I can’t draw boundary lines for your family and you can’t draw them for mine. That is hard for us because we wouldn’t believe what we do if we didn’t think it was right, but there must be room for the authority God has given fathers and mothers to decide what is best for their children. We need to support each other’s right to draw lines for our own families and defend those who are persecuted for drawing lines in their lives even if we do not draw the same line. There are some things that are a matter of conscience and for someone to violate his conscience the Bible calls sin (1 Corinthians 8:10-12; 1 Peter 2:19). We must study Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 and realize that God has given certain authority to the father of the family and not the church to decide some things. For example: I have decided with my wife that our children will not be allowed to spend the night with friends where we are not present. Based on our own experiences and other dangers that we know exist we are not willing to allow that. You may not agree or even understand why we have made that decision, but that doesn’t matter, you should respect the right of our family to decide that. There are other things that do not always make sense to others looking in from outside, but that are an important part of one families rules. When I was young I would go to a friend’s house and when we came in the door his mother would tell us to take off our shoes. My family never did that, but at their house I did because it was their rule. It never made much sense to me at the time, but looking back I realize that since they lived on a farm there were probably some pretty nasty things on those shoes that they did not want tracked all through the house.
God never gives a responsibility to someone and makes them accountable to Him unless He has also given that person the authority and power to fulfill the responsibility. When God tells husbands and fathers that they are the head of the house they have the power, authority, and information necessary to fulfill that responsibility and will be held accountable with what has been entrusted to them. If fathers (or mothers for that matter) shirk their responsibility they will have to answer to God for that. What are you doing to lead your family in the right direction?
So where will your family draw the lines? Only you can answer that, but let me give you some questions to consider.
1. Has your family drawn lines regarding use of language (Cursing, lying, using God’s name in vain, etc.) that are not to be crossed?
2. Has your family made boundaries in the sexual arena (dating, premarital sex, flirting, sexting, etc.) for your self, spouse, children maturing into adulthood?
3. Has your family set guidelines for time usage (things that are a waste of time and shouldn’t be done, things that must be done before others, activities with time limits, etc.) that help everyone in the family be productive?
4. Has your family determined out of bounds markers on money matters (amounts to save, give and spend, discussion between husband and wife before spending, budgeting, kids’ spending, what kinds of things should never be bought, etc.) to avoid materialism, affluenza, poverty, greed, government dependence, etc?
5. Has your family fenced off negative entertainment and fenced in positive entertainment to keep minds pure and attitudes positive?
6. Has your family defined proper and improper behaviors in your home and in public?
7. Has your family determined what is a sufficient reason to miss worship or other spiritually beneficial activities?
8. Has your family decided what teachings or practices would cause you to leave one church for another?
9. Has your family outlined priorities based on principles you believe are most important?
10. Has your family clearly marked the limit of government interference, intrusion, coercion, etc. that you will allow before saying we must obey God rather than man?
11. Has your family drawn a line in education (safety, things taught, private school cost, home schooling, etc.) about what you will or won’t allow for your children?
There may be other areas that you need to consider, and if so, consider them and make a decision. As in many other areas of life, so in the area of drawing boundary lines: not deciding is deciding not to. If you don’t build the walls and draw the lines someone else will do it for you and you may not like the results. Remember that there may be new information that could change some things for your family, so the things you have put down need to be reviewed an a regular basis to make sure they are still in line with your family culture and values as well as your knowledge and understanding of the Bible. For example: as you learn and grow as a Christian some things that you once allowed you may realize should not have been allowed, but other things that you were dogmatic about you may realize were family traditions and not Biblical principles and you may want to go a different direction from the way your parents or grandparents or siblings went. - jp