit a sex counselor, to revive or pep up their sex life.
Now let me explain what really happens when a husband and his wife watch pornography together.
A couple who follows Christ and strives to live by his commandments in the Bible, will never think of prying through a telescope into the bedroom of a neighbor and watch their intimate acts. That, they know, is certainly sin (and in some lands, such as where I live now, even a crime that is prisonable). But watching a couple copulate in their bedroom on video or film is treated as a different matter – an entertainment for relaxation, or a stimulus for the viewers’ own connubial bliss. In God’s sight, there is absolutely no difference. No other eyes are allowed to watch your and your spouse’s bedroom life, and your eyes are not allowed to watch a person’s coitions with another, even if the bedroom performers are doing it for the whole world to lust along with them.
But that is only one aspect of the danger of watching pornography. The far greater danger is what happens to the syche of the viewers. When a husband watches another man performing sexual acts on a woman in the video or movie, he is actually subconsciously, and often consciously, doing the very act by proxy or as an avatar (if you have watched that movie…one of the very few, I think, that is safe to watch with your spouse).
The viewer is virtually participating in the sexual orgies that his or her eyes are soaking in!
Women may not realize what’s going on in their husband’s minds at such times, or else a sensible wife would never allow her husband even imaginatively to go into another woman. But listen, wives, every time a married man watches or reads pornography – on home video, in a theater, on his laptop, in the pages of a novel – he is committing adultery against his wife! Not intentionally, not knowingly, but that’s what he is doing in God’s sight, and the consequences of that adultery, perceived or not, will sooner or later wreck his relationship with his wife and tear their marriage apart.
A husband who watches sex acts in the various forms of media will, within a few years, begin to find his wife less alluring sexually. He will even begin to fantasize, while making love to her, that he is doing it with another woman he has seen elsewhere in the act. And then, the danger increases exponentially, and before he or she realizes it the marriage is tottering on the brinks.
As for the wife, I really do not know what goes on in the mind of the woman while she watches others perform sexual acts. My wife is not of much help, as she has never seen a single such video in her life, and I don’t have the guts to ask some of my old worldly friends to ask their wives. I just have to rely on the Holy Spirit himself. This is what I believe happens to wives who watch pornography with their husbands.
Their minds become saturated with filthy scenes, and these images recreate themselves in the mind of the affected woman over and over again…until the very thought of a sex act, even with her husband, becomes a disgusting consideration. Nevertheless, to avoid discord, she will continue to have him make love to her, but her disinclination will manifest more and more in her body language and attitude. Seeing the apparent ‘frigidity’ of his wife, the dissatisfied husband would seek other outlets for his sexual fantasies that are continually fed by an increasing addiction to pornography.
When a husband watches another man performing sexual acts on a woman in the video or movie, he is actually subconsciously, and often consciously, doing the very act by proxy or as an avatar.
Physical and emotional intimacy in a marriage is one of the greatest gifts of our Creator to man and woman – something he didn’t grant even the angels. Sexual dissatisfaction and ensuing infidelity tears apart this deep intimacy, which is one of the greatest reasons for marriage breakups. See this secular report:
‘Some may argue that sex is not everything in a relationship. Or is it? Although there are many important components that make a sentimental relationship successful, the sexual aspect of the relationship is a driving force that binds or separates couples…
‘Sexual dissatisfaction can be a predictor of infidelity. Moreover, studies have shown that sexual dissatisfaction is a common cause of divorce. Women and men have different views on the value of their sexuality within the context of the relationship. For women, intimacy and the emotional aspect of the relationship greatly impacts their sexual desire and enjoyment in a relationship. On the other hand, men use sex as a means to intimacy. Therefore, women need intimacy in order to have sex and men need sex in order to lead them to intimacy…
‘When sex loses its place in the relationship, men can take it personally. Men define their masculinity and self-worth by their ability to have sex. Therefore, in the absence of sex, men feel disconnected, which makes them ‘free agents’ in the market of love. Men who are dissatisfied with their sex lives are most likely to cheat than those who enjoy greater levels of sexual satisfaction within their relationships.
‘Women are not infallible to infidelity. On the contrary, sexual dissatisfaction in women can also lead them to infidelity. However, the formula for sexual dissatisfaction among women is different. A woman who does not feel emotionally connected to her partner is not able to enjoy her sexuality. Therefore, when a woman finds a “substitute” for her attention with whom she can make a connection and feel romanced, she becomes more vulnerable to infidelity.’ Dr Tanginika Cuascud – mamiverse.com
O married children of God, if any of you reading this message has been watching pornography with your spouse, or alone – even if it is very occasional – flee, flee from this deadly poison that Satan is injecting into your married life.
Repent, if you have succumbed to this trap of the devil, and cleanse your life and your home from every accursed pornographic object, and never allow any such abomination to enter your sacred marital premises again. And see how God begins to bless your relationship with your spouse in ways you could have never experienced before.
If you are among the blessed few who have not watched pornography, or have repented of watching them, praise God for keeping your marriage safe from the tempting wiles of Satan, the arch destroyer of marriages and the father of all divorces.
‘For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth…Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock…Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing. Deut 7:6-26
The passionate love that a person had for their spouse when they married can wane within a few years, or after many years, to the point that it becomes an emotionless relationship – unless it is deliberately kept aflame continuously. This is a most vital truth that every person planning to marry, or already married, should keep foremost in their consciousness.
In the beginning months, and sometimes even a few years after the wedding, the husband or wife will go to great lengths to show love to es beloved. But there is an unfailing spiritual law in human relationships that affects every marriage. And this is the law: Showing love for your wife or husband can never be static or motionless. You can never maintain a status quo in your relationship with your beloved. Your love is either growing every day or your love is slackeningevery day. If it is growing, then there is no end to the growth of this love, and the words in 1 Corinthians 13:8 proves eternally true: ‘love never fails (or ‘ends’ in some other translations).
If your love is slackening, then there is a gradual, or a galloping, end to your relationship with your wife or husband. Love that is not daily growing will daily slow down to the point that it will become motionless with perpetual inertia. When that point is reached, either of two actions happens. Divorce, or a lifelong acceptance of going through the motions of living, devoid of any feelings. This can happen a few months after the wedding, or a few decades after the initial years of nuptial bliss. How many couples I know of personally who have permanently severed their hearts from each other after 25 or more years of cleaving together as one flesh!
What is the reason that love for a spouse wanes, though at one time that very love was so intense and true the person would be willing to give up es life for es beloved without a moment’s hesitation?
Why did Michal’s love for David wane to the point that she actually despised him in her heart, that is, in the deepest recesses of her consciousness? And why did David, a man after God’s own heart, end his love for his wife to the point he never again slept with her for the rest of his life? 2 Sam 6:16-23 Why is that loving couples, who have faithfully brought up fine kids, and have beautiful grandkids, decide to call it quits in their long relationship, and seek other life partners in their senior years?
The answer is that husbands and wives – but mostly husbands – confuse true love with feelings of affection.
Please keep this counsel deep in your heart, child of God, even if you are sure your relationship with your spouse has a very secure foundation. Unless you understand and apply the following basic truth in all your dealings with your life partner, the day will surely come – as surely as there exists a universal Destroyer of marriages – that you will find that the passionate true love you had for your wife or husband has greatly diminished in its feelings, and with that diminution come one by one all the deadly effects of a stagnant relationship. And this is the truth:
True love that never fails, that never ends, that always keeps growing forever and ever, is based not on your feelings for the one you love, but is based on your will apart from your feelings.
Now let me explain that plainly.
There are two kinds of initial love. One is instinctive love. That’s the love that a mother or a father has for es child. It is a causelesslove. The child did nothing to earn or win their parents’ love. Causeless love is also known as unconditional love. That’s the love our Father in heaven has for each of us. It is the love that made our Savior die for our sins even before we knew him. He loves us solely for the reason he created us in his image and likeness, just as we fall in love with our just-born baby solely because that baby came from our own body. Instinctive love is the second most powerful force in the universe. But it is not the love that never ends or fails. The most powerful instinctive love on earth today is mother’s love. But God says even that love has a limit, that awesome love can end if given the extreme circumstances.
‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget’ Is 49:15
The word ‘may’ is not in the original Hebrew. Young’s Literal Translation says ‘Yea, these forget’.
‘Surely’, given the circumstances, a mother will forget the child that came from her womb, if all she has is just instinctive love for him or her. And that is because even unconditional instinctive love is ultimately conditional on the responses of the one loved instinctively. Unconditional love becomes conditional after a certain point, and when the conditions for that love cease, unconditional love also ceases.
The other kind of initial love is the love that a man has for a woman he falls in love with, and vice versa. In this category of love also is the love of a close friend or of a brother or sister. This love can also be very deep initially, even to the extent the person will be ready to give up es life to save the one e loves – es wife or husband, or sibling, or friend. See Romans 5:7. But, as in the case of maternal love, all such initial true love ends when the factors for such love fail.
Now let’s take the relationship of a couple deeply in love. Over many years of living together, the husband or wife begins to see many negative qualities in the one e loves, which e did not see in the initial years of living together. Arguments, quarrels, misunderstandings, offenses, and perhaps ultimately even betrayal, ensue as the spouse displays more and more of es negative qualities. After a few years, or decades, one spouse has had enough, and quits struggling to live with the unbearable flaws of the other. There is no more feeling of love remaining for the one who has consistently shown only an increasing lack of lovable qualities. In modern times, the relationship formally ends with a divorce. In earlier ages, and even today in the more conservative cultures, the continuing rift of hearts between the couple does not often physically rift the couple apart; instead, they continue to stay under the same roof. But their natural conjugal feeling for each other is replaced with a resigned attitude of suppressed bitterness that simmers in their heart for the rest of their lives.
My family knew a man and his wife in our native community many years ago. The man and his wife were active members of their church and respected in society. But everyone knew that the man and his wife never spoke a single word to each other ever since something happened between them in their earlier years. They lived together under one roof, but never spoke a syllable to each other for several decades. They both lived to ripe old age and are now dead. How they managed to do that is still a mystery to me. I mean the technicalities of living together without one word of communication at any time. But what is not a mystery is how such extreme living became possible. It is simply another case of a relationship that was based on feelings, and when the feelings evaporated the relationship dried up.
When you put that ring on your beloved’s finger on the blissful day of your union, or, as in my country, tied the string around your bride’s slender neck, or had your glowing groom tie it around your quivering neck, that is a symbol of an unconditional fidelity to each other till death parts you. When a groom or bride answers ‘I do’ to the following question,
‘Do you take (name) for your lawful wife;husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?’
they absolutely mean it with all their heart. But years later, it slowly becomes evident that the ‘I do’ actually meant,
‘I do promise to take you as my lawful wife:husband, to have and hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part, as long as you don’t act and speak in a manner that will affect my feelings for you.’
So how can you ensure a drying up of your love will never occur in your relationship with your spouse? By ensuring that your love for your wife or husband is not based on feelings. Enjoy the feelings and rejoice over them as long as the feelings come naturally. When the feelings wane, as surely as they will when your spouse begins to reveal his or her hitherto suppressed flaws, replace the feelings with your will of commitment.
If you have been recently married, or married for many years, it is most vital for the lifelong safety of your marriage that you transform your attitude toward your spouse from this day on with the help of God. Renew your old conjugal vows in your mind, and add the following lifelong pledge to yourself and to God:
‘I will love my wife (husband) unconditionally from this day forth, and when I say unconditionally, I mean absolutely unconditionally. If a time ever comes that I cannot find any more happiness in my wife (husband), I will continue to love her (him) even in the absence of any feelings of happiness. Whether she (he) pleases me or not, I will care for her (him) and cherish her (him), just as I would care for and cherish a part of my own body that is giving me pain. When my feelings have gone for her (him), I will continue to love her (him) by a deliberate act of my will in opposition to my natural feelings. So, help me to do this, Lord!’
That’s a pledge that should be foremost in your mind constantly – even in the days of your great happiness with your spouse. It is the surest insurance for the safety of your marriage when the days of trouble come, when God may allow the devil to test you through severe trials in your marriage.
Now what’s the benefit of loving a spouse who is no longer giving you any happiness? Why take the great and constant pain of continuing to live with em when you could easily have less unhappiness living apart or find happiness again with a new spouse?
Because that’s the way our God loves you and me. Because his love never fails even when we stop loving him. And our God wants us to love our spouse just as he loves us.
To the unhappy husband he says:
‘For husbands, this means love your wives, JUST AS Christ loved the church…In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. As you love her, you ultimately are loving part of yourself (remember, you are one flesh). No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.’ Eph 5:25-29 NLT, VOICE. Emphasis mine
‘Husbands, love your wives [be affectionate and sympathetic with them] and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them.’ Col 3:19 AMP
To the unhappy wife he says:
‘Wives, it should be no different with your husbands. Submit to them as you do to the Lord, for God has given husbands a sacred duty to lead as the Anointed leads the church and serves as the head. (The church is His body; He is her Savior.) So wives should submit to their husbands, respectfully, in all things, JUST AS the church yields to the Anointed One. Eph 5:22-24 VOICE
And to both the Lord urges:
‘However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly. Eph 5:33 AMP
And what is the final outcome of a husband loving his wife as his own body, of his not giving in to feelings of bitterness against her [in spite of her seemingly being an incorrigible nag], and of a wife submitting to her husband in everything just as she submits to Christ, of her esteeming him and admiring him exceedingly [in spite of his seemingly obnoxious qualities]?
When you continue to love with your will your wife or husband who continues to hurt you, God’s universal spiritual law guarantees an ultimate result. The hurting person will eventually stop hurting. And a transformation begins to happen in the loveless heart and mind of the spouse as she or he continues to receive your love. All the spots, wrinkles, and blemishes of your faulty spouse begin to clear away one by one. And as your spouse continues to blossom under your unceasing and unconditional love, she or he will begin to do things to you that you could have never imagined even in the wildest fantasy of your dreams on your wedding day or in the initial blissful days of your marriage. And soon you will have a shining spouse standing before you – clean, holy and without a single fault in any area of her or his life.
‘He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of 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.’ Eph 5:25-29 NLT. Emphasis mine
When you forsake your feelings for your wife or husband and continue to love em, the very same feelings you sacrificed are sooner or later going to come back to you in hundredfold measure, brimful and overflowing. This is an absolute promise from the Creator who brought man and woman together in marriage.
‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time’ Mark 10:29-30
‘Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.’ Luke 6:38 NLT
The more feelings you sacrifice so you can willfully continue to love your unlovable spouse, the more will be the love and the feelings of happiness you will eventually receive from your spouse. This is the greatest law of relationship.
Foolish, very foolish indeed is the man or woman, who after some years of enduring unhappiness with his wife or her husband gives up and goes their separate way to seek the happiness and love that eluded them in their first marriage. Whom would you personally choose to marry: A wonderful wife or husband who deserves a heavenly score of 10 points out of a maximum 100 in the measure of lifelong happiness she or he gives you, OR a wife or husband who, after some initial years of not deserving even one point in her or his qualities as a wife or husband, will give you happiness and love that both your heart and heaven will give an unbelievable score of 100 out of 100?
‘I tell you, her sins – and they are many – have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.’ Luke 7:47
‘She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.’ MSG
Before I conclude this message, I urge you to listen to this wonderful song on YouTube – the most influential I have heard in Christian music – by Don Francisco. As you listen, please ponder the words in the lyrics given below.
So you say you can’t take it, the price is too high
The feelings have gone it seems the river’s run dry
You could never imagine it could turn out so rough
You given, given, given, still it’s never enough
Your emotions have vanished that once held the thrill
You wonder if love could be alive in you still
But that ring on your finger, was put there to say
You’ll never forget the words you promised that day
Jesus didn’t die for you because it was fun
He hung there for love because it had to be done
And despite of the anguish, his word was fulfilled
Love is not a feeling it’s an act of your will
Love is not a feeling it’s an act of your will
Now I wouldn’t try to tell you that it’s easy to stand
When Satan’s throwing everything that’s at his command
But Jesus is faithful, his promise is true
And whatever he asks he gives the power to do
Jesus didn’t die for you because it was fun
He hung there for love because it had to be done
And despite of the anguish, his word was fulfilled
Love is not a feeling it’s an act of your will
Love is not a feeling it’s an act of your will
A special message for men planning to get married, and for young husbands.
When I was a young husband, I read a lot of manuals on having a great marriage, written by ‘relationship experts’. I read even more literature and heard numerous sermons by ordained ministers of God on this subject. There were many good things I learned from both secular and Christian writings and preachings on marriage. But far more than what I gained from them were vital insights that I did not gain from any of them.
After nearly four decades of being a husband to one woman, I have learned many, many, truths about staying married and about what makes a marriage safe and going for life. I could even give a few tips on how to pep up your bedroom life. Perhaps such insights are available elsewhere too, but since I haven’t come across them all in one place yet, I hope that this message will be helpful to many men (and perhaps women too) who earnestly are doing all they can to ensure the lifelong stability of their marriage, but who may have some vital truths missing in their understanding of what makes the marriage institution absolutely safe for life.
I have deliberately avoided words like ‘happy’ and ‘exciting’ when referring to what my insights could do to help a marriage relationship. And one of the most vital truths about marriage I want to share with you in this message, and the one I want to mention first, relates to the subject of happiness in marriage.
To ensure that your marriage will last your lifetime, you should not set your heart – that is, base your life happiness and your sense of success – on a ‘happy’ or ‘exciting’ marriage.
It’s the exact opposite that Hollywood tells us, both on screen and behind the screens. A man meets a woman, falls in love, and the next goal in their life is to have a happy marriage. In movies about man-woman relationship, the film usually ends with a radiant couple looking forward to a happy life together. Back in their homes, the actors and actresses cannot put up beyond a few years the act of having a happy married life. Most of them quit their old relationship and look around for the right partner to get the happiness that eluded them in their first marriage.
According to some media information, 8 out of 10 marriages in Hollywood end in divorce! The official divorce rate for the whole of US in 2009 was 52 percent. It could only be even higher now, several years later, at the time of writing this.
I don’t have the world divorce statistics, but simple observation is enough to convince us that the divorce rate is rocketing even in countries where marriages had been traditionally stable. India is one sad example. My own state, Kerala – where until about a decade ago most wives, except the rare crazy ones, simply cleaved to their husbands no matter what – now has officially the highest divorce rate in India, and possibly, in Asia.
‘[In India] divorce rates have gone up by 150% over the past decade. Kerala, the most literate Indian state, has seen a rise of 350% in the past ten years.’ divorcerate.com
The first need in your marriage is not happiness but ‘protection from destruction’. After you have ensured your relationship with your wife or husband is safe for life, you may think of having a happy and exciting married life.
I wish somebody had counseled me that unhappiness in marriage is inevitable and that couples who are locked together in blissful union during the first few months of married life are very likely to lock horns with each other within a few years.
I think, from my personal count of unhappy marriages, that in 9.9 out of 10 couples, it is the man who is the first to display his unhappiness at something he didn’t like in his life partner. Women, who are more discerning and shrewd by nature, may actually be the first spouse to encounter unhappiness in a marriage, but they are likely to keep their feelings concealed for many years, revealing them only when they are totally exasperated with their husband.
Remember that it is normal for a couple to encounter their first unhappy moment with each other a few weeks, or surely a few months, after their wedding day bliss. If a couple had a continuous happy walk from the aisle to their first anniversary, then they must be an exceptionally patient and forgiving couple, both the husband and the wife.
So, safety rule No. 1 for couples, especially husbands: Enter marriage with the foreknowledge – the expectation – that you will have to live through many unhappy days in your married life because of perceived or actual shortcomings in your spouse that you hadn’t noticed prior to living together as one flesh.
This attitude, this mental acceptance, of marital troubles as a natural part of your marriage process sets in place a firm foundation for you to confront and overcome the future marital irritations, misunderstandings, quarrels and disappointments, which if left to themselves would fester and turn cancerous, and eventually destroy the marriage. Which is what has happened to all those marriages that had begun with the ecstasy and excitement of a fairytale wedding but ended in acrimonious divorce settlements and custody battles.
Once you have accepted the truth that your spouse has many suppressed and repressed faults as you have, which will sooner or later unveil themselves in es dealings with you, you have done about 10 percent of what you could do to ensure the lifelong protection of your marriage.
The next protective step on the husband’s side is to ensure in his own heart that he has a limitless reserve of patience and forgiveness to see him and his wife safely through the trials of living together.
Let me emphasize this truth above everything else in this message:
Unless you receive God’s power to quickly forgive the faults of your spouse, your marriage risks a short lifespan.
Betrayal and bitterness are the two supreme reasons for the failure of marriages. An embittered husband who continues to keep his resentment within him reaches a stage where he cannot endure the acerbity anymore and looks for a sweet solution elsewhere. This is the reason Paul admonishes married men: ‘Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them’ Col 3:19
As for wives, their most serious fault is their failure to maintain the same sense of respect for their husband that they had when they first fell in love with him. A few years into marriage and the wife sees a different man than the one she thought she was marrying. With the man’s exposure of his previously hidden flaws, the woman naturally finds it hard to maintain the same sense of awe and respect she had once felt for her lover. This is the reason Paul tells married women: ‘let the wife see that she respects her husband’. Eph 5:33
The husband’s greatest danger is not that he might lose respect for his wife, but that he might lose his love for her in his bitterness.
The wife’s greatest risk is not that she might become bitter and lose her love for her husband, but that on getting to know him better, she might start to lose her respect for him and begin to use words and attitudes that would embitter her husband.
Bitterness toward the wife cannot be overcome by the husband’s struggle to be rid of it. But once he realizes the acute danger that bitterness can cause to his relationship with his wife, he can seek God’s intervention fervently.
I know from experience that marital situations that would be absolutely impossible for a man to resolve in his own wisdom and strength become possible to deal with effectively once he earnestly and perseveringly seeks God’s power to do so.
I wish somebody had told me before I married that if I did not do something to curb my tendencies to keep hurt feelings and dwell on my wife’s shortcomings, it would eventually lead my marriage to a crisis. But because both my wife and I feared God from our youth, he delivered us from marital tragedy. But not before we went through decades of needless quarrels and severe heart wounds. But if I had understood before I married, or even in the early years of my marriage, about the serious consequence of the accumulation of hurt feelings, my marriage would not have gone through all the excruciating travails it had to go through until God drew me to his Son after 30 years of flawed husbanding.
You, man of God, who have been given the awesome gift of a life-partner, do not risk keeping within you even an ounce of anger or hurt toward your wife beyond a few hours at the most. Once you realize there is something that is preventing you from loving your wife as God intends you to, then the first and most urgent priority in your life is to daily seek from God his love and power to drive out your hurts and resentments.
Do all in your power through Christ’s help not to go to bed without resolving the matter that has been rankling you throughout the day.
‘When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.’ Eph 4:26 AMP
Again, let me emphasize, a man’s own struggle to get to bed with a heart free of anger, after he has been wronged by his wife, is impossible for the normal husband.
So, instead of gritting your teeth and struggling to get rid of hurt feelings out of your system, quietly beseech your Helper in heaven to fill your wounded heart with Christ’s love so you can totally and unconditionally forgive your wife.
I am not giving you sentimental Christian platitudes that sound wonderful but in practice are impossible to live by. What I am passing on to you are precious truths that have worked in my own marriage and in the marriages of many other servants of God who have suffered great tribulations in their relationship with their wife.
There are many other vital insights about marriage that I wish somebody had given me when I was a young husband. I will be sharing all these insights in my various messages in this website, to encourage God’s people in laying an unshakeable foundation for a safe and blessed marriage.
But before I close there is one other insight I want to share here. It’s concerning a vital aspect of a husband’s relationship with his wife. Oh, how I wish some wise counselor had given me this insight before I married. It’s about how a wife naturally responds to the amorous overtures of her husband.
I heard a saying long ago that succinctly states the difference of attitude between men and women to sex, but which I in those days had dismissed as someone’s frivolous observation:
‘Men give love to get sex; women give sex to receive love.’
But as my research into marital relationships went deeper, I realized that it is a fairly accurate analysis of the male and female syche in all physical acts of intimacy in a marriage.
I wish someone had counseled me in my bachelor days that women by nature are not interested in sex per se. In plainer language, women can survive a marriage devoid of sex without feeling emotionally and physically devastated…unlike men.
Is there any divorce that was granted on the grounds that the wife wasn’t getting all the sex she wanted from her husband? Unless a woman is afflicted with a rare tragic sickness called nymphomania, no sane wife will discard her husband on the issue of sex alone. Not so the other way round. If a man can’t get all the sex he demands of his wife, she isn’t going to get the chance to sleep with him much longer.
Do not be surprised, feel hurt or become sullen on the many occasions that your wife will treat your romantic advances with outwardly frigid responses. The mistake men make is to interpret the nonresponses as an indication of a diminution of their physical desirability in their wives’ mind. When a wife doesn’t respond with passion to her husband’s sexual urges, unless she is ill, or going through her period, it is not because she does not desire her man making love to her, but because of several factors that act as suppressants of her sexual ardor.
If the woman has been hurt by the husband during the day, and the husband has not soothed her emotions back to normal, she cannot be expected to be very responsive in bed. Perhaps it may not be her husband at all that affected her emotions during the day. It could be worry, or fear, or insecurity, or any of the myriad factors that take away the sense of tranquility that a woman needs in her mind for her libido to awake in her body.
If you desire a great bed partner in your life companion, the best way is not to try to arouse her only when she comes to bed. The budding and blossoming of her physical desire for you is a process that takes many hours, and should start at least twelve hours before bedtime. I don’t mean that you start your amorous demonstrations half a day in advance. The best way is to show affection to your wife is in a nonsexual way throughout the day for her to be able to be receptive to your sexual affections at the end of the day.
Touch her tenderly now and then as you talk to her in the normal course of your daily interactions. Let your eyes emanate gentleness toward her. Especially, take the greatest care with the tone of your voice. The gentle tone of your words throughout the day arouses and prepares your beloved for physical intimacy far more effectively than your impassioned foreplay could by itself.
And one last tip on this subject. Do not tell your wife that you want to make love to her. Something in a woman’s constitution immediately puts up a defensive shield against all sudden proposals of a sexual encounter.
When you have done your work of preparing her carefully throughout the day for her total receptivity to you, then just go ahead and make love. A woman’s syche enjoys unrequested, and even unexpected, submission to her husband more than it would after a planned and pre-determined submission.
The above insights are the foremost of what I personally wish I could have known before I married. There are, of course, far more, and I hope to share them with you in my future messages.
In the meantime, God bless your relationship with your wife, and give you even more insights on how to have a lifelong safe and blessed marriage as you diligently study his Word and keep his commandments.
A woman is, by the will of God, always under the authority of a man. Until her marriage she is subject to the will of her father, and after her marriage, to the will, and often, whim, of her husband.
To the woman He said…Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. Gen 3:16
A woman must submit to her husband’s authority over her just as muchas a man submits to the authority of Christ in his life.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church…Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Eph 5:22-24
And so, since Adam, every husband has exercised authority over his wife and every wife, except the wayward ones, has submitted to the rule of her husband. And in doing so, uncountable number of women throughout history have suffered the brutality and harshness of men who turned their authority to authoritarianism.
Authority in man is instituted by God for the ultimate good of the woman under his rule. Authoritarianism is usurped by many men in authority to institute their own pleasure above their wife’s wellbeing and happiness. The one is from the Creator, to create a sense of security for the woman; the other is from the Destroyer, to destroy the woman’s sense of security under a man, so she can seek it from other sources.
Divorces, women’s liberation movements, destitute women, prostitutes, and men-hating feminists are the direct products of men who exercised brutal authoritarianism in their homes, or they are the tragic consequences of men who did not exercise any authority in their homes, which is equally disastrous for the women entrusted to their care.
Even among Godly husbands, including senior ministers of Christ, I have observed many instances where their authority was temporarily transformed into ugly authoritarianism. In such instances, the man’s tone changes, his facial contours distort, and his words and actions cause the woman beside him to express her disappointment and hurt verbally or vibely.
Husbands, if you want your Lord, the Savior of your body, to rejoice in your submission to him, you must give cause for your wife to rejoice in her submission to you. And the way to do it is to exercise authority over her just as Christ exercises authority over you and the rest of his body, the church.
Husbands, love your wives, JUST AS Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church…let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself Eph 5:25-33. Emphasis mine
In closing, let me mention that there is just one area in a man’s life over which he has no authority himself, but he is subject to the authority of his wife, just as much as she is subject to his authority in the rest of the areas in her life:
The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 1 Cor 7:4
If the wife so desires the physical body of her husband at any time of the day or night, he has no authority to say no. His mind may belong to him, but his physical body belongs to her.
May the Great Authority over us, even our Lord Jesus, in whom we rejoice, rejoice over us even as we sincerely seek to cause the one over whom we have authority to rejoice in us.
Probably no statistic is available on the real reasons why marriages break up. It is not possible to have one, because the reasons given by divorcees may only be the outward manifestations of the real cause of the breakup. Official reasons may range from infidelity to incompatibility.
Here is a top 10 list for the US, in ascending order: Difference in priorities and expectations; addiction; childrearing issues; religious and cultural strains; boredom in marriage; sexual incompatibility; marital financial issues; physical, psychological or emotional abuse; communication breakdown in relationships; and the top reason, infidelity. Source: Top10Stop.com
In the UK, ‘extramarital affairs are no longer the most common reason for married couples to divorce – growing apart or falling out of love is. Growing apart or falling out of love was the main reason for divorce (27%); an affair is now second (25%)’. (Source: 2011 Grant Thornton Matrimonial Survey of 101 UK Family Lawyers)
I don’t have the statistics for other countries. But we can presume that several of the reasons cited for divorce in these two countries may also be the ones cited in other countries, though the frequency of reasons may vary from country to country. In the Eastern culture, there is far lesser frequency of divorces caused by infidelity. For example, from the several personally known cases in my own country, none was caused by the husband or wife straying into other arms. There wife-bashing is a far commoner cause of split-ups.
Sometimes the reasons in my land could be truly freakish, such as the groom discovering on the wedding night that the bride is a hermaphrodite, or a wife not allowing her husband to sleep with her. I counseled one husband, in the latter case, and tried to encourage him to be more patient, but he soon divorced the frigid woman and remarried a fine, normal wife. These, of course, are the rare reasons, but the most frequent cause for divorces in India and China, and in US and UK, and everywhere else, is basically the same.
The real cause manifests ultimately as cheating, or boredom, or lack of communication, or incompatibility, or something else. But except in the freak cases, almost all divorces have their origin in one cause: dissatisfaction with the wife, which after a few years burgeons into resentment and finally bitterness toward her. Dissatisfaction with the wife, in turn, has basic causes that are never cited as the official reason for breakup.
Dissatisfaction, which festers into bitterness, almost always leads the husband to another woman, either before divorce or after divorce. Unfaithful husbands are so prevalent the reason marriages break up that the One who created the marriage institution declares he will not blame the wife for straying out of her legitimate relationship.
For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God…Therefore your daughters commit harlotry, and your brides commit adultery. I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for the men themselves go apart with harlots Hosea 4:12-14
In this message I will focus on the causes that turn a husband into a dissatisfied spouse, which eventually lead him to break up with his wife.
Unless a youth, like Joseph the son of Jacob, has been keeping his sexual life pure from fornication through the help of the Holy Spirit, he enters wedlock with a premarital sexual background. That is, he has already cheated on his future wife before marrying her – either in his imaginations or in actual act.
Many Christian men who are guilty of pre-marital infidelity, come to realize their sexual guilt and repent of them before they marry. But in many cases, a young man’s basic sexual attitudes remain the same even after he has taken a wife.
I will first take the case of those men who committed fornication and entered marriage with an unrepentant attitude. Then I will go to those who married as virgins or as reformed men.
The young men who had been indulging in sexual fantasies and fornications carry this sin into their marriage. Perhaps, after marriage, they might have intended never to cheat on their wives. But a spiritual principle begins to work in their minds soon after.
Within a few years (in UK, the average lifespan of marriages that break up is 11.4 years), the husband begins to find his wife not as sexually attractive anymore. He then fantasies extramarital relationships that rekindle his libido. Or he may get into pornography. This in turn causes a greater dissatisfaction in him whenever he has physical intimacy with his wife. The dissatisfaction is displayed, not by discussing the issue openly with his wife – how many dissatisfied husbands will tell their wives, ‘I don’t enjoy sex with you anymore’? – but in withdrawal, in sullenness, and in quarrels over petty issues.
Withdrawing from the wife causes resentment in the woman, and she shows her frustration and disappointment with sharp words at her husband, which in turn makes him more dissatisfied with her. The vicious circle has begun in earnest, and from then on only a miracle from God can save such a marriage.
In the case of men entering marriage as virgins or as men who have repented of their pre-marital affairs, the marriage is far more stable and safer than in the first case. But, even in such cases, if constant protection of the marriage is not sought by fervent prayers, it is a vulnerable field for the devil to sow his seeds of dissatisfaction.
Couples who are sexually faithful to each other may live together for several years without mishap. But if God is not constantly in the center of this relationship, the day will come sooner or later that the man will fall victim to the enemy’s suggestions.
It could start with some lewd pictures on his office computer. (Porn-watcher Sextracker has claimed 70 percent of pornography is downloaded in office hours.) If he continues to succumb to his base urges, he is soon transformed into a frequent, and soon, an addicted watcher. An addicted porn watcher cannot have a longlasting marriage. He becomes not only dissatisfied with his wife, but also becomes distrustful of her, as one study has shown.
Zillmann and Bryant (1989) conducted an experiment to test nonviolent pornography’s effect on traditional values about marriage and family. This and other similar studies have led them to conclude that ‘those massively exposed to pornography will become distrusting of their partners in extended relationships…Another likely consequence is a growing dissatisfaction with sexual reality (cited in McNair, 1996: p. 77)’.
Similarly, Linz and Malamuth (1993) comment that exposure to pornography ‘fosters a lack of respect for social institutions such as the family and traditional sex roles for women (p. 17)’. (Source: University of Pennsylvania. asc.upenn.edu)
The man who enters marriage without a pre-marital record of infidelity, but who succumbs to temptations that bombard him at the workplace and elsewhere, and continues unrepentant, is soon a man who finds no more pleasure in his wife. Even if he does not go to other women, his marriage is no more as rock solid as it might have been in the early years. The relationship may drag on, unhappy and unexciting, usually because the wife continues to cling to him. Unhappy marriages may continue for a lifetime, or it may continue for 20 or 30 years and then break up.
All men about to embrace matrimony, or who have been safely married to this day, should heed God’s Word to ensure that nothing will ever happen in their lives that can roll off a domino series of consequences, which will eventually lead to a breakup or an unhappy marriage.
“Extramarital affairs are no longer the most common reason for married couples to divorce – growing apart or falling out of love is.”
The number of years a man has been married to a woman is no criteria for how safe a marriage is. A couple may go on without serious trouble between them for three decades, and then something might happen that makes the man resentful at his wife. Once resentment sets in the man’s consciousness, and he doesn’t overcome it immediately with God’s help, then only a miracle from heaven can restore the husband’s earlier passion for his wife.
How can earnest men of God ensure that the enemy cannot infiltrate their marriage even in a remote way? By constantly ensuring that they have Christ as the only foundation and Savior of their marriage. It means, he has no confidence that his good character or the good qualities of his wife will keep their marriage safe. His only confidence is that he is constantly keeping the Creator and Lord of marriages at the center of his relationship with his wife.
In practical terms, this means that the husband should be constantly alert against every form of subtle and overt sexual influence. It means, he should not put himself in a situation where his chastity might stand the slightest risk of compromise. As an instance, if obscene images unexpectedly flash up on his computer, he should not linger over them for even a fraction of a second, but instantaneously click them away. He should eliminate every risk of an extramarital affair by putting on a constant moral shield against temptations from female colleagues or acquaintances. A truly alert husband should never allow himself to be alone in a room with a woman other than his wife or other immediate member of his family.
The man who wants his marriage to be absolutely safe from danger should, above all, practice mental morality. He should take the greatest care that a lewd image doesn’t find lodgment in his mind even for a fleeting moment. For this is the way the tempter entered the consciousness of many great men and eventually caused them to fall.
Their fall began with just one small thought rolled in the mind over and over, until it became an unstoppable avalanche that took the victim all the way into the immoral abyss. That’s how David, a man after God’s own heart, slid smoothly into the deadly pit of adultery. Instead of instantly turning his eyes away from a scene he knew his eyes are not meant to see, he lingered illegitimately for a few seconds over the stunningly beautiful wet body of another man’s wife taking a bath. The little lingering soon became an irresistible obsession…and you know the rest of the story.
It is not only lascivious thoughts that a husband should be constantly on the guard against – he should equally guard against holding any negative thoughts about his wife. Perhaps it could be something his wife had said or done to him. It is in the nature of all women…well, almost all women, to say now and then words that are more irritating to their husbands’ eardrums than a mosquito hovering around their ear lopes. The husband might have done something stupid, and the wife might have given him her frank opinion in raw uncensored version.
The wife’s greatest fault, according to the Bible, is her inability to respect her husband or submit to him always. She can, of course, respect him as long as he is always doing something honorable. I am yet to hear of the awesome discovery of such a man.
Wives, submit to your own husbands…let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph 5:22,33
The man’s greatest fault, and danger, is that, he becomes bitter at his wife who refuses to submit meekly to his opinions, nitwitted though they may be. He knows his wife loves him as her own life, but her stinging words keep popping into his emotions ceaselessly. This is the danger start point. When a man gets emotionally dissatisfied with his wife, and he keeps his sullen feelings beyond sunset, they begin to fester resentment in his heart. And festering resentment soon causes the fatal marital male syndrome known as bitterness.
Husbands, love your wives [be affectionate and sympathetic with them] and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them. Col 3:19 AMP
Husbands, be sure you give your wives much love and sympathy; don’t let bitterness or resentment spoil your marriage. Phillips
Never go to sleep with your hurt feelings pent up in you. It is deadly poison for your marriage. You may not be able to get over your hurt feelings by willing them away. Seek God’s intervention speedily, and he will put a calm over your thoughts and emotions, and softly bring a willingness in your heart to forgive your wife, and you can go to sleep in peace.
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. Eph 4:26-27 NLT
And if God doesn’t intervene immediately, keep asking for his power to forgive, and after a few days of such persevering prayer, you will begin to notice a change in your attitude toward your wife. Keep on praying until there is no trace of resentment in your heart toward your wife.
Never go to sleep with your hurt feelings pent up in you. It is deadly poison for your marriage.
So, the greatest danger a husband faces is his marriage is gradual falling out of love with his wife – because of his bitterness at her, which is because of his sexual or emotional dissatisfaction with her.
And if the husband does not forgive his wife, and lets his bitterness grow in him, and finally leads him to be unfaithful to her, God shuts out that man’s prayers to him. And without God’s help, he cannot continue happily in his marriage and so breaks up with the woman he once loved so passionately.
Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” Mal 2:13-16 NLT
You cannot change your husband or wife, but if you don’t give up on your spouse, you can eventually have a marriage happier than you ever dreamed of.
This message is for those who are unhappy with their spouse, and for those who are not fully happy with their wife or husband. This message will also give vital understanding about married life to those who are not yet married.
When a man meets a woman and falls in love with her, both lovers are immediately affected with a phenomenon called eye-glazing. Eye-glazing is the happy affliction of people whose eyes have been glossed over with a layer of amorous sheen and are therefore unable to behold the blemishes in their lover, but which defects are glaringly visible to a third person. The couple in love usually have their glazing fall off their eyes after a few years of living together.
In some cultures, the glaze wears off with such monotonous predictability that writers call the phenomenon ‘the seven years itch’. That is, in about seven years, a spouse’s faults reach such intolerable levels in the eyes of the other spouse that they mutually agree to stop glaring at each other and start casting glazy eyes once again elsewhere. If it is not seven years for lockhorn couples, then it could be 27 years, or more or less.
It is a tragic reflection of the general state of marriages today that even couples married for a quarter century could desert their spouse and cleave to a new partner. They leave and cleave again because they had suffered burnout with their old spouse.
If you are among those people of God who love their spouse but who at the same time are unhappy with him or her because of some deficient quality in es character, then take heart. You have not married the wrong person. The man who finds a wife, any wife, obtains favor from the Lord. Prov 18:22 God has allowed you to marry the person you are living with today because he knows that your present faulty spouse will one day be able to love you far more than your heart could ever desire or imagine today.
Some people are privileged to be married to spouses with few obvious faults. But most people get life-partners with several spiritual or emotional flaws. In every case, irrespective of the number or seriousness of a spouse’s shortcomings, the chances of a wretched divorce or the prospects for a supremely joyous marriage are the same.
It is not the good or bad qualities of a spouse that determines the longevity or degree of happiness in a marriage, but the forbearance that the other spouse continually adopts in response to the defective qualities of his or her partner.
If a wife finds that her once spotless beau has turned into a fumbling loveless brute, she has two choices before God. She may despise him and go through married life a disillusioned and miserable woman, or she may accept him for the person he innately is, and quietly endure his brutishness for the rest of her life.
If a husband finds that the angel he married has morphed over the years into a nagging hag, he too has the same two choices. He may turn bitter against the woman who now does not look upon him with any trace of the adoration she once had for him, or he may decide to accept his unhappiness in silence and uncomplainingly endure her hurting ways for the rest of his life.
Why should a person endure and continue to live with another person for life, when the second person has no love or respect for the first? Here’s why, as revealed in God’s Word:
Because the fault-driven spouse may have more faults than most other people, he or she is being molded by God eventually to love their spouse more than any other person could. Let me put that in another way. Because of the unfailing forgiveness a man shows his fault-ridden wife, or a wife her sinning husband, the forgiven person is being transformed into a wife or husband that will eventually love the forgiving spouse far more than e would have loved had e been without those initial faults or sins. This is an absolute cause and effect principle in all relationships.
Here’s a true illustration of how that cause and effect works:
‘Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
‘And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
‘So he said, “Teacher, say it.”
“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”
‘Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”
‘And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:36-47
If you were given a spouse who had fewer faults than most other people, he or she may love you with all es heart and give you a lot of happiness. But es love will never be able to match the eventual love of a spouse who had greater faults and who was forgiven and endured more by es wife or husband.
Blessed are you today if you are gifted with a man or woman who loves you and respects you with all es heart. Even more blessed are you if you have been chosen to be the life-partner to a person who seems to have all the shortcomings in the world.That spouse is sooner or later going to love you and give you happiness beyond what you can humanly conceive today. The more you forgive him or her today, the more joy and thrills you are laying up for yourself in the coming years.
Not one act of forgiveness and endurance that you are sacrificing today will remain forgotten but will return to you in overflowing measure.
‘Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.’ Luke 6:38
If you have a husband or wife who is giving you a lot of unhappiness today, but who is also willing to live with you as your spouse, then do not do anything that would cause a diminution of your present relationship. Remember the woman who loved Jesus more than other women because she was forgiven more. Envision the day when your present bumbling husband or grumbling wife is transformed by your continual forgiveness and patience into the most desirable spouse in the universe. Envision in faith, for the promises in the Bible are surer than the rising of the sun tomorrow.
‘Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband…And a husband is not to divorce his wife…If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy…For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?’ 1 Cor 7:10-16
How do you know, O husband, or, O wife? Because the Lord says so, as I have shown you from the Scripture. And because you know, you also know that your spouse with all his or her undesirable qualities today is sooner or later going to love you and honor you more than any other person you might have married had God allowed that. But he wanted you to marry this very same person because he wants the very best for you.
The Lord wants to give you the utmost happiness he possibly could in all his omnipotence as a loving Father, and that’s why he has given you this present person to you with all the blemishes included in his marriage gift package.
‘If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.’ Mat 7:11-12
One day, possibly sooner than you expect, your spouse is going to be presented to you without a single fault in him or her, but with a character that is spotless and a love for you that surpasses your every imagination and dream.
‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord…Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.’ Eph 5:22-29
Have a blessed relationship, and look forward to far greater joys and thrills with your spouse one day in the future as you continue to show more forgiveness and more patient endurance in your marriage.
‘Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, FAR OVER AND ABOVE all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).’ Eph 3:20-21 AMP. Emphasis mine.
Among the most important of basic understandings that every Bible-believing person should have is the understanding of how Satan has infiltrated every system in human civilization. The most devastating of his influences have been in the world’s religious and political systems. The third system where the devil has succeeded most in infiltrating and influencing its every aspect is the world’s education system.
From the year a child starts school life, every aspect of the public education system is designed to impress upon es tender and impressionable mind that evolution is fact and that creation is a myth. This is the foundation on which all of the student’s future learnings will be based. The student leaves school with the concept of evolution deeply embedded in es mind as a fundamental fact of science. For es higher education and in es researches, e is subconsciously guided by the principles of what e has learned in science and sociology in school…unless, of course, the evil influence has been overcome by the teachings and constant guidance of Godly parents.
If there are schools with creation-based syllabus, then obviously that should be the first choice of Christian parents to send their little ones to. But such schools may be non-existent in your country, as they are in my country. And since the whole corporate world is geared to accommodate only those who have been educated in this word’s education system, God’s people must look for ways to counter the evil influences of the school’s syllabus and programs and to complement your child’s education with Godly training and tutelage at home.
The parent – and for practical reasons, this is usually the mother – should go through every textbook that her child is going to use at school. And wherever in the textbook evolution is taught directly or indirectly, she should mark those portions, and on the same days that the teacher takes those topics in class, the parent should re-teach them to her child, replacing fallacy with truth.
Hence, daily monitoring of what the child has learned in school is vital for es unlearning falsehood. Unlearning is supposedly ten times more difficult than learning something new. But if the unlearning and relearning can be done within the same day, the negative teachings can be erased before they take root in the child’s mind.
Guarding against the Satanic doctrine of evolution should be the first goal of parents who send their precious ones to the world’s institutions to acquire an education.
The second most dangerous evil that a child is exposed to in the school system is the influence of some of his or her classmates who may have acquired all kinds of unhealthy traits and attitudes, and whose beliefs may be pagan.
Just a few days ago, my granddaughter who is in Grade 1, came over to stay with us. I bought her some modeling clay, and she spent a happy time making various shapes. While on one of her models, she said something that shook me: ‘I am now going to make an idol’. I thought I heard wrongly, and asked her what she meant. ‘An idol, you know, like what people pray to’, she answered. She wanted to make a model of a potbellied pagan deity with an elephant head. That thought came to her mind as a result of the eclectic syllabus that emphasized the virtues of the major religions of the students of the school my granddaughter attends. It also came from her pagan classmates.
School is the first point of infestation of a young and innocent mind. One to three years of schooling, and the child left totally to the mercy of the school system becomes seriously infected with the world’s attitudes and perspectives. I got my elementary training in all the filth of the world at school and from my schoolmates, starting from around Grade 2, when a teeny classmate brought a pornographic picture and there was vying among the students to see it.
The schools of this world produce great scientists, engineers, doctors, and corporate and government leaders. The schools do not produce Godly graduates. They produce Godless graduates. Their syllabuses do not teach compassion and mercy. They teach competitiveness and assertiveness.
All parents should realize how intensively the education system has been formulated to lead the learner away from God and into the world’s ways. Almost everything about school life is meant to influence the child’s mind into a state that would make it difficult for him or her later to believe in God and in the Bible.
Even many of the so-called Christian schools (I attended such a school) have textbooks with evolution as a foundational subject. Where they do have creation-based teachings, then the danger may lie in co-students whose unhealthy influences could affect your child.
There is only one way to guard your child against all these dangers at school. Be daily vigilant of what is happening in every aspect of your child’s school life. Don’t wait for the child to tell you. No matter how busy you are, take extra efforts to be always aware of what’s going on daily in your child’s classroom and with his or her friends.
And, above all, pray fervently for God’s angels to constantly protect your child not only from physical dangers, but equally from the spiritual traps at school.
Do you remember at least two of the main history lessons you learned in Grade 6? Or the molecular structure of ethyl alcohol that your chemistry teacher took so much pain to teach you in Grade 8? Or yet, the five kinds of Interrogative Pronoun that your English miss instilled in your teenage brain? I don’t, and I think most of you reading this don’t either. The only knowledge from school that has stood me in good stead in my adult life is learning to read, write and count. Everything else, I mean literally everything else, has served me no purpose at all in my job search and career development.
But the way our primary school teachers and our parents put their whole being into ensuring that we did remember them – by means of tests, exams, grueling homework, and punishments – it did seem to us at that time that if we didn’t remember those historical facts, dates, formulas, and grammatical technicalities, we were doomed for an adult life of failure in a rat-eat-cat world.
I regret to say this: most of those teachers who believed a student’s success lay in mastering schoolbook facts and formulas have continued to remain in the same station in their professional lives as they were when they taught us those now-forgotten lessons. How many of them have risen out of their current workpit to go on to become well-respected educationists in their community or country, or set up reputable institutions themselves? A very few have, but the overwhelming majority of them remained in their mediocre station in life, continuing to pass on quickly-forgotten knowledge each year to a new batch of young vulnerable minds.
It’s not just that what children learn in their schoolhood is forgotten within a few years after they bid farewell to their alma mater; many of the lessons they learn as immutable facts of life today become obsolete by the time they begin their lives as professionals. The grammar rules and language usage lessons become obsolete, the methodologies and technologies are replaced with more innovative processes, insights and solutions that seemed so revolutionary and effective are condemned as inadequate and even dangerous as newer understanding is gained.
So what can you as a parent do to give your child a schoolhood that will continue to be an influential factor all his or her adult life? It’s a profound subject I will cover periodically in my messages. But let me say this now: above all else, instead of focusing on the knowledge that your child is forced to feed on in school today, put your whole mind into ensuring that he or she acquires a love of learning, and a desire and ability to acquire knowledge on their own.
You do it by leading them to interesting experiences; by spending time with them, not by just helping them do homework but by hobbying with them; by never rebuking them for missing facts in textbooks, but praising them for any skill or knowledge they gained on their own through your encouragement and guidance. That’s the supreme gift you can give them during their school days. This is the most important factor in educating your child successfully.
May your children whom you are now encouraging to love learning and acquire knowledge by themselves, fondly remember in their adulthood how wisely you had laid the foundation for them to not only acquire the knowledge and skills for their success in life, but more importantly, to gain the true understanding of how to be a great parent and spouse themselves.
There are five verses in the book of Proverbs the misreading of which led me astray in disciplining my children. I wish I had never read those verses. And yet I knew God wanted me to read them. But it was only after my three children outgrew their father’s discipline and went off to live their own happy lives that I began to understand what God meant by these verses:
He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.
Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.
The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Pr 13:24;22:15;23:13-14;29:15
All five verses speak of the rod in disciplining a child. And so I kept one paddle for smacking my little kids’ seats and two thin switches for caning their legs. And I kept them on top of a cupboard in a conspicuous way so my children, even in their best behaviors, can always behold the terror that awaits them should they revert to any misbehavior.
The fears, impressions and perceptions of little children are as real to them as are the real terrors and horrors to adults. But rare indeed is the father who can perceive experiences through his children’s senses. But it is my earnest prayer that this message will be able to do just that – to encourage and guide fathers so they will be able to perceive the feelings of their little ones and turn their hearts to them, and thereby the hearts of the children will turn to their fathers in affection, respect, and bonding that will never diminish with age.
Today I am able to feel to the core of my senses, in my very bones and liver, exactly how my children felt each time they passed by the cupboard. It’s the same feeling that would sweep through me if this scenario were real: My Father takes a lightning rod from the many stocked in third heaven, and pointing to it, tells me, ‘Look, my son, I am doing this for your own good, so you never go astray and land in hot water. I have given you my laws and shown you the path of life; if ever I catch you breaking any, this bolt will zap your seat with such searing heat you would think seven times before you want to do it again’.
For the rest of my life that I would be under the tutorage of the law (Galatians 3:23-25), I would live in daily dread of the consequences of forgetting that’s there’s a rod awaiting my every breach of good conduct. This was how the ancient Israelites lived, under the constant cloud of a Disciplinarian (1 Corinthians 10:1), except that instead of a bolt from the blue on the seat, a merciless barrage of granite stones awaited the sinner’s head.
This is how the churches under the legalistic system live today. Under the constant fear of breaking the law and coming under the wrath of God. Praise our Savior that his blood was shed for our sins, and not our own! Jesus has taken all the wrath that was due us upon himself. There is no more wrath awaiting us, even if we slip and sin, for our Father will forgive us the instant we realize our slip and ask for forgiveness.
Our children should never, even for a moment, live under the hovering fear of the rod of punishment. The father or mother who takes a cane or a paddle or some other instrument of torture in the sight of their child, has not attained the emotional and spiritual maturity that God expects fathers and mothers to attain before they decide to bring forth a child to the world.
So why does the Bible recommend the rod of punishment for children? Because there are possibilities of situations arising where only the physical rod, and nothing else, can discipline a child. It is truly a rare possibility, and I can say with sufficient confidence that if you use wisdom, you very probably need not use even once a physical implement of correction.
What are those possible situations where nothing else but the rod is effective? See this verse again:
Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell. Pr 23:13-14
A rod should be used in a situation that will deliver your child’s soul from hell. May our Father in heaven give you the wisdom to know what are those situations in your own child’s life. Here’re a few that I can tell you from my observations:
When a child displays a constant attitude of hatred towards another child, and in spite of your repeated verbal corrections, the child shows actions and speaks words that originate from an evil source that has somehow managed to penetrate your son’s or daughter’s subconscious mind.
Children who were left uncorrected with such an attitude are the ones who turned into human monsters in their adult lives, such as Hitler, Idi Amin, Bokassa, Stalin, Mao, and many others in the modern era, whose childhood hatred of other people went on wrecking their consciences until they could directly be responsible for the death of hundreds of millions of innocent people and think of it with impunity. “I can send the flower of German youth into the hell of war without the slightest pity”, boasted Hitler, echoing what another man with the same spirit in him uttered a hundred and twenty years earlier. “A man like me cares little about losing the lives of a million men”, said Napoleon.
It is natural for little children of even Godly parents to display wrong attitudes. It is a trait that they and we have inherited from our first parents when the tragic fate of all their descendants’ genetic dispositions was sealed at the moment that Adam and Eve decided to go their own way against their Creator’s will. This naturally inherited disposition in human beings can be suppressed only when their human spirit is overridden by the Holy Spirit on being born again. Until then, parents have to be constantly alert against their children’s natural spirit gaining a permanent stronghold in their consciences.
When a child speaks or acts in a spirit of hostility against another child, parents must correct that behavior with immediate gentle correction. Gentle, because the child is not doing it deliberately. But when gentle correction is proven futile after a couple of times, the correction should take on a sterner approach. But our Creator has put within every child an innate desire to please es parents. When e sees that e has done something displeasing to es parents, and that the parents are not happy with em as before, extremely rare is the child who would not want to do all he or she can to regain es sense of assurance of es parents’ delight in em.
But should it happen on rare occasions that a child continues to display a wrong attitude, and gentle and stern correction (including withdrawal of privileges and other forms of nonphysical correction) are not effective enough, then, and only then, should the parent resort to a physical rod. When such a situation happens, the parent may take the child and give em a smart, but not too hard, smack on the seat with es palm or a flat object. Alternatively, e can use a thin switch for a single whip below the knees. Just a single whack or whip.
You should absolutely never punish your child when there is even a trace of anger in your mind. A child corrected in anger is a child that imbibes a similar quality – a spirit of retaliation. That’s actually what the parent is doing when e hits a child in anger – retaliating against es child because the child has done something that offended em, not solely because the child has done something that endangers the future of es soul.
If you feel anger in you, pause, and pray a short prayer for wisdom and restrain in correcting your child. When your emotions are under control, then take the paddle or switch and correct your child.
I know from experience that just a single use of the paddle is enough. For some sensitive children, even the sight of the parent taking a cane to punish em is effective enough. If your child shows much fear in sighting es instrument of torture (for that’s how any normal child will view the rod), refrain! Call your child, and tell him or her firmly that if e doesn’t want to be caned, then e should never repeat the offense again. Only an unusual child will refuse to immediately accept this condition for nonpunishment. You have already used the rod on your child, though it did not land on es body.
After you are done with the correction, there comes the ‘restoration of hearts’ phase between parent and child.
In the mind of the child, es parent’s punishment of em, no matter how much e himself feels e has earned it, is a short breaching of the absolute confidence e has in the one person e loves and adores above everyone and everything else. This temporary breaching, if left unattended, creates a deeper sense of rejection in the child. E feels the parent may have never really forgiven em fully, or that es parent’s love for em may have diminished. Unwise parents have suffered the consequence of little children being left alone with their hurt emotions after physical or verbal chastisement. The effect of unattended hurt is seen in the rebellious responses of the child when he or she becomes a teen.
Soon after the rod is administered – in situations where it is absolutely necessary to save the child’s attitude from being hardened in hatred or rebellion – the father or mother should make the first move of reconciliation. The parent should go to where the child is, embrace em and tell em that dad, or mom, loves em and he or she is just as dear to them as before. Some children may be immediately comforted, some others may take a little longer for their hurt to be soothed. However long it takes, the first priority in life for the parent then is for em to turn es child’s heart back to em as before.
Another situation where the rod may be necessary is when the child repeatedly forgets or ignores a strict instruction of the parent, the disregard of which may endanger the child’s physical life. For example, a child continuing to go to a dangerous area to play, or a stubborn tendency to get into fights, or repeated stealing, or repeated lying. By ‘repeated’, I mean’ doing it again after being warned at least three or four times.
Again I say, that such situations will be very rare, and it is my constant prayer that parents whom I am privileged to be able to counsel will never need to use the physical rod even once in their parenting years.
An example of a family where the rod was never used once stands as a great encouragement and testimony to the truth that a physical rod need never be resorted to in bringing up your children to be Godly people.
I once got into a personal conversation with the head of a school where I served under him as the vice principal. He is one of the most principled and Godly persons I have known. He has two sons and a daughter. He said he and his wife had never once used a cane on any of their children. Once, however, he said, he scolded one of his sons, using a tone of rebuke that his child had never heard before. It happened only once. But, the principal said, this child was so affected by this verbal rod that it made a permanent scar in his mind. If the principal had refrained from even that slight rebuke, he could have had a 100 percent physical and nonphysical rod-free parenting life. But my point is, if you would diligently look for an alternative way to correct your child, a rod need never be used on him or her.
The principal’s children are successfully placed in life today and are parents themselves now. I do not know if they are able to continue the same kind of nonrod discipline in their own children’s lives as their parents were. I haven’t met the principal for many years now, but when I meet him next, I will ask him and find out.
I was an overstrict disciplinarian of a parent, to my excruciating remorse many years later. But by my Father’s grace, all my children have grown to be loving and lovable members of society, faithful to God and faithful to their families. But that’s because I have spent years and years of tearful prayers that God may negate any unhealthy qualities my children may have imbibed from my parenting follies in my earlier years as a father.
In all cases where the child’s soul or body is not in danger, never even think of a physical rod. Even depriving a child of a privilege should only be applied after es repeated infringements of an instruction.
The best short answer to how best to discipline your child is to put yourself in a similar situation between you and your heavenly Father. How many times have you committed the same sin, given in to the same weakness, and the Father did not so much as utter a single word of impatience, but was longsuffering toward you, and waited patiently until you came to him in repentance. And that’s why you and I love him so much and want to obey him so earnestly. Not because we have to, not because we fear his rod, but because we want to, because of his lovingkindness towards us even while we were sinning against him.
However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 1 Tm 1:16
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Our Father doesn’t just forgive us a few times or several times until he reaches the point of too-many-times-already and then takes up his rod of correction. He forgives us any number of times we turn to him after a repeated sin. Even when we are forgiven a sin against him, and after a while we become careless and commit the same sin – seven times a day, or a total of 490 times – our Father’s forgiveness is still the same (Luke 17:4; Matthew 18:21-22). That basically sums up the attitude that fathers on earth should have toward their little ones.
The way we discipline our children will be the way they will live even to their old age.
Train a child in the way he [should] go; and, even when old, he will not swerve from it. Pr 22:6 CJB
Our loving and forgiving Father in heaven, bless every parent who has read this message and enable him or her to bring up their children in the way that you want them to grow up, so they can become Godly parents themselves, and above all, become children of God in whom you delight greatly. Amen.
The greatest remorse that a man or woman can have in this life – after loss of their opportunity with God – is loss of their opportunity with their children, followed by loss of their opportunity with their wife or husband.
Those three losses – with God, with children, with spouse – is the very reason God put it into my heart to found this ministry. There is absolutely no calling greater, no ministry more urgent, no mission more desperate in today’s world than that of doing all one can to protect a person from any one of these losses. I begin this message with a fervent prayer that God will work in your heart to heed this message and to do all that is in your power to redeem your time with your God, with your children and with your wife or husband, from this day on. (Though the title addresses fathers, mothers can also gain much insight from this message, which they can use to help their husbands redeem their time with their children.)
I will be repeating this sentence often in my various messages in this website and on the associate World Daily Bread website:
The greatest cause for all the evils in this world today, and the one cause that all societies and governments should focus on eradicating above every other evil in this world, is that the hearts of the fathers are not turned to their children, and therefore the hearts of the children are not turned to their fathers!
Please read that again.
The continuance or total annihilation of this world in the sooncoming years hinges, not on the nuclear war factor, not on food availability, not on global climate changes – but on whether the hearts of the fathers will be turned to their children and the hearts of the children will be turned to their fathers. Let God’s Word convince you of this truth.
And he [the messenger whom God will sent in the last days] will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse. Mal 4:6
The word ‘curse’ in the original Hebrew is ‘cherem’, which more accurately means ‘extermination’, or ‘utter destruction’. And this is how it is translated in several other versions of the Bible.
He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction. NIV
He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers; otherwise I will come and strike the land with complete destruction. CJV
‘the land’ is more accurately translated as ‘the earth’ in the King James Version and New King James Version, as well as in other translations such as the Geneva Bible, Knox Bible, Orthodox Jewish Bible, etc.
he it is shall reconcile heart of father to son, heart of son to father; else the whole of earth should be forfeit to my vengeance. Knox Bible
Mercifully, in his great love, God will ensure that his servants worldwide will focus on this aspect of their ministry above every other aspect – of course, after the message of eternal salvation through Christ is first preached.
There is a great attempt by Satan to influence churches and ministries worldwide to focus more on the physical and financial wellbeing of God’s people, more on happiness, more on success, more on doctrinal and parochial church issues. And many servants of God have fallen into the devil’s snare. They are not preaching the wrong gospel – Satan is too smart to try to change the minds of Christ’s servants to abandon the Gospel altogether. They are just neglecting that aspect of the gospel which, if heeded by fathers, would save the world from total destruction. And this, Satan knows, is the best way to ensure that his own reign on earth can be extended. With mankind destroyed, God will have to devise another plan to populate earth again, as he did in Noah’s days, and with no one existing anymore who can qualify to take over his kingship, he can continue as the undisputed ruler of this world.
And why is this aspect, the turning of the hearts of the fathers, so absolutely vital for the salvation of this world?
Look at the evils and wickedness in this world. Next time, you see a man or woman on the street, in your workplace, who displays a profane behavior, look at that person carefully and ponder deeply. How did that person come to behave like that, while you just can never even think of doing such a thing?
Two days before I began to write this message, I found myself in a queue at a supermarket checkout counter. It was moving very slow, as were all the queues at the other counters. A woman came and stood behind me, and then, leaving her grocery basket where she stood, she went back to the stalls. In her short absence, another woman came with her big cart and stood behind me. The first woman returned and took her rightful position. There was an altercation. The second woman was flushing in anger, and she made me the arbitrator and judge – had the first woman really stood behind me before she came? I said yes. The second woman stomped away still flushing, and, I think, cursing me too.
Now ponder. What would a Christian woman do? I know what my wife, or scores of other women I know, would do. If she was the first woman, on being objected to coming back to her place, she would smile, even say a needless ‘sorry’ and take her undeserved position behind the second woman. Now, if she was the second woman, on seeing another woman coming and standing ahead of her, she would merely take a step or two back to make it more convenient for the first woman to squeeze in. Simple. But absolutely impossible for a woman or man whose heart has not been turned to their father in their younger days.
A child whose heart has been neglected by his or her father in their molding years is the most desirable prey for the spiritual vultures hovering over every home in every nation on world. This child may have everything else a parent can provide for: security, a beautiful home, excellent nutrition, peaceful environment, quality schooling, and even quality time with parents. In the midst of all these fine and caring circumstances, the child’s heart will still be easily turned away from es father and start turning to the heart of another father.
I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father. Jn 8:38,41
The heart will never remain for long unturned and neutral. If the child’s heart is not turned to his or her father, they will then surely do what they see their substitute father does.
All the impolite behaviors in the public places, the deadly road rages, the divorces, the murders, all the perverted desires, all the fornications, all the dishonesties, and all other evil characteristics of an adult have their origin in a young child whose heart was neglected by his or her own father and taken over by the father of this world.
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. Jn 8:44
The consequences of a neglected heart are not confined to the home or the immediate community. They sweep devastatingly through boundaries and wreak havoc on a national and global scale. Every single one of all the wars that ever happened in this world’s history, including World Wars 1 and 2, can be traced down to the heart of just one child that absorbed the desires of his spiritual father.
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? Jm 4:1
Now, secular parenting authorities and family counselors have come to realize through their own observation and research that the absence of father in the home is a root cause for society’s great many ills. And so they have come up with solutions such as fathers spending ‘quality time’ with their kids. They advise working parents to ‘prioritize’ the family over their work. They may even counsel teaching children some ‘real values’ – although I wonder how those counselors who believe that the first offsprings on earth have their origin in copulative accidents among primeval life-forms eons ago, can understand anything about ‘real’ values.
As the editor of a parenting magazine many years ago, on several occasions I hosted forums where parents and noted counselors met together in a forum. I noted that when it came to offering medical and general counsel relating to a child’s health and wellbeing, these sychologists, doctors and parenting authorities offered sound advice. But when parents would ask about some ‘moral’ issue’ their kids were facing, some of them would proffer ‘scientifically proven’ remedies, some of which, to my shock, included encouraging children to fantasize acts of fornication, which is what actually happens in youngsters’ minds when they sexually gratify themselves.
Listen to this reasoning behind such recommendation, as expressed by a noted female sychologist in that forum: If a mosquito bites your child, and he feels an irresistible itch on some part of his body, would you prevent him from scratching that area for relief? In the same way, you should not prevent him from finding relief from his sexual tension through self-release.
Of course, wise parents know what happens to that relieved child when he becomes a teen. Everytime he feels the itch in his loins, he seeks relief from any available source near him. The seeds of fornication and adultery are sown in little kids who are not constantly guided out of their natural itches and inclinations by Godly parents.
To my understanding, and in all my research, I have not come across any secular parenting magazine or book in the world that emphasizes what I am emphasizing in this message. Books by Christian authors do cover this subject to a lesser or greater extent, yet on the whole such publications are a minuscule percentage of the media that influence parents’ relationship with their children.
Oh, at the time of writing this, one of the most popular ways that parents express love to their kids, and in the process inadvertently teach them profane values, is by turning the tender hearts over to wizards and witches. Stronger influences have been imprinted in the minds of our present generation of teens in a typical modern ‘Christian’ home, especially in the developed nations, by books and shows such as Harry Potter and MTV than by all that they have learned in Sunday School and church youth camps. I am referring especially to those homes that have a Bible somewhere on a shelf, but where the children are gifted with books glorifying wrong spirits, and where they are not prohibited from watching squirmy scenes and hear squalid lyrics on tv.
Even as the devil is hyperactive in this endtimes in turning the hearts of children in every nation to him, our Father in heaven is working urgent works through his servants worldwide to turn the hearts of the children to their rightful fathers. God does this by first turning the hearts of the fathers to him, and then, after they have established a right relationship with their heavenly Father, by inspiring them to turn their hearts to their children.
It is not enough that you daily take an hour off from your work and other pursuits to sit with your child to spend quality time with him. Turning your heart to your child means, firstly, having a certain attitude toward him or her every moment of your waking and sleeping hours. What is this attitude?
It is the attitude where you are constantly conscious of God’s Law – summarized in The 10 Commandments – in your every thought, word, and action. It is the love for God and his way of life that emanates with a holy radiance from every cell in your body, which is quickly absorbed by the rest of your family.
A home where dad shows his close relationship with God in all that he speaks and does is the home where Jesus Christ himself is thrilled to be a constant member of. He rejoices in hearing every sentence father utters to his wife and children, and in seeing every act he performs toward them. God and his laws are dad’s favorite theme for conscious and subconscious meditation, not just at fixed quiet times, but throughout the day, wherever he may be.
Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Ps 119:97
Secondly, turning your heart to your children means speaking to them of God’s way of life, and his truths in the Bible, and encouraging them to imitate you in zealously observing The 10 Commandments in all its broad life applications. It means taking time to narrate the stories in the Bible, to explain how to live by God’s laws in every situation the child faces. It means slowly raising your child’s level of understanding so he can begin to see the need for his Savior, and understand why his Savior had to die for him, and how he can constantly live a righteous life by Christ dwelling in him through the Holy Spirit.
You will sit down often with your child, and explain to him that all the evils are happening in the world today because people have not been taught God’s way by their parents. You will place much emphasis on explaining the consequences of breaking each of The 10 Commandments.
As your child grows into teenhood and enters the world of puberty, you should focus more on the 7th Commandment, and how the breaking of this commandment by the world in general (and you can give the divorces and extramarital relationships in Hollywood as prime examples) is breaking up homes and children’s lives everywhere.
You dont do this just at any specific pre-determined hour, although there certainly must be at least one pre-determined family hour every day. You do it wherever you get the opportunity.
So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Deut 11:18-21 NLT
Fathers, if your children are still with you, blessed are you, for you have the greatest opportunity – literally the greatest opportunity of any man or woman in the sight of God – to contribute to saving this world from total annihilation in these end times. But infinitely more important, you have the opportunity to turn your children’s heart to his or her God so that they can be greatly blessed and their blessing will continue to your grandchildren and great grandchildren even to thousands of generations descending from you and your wife.
There is little time left before world events take a dramatic turn for the worse. The devil knows it, and he is working extra hard to turn the hearts of the fathers away from their children. But God is not watching passively as the world races toward self-destruction. He is working in awesome ways globally to turn back the hearts of the children to their parents. He has sent the spirit of Elijah into the hearts of many of his servants worldwide.
Remember the Law of Moses [The 10 Commandments], My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse [total destruction]. Mal 4:4-6
A great turning of hearts among millions of fathers and children is already taking place all over the world. Is your heart among them?
For 25 years, until my children outgrew their father’s quality time around them, I assumed that paternal closeness was indeed the greatest gift I could bestow upon them, apart from unconditional love, which I am not discussing here at all, and which I do not deem as a gift to be discovered and given; it is obvious that we parents do not have to strive to have unconditional love for our offspring – it’s an instinctive thing. As for values and character development, these are naturally imbibed from the parents when the greatest gift is given to the children. What has to be learned by parents with growing children is a most precious understanding that has to be gifted to them by wizened and oftentimes remorseful older folks, for rarely can a young couple acquire such parenting perspective on their own until it is too late and the nest is already empty.
It is my hope that you as an earnest parent are privileged to still have your little kids whizzing past you, squeaking in delight on imaginary chases and causing the usual disquietude to your hour of relaxation after a hectic day’s work. Perhaps you are on a continual quest to find the elusive golden keys to bringing up your kids with a trifle less commotion, safely, wisely and above all, successfully – which is probably why you are reading this message. I have yet to see a 70-year-old father reading an article on parenting or a grandma earnestly referring Dr. Spock’s revered counsels.
The following illustrative story is about a father and a mother who gave the greatest gift to their children:
16-year-old Raju was one of the several undernourished children that the love union of his parents inadvertently brought forth into an impoverished community. Manual laborers by profession, Raju’s parents’ greatest goal on waking up each morning was to be able to feed their five children at least two meals that day. The struggle for daily sustenance was eased a bit when Raju was old enough to help his parents in their quarrying work.
Quarrying, as it’s done in underdeveloped lands, is more than just pickaxing away chunks off the solid rock face. It literally involves a dynamite of a risk. A hole about a foot deep is made on the rock face, raw gunpowder is packed into it, and one end of a gunpowder-laced cord inserted into the hole. The other end, a couple of meters away, is set sparkling with the glowing end of a beedi (the local cigarillo), upon which act the igniter shouts, ‘vediyehhhhhhh!’ (‘explosion coming!’), raising and extending his pitch on the final syllable. Anyone thereabouts then has around seven to ten seconds to duck for cover against the meteor of huge boulders descending on the rock face. Raju wasn’t nimble enough on one of those occasions.
As he lay in the government hospital, one arm almost severed and hanging on a tendon and his body a bloody mess of flesh, his father and mother rushed to his bedside. There wasn’t the usual laborers’ wail of distress from the parents on sighting their crumbled up child.
Instead, the father quietly took hold of his son’s hand of the remaining arm, while the mother seated herself at the foot of the bed, and began to gently stroke her son’s feet. This they continued to do until, after the usual long delay of public servants in such places, a surgeon was finally available to amputate the boy’s arm.
As he was trolleyed into the operation theater, the father kept holding his son’s hand, all the while showering him that reassuring look he had been silently effusing since he arrived at his son’s bedside. After the operation, and through the days of recuperation, the father’s and the mother’s mode of reaction to their son’s tragedy remained unchanged and unabated. The father held his son’s hand as often as he stood by his bedside, and the mother kept stroking her child’s feet as often as she sat on the edge of his bed, until the day they were able to limp him back home.
I have gone to some descriptive length in narrating this incident, but have done so with the intention of conveying an experience for which I still couldn’t figure a one-word expression. The Greek language, it seems, has a word that comes close to it. It’s usually spelled ‘agape’ (pronounced ‘ah-gah-pey’) in English. When translating ancient Greek manuscripts containing this word into the English language, the translators, for want of a better expression, settled for the incomplete sense in the word ‘love’, while acknowledging that it doesn’t convey the full intent of the Greek terminology. The closest I could manage in defining this gift is by the compounded term:
The greatest gift you can give your child is the abiding assurance deep within your child’s psyche of your undistractible attention and your unfailing presence in absolutely any situation in which your child might find himself.
Perhaps the shorter phrase ‘continuous lifelong bonding’ might suffice for the present purpose. It’s a bonding that never loses a shade of its warmth when a child is weaned off his mother’s breast milk. It’s a bonding that never loses its intimacy when a child grows too big to be kissed in front of his friends. And this bonding abides constant without a trace of diminution whether the child has done something terribly wrong or is suffering the deserved consequences of deliberate delinquency.
This was the gift that Raju could perceive his parents had been lavishing on him all along. Raju’s parents never had read a book on childrearing. Yet they were gifted with the most important truth in raising a child – something which eludes the expressive capability of many a PhD in child sychology. This is a gift all parents naturally have, but the tragedy is that their children don’t always discern it, because the parents do not realize they aren’t expressing it. On the contrary, many children feel a neglect of them by parents – a root cause for the growing number of runaway teenagers each year in the materially developed, but emotionally deprived, countries. It’s a basic cause for the growing number of children turning to drugs for a substitute assurance or for a temporary obliteration of the gnawing awareness within them of being deprived of their greatest emotional need – of knowing with absolute certainty that there are people who will love them and care for them no matter what.
As modern civilization keeps rushing forward to its ominous destination at a human-relations warping pace, and as men and women get caught in the vortex of career advancement or job survival, the biggest sacrifice that parents make on the altar of family sustenance is their continuous bonding with their children. And being subconsciously aware of something amiss in their relationship with their offspring, they come up with measured amounts of ‘quality time’ at predetermined hours of the day, or they seek to compensate for the shortage of this greatest of gifts with excessive material demonstrations of affection and profuse verbal assurances. But outward effusions of affection can never be a substitute for continuous internal bonding.
In my many years as a teacher, I observed children as young as three and a half years old being virtually abandoned by their parents to the care of strangers in boarding schools in their native country, while they returned to the Gulf or to the US so they could better lay up provisions for the future of these very children they left behind. Today, I see or hear of some of these same children, now grown up and parents themselves. The lack of bonding did cause severe sychological disorders in a very few of these former school boarders. But the vast majority did not turn out to be violence-prone adults or introverts or social misfits. On the contrary, they proved to be reliable, hardy and successful citizens.
But I discerned one vital ingredient that was missing in all of them: Their concept of parenting, their attitude towards their now old parents, their relationship with their spouses, and with people in general, were not as deep as those of the people that had a history of unbroken bonding with their parents. Their relationships initially tend to be shallow or problematic, and only their constant and earnest efforts in overcoming mentalities and attitudes formed in childhood could offset their defective bonding with their parents. Yet, I can’t remember any case where the negative effects of an improperly bonded relationship in childhood days were completely offset by personal efforts to correct a wounded subconscious. The effects, it seems, are lifetime, unless a great miracle occurs in the heart of the grownup child whose parents couldn’t give them the ‘agape’ kind of bonding. And miracles are rare phenomena in an increasingly Godless world, aren’t they?
I also found that the aged parents in the retirement homes who were the most lonely and the least visited by their children are those very parents who had deprived their children of the greatest gift in their tender years.
Bonding is impossible without the actual presence of the parents. But it is not the kind of presence so demanded by quality time advocates. A parent can spend all the quality time with their child and still find 10 or 15 years later that they have lost forever something of incalculable preciousness in the hearts of their offsprings. The ‘I-am-always-there-for-you-no-matter-what’ is a gift given through the spontaneous vibes of the heart more than through the deliberate verbal demonstrations of affection and calculated allocations of time.
This inviolable bonding between parents and children is the most precious legacy that one generation can pass on to the next. The inadequately bonded child, for all the verbal assurances and quality time given to him by his concerned parents, is not likely to bond adequately with his own offspring, and thus passes on a plague of shallow family relations.
The greatest of gifts that parents can give their child is also the greatest gift that a husband can render his wife…that which shoots a wave of thrill down the spine of a woman every time she unexpectedly sights her man. It is also the gift that binds two young children with a friendship that remains intact as ever even after a separation of several decades.
As I write this, I remember that I promised my boyhood chum I will be meeting him two days from now in his hometown about 100 kilometers from my place. It was only a few days ago that I heard his voice on the phone, after having lost track of him for 37 years. The last time I saw him was when we were both discovering, somewhat mischievously, the magic of the first year of our teen lives, and I just can’t wait to see how he looks now and to give him a bear hug…
From almost the day of their birth until they are finally freed from their physical shackles sometime in their late teens, children’s bodies are confined by their parents within products or environments that do much harm to their overall development. This has such serious impact on our children’s future lives that I wonder why medical and educational authorities are not shouting this fact aloud from the hospital and school rooftops to every parent.
When the child is a just-born infant, what do the hospitals do? They immediately swathe the child in a pink or blue sheet of flannel that leave only es face exposed to the world. And the smothered infant fares no better when e is taken home.
Research shows that infants are put in movement restricting things – chairs, carriers, car seats, and the like – for over 60 waking hours a week…with serious consequence for their motor and cognitive development! As to how serious these consequences are, I urge you to read the eye-opening article ‘Containerized Infants: How Products are Affecting Our Babies’ Brains‘ by Rae Pica, reprinted in this section.
A related issue is co-sleeping with our children. Again, from their infancy, modern mothers are unintentionally pushing away their kids from their lives, when, on the other hand, Nature endowed them with the basic need to cling to their parents.
Modern culture encourages us to ‘sleep teach’ our children by placing them in a separate bed and even a separate room, so that they’ll learn to sleep on their own. But as a wise doctor wrote, ‘This generation of mothers labors under the dubious pronouncement that babies sleep best in isolation. Every infant knows better. His protest at nocturnal solitude contains the wisdom of millennia.’ Thomas Lewis, MD, ‘A General Theory of Love’.
Sleep teaching our children in their tender age is one root cause for the growing phenomenon of the breakup of extended families (families where adult children have their parents and grandparents living with them) and the advent of single-family dwellings.
I close by repeating the words of Verna Mae Sloan, a mother and grandmother:
‘How can you expect to hold onto them in life if you begin by pushing them away?’
Besides the fact that they were built to do so, there are a great many reasons why infants need to move. The truth is, even though their movement capabilities are extremely limited when compared with even those of a toddler, movement experiences may be more important for infants than for children of any other age group. And it’s not all about motor development either.
Thanks to new insights in brain research, we now know that early movement experiences are considered essential to the neural stimulation (the ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ principle involved in the keeping or pruning of brain cells) needed for healthy brain development.
Not long ago, neuroscientists believed that the structure of a human brain was genetically determined at birth. They now realize that although the main ‘circuits’ are ‘prewired’ (for such functions as breathing and the heartbeat), the experiences that fill each child’s days are what actually determine the brain’s ultimate design and the nature and extent of that child’s adult capabilities.
An infant’s brain, it turns out, is chock-full of brain cells (neurons) at birth. (In fact, a one-pound fetus already has 100 billion of them!) Over time, each of these brain cells can form as many as 15,000 connections (synapses) with other brain cells. And it is during the first three years of life that most of these connections are made. Synapses not used often enough are eliminated. On the other hand, those synapses that have been activated by repeated early experiences tend to become permanent. And it appears that physical activity and play during early childhood have a vital role in the sensory and physiological stimulation that results in more synapses.
Neurophysiologist Carla Hannaford, in her excellent book, Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head, states: ‘Physical movement, from earliest infancy and throughout our lives, plays an important role in the creation of nerve cell networks which are actually the essence of learning.’
She then goes on to relate how movement, because it activates the neural wiring throughout the body, makes the entire body — not just the brain — the instrument of learning.
Gross and fine motor skills are learned through repetition as well — both by virtue of being practiced and because repetition lays down patterns in the brain. Although it hasnt been clearly determined that such early movements as kicking, waving the arms, and rocking on hands and knees are ‘practice’ for later, more advanced motor skills, it’s believed that they are indeed part of a process of neurological maturation needed for the control of motor skills. In other words, these spontaneous actions prepare the child – physically and neurologically – to later perform more complex, voluntary actions.
Then, once the child is performing voluntary actions (for example, rolling over, creeping, and walking), the circle completes itself, as these skills provide both glucose (the brain’s primary source of energy) and blood flow (‘food’) to the brain, in all likelihood increasing neuronal connections.
According to Rebecca Anne Bailey and Elsie Carter Burton, authors of The Dynamic Self: Activities to Enhance Infant Development, whenever babies move any part of their bodies, there exists the potential for two different kinds of learning to occur: learning to move and moving to learn. Still, recent evidence indicates that infants are spending upward of 60 waking hours a week in things – high chairs, carriers, car seats, and the like!
The reasons for this trend are varied. Part of the problem is that more and more infants are being placed in childcare centers, where there may not be enough space to let babies roam the floor. Or, given the number of infants enrolled, there may be little opportunity for caregivers to spend one-on-one time with each baby. This means, in the morning, an infant is typically fed, dressed, and then carried to the automobile, where she’s placed in a car seat. She’s then carried into the childcare center, where she may spend much of her time in a crib or playpen. At the end of the day, she’s picked up, placed again into the car seat, and carried back into the house, where she’s fed, bathed, and put to bed.
Even when parents are home with baby, they seem to be busier than ever these days. Who has time to get on the floor and creep around with a child? Besides, with today’s emphasis on being productive, playing with a baby would seem almost a guilty pleasure! And if the baby seems happy and safe in a seat placed conveniently in front of the TV, in a bouncer hung in a doorway, or cruising about in a walker, then what’s the harm? It’s a win/win situation, isn’t it?
In fact, it isn’t. Being confined (as one colleague says: ‘containerized’) affects a baby’s personality; they need to be held. It may also have serious consequences for the child’s motor – and cognitive – development.
Other trends in today’s society having an impact on infants’ opportunities to move are the inclination to restrict, rather than encourage, freedom of movement and the misguided belief that early academic instruction will result in superbabies. (In 1999, 770,000 copies of infant software – ‘lapware’ – were sold!)
Humans are meant to move and play. The inclination – the need – is hardwired into them. Babies, in fact, spend nearly half of their waking time – 40% – doing things like kicking, bouncing, and waving their arms. And while it may appear all this activity is just for the sake of moving, it’s important to realize a baby is never ‘just moving’ or ‘just playing’. Every action extends the child’s development in some way.
Rae Pica has been an early childhood education consultant, specializing in children’s physical activity, since 1980. A former adjunct instructor with the University of New Hampshire, she is the founder and director of Moving & Learning and the author of 18 books, including the text Experiences in Movement and Music (now in its 5th edition), the award-winning Great Games for Young Children and Jump into Literacy, and A Running Start: How Play, Physical Activity, and Free Time Create a Successful Child, written for the parents of children birth to age five. Her website: www.raepica.com
In all relationships, except one, you have to grow in love over the years. When a young man falls in love with a woman, that love is only a small fraction of the bond that he will have for her when she is his wife. In fact, their love for each other doesn’t reach full bloom until years after they first met.
Frankly, when I fell in love with my wife, I sincerely believed I loved her so much I couldn’t love her more. 40 years later I feel that my love in the first decade of our relationship was just a tiny grain of emotion compared to what I feel for her now.
But that’s not how we feel about our children. We feel that we have always loved them to totality from the first day they entered our lives.
You see, parent’s love is instinctive. Especially mother’s. You don’t have to teach a new mother how to love her child. The moment she beholds the pinkish piece of newborn life beside her, her whole being swells with tenderness and an overriding desire to protect her child at any cost. The love is fullblown and complete from the very first day.
So Whoever placed that instinctive love within her, can certainly be expected to place within her the basics of caring for her child too.
A mother knows by instinct what’s best for her child in the core areas of the little one’s life. And if there are areas where she is not so knowledgeable about, her mother – the child’s grandma – pitches in with her own experience. That’s why grandparents should be such a vital part of parenting life.
Earlier generations of parents didn’t have a Baby & Child Care book to guide them, but they brought up a finer breed of citizens worldwide than what we generally come across today, despite the hosts of modern sychologists counseling them in every city.
I have seen, to the grief of my heart, pediatricians and childcare specialists strongly advising parents to condone certain habits in children (such as ‘playing’ with oneself), which if continued through the teen and young adulthood years, would surely turn their future marital relationship into a flaccid one.
I have mentioned this incident in another message, but let me narrate it again. At a recent parenting forum, a female child sychologist representing an esteemed child counsel center explained that an adolescent releasing his sexual tension was like a person soothing the area where a mosquito bit him. It is natural and not to be discouraged, she advised. One mother, who was sitting beside me, on hearing this, exclaimed, ‘What nonsense!’. Thank God for the maternal instinct.
These experts are excellent when prescribing what’s best for your child’s colic or fever, but oftentimes proffer deadly advice when it comes to your family’s moral values. There are exceptions of course, as rare as white ravens. If you know of such exceptional counselors anywhere, do let me know, and I will promote their services free through this website. They deserve it, being such a rare breed in their profession.
So when it comes to the essentials of caring for your child, trust your instincts more than the worldly counsel of child specialists. Heed their medical counsel as long as you innately know it doesn’t conflict with your Nature-given maternal feelings.
I hope that you, in choosing a parenting counselor for yourself, will find one who believes there are spiritual laws that supersede all the teachings they have acquired from the world’s materialistic, Creator-denying universities.
The wonder years of a child are those years in es life when everything new e encounters is a wonder experience for em. A new object, a new face, a new place, a new shape…the child is wholly fascinated by the sight, sound and feel of it. The wonder years starts from the time he or she is able to perceive the world around em – which e could from infancy – to about the beginning of the teen years. At teenage, the boy or girl enters another phase of life when e begins to discover the wonders of puberty and teenhood, and es wonderment at natural phenomena wanes.
The parent who uses the precious wonder years to guide and enhance es child’s fresh experiences of the world lays an excellent foundation for es son or daughter to continue enjoying the wonders of life and nature beyond childhood and into adulthood.
A sense of wonderment along with a sense of keen humor (not to be confused with the ability to be humorous) is among life’s special blessings for those who have them. These two dispositions make one’s daily living colorful and cheerful. There is no room for boredom or monotony for the person who never ceases to wonder at God’s creation being replayed daily in nature’s various phenomena. Every time e beholds a new flower or scents a new fragrance, es sense of astonishment at the marvel of creation swamps es heart and e can’t help but burst out in praises to God for yet another amazing facet of his handiworks.
I have already mentioned in my book on parenting (see books section) about the benefits of exposing even the child in the womb to positive external stimuli by mom exposing herself to pleasant experiences during pregnancy.
When the child is born and es eyes and ears slowly learn to focus on objects and sounds, put colorful objects within sight of the baby. Beautiful music, melodious and uplifting, may be played for a little while in the background when the child is awake and in a playful mood. Don’t play music continually, or too often in a day, for music heard too long can be torturous to the ears.
When the child is old enough to handle objects, place childsafe objects of different shapes and colors within es reach.
Take your baby outdoors at least once daily, if possible. If there’s a park nearby, walk under the trees and among the plants and let your offspring’s eyes soak in the wonders around em. Point out a new creature – a cat, a bug, a bird. Show leaves and flowers at close quarters, so baby can learn to observe the marvel of design in nature.
As the child grows older, the parent should provide opportunities for his or her sense of wonderment to grow correspondingly in diversity and intensity. The mere color and shape of a leaf gives way to the sheer diversity of the plant kingdom. Simple handling of objects now becomes nimble molding of shapes with clay or sand. Generic music listening advances to specific musical preferences.
When your child is about three or four, take em on your shoulders outside the house on a star-spangled night. And there in the dark, point to the constellations above and show em for the first time in es life the twinkling wonders.
In the years my two sons and my daughter were growing up from childhood to teenhood before my very eyes, I have never got back the opportunity to speak to them the words that I had postponed speaking to them; I never once got back the opportunity to touch and hold their hands when I had thought I would hold them a little later when I was just done with a particular urgent work I was doing then; in all those years of parenting my children, I never once got back the chance to look again at the same facial expressions which longed to have my attention and speak to me.
Oh, yes, I did get the chance to speak and touch, and see many facial expressions at other times. But the ones I missed were unique. I long for them now, but I know I have lost them forever.
If I were a young parent again, every time my little child’s head pops up at my desk, while I am deeply engrossed in an important work, instead of telling him or her I cannot come with em now to see that butterfly e discovered, I will sleep my computer and rush out with my five-year-old child to see that new wonder in es life.
These wonder years in your child, this fascination in es eyes for everything you show em, or do with em, alas, lasts for so short a time that even before you could provide a fraction of the wonder experiences you had initially planned for your child, the years are forever gone, and you have now a self-willed tween staring back at you and wanting to go his or her own way.
The wonder years are so fleeting you need special help from God to fully redeem these years. Therefore, before your child’s wandering years begin, and your wondering time starts, may God help you to redeem every single day of the wonder years with your little son or daughter.