Servant-Leadership in the Family [3-Part Series for Christian Fathers] // Bible Study

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Bible Study [3-Part Series for Christian Fathers]: Servant-Leadership in the Family – Part 1 [Student’s Guide]

This is a 3-part Bible study series for fathers. In this series, we will examine what God says in his Word about a father’s role in the family, how a father can fulfill his role, and how he can talk to his children about the difficult, yet important, topic of sex. While these Bible studies are directed primarily toward fathers, others will benefit from them as well. The principles of loving leadership and submission to one another that we will study apply to all Christians in one way or another.

Introduction

Which of the following adjectives and phrases would you use to describe the perfect leader? Why did you choose the adjectives or phrases that you did? Why did you reject the rest?

  1. strong
  2. willing to listen
  3. opinionated
  4. submissive
  5. indecisive
  6. willing to sacrifice his own interests to the interests of others
  7. loving
  8. doesn’t need to consult with others before making a decision

In the family, God has given the husband the role of leader. But God’s idea of the perfect leader may be different from our idea of the perfect leader. It certainly is different from the world’s idea of the perfect leader. So, what kind of leader does God want a husband to be?

Christ, the Perfect Servant-Leader

Jesus is the perfect example of the kind of leader that God wants husbands and fathers to be. His kind of leadership is very different from what we may normally think of when we think of leadership.

Read Matthew 20:20-28.

  1. What was the disciples’ definition of leadership?
  2. What was Jesus’ definition of leadership?

Jesus put his money where his mouth was when it came to practicing servant-leadership.

Read Philippians 2:58.

  1. What rights did Jesus have as God?
  2. How did Jesus regard his rights as God?
  3. How did Jesus demonstrate that he regarded His rights as God in this way?

Read Matthew 26:36-46.

  1. Jesus knew what lay ahead of him. He knew that in the next 24 hours, he would suffer not only the torture of crucifixion but also the torments of hell. As Jesus looked forward to these painful events, what emotions did he have?
  2. Although Jesus felt this way about his impending sufferings, what was he still willing to do?

Read 1 John 4:7-12.

  1. What motivated Jesus to set aside his own rights and interests in such a selfless way and sacrifice himself for the needs and interests of others?
  2. Using Jesus’ love for us as the perfect example, define what true love is.

In Jesus’ perfect example of servant-leadership, we can see four important applications of Biblical principles that apply to Christian leaders.

  1. A leader does not lord over others. He serves others selflessly.
  2. A leader does not always insist on his rights. The rights of others are more important.
  3. A leader is willing to sacrifice himself and his interests for the benefit of others.
  4. A leaders does all things out of love for God and for his neighbor. He will always seek what is best for others, regardless of the personal consequences.

Let’s now apply what we have learned from Jesus to husbands and fathers.

The Servant-Leadership of a Husband and Father

God provides very clear direction on servant-leadership to husbands and fathers in Ephesians 5:21-33.

  1. Reread verse 21. To whom is this verse addressed? How does this truth fit in with what we already have learned about servant-leadership?
  2. In verse 25, Paul tells husbands to love their wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Those last words say a lot about how the husband is to exercise his leadership role. Think back to Christ’s example of servant-leadership that we studied in the first part of this Bible study and answer the following questions.
  3. How will the husband and father view his position of leadership as being able to keep things under control or as an opportunity to serve?
  4. How is the husband and father to view his own rights when compared to the rights of others?
  5. Whose interests and needs are most important for the husband and father?
  6. What will be the husband and father’s motivation in everything he does for his family?
  7. Read Colossians 3:6 and Psalm 119:105. When a father looks out for the best interests of his family, how does he determine what is best for his family?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, in love you set aside your rights as God and suffered the torments of hell to rescue me from my sins. I thank and praise you for your loving servant leadership. Help me to follow your example as I lead my family. Help me to serve them as you have served me. Help me to place their needs above my own. Help me to do all things out of love for you, so that I also may show my family my love for them. Amen.

In our next Bible study, we will continue applying what we have learned from the servant-leadership of Christ and apply it to specific situations in family life and see how we can put what we learn into practice.

 

Bible Study [3-Part Series for Christian Fathers]: Servant-Leadership in the Family – Part 1 [Leader’s Guide]

This is the leader’s guide to the first of three Bible study series for fathers. In this series, we will examine what God says in his Word about a father’s role in the family, how a father can fulfill his role, and how he can talk to his children about the difficult, yet important, topic of sex. While these Bible studies are directed primarily toward fathers, others will benefit from them as well. The principles of loving leadership and submission to one another that we will study apply to all Christians in one way or another.

Introduction

Which of the following adjectives and phrases would you use to describe the perfect leader? Why did you choose the adjectives or phrases that you did? Why did you reject the rest?

  1. strong
  2. willing to listen
  3. opinionated
  4. submissive
  5. indecisive
  6. willing to sacrifice his own interests to the interests of others
  7. loving
  8. doesn’t need to consult with others before making a decision

(Answers will vary. This introduction is meant to help ascertain the class’s attitudes toward leadership.)

In the family, God has given the husband the role of leader. But God’s idea of the perfect leader may be different from our idea of the perfect leader. It certainly is different from the world’s idea of the perfect leader. So, what kind of leader does God want a husband to be?

Christ, the Perfect Servant-Leader

Jesus is the perfect example of the kind of leader that God wants husbands and fathers to be. His kind of leadership is very different from what we may normally think of when we think of leadership. Read Matthew 20:2028.

  1. What was the disciples’ definition of leadership?
  • For the disciples, leadership meant having a position of authority. It meant lording over others. In this world, these positions of authority were to be eagerly sought and jealously guarded.
  1. What was Jesus’ definition of leadership?
  • Jesus’ definition of leadership was humble service to others – just as he came to serve others by giving his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus put his money where his mouth was when it came to practicing servant-leadership. Read Philippians 2:58.

  1. What rights did Jesus have as God?
  • As God, Jesus had all power and authority in heaven and on earth. He had the right to do whatever he wished. He owed no one anything.
  1. How did Jesus regard his rights as God?
  • Jesus did not regard his rights as God something that he possessed for personal self-advancement and glory. The path of humility in saving us from our sins was his foremost thought.
  1. How did Jesus demonstrate that he regarded his rights as God in this way?
  • Jesus laid aside his rights as God and humbled Himself, even to the point of suffering death on the cross.

Read Matthew 26:36-46.

  1. Jesus knew what lay ahead of him. He knew that in the next 24 hours, He would suffer not only the torture of crucifixion but also the torments of hell. As Jesus looked forward to these painful events, what emotions did he have?
  • Jesus was a true human being. He did not enjoy pain any more than we do. He was not looking forward to having to be crucified and suffer hell. He even asked his heavenly Father three times to take these sufferings away from him.
  1. Although Jesus felt this way about his impending sufferings, what was he still willing to do?
  • Jesus still was willing to go through with it. His needs and interests were not as important to him as the needs and interests of others.

Read 1 John 4:7-12.

  1. What motivated Jesus to set aside his own rights and interests in such a selfless way and sacrifice himself for the needs and interests of others?
  • Jesus’ incredible love for us drove him to do it. In fact, God’s love for us in Jesus shows us what true love is.
  1. Using Jesus’ love for us as the perfect example, define what true love is.
    Love is always doing what is best for someone else, regardless of what the personal consequences are. Jesus always did what was best for us, regardless of the pain and suffering he had to endure personally.

In Jesus’ perfect example of servant-leadership, we can see four important applications of Biblical principles that apply to Christian leaders.

  1. A leader does not lord over others. He serves others selflessly.
  2. A leader does not always insist on his rights. The rights of others are more important.
  3. A leader is willing to sacrifice himself and his interests for the benefit of others.
  4. A leaders does all things out of love for God and for his neighbor. He will always seek what is best for others, regardless of the personal consequences.

Let’s now apply what we have learned from Jesus to husbands and fathers.

The Servant-Leadership of a Husband and Father

God provides very clear direction on servant-leadership to husbands and fathers in Ephesians 5:21-33.

  1. Reread verse 21. To whom is this verse addressed? How does this truth fit in with what we already have learned about servant-leadership?
  • Paul addresses verse 21 to all Christians. All Christians are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. This is important to keep in mind. Even as he carries out his role as the leader in the family, the husband and father must submit to his wife and children.
  1. In verse 25, Paul tells husbands to love their wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Those last words say a lot about how the husband is to exercise his leadership role. Think back to Christ’s example of servant-leadership that we studied in the first part of this Bible study and answer the following questions:
  2. How will the husband and father view his position of leadership as being able to keep things under control or as an opportunity to serve?
  • The husband and father will view his position of leadership as an opportunity to serve, just as Christ himself came to serve.
  1. How is the husband and father to view his own rights when compared to the rights of others?
  • A father will not always insist on his own rights. In love he will lay aside his rights for the benefit of his family, just as Christ laid aside his rights for us.
  1. Whose interests and needs are most important for the husband and father?
  • The needs of his family take precedence over his own needs, just as Christ placed our needs and interest above his own.
  1. What will be the husband and father’s motivation in everything he does for his family?
  • Everything a husband and father does for his family will be motivated by love. He will always want what is best for them, regardless of the personal consequences he may face. That, after all, is how Christ showed His love for us.
  1. Read Colossians 3:6 and Psalm 119:105. When a father looks out for the best interests of his family, how does he determine weat is best for his family?
  • “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.” Lead your wives just as Christ leads the church. Do it lovingly. Do it selflessly. Realize that being the leader does not mean that you will always get your way. But also realize that when you lead as Christ led and love as Christ loved, you will have God’s blessing upon your family. Think of the blessings that you have already received through Christ’s selfless, loving servant-leadership. Imagine what other blessings God can pour out on your as He leads your family through you in the same loving and selfless way!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, in love you set aside your rights as God and suffered the torments of hell to rescue me from my sins. I thank and praise you for your loving servant-leadership. Help me to follow your example as I lead my family. Help me to serve them as you have served me. Help me to place their needs above my own. Help me to do all things out of love for you, so that I also may show my family my love for them. Amen.

In our next Bible study, we will continue applying what we have learned from the servant leadership of Christ and apply it to specific situations in family life and see how we can put what we learn into practice.

 

Bible Study [3-Part Series for Christian Fathers]: Servant-Leadership in the Family – Part 2 [Student’s Guide]

Before we begin this portion of our Bible study, we need to review the principles of servant-leadership that we studied in our last lesson.

Read each of the following passages and use them to complete the accompanying principle of godly servant-leadership.

Ephesians 5:25 The perfect example of servant-leadership is . . .

Matthew 20:2628 A servant-leader does not lord over others. Instead he . . .

Philippians 2:48 A servant-leader does not always insist on his own rights. Instead he . . .

1 John 4:7 In everything that he does, a servant-leader is motivated by . . .

Now let’s apply these principles of servant-leadership to some specific situations in family life. As we do, we need to keep in mind God’s Word to families in Ephesians 5:216:4 and 1 Peter 3:7. Read these sections of Scripture before you begin.

If you are not a husband or father, put yourself in the husband or father’s place in each of these situations. Apply the principles that we just reviewed as if you were a husband or father.

Situation #1 You and your wife do your taxes and discover that the government owes you $1,200. What an unexpected blessing! Now you need to decide what to do with the money. You really need a new computer and would like to put the money toward that. But your wife has been asking for new curtains for years and would like to use the money to buy them.

  1. How will you decide what to spend the money on?
  2. What principles of servant-leadership will affect your decision?
  3. What other factors do you need to take into account as you make your decision?
  4. What will you decide to spend the money on? Why?

Situation #2 The company that you work for is closing its offices in your city and moving its operations across the country. It has offered you a big pay raise if you agree to relocate with the company. If you decide not to relocate, you will lose your job with the company. Your wife works, and she is reluctant to give up her job, which she greatly enjoys. She also is reluctant to move away from all her family and friends who live near you. You and your wife have two children, one in kindergarten and one in second grade.

  1. List the various factors that you will have to consider as you make your decision about whether to relocate.
  2. Which factors will be most important to you as you make your decision? Why?
  3. All things considered, would you relocate with your company? Why?

Situation #3 Your children attend the Lutheran elementary school at your church. But you and your wife disagree about whether they should also attend Sunday School. You feel that they should attend Sunday School, since it is another way for them to learn God’s Word. Your wife, who did not attend Sunday School when she was young, doesn’t see the need for it. “They learn all they need in school,” she says. “Won’t it get boring for them if they go on Sundays, too?”

  1. What factors will you weigh as you decide whether to send your children to Sunday School?
  2. Which factors will be most important?
  3. Will you send your children to Sunday School? Why?
  4. If you will send your children to Sunday School, how will you show your wife that Sunday School is important?

Situation #4 You and your wife have an 18-year-old son who is constantly coming home after curfew. You and your wife have discussed that you should discipline him, but have had a hard time agreeing on what you should do. You remember what you were like when you were eighteen, and you are reluctant to discipline him too harshly. Your wife, however, is concerned for your son’s safety and wants to ground him the next time he comes home late. One Saturday night, your son comes home two hours late, and your wife, without consulting you, grounds him for a week.

  1. Will you let the punishment stand, or will you try to change it? Why?
  2. Was it wrong for your wife to punish your son without consulting you first? Why or why not?
  3. What will you and your wife do to resolve this conflict over how to discipline your son?

In Summary:

  1. Why is it so important that a husband consult his wife as he makes decisions that affect the family?
  2. As a husband and father weighs the needs and desires of his family, which needs must always take precedence?
  3. A husband’s servant-leadership functions best when his wife is also fulfilling her role as his helper. What can husbands and wives do together to strengthen their “working relationship” with one another?

Prayer: Lord God, we thank you for showing us how you want us to lead our families. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we may love our families as you have loved us. Help us always to show our love for them in the way we work together with them. Guide us, Lord, that we may always serve them by leading them according to your will. Amen.

 

Bible Study [3-Part Series for Christian Fathers]: Servant-Leadership in the Family – Part 2 [Leader’s Guide]

Before we begin this portion of our Bible study, we need to review the principles of servant-leadership that we studied in our last lesson.

Read each of the following passages and use them to complete the accompanying principle of godly servant-leadership.

Ephesians 5:25 The perfect example of servant-leadership is . . . Christ

Matthew 20:26-28 A servant-leader does not lord over others. Instead he . . . serves others selflessly.

Philippians 2:48 A servant-leader does not always insist on his own rights. Instead he . . . looks after the interests of others. You may also want to point out that a servant-leader is willing to sacrifice his own interests for the interests of others.

1 John 4:7 In everything that he does, a servant-leader is motivated by . . . love for God and love for his family and neighbors.

Now let’s apply these principles of servant-leadership to some specific situations in family life. As we do, we need to keep in mind God’s Word to families in Ephesians 5:21-6:4 and 1 Peter 3:7. Read these sections of Scripture before you begin.

If you are not a husband or father, put yourself in the husband or father’s place in each of these situations. Apply the principles that we just reviewed as if you were a husband or father.

Note to the instructor: The following situations are meant to give the students an opportunity to apply the principles of servant-leadership to various life situations. Since different people apply the principles differently, the answers to the questions that follow the situations can vary. The important thing to focus on in these exercises is the attitude of the servant-leader. As you work through these situations with your class, lead the students to see that a servant’s attitude goes a long way toward making a person a good leader. Lead them to see how they must weigh the needs and interests of all people involved and humbly make a decision that will best meet the needs of everyone.

Situation #1 You and your wife do your taxes and discover that the government owes you $1,200. What an unexpected blessing! Now you need to decide what to do with the money. You really need a new computer and would like to put the money toward that. But your wife has been asking for new curtains for years and would like to use the money to buy them.

  1. How will you decide what to spend the money on?

Emphasize the need for the husband to work together with his wife to reach a decision. His decision-making process should not be one-sided.

  1. What principles of servant-leadership will affect your decision?
  2. What other factors do you need to take into account as you make your decision?
  3. What will you decide to spend the money on? Why?

Situation #2 The company that you work for is closing its offices in your city and moving its operations across the country. It has offered you a big pay raise if you agree to relocate with the company. If you decide not to relocate, you will lose your job with the company. Your wife works, and she is reluctant to give up her job, which she greatly enjoys. She also is reluctant to move away from all her family and friends who live near you. You and your wife have two children, one in kindergarten and one in second grade.

  1. List the various factors that you will have to consider as you make your decision about whether to relocate.

These factors may include your ability to find a new job in the town where you are living, how much your wife is earning, the time of year the relocation would occur (are the children in school or not), your wife’s attachment to her family, the availability of a church and school in the new city, and many other things.

  1. Which factors will be most important to you as you make your decision? Why?

The husband and father will want to put his family’s interests ahead of his own.

  1. All things considered, would you relocate with your company? Why?

Situation #3 Your children attend the Lutheran elementary school at your church. But you and your wife disagree about whether they should also attend Sunday School. You feel that they should attend Sunday School, since it is another way for them to learn God’s Word. Your wife, who did not attend Sunday School when she was young, doesn’t see the need for it. “They learn all they need in school,” she says. “Won’t it get boring for them if they go on Sundays, too?”

  1. What factors will you weigh as you decide whether to send your children to Sunday School?
  2. Which factors will be most important?

This issue is a spiritual issue. The spiritual needs of the children must take precedence over the desires of the wife and the children.

  1. Will you send your children to Sunday School? Why?
  2. If you will send your children to Sunday School, how will you show your wife that Sunday School is important?

Situation #4 You and your wife have an 18-year-old son who is constantly coming home after curfew. You and your wife have discussed that you should discipline him, but have had a hard time agreeing on what you should do. You remember what you were like when you were 18, and you are reluctant to discipline him too harshly. Your wife, however, is concerned for your son’s safety and wants to ground him the next time he comes home late. One Saturday night, your son comes home two hours late, and your wife, without consulting you, grounds him for a week.

  1. Will you let the punishment stand, or will you try to change it? Why?
  2. Was it wrong for your wife to punish your son without consulting you first? Why or why not?

On the one hand, the wife should have consulted with her husband before grounding her son. But one could argue that the husband was not fulfilling his leadership role by not properly disciplining his son in the past. The wife, then, was just doing what she thought was best for her son since she felt that her husband would never do it.

  1. What will you and your wife do to resolve this conflict over how to discipline your son?

It is important that husband and wife work together in disciplining their children. And the husband needs to take the lead. He needs to realize that discipline is in the best interest of his children. He is commanded to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” This includes discipline. We do want to make sure that discipline is reasonable and not harsh. But no discipline is not a way to raise a child.

In Summary:

  1. Why is it so important that a husband consult his wife as he makes decisions that affect the family?

God gave us wives as our helpers. They have many gifts and insights from which we can benefit. They often see things differently than we do and can help us in making our decisions. Beside that, God commands us to put the needs and interests of others ahead of our own interests. Many times, the best way to work through those needs and interests is to talk them over with your wife.

  1. As a husband and father weighs the needs and desires of his family, which needs must always take precedence?

The spiritual needs of the family must always take precedence over the other physical needs and wants. Our relationship with God is always most important.

  1. A husband’s servant-leadership functions best when his wife is also fulfilling her role as his helper. What can husbands and wives do together to strengthen their “working relationship” with one another?

Being in God’s Word together is a great place to start. Only God can give us the strength to fulfill our roles as husbands and wives. He gives us that strength in His Word. Worship together. Have devotions. Encourage each other in daily Bible reading. Get into God’s Word together.

Husband and wife also must communicate with one another and support one another. They need to listen to one another and not just talk at one another. They need to cooperate with one another and back each other’s decisions. And they need to make decisions together. In everything, they need to work together, always seeking guidance from God’s Word as they make their decisions together.

Prayer: Lord God, we thank you for showing us how you want us to lead our families. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, that we may love our families as you have loved us. Help us always to show our love for them in the way we work together with them. Guide us, Lord, that we may always serve them by leading them according to your will. Amen.

 

Bible Study [3-Part Series for Christian Fathers]: Servant-Leadership in the Family – Part 3 [Student’s Guide]

In this final Bible study we will discuss some basic truths about God’s gift of sex – that it is a gift from God for married people and that the sinful world has perverted it for its own purposes. Then we will discuss some ways in which we can use God’s word to instill in our children a God-pleasing attitude toward sex, in spite of all the ungodly ways in which the sinful world abuses God’s gift.

Teaching Our Children to Honor God’s Gift of Sex

We live in a society that is obsessed with sex. It seems as if no matter where we turn, someone is using sex to do something for which it was not designed. Some people use sex simply to have fun.

Some people use sex as a basis for telling jokes. Some even use sex to sell clothes and soft drinks.

Our children also live in this sex-obsessed society, and they are bombarded by the same messages about sex that we receive. Think about the many messages about sex that your children receive each day. Think not only of the negative images and messages, but also the positive ones. List these positive and negative sexual images and messages in the spaces below.

  1. Positive sexual images and messages:
  2. Negative sexual images and messages:
  3. Which list of sexual images and messages is longer, the positive list or the negative list? Why do you think this is so?

Sex is too important a subject not to talk to our children about it. If we don’t talk to them about it, someone else will, and the information they receive might not be in line with the truth of God’s word. However, sex is not a topic that we are comfortable talking about, especially with our children. So how can we talk to them about it? What messages should we convey to them?

  1. Sex is a Gift from God

Sex was not always a difficult subject to talk about.

Read Genesis 2:18-25.

  1. Who established the sexual relationship?
  2. In what context did he establish it?
  3. For what purpose did he establish it?
  4. How did Adam and Eve feel about their sexual relationship? (See verse 25.)
  5. Agree or disagree? Since sex is a gift of God given to married couples for their enjoyment within marriage, we need not be ashamed to talk about sex within the context of marriage.

Sex is a gift from God – a wonderful gift from God – that he has given to us for our enjoyment within the bounds of marriage. As such, it is not something that we need to be ashamed of. God himself was not ashamed to talk about sex in its proper context. Read Song of Songs 1:12:7.

  1. The Song of Songs celebrates the love of a husband and wife for each other. As you read these verses of the Song, did any of them shock you? Why?
  2. Discuss the ways in which the Song of Songs describes the intimate relationship of the Beloved and her Lover. What lessons can we learn as we seek to speak with our children in a God-pleasing way about sex?
  3. The World Has Perverted God’s Gift

Sex is a gift from God, but the sinful world has taken God’s gift and used it in ways that are truly shameful. Read Romans 1:24-27.

  1. List some of the ways in which the sinful world has perverted God’s gift of sex.
  2. What is the cause of this perversion?
  3. Read Ephesians 5:12.

How does this passage help explain why we have such a difficult time talking to our children about sex?

None of us wants our children to adopt the world’s view of sex, but how can we instill in them a proper view of God’s gift so that they honor and respect it as God wants them to?

III. Warn Your Children Against the World’s View of Sex

Part of instilling in our children a proper view of sex is warning them against the dangers of the world’s view of sex. Paul gives us a good example of how we can do this in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

  1. In verses 12 and 13, Paul quotes some sayings that the Corinthians were using to justify some of their immoral actions. Read each of the following verses again and list the arguments that Paul uses to show the Corinthians how they should respect and honor God’s gift of sex. (Reread each of these verses: 13, 15, 18, 19a, 19b-20)
  2. Many people in the world today use the same arguments that the Corinthians used to justify their sexual perversions. But we can use the same truths from God’s word that Paul used to refute these worldly arguments. Go back to the list of negative sexual images and messages that you compiled at the beginning of this Bible study. Discuss how you might use the arguments Paul made in 1 Corinthians 6 to warn your children against going along with such perversions.
  3. Give some specific examples of ways in which our children can flee from sexual immorality and honor God with their bodies.
  4. Be Positive Role Models for Your Children

It is very important that we talk openly to our children about the dangers of following the world’s view of sex. But it also is important that we model for our children the kind of behavior that we want them to have. Our children receive messages about sex from us, too. Those messages can either hurt or help our efforts to instill in them a God-pleasing view of sex.

As we saw earlier, the Song of Songs beautifully describes the intimate relationship of a husband and wife. It also provides a good example of how we can be a positive model of the marital relationship for our children. Reread Song of Songs 1:12-7:13.

  1. How do the Beloved and her Lover express their love for each other?
  2. In 1:4b, the Friends see the affection that the Beloved and the Lover have for each other, and they praise it. Is it healthy for children to see their parents showing affection for each other? Why or why not?
  3. List practical ways that a husband and wife can provide a positive model of marital love for the benefit of their children.

Yes, we live in a world that is filled with negative messages about sex, but those negative images need not take control of our children. They, after all, are redeemed children of God. They have been set free, as we have been, from the control of sin. May we use God’s word to warn them clearly about the dangers of following the world’s model of sex. May we also do what we can to provide them with the positive messages they need, that by God’s grace they, too, may honor God with their bodies.

 

Bible Study [Series for Christian Fathers]: Servant-Leadership in the Family – Part 3 [Leader’s Guide]

NOTE TO THE INSTRUCTOR: The author of this Bible study in no way professes to be an expert on how to talk to one’s children about sex. Nor does he intend this Bible study to cover everything that could be said on the subject. Rather, in this final Bible study we will discuss some basic truths about God’s gift of sex – that it is a gift from God for married people and that the sinful world has perverted it for its own purposes. Then we will discuss some ways in which we can use God’s Word to instill in our children a God-pleasing attitude toward sex, in spite of all the ungodly ways in which the sinful world abuses God’s gift.

Teaching Our Children to Honor God’s Gift of Sex

We live in a society that is obsessed with sex. It seems as if no matter where we turn, someone is using sex to do something for which it was not designed. Some people use sex simply to have fun. Some people use sex as a basis for telling jokes. Some even use sex to sell clothes and soft drinks.

Our children also live in this sex-obsessed society, and they are bombarded by the same messages about sex that we receive. Think about the many messages about sex that your children receive each day. Think not only of the negative images and messages, but also the positive ones. List these positive and negative sexual images and messages in the spaces below.

  1. Positive sexual images and messages:

The class will probably need some prompting to come up with things for this list. Positive sexual images and messages are not easy to find in our sinful world. Possibilities, however, include young people who encourage one another to wait until marriage to have sex, a married man who refuses to have an affair because he is committed to his wife, and a couple that celebrates its 50th wedding anniversary. Other possibilities from family life might include the obvious affection a husband has for his wife and the ways in which they demonstrate their love for each other throughout the day (e.g. kind words, hugs, kisses, gifts, etc.)

  1. Negative sexual images and messages:

These will be easier to think of. Television shows and movies are filled with people that use sex as a plaything. These images reflect the attitude that our society has toward sex. Many people find nothing wrong with having sex before marriage or outside of marriage. People live together before they are married. People have affairs. Homosexuality is accepted as a legitimate lifestyle. Many people advocate “safe sex” rather than abstinence. Our children also may receive peer pressure from their friends. They might be made to think that everyone is doing it, even when many people aren’t.

  1. Which list of sexual images and messages is longer, the positive list or the negative list? Why do you think this is so?

The list of negative images and messages will probably be longer. Our sinful world has so perverted God’s gift of sex that those negative messages tend to crowd out the positive messages..

Sex is too important a subject not to talk to our children about it. If we don’t talk to them about it, someone else will, and the information they receive might not be in line with the truth of God’s Word. However, sex is not a topic that we are comfortable talking about, especially with our children. So how can we talk to them about it? What messages should we convey to them?

  1. Sex is a Gift from God

Sex was not always a difficult subject to talk about.

Read Genesis 2:18-25.

  1. Who established the sexual relationship?

God established the sexual relationship when he established marriage.

  1. In what context did He establish it?

Within the context of marriage.

  1. For what purpose did he establish it?

God gave Adam and Eve his gift of sex for their enjoyment within the bounds of marriage. It was the most intimate way for them to express their love for each other. It also was a part of God’s plan for giving Adam and Eve children.

  1. How did Adam and Eve feel about their sexual relationship? (See verse 25.)

Adam and Eve were naked and felt no shame. Their sexual relationship was not something dirty of which they were ashamed. Within the context of marriage, their sexual relationship was a gift which God had given them to enjoy and for which they could be thankful.

  1. Agree or disagree? Since sex is a gift of God given to married couples for their enjoyment within marriage, we need not be ashamed to talk about sex within the context of marriage.

Agree. Sex, as God intended it, is not something dirty. It is his gift, and we need not be ashamed of it. This does not mean that we will talk carelessly or explicitly about it, as we will discuss later in this Bible study.

Sex is a gift from God – a wonderful gift from God – that he has given to us for our enjoyment within the bounds of marriage. As such, it is not something that we need to be ashamed of. God himself was not ashamed to talk about sex in its proper context. Read Song of Songs 1:12-7:13.

  1. The Song of Songs celebrates the love of a husband and wife for each other. As you read these verses of the Song, did any of them shock you? Why?

The sensual language of the Song of Songs is different from what we are used to reading in the Bible. However, within the context of marriage, such language is appropriate.

  1. Discuss the ways in which the Song of Songs describes the intimate relationship of the Beloved and her Lover. What lessons can we learn as we seek to speak with our children in a God-pleasing way about sex?

The Song is very open about the affection and love that the Beloved and her Lover have for each other. We, too, can be open with our children when we speak to them about sex. Sex, in its proper context, is a gift from God. It is not something that we should be ashamed of. The Song, however, is very discreet when it speaks of the more intimate portions of the relationship between the Beloved and her Lover. While we want to be open with our children about God’s gift of sex, such openness does not mean that we must be explicit with them. We should teach them discretion and propriety as we discuss sex with them.

  1. The World Has Perverted God’s Gift

Sex is a gift from God, but the sinful world has taken God’s gift and used it in ways that are truly shameful. Read Romans 1:24-27.

  1. List some of the ways in which the sinful world has perverted God’s gift of sex.

People use sex in order to indulge their sinful desires. They use sex outside of marriage, and in so doing degrade their bodies with one another.

Homosexuality is another perversion of God’s gift of sex. All of these perversions are equally repulsive to God.

  1. What is the cause of this perversion?

The cause of this and every perversion is sin. Our sinful natures lead us to take God’s gift of sex and use it in ways that God never intended it to be used.

  1. Read Ephesians 5:12. How does this passage help explain why we have such a difficult time talking to our children about sex?

Most of the sexual images and messages that we receive in this world are the kinds of things that Paul described in Romans 1. These are the kinds of things that Paul says in Ephesians 5:12 are shameful even to mention. We have difficulty talking about sex with our children because many of the things we need to talk to them about are shameful. Unfortunately, these shameful things, about which we would rather not talk, crowd out the positive things that we really need to talk to our children about.

None of us wants our children to adopt the world’s view of sex, but how can we instill in them a proper view of God’s gift so that they honor and respect it as God wants them to?

III. Warn Your Children Against the World’s View of Sex

Part of instilling in our children a proper view of sex is warning them against the dangers of the world’s view of sex. Paul gives us a good example of how we can do this in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

  1. In verses 12 and 13, Paul quotes some sayings that the Corinthians were using to justify some of their immoral actions. Read each of the following verses again and list the arguments that Paul uses to show the Corinthians how they should respect and honor God’s gift of sex. (Reread each of these verses: 13, 15, 18, 19a, 19b-20)
    • Verse 13: Our bodies are meant for the Lord, not for sexual immorality.
    • Verse 15: Our bodies are members of the body of Christ. How could we unite the members of the body of Christ with a prostitute?
    • Verse 18: When we sin sexually, we are sinning not only against God, but also against our own bodies.
    • Verse 19a: Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. How can we take the temple of the Holy Spirit and unite it with a prostitute?
    • Verse 19b,20: Our bodies are not our own. They belong to God since he bought them with the blood of His own Son. Therefore, God wants us to honor him with our bodies.
  1. Many people in the world today use the same arguments that the Corinthians used to justify their sexual perversions. But we can use the same truths from God’s Word that Paul used to refute these worldly arguments. Go back to the list of negative sexual images and messages that you compiled at the beginning of this Bible study. Discuss how you might use the arguments Paul made in 1 Corinthians 6 to warn your children against going along with such perversions.

All of the arguments that Paul used in 1 Corinthians 6 give us powerful reason to do what he says in verse 18: “Flee from sexual immorality.” Most importantly, we want to convey to our children that they are redeemed children of God, bought by the blood of Christ. That means that they do not belong to themselves. They belong to God. And in love, they can thank Him for all that he has done for them by honoring Him with their bodies. Sexual sins also harm a person spiritually, physically, and emotionally. They cause guilt. They cause problems in a relationship. And there is the risk of disease. When a person sins sexually, he truly sins not only against God, but also against himself and the person with whom he is committing the sin.

  1. Give some specific examples of ways in which our children can flee from sexual immorality and honor God with their bodies.

They can be discriminating about the movies and television shows that they watch. They can be careful about the people with whom they go out on dates. They can be careful not to put themselves in tempting situations. They can stay close to God’s Word, which will give them the strength to overcome temptation when it arises. These are things that we need to discuss with our children. We need to stress to them the importance of relying on God to resist all these sexual temptations. On our own, we cannot overcome them. But with God’s help, we can resist temptation and win the victory.

  1. Be Positive Role Models for Your Children

It is very important that we talk openly to our children about the dangers of following the world’s view of sex. But it also is important that we model for our children the kind of behavior that we want them to have. Our children receive messages about sex from us, too. Those messages can either hurt or help our efforts to instill in them a God-pleasing view of sex.

As we saw earlier, the Song of Songs beautifully describes the intimate relationship of a husband and wife. It also provides a good example of how we can be a positive model of the marital relationship for our children. Reread Song of Songs 1:12-7:13.

  1. How do the Beloved and her Lover express their love for each other?

Both the Beloved and her Lover are very open about their love for each other. They constantly express their love for each other. They complement each other.

They praise each other.

  1. In 1:4b, the Friends see the affection that the Beloved and the Lover have for each other, and they praise it. Is it healthy for children to see their parents showing affection for each other? Why or why not?

Children need to see a positive model of the marital relationship. Where better to see this than in their own parents? These positive images of affection between a husband and wife will help our children see how God wants a husband and wife to treat each other. They will also help counteract the many negative images that they see in the world – images that show them how God does not want people to treat each other.

  1. List practical ways that a husband and wife can provide a positive model of marital love for the benefit of their children.

Like the Beloved and her Lover in the Song of Songs, they can hug each other and praise each other. They can express their love in loving words and greetings. They can compliment each other. They can show their love with little gifts. All of these will be positive images of love that our children can learn from. They will also help instill in our children a positive attitude about how God wants marriage to work.

Yes, we live in a world that is filled with negative messages about sex, but those negative images need not take control of our children. They, after all, are redeemed children of God. They have been set free, as we have been, from the control of sin. May we use God’s word to warn them clearly about the dangers of following the world’s model of sex. May we also do what we can to provide them with the positive messages they need, that by God’s grace they, too, may honor God with their bodies.

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