When pastoring in California, I regularly championed the cause of Christians being willing to sacrifice for the mission of Jesus. I passionately preached against the evils of the Prosperity Gospel (which truly is evil). Still, I foolishly conflated this health and wealth heresy with an honest desire to make enough money to start a family and purchase a modest home. Books like "Radical" by David Platt served as my inspiration. But I failed to recognize how truly "radical" it is for a Christian man to marry a woman in his youth, remain faithful to her throughout his entire life, give her the blessing of children, and work hard to provide for them. In my assessment, the American Church has far too many men who are eager to go to third-world-countries as missionaries (including the up and coming third-world-country of California), but not nearly enough men who are willing to fight for this country by establishing godly households and demonstrating faithfulness to their wives and children.
"The American Church has far too many men who are eager to go to third-world-countries as missionaries, but not nearly enough men who are willing to fight for this country by establishing godly households."
These days, young Christian men seem to have a lot in common with the Samaritan woman in John 4:16-20: "Jesus said to her, 'Go, call your husband, and come here.' The woman answered him, 'I have no husband.' Jesus said to her, 'You are right in saying you have no husband for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.' The woman said to him, 'Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship...'" When a pastor confronts young men in the church about matters of marriage and family, they will often attempt to change the subject: "Sir, I perceive that you are a ‘theologian.’ Could you, therefore, flesh out the specific details of supralapsarianism as it relates to the doctrine of limited atonement?" It is precisely at this point that a wise pastor will respond by saying, "No. Instead, tell me about your marriage and parenting." I wasted far too much time engaging with the men in my previous church about peripheral doctrines and the prospects of pastoral ministry. And I invested far too little time talking about the fundamentals of what it means to be a Christian man. In this way, I failed these men. And in this way, I failed myself.
"I wasted far too much time engaging with the men in my previous church about peripheral doctrines and the prospects of pastoral ministry. And I invested far too little time talking about the fundamentals of what it means to be a Christian man."
It is true that God calls some men to be well versed in a wide variety of doctrines in order to stand up in the pulpit as pastors, but not before these men learn how to stand up for their wives and children. We already have enough women preachers as it is. When we emasculate Christ's Church by championing every feminine characteristic as though it were a virtue and demonizing every masculine trait as though it were a toxic vice, what else should we expect? Biblical manhood in this country has been dying a slow and painful death for decades. Yes, we need more faithful pastors, but we won't get any until we have more faithful men: "For if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the household of God?" (1 Timothy 3:5).
So what exactly does the Bible have to say about true masculinity? Perhaps the best place to start is by looking at five biblical commands for men: 1) Men as Sons, 2) Men as Fathers, 3) Men as Grandfathers, 4) Men as Husbands, and 5) Men as Church Members. This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor have I attempted to list these commands in order of priority. However, what you’ll notice is that I am intentionally using each of these commands in order to specifically highlight every man’s responsibility of financial provision for his family, as well as how this particular responsibility should heavily influence the place a man chooses for his family to live. As we investigate each of these commands, I will attempt to demonstrate from my own personal circumstances how a plain reading of the Scripture was all it took to convince me to leave California.
COMMAND #1 – MEN AS HUSBANDS
Titus 2:3-4 says, "Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train younger women to love their husbands and children... working at home." Although I do not believe it is inherently immoral for women with children to work outside of their homes in some capacity, I have determined that as the Lord increases my household and our oldest child reaches schooling age, I want to do everything I can to allow my wife to fully devote herself to the godly work at home which the Lord has called her to. And in most cases, a husband's choice to ensure that his wife is able to devote herself to working at home means that he will not be able to rely on his wife to provide a second income.
COMMAND #2 – MEN AS FATHERS
Here is another biblical command: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it..." (Genesis 1:28). As the Scripture testifies elsewhere, children are most assuredly a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). And while I will maintain that Scripture allows for some measure of careful and ethical family planning (contraceptives that do not impose abortive risks), I am convinced that in most circumstances married couples do well to have several children (Psalm 127:5). However, procreation is merely one small portion of the task which the Lord has assigned to parents. In addition to producing children, a father must both protect and provide for his children. At the risk of being overly simplistic, you might say that every man needs a job (provision) and a gun (protection). Two things that California's politicians are working tirelessly to eradicate. A significant component of this provision includes the children's education. "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). In light of biblical texts such as this, it appears evident that a Christian man cannot merely abdicate his fatherly duty by handing his children over to the secular state to be educated. This is especially true in a state like California. This means that a husband and wife will be required to home-school their children or pay a significant amount to place each of their children in a private Christian school. "And they brought [Jesus a denarius]. And he said to them, 'Whose image is this?' They said to him, 'Caesar's.' And Jesus said to them, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's'" (Mark 12:16-17). Still to this day, the image on our currency is the image of man. But whose image do we see in our children? Surely, it is God's. So why do we keep handing our children over to Caesar (the state)? Why do Christian parents continue to insist that their 15 minutes of "family-worship" will somehow be able to compete with the 40 hours/week of state indoctrination they willingly subject their children to? Convenience is the answer for some parents, but for most, the answer is money. Enrolling our children in a private Christian school is expensive. And a father's choice to home-school his children means that he will not be able to rely on his wife to provide a second income. So how will parents who come under these biblical convictions continue to afford to live in California without succumbing to the temptation to utilize public schools? The answer is simple – they probably won't.
COMMAND #3 – MEN AS GRANDFATHERS
Furthermore, Proverbs 13:22 says, "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous." If God would be so kind as to provide me with the necessary grace, I long to be a "good" man in accordance with this text. And although I recognize that the inheritance mentioned explicitly in this text contains far more than material wealth, indeed, it cannot contain less. Therefore, a Christian man must be thoroughly committed to being the kind of father who diligently plans for his children and grandchildren's spiritual and financial futures.
COMMAND #4 – MEN AS SONS
Further still, Exodus 20:12 says, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." Although "obedience" to our parents is a temporary command issued to younger children who remain at home, the command to "honor" our fathers and mothers is a lifelong command that continues even for adult children. For quite some time, my parents were doing everything they could to transition from Bay City, Texas, to San Diego, California. They desperately wanted to be closer to their adult children and grandchildren (let's be honest, mainly the grandchildren). Although my parents were diligently trying their best to achieve this goal, it was doubtful that two individuals who had lived most of their adult lives in one of the poorest counties of Texas would be able to successfully retire in one of the most expensive cities in the nation. I became convinced that I had an obligation to help provide for my aging parents and ensure that they could fulfill their hearts' desires. 1 Timothy 5:4 says, "But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God." Although this biblical text specifically references elderly widows, I have come to believe that it is pleasing in the sight of God when adult children earnestly seek to make "some return" to their parents, even when both their father and mother are still living.
COMMAND #5 – MEN AS CHURCH MEMBERS
In addition to all these commands, Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you such a blessing until there is no more need." There are plenty of Christians today who would reject the idea that the tithe is a continued requirement for New Testament believers. Instead, these individuals tend to promote the concept of what is often referred to as "gospel-giving." What seems odd to me is that, in practical terms, gospel-giving regularly appears to produce less cash in the offering plate than what we might call "law-giving" (AKA: a biblical tithe of 10%). So why do so many Christians (especially in California) seem content to forfeit such a massive portion of their hard-earned income to the state while often failing to give an even smaller portion to the church? This reluctance to tithe undoubtedly reveals an issue of the heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). Still, perhaps this reluctance also demonstrates the practical challenges associated with paying exorbitant taxes to the state. So to summarize all these biblical commands, a Christian man is called by God to care for his aging parents, produce several offspring, provide a distinctly Christian education for each of his children, ensure that his wife is permitted to work with her children at home, lay up an inheritance for both his children and his grandchildren, and accomplish all of this on 90% of his income (and undoubtedly far less, due to further generosity to those in need and his civic duty to pay taxes to the state). Try doing that in California.
AN URGENT REQUEST
It's been a couple months now since Right Response Ministries has made this transition and God has already accomplished many wonderful things. One example is that the ministry has just about finished the construction of our band new studio in Hutto, Texas. By God's grace, we're currently on track to produce more content than ever before with a level of excellence that we previously were unable to achieve. However, high quality studio equipment does not come cheap. There have been multiple costs associated with this new endeavor. That said, I'd like to make a humble request:
Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us by giving a one-time donation to Right Response Ministries or becoming one of our Responders?
As you know, opposition towards Christ and his Word continues to grow in our nation. And the strategies of Satan seem to be increasing in deception. Many in our day are being led astray. Our goal is to fight back against this hostility towards Christ by providing an abundance of biblically faithful content that equips the people of God to carefully discern the crafty schemes of the enemy. But we cannot accomplish this mission apart from faithful Christians such as you standing beside us through prayer and financial support. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your prayerful consideration.