"I pledge to you today that, with God's help, I will . . . for His sake, the sake of our family and the generations that will be affected by the choices we make this day." These were the words that we spoke to each other that cool October day 2012. It was there in a local church on an old country road in session six of the Art of Marriage that I felt like I had said my marriage vows for the first time and meant every word of it.
Rewind a year and a half before that day and it was the day that I let my anger take control of me (which it did very easily in those days) because I found out about the affair. If the holes in the sheet rock from punching the walls weren't bad enough, I held our little girl in between us and asked my wife, "Was it worth losing this? Were you not thinking of how this was going to affect the children?" That is the edited version, anyway.
Is it okay for children to see their parents have conflict? YES! Children need to know how to resolve conflict in a healthy way. If you want to see an unhealthy way, go back one paragraph. One of the most important things they can see is that even though their parents have conflict they still show each other love and respect.
However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. Ephesians 5:33 AMP
Because I was dealing with hurt as a result of my wife's betrayal, I did not realize that my own choices over the years had been affecting my children negatively, even though I thought I was doing "good" by providing for my family. Fast forward now to December 2012 Charleston, SC at a Weekend to Remember:
God: "Craig you do realize you were having a work affair right?"
God used this painful situation to reveal to me how the decisions we make don't just affect us, the sins we commit have consequences that could affect our children, their children, and their children's children...
...I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. Exodus 20:5 NLT
So, right about now you are saying "Yeah, but what about that verse in Deuteronomy, you know the one that says specifically that children are not held responsible for the sins of their parents?"
“Parents must not be put to death for the sins of their children, nor children for the sins of their parents. Those deserving to die must be put to death for their own crimes. Deuteronomy 24:16 NLT
It is correct that they are not being punished for your sins. But you see, our children are going to model our behavior and make decisions based upon how they see us make decisions. So when a father has a consistently sinful lifestyle, his children are more likely to lead a similarly sinful lifestyle. As a result, they are not being punished for the sins of their parents but their own sins which happen to be the same.
What decisions will you make today that will leave a Godly Legacy for your children or generations to come? Don't learn the hard way like I did. Men we are called to be providers- it is in our DNA but don't forsake your family so your children can see what a hard working man looks like. If you have not done so already, take the time attend The Art of Marriage and learn how your marriage can be what God intended it to be. It might not change just your life it could also change the lives of family members you never know!
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