Chapter 3

The Fruitful Vine

The whole matter began in Genesis, where God formed the first man, our father Adam, and told him to be fruitful and multiply. This means that godly men desire to have children and that those children would have much fruit in their lives with God. To be a godly father, therefore, means more than simply having a lot of children; it includes shaping those children to have fruitful lives.

To achieve fruitful multiplication, Genesis 2:24 tells us that a young man must leave his father and mother to grow up, become a man, start a career, and learn to govern his own life before he assumes the responsibilities of a husband and father. Once he has accomplished those tasks, a man is then qualified to pursue a young woman through her father (if the father is godly and involved), who lovingly protects her from the wrong men and gives the man permission to woo and marry the woman he loves. The two then become one flesh and make the Song of Songs sing again in hopes of having children.

In our godless world, the entire process is inverted and has subsequently caused much trouble. Young men continue to live at home, freeloading off their parents as boys who can shave, while they have sex with girlfriends that they one day may shack up with, and use birth control to prevent pregnancy or abortion to murder their own child because fools see children as a burden and not a blessing.

As a general rule, single men should aspire to marriage and fatherhood, and if they do not there is something seriously wrong with them. Such men aspiring to be fathers should, after cultivating their own souls and being lovers of God, be instructed by the older men in their church to pursue a godly woman as a wife and mother. This is considerably different than a good time, girlfriend, or date. Wise young men pursue a woman they can both love as a wife and see as the mother of their children. I met my wife when I was seventeen years old, and I did aspire to be a husband and father and was seeking a wife rather than a girlfriend. When I met my wife, Grace, I adored her and soon asked her how she felt about children, because if she was not interested in being a wife and mother who desired to stay home and raise her children, I was not interested in pursuing a relationship with her and did not want to waste my time.

Since marrying Grace in 1992, I have had the privilege of pastoring literally thousands and thousands of single young men. Many of them have asked me, "What does your wife do?" I tell them that although she has a degree in Public Relations and had a good job at a large media company, she got off the corporate ladder to stay at home as a wife and mother. They often then ask curiously, "How did you get her to do that?" as if we arm-wrestled and I won, thereby permitting me to tell her what to do for the rest of her life. I explain to them that I did not "make" my wife do anything. Instead, I simply married a woman who agreed with me about the beauty of raising a family, because it was much easier than fighting.

As a young man, I wanted to have children and be a father who was the sole economic provider so that my wife could stay home with the children. So what was I seeking? A wife who wanted to be the mother of a lot of children and be happily married to a husband who appreciated her staying home to raise children while he worked outside the home to pay the bills. But to marry someone who agrees with him, a man must first know what the Bible says he should seek in a wife so that he is clear about what type of woman he's looking for, because some women are a crown upon a man's head, while others are rottenness in his bones (Prov. 12:4). A foolish man chooses a woman without considering his life and legacy with her fifty years later.

A wife who is a crown joyfully embraces her role as daughter of God, wife of her husband, and mother to her children, and she orients herself homeward. Proverbs 14:1 says, "The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down." A good father chooses and nurtures a wife who is ambitious about building a home, because over their lifetime that household will cultivate future generations, spend millions of dollars, and minister to countless numbers of people. Likewise, the wise woman of Proverbs 31:26-28 "opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." Her children praise her because she is a wise Bible teacher who spends her time working hard to build their home and bless their father. This theme is echoed in the New Testament in Titus 2:3-5, which 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 the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Proverbs 19:13 further stresses the correlation between the type of mother you choose for your children and the kind of children you will have, saying, "A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain." These two miseries simply go together. If a wife is a nag who disrespects her husband by chirping at him all the time, then the children in that home will follow her example and become fools who ruin their lives by similarly disobeying and dishonoring their dad. Wicked women not only fail to restrain their tongues in front of their children, but often intentionally attack their husbands in an effort to get their children's allegiance, undermine the authority of their father, and bring anarchy to the home. Proverbs rightly calls this rottenness in the bones.

By the way, this is how we have arrived at our present culture. Carolyn Graglia, the author of Domestic Tranquility, writes that in the 1950s, men were not doing a good job of leading and loving their families, but that the wives did not have the power and authority to overthrow their husbands and rule the families as they desired. So the wives simply recruited their children as allies against their husbands. If they could undermine the father's authority and respect in the home, then the wife and children could control and manipulate and drive out the husbands and rule over the family. Brilliantly, Proverbs 19:13 explains how we got from the 1950s to the anarchy of the 1960 - namely, foolish men married godless women who recruited their own children to overthrow their fathers and usher in anarchy. Anyone doubting this descent would be well served to simply watch one of the innumerable popular sitcoms on television where the husband is an idiot and the wife trash-talks him in front of the children, and ask themselves why anyone finds that funny.

Whose responsibility is it? Ultimately, it is men who are responsible because they chose their wives, they let them continue in sin, and they let them destroy their children. Hence, it is important that a man first love God and then seek a woman who loves God and will respect him and love his children, because he is ultimately responsible as the head of his home. Does this mean that the wife can never speak to her husband honestly? No, but if she is angry or the conversation will be tense, she should speak to her husband privately and respectfully and not in front of his children. This does not mean that the parents never disagree or resolve conflict in front of the children. The children need to see their parents resolve their differences, and this should be done in a godly way in front of the children and taken in private if things are not being handled well. Some of you grew up in homes where mom continually cut the knees off of dad right in front of you. And you learned to dishonor your father. Wise men seek to avoid this at all costs by marrying wisely.