I'm going to ask you to turn with me to II Kings, the 20th Chapter and the first verse : "Thus saith the Lord, set thine house in order ."
Home means everything to us. Someone has said that the sweetest words in the world are Mother, Home and Heaven. Today I want to preach on the home.
The first marriage was performed by God. It was the first institution established -before the church, before the schools, before the government. The home was instituted by God.
What is a home? A roof to keep out the rain, four walls to keep out the wind, floors to keep out the cold? Yes, but home is more than that. It's the laugh of a baby, it's the sound of Mother. Remember your mother? She used to sing to you. Remember the old house you were born and rear- ed in? The strength of a father. Re- member Dad, the warmth of 1oving heart; the lights in happy eyes, kindness, loyalty, comradeship.
Home was the first church. Home was the place where you heard the name of God for the first time. It was the first school. It was the place where you would go for com- fort when you were hurt or sick. It was a place where you would go for comfort when you were hurt or sick; where joy is shared and sorrow is eased; where the simplest food Is good enough for kings because it's earned.
You know, I've eaten a lot of food. I've eaten in the Waldorf-Astoria. I've had the privilege of having dinner with the Queen at Windsor Palace served by all the servants. The Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen of England and my wife and I were sitting at a little table. There were all these servants and knives and forks in every direction and I didn't know which one to pick up first. I've had fine food. But I've been staying out at my mother's house and I want to tell you, nobody can cook like Mother. There's something about those old tastes that come back, and as I've wandered about the farm out there a lot of memories have come back.
Nothing means more to me today as I think of my own home than the fact that my mother and my father believed in God in their simple way, and they took us to church. They never sent us to church, they took us to church, and that put something in our character that we'll never get away from.
I believe today that a nation is only as strong as her homes. But there's something wrong in. the American home today. Over one million people were divorced last year. Seven hundred and fifty thousand children were left orphaned by divorce last year. France has only one fourth the number of divorces, Germany one third. Japan has only one-half the number of divorces that we have. Our homes are breaking fast.: er and our homes are on the rocks more than any other nation in the world. What's wrong?
In spite of our sociology classes, and our classes on marriage and the family, and all of our sex education, we seem to have more unhappiness and trouble in the home than anytime in history. What's wrong?
A psychiatrist recently said in Chicago, "I believe 90 per cent of all the homes of America are basically unhappy:' I think he exaggerated that, but J do believe that a majority of the homes in America are un- happy. They do not get a divorce because of religious 'convictions or because of tradition or be- cause of family or because of losing prestige, but they are basically .unhappy. There are irritations.
There are many of you here today, husband and wife, and your love has gone dead for each other, There is jealousy in the home, irritation, anger . Some people hold grudges not realizing that before God can forgive you, you must forgive too. That is the reason we pray, "Forgive us our; debts as we forgive our debtors," Yes, in the complex age in which we are living we are finding it more and more difficult to keep our homes 'intact, "Why do I need a home," a young woman said to a real estate agent sometime ago. "I was born in a hospital, educated in a college, courted in an automobile, and married in a church. I live out of a delicatessen, tin cans and paper bags. I spend my mornings on the golf course, my afternoons at the bridge table, and my evenings at the movies, and when I die I will be cremated and buried in a brass urn. All I really need is a garage."
That is part of the spirit of the times, The home doesn't mean quite today what it once meant, So, today, the Bible says, "Set thine house in order." And I want to ask the question today, "Is your house in order?" Is there something wrong at your house? Something wrong in your home?
What I want to do is to start back before marriage and I want to say a word or two, I would like to say something to you young people. Before you get married be sure that you're marrying God's choice. Yes, G6d has somebody picked out for you.
I was up on our little place sometime ago with my two old- est daughters, I said to the oldest one, "Honey, do you realize that perhaps the man you're going to marry is already a little boy about 12 or 13 years of age?" She said, "No, I hadn't thought of that," I said, "That's right, Do you ever pray in your prayers that God would bless his mother and father as they rear him and keep him straight and clean and honest?" We got down on our knees right there and prayed for that little unknown boy somewhere who may be the husband of my daughter some day.
You see, God has somebody picked out. And if you rush ahead too fast and grab the first pair of pants that comes along, you'll miss God's choice. Wait on God's choice and there'll be supreme happiness because God has an ideal one picked out for you. And do not marry a non-Christian. If you've given your life to Jesus Christ and you're in love with a fellow who's not interested in the Bible, he's not interested in Christ, he's not interested in his Church, If I were you, I'd drop that boy, I'll tell 'you why. You say. "Well, after we get married, maybe I can change him." Oh no, you can't. He'll change you. And it'll be. hell on earth. You mark my words -I've seen it happen a thousand times. That's exactly what the Scriptures are referring to when it says, "Be not unequal- ly yoked together." Get a fellow or a girl who knows Jesus Christ.
I do not believe there is any real, genuine love between two people outside of Christ. Do you want your love to spark again as it was in the days when you were sweet- hearts? Give your life to Christ, Life begins when you come to Christ. That is when you really begin to love. The Bible teaches that love is a divine institution. It is God's plan, God-arranged and God-ordained. The Bible teaches that marriage should be permanent. .'Therefore they are no more twain but one flesh, What God has joined together let no man put as- sunder."
God never meant that we were to break up. Only death can part us. It is for life, It is for keeps. And God says only one thing can break the marriage vow and that is adultery. The Bible teaches absolute fidelity on the part of both husband and wife, and the Bible recognizes no lower standards. There is no place in the Bible for trial marriage and pre-marital experience. You young people. live clean. Keep yourself for the man or the woman you are' going to marry, and I want to tell you that sex in marriage will be a wonderful and thrilling experience. It is a spiritual experience. But if you misuse it outside the bonds of marriage it becomes Hell.
I have had a number of letters since I've been here - pouring out to me the terrible remorse of the broken marriage vow. The Bible indicates that in the Old Testament there were only two or three things that God said deserved the death penalty and one of them was adultery. Any man who is un- faithful to his wife, may God have mercy on his soul. The Bible says no adulterer shall ever Jet into the King- dom of Heaven, There is no more fury of sin in all the Bible than immorality. And if you are guilty today, come and give your life to Christ and let His blood wash your sins away.
Let Him cleanse and forgive you. The Bible says adultery can be committed three ways: by a look, by a thought, by an act. And hundreds are guilty in this building today. But I want to tell you before you leave here, C9rist can cleanse you and wash you and make you pure. And you can leave here as pure as virgins, by giving your life to Him.
The Bible teaches that marriage is like the union between Christ and His church. Husbands, love your wives even as Christ so loved the church and gave Himself for it. The Bible teaches that marriage is holy and sacred in the sight of God. I'm afraid that some of us enter into it like it's all a big joke. Some go into marriage for spite. Others go into marriage for luck and they break up and there's trouble and there's disappointment, There is sin. That is wrong. Marriage should be preceded by the most careful thought, by the most careful searching of the Scriptures, and many hours of prayer.
I participated recently in a round-table discussion at the Ladies Home Journal. It had to do with women and marriage and so forth. They invited me as the clergyman, and Senator Lauche of Ohio was the political leader. They brought sociologists and psychiatrists from Europe and all over the world to attend this thing. We sat at a big round table and I told them at that time, and I believe they began to agree. that one of the reason that . we have so much unhappiness and trouble in the home today is that we've gotten away from God's laws, rules, and regulations governing marriage, Now when God performed the first marriage, He laid down the rules, and He said if you want to have a happy home, obey these rules. If you want to have trouble, disobey them.
What are the rules? What are the regulations 7 First of all, concerning the wife ! I want to say a word to you wives and don't you husbands sit there and grin too long, be- cause I'll come to you. The Bible uses six expressions to give the responsibility of the wife to the husband. The Bible says, "Submit to, be subject to, be in subjection to, be obedient to, reverence and love." Genesis 3:16. Of the woman, he said, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception."
As the result of sin, God cursed the woman, and the fact that she has suffering in child, birth is a result of the fall, a result of the first sin. "In sorrow, thou shalt bring forth children and thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee." God said a result of her sin is that she is to suffer in . .childbirth and the husband is to be always the head of the home, and that has never been changed. It has never been revoked; and it is taught all the way through the Scriptures.
I said that in Sacramento. My daughter was there. The next day she gathered a group of people around and she said, "I want to tell you all some- thing, My daddy said yesterday that the husband is to be the head of the home, but I want you to know in our house. Mama is the head of our house." I have been gone so much, she has to be. And some woman almost have to be because of what they have as husbands. He ought to be wearing a skirt - some little jelly-fish type of a fellow, very weak. But thank God he has a strong wife.
But the Bible says that wives are to submit themselves unto their own husbands as unto the Lord. So the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the Church.
Ephesians 5:33, "and the wife see that she reverence her husband." Colossians 3:18, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands." Titus 2:4, "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. "The Bible says that wives 1 are to be discreet. chaste. j keeper of the home, good. obedient to their own husbands. and that the Word of God be not blasphemed. "
Now that doesn't mean for the husband "to go home today and say: "Well I'm back; Didn't you hear what the Bible said? Didn't you hear what Billy Graham said? I'm the head of the house." Take up a club and walk around. No, that's not what it means at all. It conveys the idea of unselfish service and , unswerving loyalty. The husband and the wife are equal in mind, conscience, position and privilege, freedom, happiness and equality before God. And there's a balance of power. The Bible says the twain shall be one flesh, and when it comes to the governmental arrangement of the family there is not equality. It's not a question of who's superior. No one's superior in their God-given place. But the Bible teaches that the wife is to fit into the world of her husband. And if not, the Word of God can be blasphemed and your prayers can be hindered. The Bible says - I Peter 3:7, "Likewise ye husbands dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor un- to the wife as unto the weak- er vessel, and as being heirs "together of the grace of life that your prayers be not hindered."
Wives, you are to submit yourselves to your husbands. Now I've got some suggestions for you. When he comes home from a hard day's work and you're in the kitchen, don't yell at him from the kitchen and say, "Is that you, John? Shut the door." No, what you ought to do is dress up a little bit in the evening - fresh dress - and come and greet him with a big kiss and welcome him home. Make him feel like he's wanted. Tl)at he's somebody. Why, he may faint. the first time you do it, but try and see if it doesn't happen, And be attractive. No wonder some husbands don't want to come home.
A lady asked me the other day, ','Mr Graham, do you think it's an right for a Christian to wear make-up." I looked at her and said, .'Lady, you need a little." I don't mean to make up and dress up like Jezebel, look like a clown, painted up-. You can dress in modest things, but in taste and in style, and you can do it cheaply, and you can be dainty and attractive, and clean. "
Then another thing that I'd like to suggest is that you try to keep up with your husband. What are your husband's interests? Try to read on the things that he's interested in, so that you can carry on an intelligent conversation. Keep up with his work, the things that he's interested in so you can carry on intelligent conversations with him. Keep the house clean, and I mean that. Some places I've slipped into looked like a hog pen. No wonder the husband hates to come home.
Another thing: Curtail un- necessary expenditures. If you died, the only thing your husband would miss would be the bills at the end of the month that keep him to the grindstone. Be careful. And don't gossip. All some children have for Sunday dinner is roasted preacher. If you've got any- thing to say in privacy about somebody, do it in privacy with your husband. Don't nag and complain. I know some women who never feel good. "Well, how are you feeling today?" They may be' looking fine. "Well, I'm not so good." Never a fresh word - never say, "I'm great, I'm feeling wonderful."
I do not think you can be a wife the way you ought to be without giving your life to Jesus Christ. And you know I have never . understood how a woman could reject Christ or neglect Christ, because, you see, in the parts of the world where I have gone where .Christianity h as not made an' impact, the woman is little more than an animal. She is a beast of burden.
She is but pawn in the hands of men. That's all. Only where Christ has gone is the woman what she is in America. And It is because of Christ that women are what they are In this country. You owe everything you have to Jesus Christ, and I do not see how any woman could see Christ dying (In the Cross for her and not yield her life to Christ.
And I do not think you can be the right kind of wife without His help. I do not think you can be the right kind of mother without Jesus Christ. And if you have not come and sur- rendered your life to Christ, you do it, and if you are a young girl just entering womanhood. .let Christ come into your life and develop you into the flower of young womanhood.
You have all kinds of problems. There is the problem of selfishness, and the problem of anger, and the problem of pride, and the problem of jealousy, an these things. Give you r life to Jesus Christ; surrender it all to Him. Let Him come in and take you through this difficult 'period. Commit your life to Christ one hundred per cent.
Now the husband. You husbands have been sitting there enjoying the last ten minutes. I'm coming to you now. Ephesians 5-25: "Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it." Ephesians 5-28: "Ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself." The husband should remain a lover. How long has It been since you took your Wife some flowers and it wasn't an anniversary, and it wasn't , her birthday? You don't need to sink so far in the seat. How long has it been since you greeted her with a kiss? I'm not talking about a little peck on the cheek. I mean a kiss!
You know, it's the little things .that mean a lot to the woman. It's not just the big things. It's not just buying her a Christ- mas present. It's every day - the thoughtful little things. If you go away, write her a card or a letter each day. It's the little things. It's the little courteous things-
The Bible says husbands ought to love their wives. Show your love to her. Help her to stay young. Hers is the hard- est job of all. Don't be a rough neck. Be a gentleman to her. Before you were married, .if you came to a mud puddle, you'd take off your coat and put it down, and say, "Walk on it." Now If you come to a mud puddle, you lay, "Jump, lady, I think you can make it."
And another thing, do you ever open the door of the car for her, or do you get out and tell her to get out the best she can. Of course, she can get out, but it's that little extra courtesy that'll mean everything to her.
And don't be a tightwad. I don't think there's anything lower than a man that keeps all the money to himself and never gives his wife money to spend, and listen, she wants some money ever;,' week and every month which she can call her own and it's none of your business where she spends it, even if it's only fifty cents. That's right. She may want to buy something she didn't want to tell you about. It may be a birthday present for you. She should have money because you are partners. In God's sight, the man and the woman are partners and everything you have is half hers. In God's sight, in the .sight of the courts, morally, spiritually, every way, half is hers, and she deserves to be able to spend it like you do, a little bit for herself. A husband is to be a real. comrade to his wife. A husband is to be courteous to his wife. Husbands are to forgive their wives.
I want to ten you something I have learned in reading a lot of books on this subject and I have learned from experience: You can never under- stand your wife; and don't try. You fellows have been trying to understand them for years and think there is something wrong with your marriage. You will never understand a woman. A woman is never meant to be understood; she is meant to be loved. Even the psychiatrists cannot understand them.
Husbands and wives should take God into partnership, There ought to be a family altar in your home. God holds the man in the home responsible for the spiritual life in the home. You are the preacher in the home. You are to set the example in the home. If there is no 'family altar, no prayers in the home, it is the man's fault. If no grace is said at the table, it is the man's fault. If the family is not tithing the money to the church, it is the man's fault.
Is yours a Christian home? You can't set an example un- less Christ is living in your heart. You can't live a lie. And you're just not sure that Christ is in your heart. You're not sure you've given yourself to Christ. You're not sure that your sins are forgiven. You're not sure that you are going to Heaven. You don't have any joy in giving. When you give to the church, you begin to say to yourself, "Well if I give 10 percent of my income that'll r cost me this and cost me that- no, I'll let God go. I'll do everything else, I'd rather have , a television set than to obey God." Why? Because you see you're not a cheerful giver. You give grudgingly to God. Why? Because your heart has never been changed. When your heart is changed you'll be glad to give.
When your heart Is changed you'll want to have prayer with your wife and your family. Some of you have got gray hair and you've been married about as long as I have, it's gonna be awfully hard to start off having prayer when you've never had it before. You have to swallow a lot of pride and you'll go home this afternoon a n d you'll s ay, "Honey, you know, I'm thinking about what we heard this ( afternoon and I think we ought t to have prayer in our home." And so take out the Bible and maybe start with the f first Psalm and read the first Psalm today to each other and then just bow your heads. Maybe the first day you can't say much. Maybe you'll just I say, .'Well, Oh God, I don't J know how to pray, but bless ] us and we want to recognize " You in our home and in Jesus' ( name." That will mean more to God than anything that could hap- pen. The next day, you read the second Psalm and then you maybe pray a little bit longer, a little more articulate, and after a while you get used to it, :and I tell you, you'll get so you'll look always to that moment.
Now, If you have children in the home, if you want to have family devotions, may I make a suggestion. Make them brief and make them simple. , Every time Jesus prayed- you preachers listen to this, I need it too, He prayed a very brief prayer, But 'when He prayed in private, He prayed all night. I've seen a lot of children driven away from the family altar by the parents stringing : it out, and the kids at home always say; "We want Daddy I to pray because he's very short." Well, that's the way it ought I to be. Make them look for- ward to it. Let them look for- ward to Sunday. Why, at our house. we look forward to Sunday. That's the
only day the kids can drink a Coca-Cola. That's right. That's the only day they can .eat a piece of candy, is on Sunday. We like them to think of Sunday, and then in the evening, we gather the family in after church and we have a hymn sing. None of us can sing, but we try. And then we play Bible games. You can buy them down here at the book store. You can also buy these wonderful books for children and read them the Bible stories.
I think in our Sunday School lessons a lot of times we are making a mistake. I think we ought to be giving them the straight Bible as children. There are no more dramatic . stories in the world than David and Goliath. I can tell that story over and over to my boy and his eyes light up and he says, "Daddy, tell me about David and Goliath. Tell me about Jonah and the whale," Boy, I dress them up. I have old David slinging that sling and throwing, and I get up and act it out and the kids just eat jt up. Make it interesting and you can make the Bible live for them. Give them the Scriptures when they are young, and the Bible says, "When they are old, they will not depart," Rear them to know the Lord. When they're old they'll not de. part.
The Bible teaches that we're to have discipline in the. home. . You know the Devil's philosophy is to do as you please, but God said for children to obey their parents and the Lord. You're not to talk back to your parents. One of. the greatest sins Is to talk back to your parents. Let them know in the beginning that they don't talk back, that they ought to obey their parents In the Lord. Now if your parents tell you to do something that's immoral, if they tell you to go steal, you're not to do it. But everything else you're to do it. In the Lord we are to obey. Ephesians 6:4: .'Ye fathers, bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord." The Bible says, .'Chasten thy son while there is hope and let not thy soul spare for his crying." Proverbs 19:18. The Bible again says, Proverbs 29:15: "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."
"Correct thy son and he shall give thee rest, yea, he shall delight thy soul. Withhold not correction from the child, for if thou beatest him with a rod, he shall not die." He may sound like he's going to die but he won't die. the Bible says. Now I don't mean you have to go out with a stick and I'm not too much an advocate of corporal punishment, though I think some children would respond to that type of punishment and discipline better than others. I think that we are to discipline them. You can do it anyway you like. But you've got to hold to discipline. You can't say it and then go and give in after they've wept awhile and put on their little act and their little show. You've got to hold the line. That is the responsibility as parents, according to the Scriptures, and the responsibility of the child is to obey.
I want to tell you young people something: You've already reached the age of 12 or 13 or 14 or 15, and you haven't been the kind of boy or girl you ought to be in the home, why don't you come today and give your life to Jesus Christ? The Bible teaches that all of us are sinners. The Bible teach- es that all of us are failures. even the best of us are failures. The Bible teaches that "all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God." God says. 1'1 will forgive the past. I will help you in the future. I will save your soul. I will help you in your family and in your business. I will give you a new life - only if you will come to the Cross and have an encounter with My Son, receive Him as your Lord and Master and follow in service."
I am going to ask you to do that right now. Men and women and young people, you need Christ in your hearts and in your homes.
Whole families need to come together. I am going to ask hundreds of you to get up out of your seats and come right here and say, "Today, I want Christ. I want Him to forgive the past. 1 want to be the right kind of a husband, the right kind of a father, the right kind of a mother, the right kind of a wife. I want to be the right kind of a child in the home." If you are with friends or relatives, they will wait.