When John Foster Dulles was secretary of state, he called General Douglas MacArthur’s home one day. Mistaking Dulles’s voice for that of an aide, Mrs. MacArthur snapped, “MacArthur is not here. MacArthur is where MacArthur always is—down at that office!” With this, she hung up abruptly. Within minutes the general received a call from John Foster Dulles saying, “Go home at once, boy. Your home front is crumbling.”1
As we look at society today, you get the impression that we have, for the most part, just lost our minds. Husbands and wives are divorcing each other. Children are rebelling against their parents. Employers are looking for ways to keep workers happy to avoid another workplace incident…all the while keeping their companies profitable. We have tried all kinds of fixes to solve our problems. We have tried tearing down and rebuilding our educational systems. We have passed more and more legislation to allow more liberal behaviors. A freer society surely will make for a happier society, right? How is that working out so far? No matter how creative the approach, nothing seems to work. Wiersbe said, “Paul’s solution to the antagonisms in the home and in society was regeneration—a new heart from God and a new submission to Christ and to one another.” 2
Biblical Keys to Raising Your Children
“As for children, obey your parents in the Lord, because it is right. The commandment Honor your father and mother is the first one with a promise attached: so that things will go well for you, and you will live for a long time in the land.” Eph. 6:1–3
You may have heard parents say, “I want to be my children’s friend.” My mom had a great counter-argument for that. “You can find friends. You need a parent.” Today it seems we have turned this opening verse in Ephesians on its head. A modern translation of this might be: “Parents, obey your children, for this will keep them happy and bring you peace.” If we take this approach, I have one question for you to contemplate: “Who is laying the foundations of right and wrong in the hearts of your children?”
What Are the Foundations God Establishes for Children?
Paul laid out for children four reasons they should obey their parents. This instruction was shared by Paul with Children in the public assembly.
- Children are “in the Lord,”
When a person becomes a Christian, their faith in Christ should translate into being a better child at home and aboard. The Christian home should be one of harmony, but not in a utopian sort of way. If the people in the home; husband, wife, and children are all seeking to live out their faith, there should be less chaos and rebellion. Imagine a household that aims to live their daily lives with Colossians 3:20 as its foundation, “…for this is well pleasing unto the Lord”.
- God Expects Obedience
I used to live with the expectation that I would be obedient. My grandmother told my adult father once when he was disrespectful, “I brought you into this world, and I will take you out.” There is a divine order in nature. At the heart of that divine order is that we are answerable for our actions. God placed parents in this world to guide us. We may think we know everything, but we don’t.
- Obedience is Instructed By God
Paul draws on the fifth commandment (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16) and applies it to the New Testament believer. He points out that honoring our parents is deeper than blindly obeying. It means showing parents love and respect. It means to care about and for them as long as they need it.
There’s another, selfish side of taking care of your parents when they’re old. If we put our parents away, our children watch and remember. The example we live out before them in treating our parents with love and regard is the example they will follow in treating us when we reach old age. If we mistreat our parents or ignore them in their time of need, our children notice that as well. The example we set may be our undoing. 
Honoring them is about bringing honor to them so long as God has given them to you. You get to be a blessing to them as they hopefully were a blessing to you.
- Obedience brings blessing
Paul reminds us that there are promises attached to this fifth commandment. “That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Ex. 20:12). This promise was given to the Jews as they entered Canaan. Paul now brings it to us today as a reminder of the kingdom impact being faithful has in the life of the believer.
All this is about laying a good foundation. I leave you with the wisdom of Proverbs, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” You have an opportunity be a blessing to your children don’t give that responsibility to someone else.
Other posts in this series on the Christian Family.
 Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 136). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament
 Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 26). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.