Thursday, September 9, 2010

Single Parents

In the past I have spoken of husbands and wives and their relation to each other in the Lord and how the Lord instructs parents to raise their children.  Those posts assumed a complete family of mother, father, and child, but that not the case for many in the church today.  With 2 wars going on, tragedies in life, and me-first world we live in many parents are left alone to care for their children as single parents.  Today I want to address what the Word says about single parents.  For the sake of the first part of the conversation, I am speaking if single parents due to death.  I will make a statement regarding those who are divorced at the end of the post.

First of all, despite your circumstances in life and how hard things may seem at times, God does love you, single parent.  In fact, He has a special place in His heart for you as He specifically mentions wrath for those who may try to take advantage of your situation.
And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien— Because they do not fear Me," Says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:5 NKJV
Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:17 NKJV
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. " Matthew 23:14 NKJV
"He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing." Deuteronomy 10:18 NKJV
God specifically singles out widows and fatherless children as having a special place under His protection.  Exploit a widow or fatherless child and you will be held accountable. 

God also instructs to take care of widows.
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.  James 1:27 NKJV
We are to help those in need and that is especially true for the single mother or father who will inevitably have struggles in juggling their jobs and the responsibilities to their children.  There is often financial hardship as well.  We are to help them during this time.  As a church, we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  We are to be their shoulder and support in this time of need that they have.  We are called to love our neighbors and that involves taking care of them when they are in need. 

The Bible also gives instructions to the single mothers and fathers as well.
But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some have already turned aside after Satan. If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows. 1 Timothy 5:11-16 NKJV
Young single widows (and widowers) should seek to remarry.  There is a natural tendency to fall away in those who suffer through such a tragedy.  It is an emotional shock and that hole left in their hearts is much to bear.  They are also accustomed to being married and so there is that natural urge to remarry, to find that what is missing from their lives. There is also a natural tendency towards falling away or struggling with one's faith during such a tragic time.  The good news is that God will get the widow and widower through, and the He will work all things for good.  It is important to hold onto that faith, especially when it seems so hard to believe. Furthermore, the church needs to direct its resources to those who are truly widows, that being the elderly men and women who can no longer find someone to fend to them (and even in this case it is for those who have no children or grandchildren to care for them).  So, while the church can care for the physical needs of a single parent for a time, there is a responsibility on the widow or widower to find a new spouse. 

This may sound like God is being kind of cold in His instructions, but He is not.  It is better to have that partner to fill that empty hole and to have the desire for a helpmeet or leader that God has placed on their hearts satisfied, then to let the emptiness of missing those things turn into bitterness and depression.  It is also necessary for children to have both a mother and a father. Both have separate and distinct roles in the rearing of children and children who are brought up with both roles are shown time and time and time again to be better for it.  God is not being cold, God is just helping them find that which is best for the single parents and their children.  Sometimes we need that push from God to seek what is best in the long run instead of what is just comfortable for a short time. 

I want to take a moment now to address the issue of single parents via divorce.  First of all, if you are not divorced for Biblical reasons, then you are not divorced.  God's law trumps man's law and God's law states that in only 2 very specific instances (adultery or being left by an unbelieving spouse) divorce is not possible.  If you are the spouse in that case not directly living your children and caring for your spouse, you are living in rebellion to God.  Your children are your responsibility and you will be held accountable for them.  Even if you are divorced for Biblical reasons, you are still not divorced from your children.  You still hold that responsibility to be in their lives each and every day in each and every way the Bible instructs you to.  If you are a believer, you may not stand before God for the judgment of your soul but you will stand in judgment of your works.  The Bible says that there are different levels of rewards in Heaven.  Think of eternity, not the temporal.  You have a responsibility to your children so the real answer is to not get a divorce even for Biblical reasons if there are children involved.  If you neglect your responsibility and live in rebellion to God, will you lose your salvation?  If you ever truly had it, I would say not, but I will share this scripture with you:
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  1 Corinthians 3:11-15 NKJV
Perhaps that loss you will suffer is the fact that your child is not there with you due to bitterness brought forth by your neglect.  True, your child will ultimately make his or her own decision about Jesus, but you play a part in that.  Do not neglect your responsibility. 

As for parents of children born out of wedlock, I say basically the same as I say for those divorced.  True, you were not married, but you consummated your relationship as though you were.   That result of that union was a child that now both of you are responsible before God for.  You are called to be the parents of that child, mother and father, husband and wife.  I do believe that you are called to raise that child as husband and wife as the directives to parents are always based on the assumption that they are married.  You may think that hard to do if you are not that close or you may think I am being overly strict, but the fact is that there are consequences to your actions and the child should not suffer because of your wrong choices.  I also know that if both of you repent of your sin and pray for God to make you into those parents that God has called you to be that God will make you into that.  God called both of you to be parents and if you live in God's will, He will ultimately work it for the good of all.  While it may not make sense now, God can and will create that relationship necessary for raising the child that He has created and given to the both of you. 

To conclude, I want to encourage the single parents who lost their spouse.  God has a plan for you and, like Job, if you seek God, God will make the end even better than the beginning.  This test of your faith will work out to the glory of God and to the blessing of you and your child.  God has called you to find a new mate, and while that road may seem long and hard now, you will learn that as you travel down the road God has laid out for you, you will get to where God wants you to be.  God will work all things together for good as long as you travel that road.  To the church, I want to implore you to help those hurting as they traverse that road.  Come along side them, meet the needs that they can not and be that role model for their children that is so needed for their growth in the Lord.  No, you can not replace a parent but you can become a worthwhile substitute in the interim.  For the divorced parents who are not really divorced, I implore you both to repent of that sin and seek reconciliation.  God has brought you together and if you remain together in Him, God will work out your differences.  If you are divorced because your spouse committed adultery, I implore you to show that grace that Jesus has showed you regarding your sin and be open to reconciliation, pray for reconciliation.  If you committed adultery and your spouse has left you, I implore you to repent of that sin and pray earnestly for God to restore you to the ministry of being that spouse God has called you to be.  If your spouse left you as unsaved then pray for his or her salvation and be open to reconciliation in any case.  If you have a child out of wedlock, I implore you to marry, to seek God in creating that bond so necessary in the raising of your children.  I have ministered to so many children from broken homes and I can not emphasize enough how important the restoration of your home is to the well-being of your children.

And finally, I want to end with a special note to the children.  They are the ones who will suffer the most from only having one parent.  Do not run from God during this time, but draw nearer to Him.  While it may not make sense now, God does love you and has an amazing plan for your life.  While you may be missing and earthly mother or father, God Himself will fill that need for you.  God will not just be your Heavenly Father, but take on the role of your earthly parent as well.  God loves you that much.  God loves you, quite literally, as His child.  And single mothers and fathers also know that.  God loves your child as His own and you are not alone in raising your child.  God Himself will come along side you during this time.
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. Psalm 68:5 NKJV

No comments:

Post a Comment