Father in the House (4) The Protector

In his shade I took great delight and sat down (Song of Sol.2:3).

Introduction:

The Bible tells us to“be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him…”(I Pet.5:8-9). The Christian husband must be able to defend what God has given him, and the weapons listed for the Christian’s spiritual protection in Eph.6:10-17, are almost all defensive ones.  Adam’s original error in the Garden, was the sin of omission. Because of his error, Eve was defenceless.

The picture of Jesus in the gospels is not a meek teacher of non-violence…To be sure, Jesus is supremely kind and gentle. But the Jesus pictured in the gospels is much more a warrior than a benign guru.[1]

How must a man protect his family?

Firstly, he must begin with himself. The Bible warns us, to “pay close attention to yourself and your teaching…”(I Tim.4:16). There is no sense in a father having great plans for the protection of his household, spiritual or otherwise, if he neglects his own preservation. Thus we are to “watch over our heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life”(Prov.4:23). This means first of all, that we must guard ourselves against a wandering mind, a fantasising mind, a lustful mind, or a covetous mind.

The helmet of salvation is a critical component in the Christian’s armour; the mind is a battleground. But the promise of God is that “the steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You”(Isa.26:3). If the leader of the family is right with God and walking in his integrity, he can then lead the way in defending his family.

Secondly, a husband must protect his wife from abusive, overbearing or interfering family and friends. A newly married couple do not need unsolicited advice from well-meaning people, including family members. The Biblical command is that a man should “leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife”(Gen.2:24). While honouring their parents, the new couple should live independently of them after marriage.

Jacob is a case in point. Laban was clearly abusive of his son in law Jacob. Under God’s direction (Gen.31:1-3), Jacob fled to protect himself and his family from Laban, who sought to enslave and abuse him.[2]

Thirdly, a man must protect his wife from evil attack. The tragic example of Nicholas I (the last Czar of Russia) and Alexandra, should be a warning to every husband. The Russian armies had suffered heavy defeats at the hands of the Germans early in World War I. Nicholas, a quiet, shy man, uncomfortable with leadership and with no experience or aptitude for the military, decided nevertheless to go off to the distant front to personally lead the fight in 1915. He left his wife Alexandra, burdened with the fragile health of their son Alexis (who would have inherited the throne, but was a haemophiliac), along with the rapidly deteriorating state of their nation.

But Alexandra and Nicholas had been heavily influenced for years by a mystic monk, Gregory Rasputin. They foolishly believed Rasputin possessed the supernatural ability to save Alexis’ life.

The Tsar’s sister wrote in her diary that she was disturbed by the

attitude of Alix [Alexandra] and the children to that sinister Gregory (whom they consider to be almost a saint…). He’s always there, goes into the nursery, visits Olga [aged 20] and Tatiana [18] while they are getting ready for bed, sits there talking to them and caressing them…it’s quite unbelievable and beyond understanding.[3]

Rasputin was already infamous at the Russian court for his womanising. Nicholas’ negligence as a husband, in failing to protect his wife and family from the evil, immoral and destructive influence of Rasputin (along with the associated gossip and innuendo), was one of the many factors that contributed to the demise of his regime, and the subsequent murder of his whole family by the Communists.[4]

Nicholas failed to put the welfare of his wife and family before the apparent needs of the nation, and ended up losing his throne, his family and his life. The Bible warns us, “Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked”(Prov.25:26).

Fourth, what should happen if criminals seek to attack an individual or a family? The Bible is not a pacifist document, and firearms and other means of family protection are perfectly legitimate.[5] The Sermon on the Mount must be seen in context; it was given at a time when Israel was under the judgment of God, and Roman occupation. This gives us the context of Jesus’ command, “do not resist an evil person” (Mat.5:39). He does not expect parents to stand by and watch evil people harm their family.

When Nehemiah was troubled by the threats of those who conspired against Jerusalem, he said to the men of Jerusalem, “…do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses” (Neh. 2:14).

“If you were a male believer around the time of Moses and Joshua, your job was to fight.”[6] If an unprotected woman is threatened at home by a male intruder, a firearm in her hands (which she has become competent to use) suddenly tips the scales heavily in her favour, and the Bible teaches (Ex.22:2-3) that anybody may use necessary force to protect themselves or their family against violent people.

Some will say, “Well, we’ll trust God for the protection of the family.” I agree. But trusting God does not preclude taking preparatory action for this vital task. Oliver Cromwell, a leading Puritan during the English Revolution, was reputed to have instructed his men as they went into battle, “Trust God, and keep your powder dry.”

Fifth, attacks on a wife can be in the form of discouragement, depression, or unbelief. “What’s going to become of us?” a wife may say. She needs to be encouraged from God’s Word. The scripture required that a newly married man be exempted from military duties for a year, so that he could be at home to encourage his wife (Deut.24:5). An encouragedwife who knows Jesus Christ, and knows that her husband loves and cherishes her, will be more able to function in her God-given role. “When Biblical law is read thoughtfully and carefully, it is plain that a wall of protection is built around women.”[7]

Sixth, a man must protect his wife from internal family challenges, such as unruly sons. They must understand that it is a Biblical command to “Honour thy Mother,” just as much as the scripture requires that they “Honour thy Father”(Ex.20:12), and that God attaches promises to this form of honour.

Young men without sufficient training (especially in their teen years), can be arrogant, rude and foolhardy. Fathers would do well to point out and teach that the Fifth Commandment requires that children honour their father and mother. Furthermore, the parental relationship verses of Proverbs (and there are many, such as Prov.20:20; 23:22; 30:17) reinforce this. Fathers must require their sons whatever age they are to honour their mother, if they want to stay in the home.

Seventh, a husband must protect his wife from rude, intimidating people. This can be in the form of telephone sales people, or it can be people coming to the front door, who want to sell something, who endeavour to manipulate or bully. This is evil, and no wife should have to put up with that nonsense. Sometimes, retail staff must be reminded of the need for good manners, and of legitimate discounts or deals that they must to take into consideration in their service of customers.

Once when Sue had returned from shopping, she found she had been overcharged for an item, but couldn’t prove it, and so was reluctant to do anything about it. I rang the store and they were happy to provide a refund. Women may do this, but if their husband will take the lead, it will help them.

Eighth, a father must defend his daughters from interlopers and fornicators.[8]  The Christian father of a teenage daughter I once knew, unwisely permitted her to attend a party, unprotected. A young man there, deliberately got her drunk so he could be intimate with her, and she fell pregnant. If she hadn’t attended that party without her family, things would have been different.

Males have testosterone, which is fine and God-given, but we know that if the sexual drives are not appropriately harnessed, evil can ensue. Jacob discovered to his lasting grief what can happen to an unprotected daughter, when she is exposed to ungodly men (Gen.34), as did David (II Sam.13). The attack, abuse, seduction and rape of females has been a sad fact of human history since the book of Genesis. Why do we need a repeat of the lesson with our daughters today?  Voddie Baucham is right: “There is an epidemic of unprotected women in our society.”

Prudence dictates protection of daughters, in the company of trustworthy people who will protect them. They are a trust to fathers, from God. Fathers must take every precaution, with a view to presenting their daughter to their future husband, as a chaste virgin.

A father (with his wife) needs to help his daughters in how they dress. Some young women are absolutely ignorant about the impact of what they wear on males. Some fathers are embarrassed to discuss this issue, because they are indirectly revealing what can be a weakness to them. Nevertheless, it must be dealt with, for their daughters’ sake. Fathers don’t want their daughters to be “dressed as a harlot”(Prov.7:10).

Explain to them what this means, and how men are aroused visually. Explain how girls can be dressed attractively but modestly, not drawing attention to their bodies. Immodesty will attract some men, but the wrong kind, and for the wrong reasons. Evil men are wicked in relation to sexual intent, and Christian men may be weak, struggling with their temptations. Whatever the situation, daughters need to aware of these issues, in relation to how they dress. As one author has recently noted, “never in the history of fashion has so little material been raised so high to reveal so much that needs to be covered so badly.”[9]

Ninth, a father (and his wife) must defend their children, through intercession. The example of Job is important in this. When his children were enjoying feast times together, Job would offer sacrifices on their behalf, in case they had sinned:

When Job offered a sacrifice for his children, he was claiming the benefits of the sacrifice on their behalf. That is a picture of intercession: claiming the benefits of a sacrifice on behalf of those for whom you are praying. Our sacrifice at this point in history, of course, is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Intercession for our children, then, involves claiming the benefits of Christ’s death on their behalf…every father is responsible before God, therefore, to maintain day-to-day intercession for his whole household.[10]

It is easy for Christian parents to assure each other, “We’ll pray for the children, if they get into some difficulties.” But why not be praying for them, beforehand? What is the most sensible: the safety rail being erected at the top of the pass, or an ambulance being sent to the bottom? I am not suggesting that prayer will prevent our children getting into difficulties, for some difficulties are necessary for their growth. But praying parents may prevent their children facing challenges that may lead them into sin, and that is never pleasing to God.

Conclusion:                                                                                                           

What God has given us in our families, the devil will try to “steal, kill and destroy” (Jn.10:10). That is his nature. We must be prepared as godly warriors to jealously and fiercely defend what God has given to us, knowing to whom we will give an account. May God give us grace for this essential task!


[1] Gary Demar, “The Reduction of Christianity,” 1990, p.211.

[2] God’s deliverance of His bride from Egyptian “rape” is the theme of Exodus. (Ex. 1:16, 22. Compare the previous exoduses of Abraham from Egypt and Philistia, and of Isaac from Philistia: In each case, the bride was under attack; Gen. 12, 20, 26.) James Jordan, “Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy,” 1989, p.12.

[3] Quoted in C. Clay, “King, Kaiser, Czar,” 2006, p.290.

[4] Alexandra on one occasion wrote to Nicholas addressing his indecisiveness, saying, “How I wish I could pour my will into your veins.” He signed his reply to her, “…your poor little weak-willed Hubby.” (Quoted in E. Crankshaw, “The Shadow of the Winter Palace,” 1976, p.362.)

[5] “The same God who was incarnate in Jesus Christ ordered the Hebrews to annihilate the Canaanites. Any discussion by God-fearing people of the legitimacy of warfare from a Biblical standpoint must begin with a consideration and moral acceptance of Deut.7:1-6.” Gary North, “Moses and Pharoah,” 1986, p.134.

[6] Gary Thomas, “Sacred Marriage,” 2000, p.39.

[7] Douglas Wilson, “Fidelity,”1999, p.86.

[8] See Appendix 3, “The Importance of the Dowry,” in A. McColl, “The Significance of the Godly Family,” 2009.

[9] Unknown author, quoted in R. Spinney, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Tight,” in “Modest Apparel,” 2012.

[10] Derek Prince, “Husbands & Fathers,” 2000, p.71-2.