The Home As a Fortress
The average house that is built today requires about 16,000 board feet of framing lumber. That’s a lot of wood, and it does a very effective job of creating rooms, keeping the outside elements outside, and keeping us warm and cozy on the inside. Unfortunately, it is not enough to make the home what it really needs to be: a fortress.
We Need a Fortress!
The three great temptations to sin – according to the Bible – are the world, the flesh, and the devil. While it is impossible to escape from these things during our earthly lives, we can take steps to limit them.
The modern world is a particularly powerful force. Not only does it tempt us to sin, but it is constantly working to infiltrate our lives with vain philosophies and godless ideas. Sometimes the onslaughts of the world are overwhelming. Where can we go to avoid these constant attacks? We need a fortress!
God’s Intention for the Home
Fortunately, God has provided one way for us to escape some of these assaults of the world: in the refuge of the family, and the home. This doesn’t mean that every home is a refuge for the temptations, snares, and philosophies of the world, but it should be. Joshua thought this way when he told the Israelites, “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua may not have been speaking about his residential dwelling, but his commitment to serve the Lord certainly had implications for his home.
Modern families often live, not in a home, but in an apartment – a place where each member of the family lives their private lives, in their private spaces, without interacting with each other. Parents work, children go to school, grandparents are sent to live in special retirement communities. Not only is there little personal interaction, but the outside world is actively brought in to these apartments – televisions pipe the world in, music and internet and video games and texts bring it in closer. There is never an escape from the outside world.
Making the Home a Fortress
As I said earlier, Christians will not be able to escape temptations to sin. Even if we lived in solitary confinement, the devil and the flesh still present temptations. However, it is useful to view the home as a sort of fortress, with a culture of its own that glorifies God.
How do we make the home a place of refuge from this wicked world? Several ideas come to mind.
- Don’t lower the drawbridge! You would never allow the enemy soldiers to march right inside your castle, so don’t let the world freely enter your home. Actively exclude those things that bring in the world. Media – whether in the form of television, internet, radio, or even old-fashioned books – can all be used as secret (or not-so-secret) agents of the devil to bring the world into the home. This doesn’t mean that you have to end your contract with the cable company or smash your television. It does mean that you need to actively and intentionally be careful about what you (and those you are responsible for) watch, read, surf, or hear. For some – yes, that may mean throwing out your TV. For others, it might mean putting your computer in a very public part of the house. For others, it may require previewing the books or videos that your children watch.
- Build up the defenses. Aim for a culture of godliness. This begins with you: making your intention known to follow the Lord in your home. Encourage Bible reading, family devotions, and discussions about Biblical topics. If you exclude the world from your home, you need to replace it with something. Fill the vacuum with the Word of God.
- Train the army. Foster a sense of discernment. Let’s be honest, you can’t create an entire ‘world-blocking firewall’ around your home. Some stuff is bound to get in. When it does, use that as a teaching opportunity to show the worthlessness of the world. Discernment is all about discerning “what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
- Raise the black flag. Don’t tolerate what shouldn’t be tolerated in the home. There is a lot of evil in the world: evil words, evil deeds, evil thoughts. You wouldn’t tolerate one enemy squadron in your castle. Why in the home?
- Hold a (careful) parley. Practice cautious hospitality. The Bible commands hospitality, and let’s be honest, Jesus ate with very wicked sinners. It is not wrong to invite these people into your home. The question is, who influences whom? Practice hospitality to encourage other people toward godliness, to urge them on to love the Lord with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Even if someone who disagrees with you enters the home, you still control the environment. Use your home as a fortress to advance the cause of truth.
In the stories of both Lot (in Sodom) and the man of Gibeah (Judges 19), the home was a place of refuge from the outside world. All may be chaos and confusion outside, but those who were inside were safe. It is a beautiful picture of what the home should be.