Arguing is a natural human response. But why? Join AMBrewster as he helps Christian parents understand why their houses are filled with strife and then uses God’s Word to teach us how to parent through it.
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“Are There Failure Philosophies in Your Home?” (episode 61)
“The Four Family Loves” series (starts in episode 128)
“Why Do Your Children Do What They Do?” series (starts in episode 95)
“Parenting Angry Children” series (starts in episode 287)
“5 Ways You Take God’s Job" (episode 22)
“Teach Your Children to Apologize” series (starts in episode 238)
“Parent’s 5 Jobs” series (starts in episode 184)
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Click "Read More" for today’s Episode Notes and Transcript.
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Hey, my name is Aaron.
If you are new to the show, I want to take a minute to welcome you. I started this podcast for dads and moms who need to submit their parenting to God’s expectations. And that’s all of us.
We don’t need Disney telling us how to parent. We don’t need Hollywood or the media or the government — God forbid — giving us their Failure Philosophies.
We need God’s eternally relevant, absolutely practical Truth.
This podcast is for all dads and moms. Everyone who has ever lived was created by God to have a relationship with Him. We’ve all been called to worship Him with the daily sacrifice of our lives. That includes our parenting.
Yeah, it’s true, not everyone chooses to submit to God, but that’s still our calling; it’s how we were created to thrive.
So, I welcome you to TLP. Anything valuable you find here is rooted deep in the soil of Scripture. Anything ignorable . . . is all my fault.
I am a husband of fourteen years and dad of thirteen years. For five years, before becoming the Executive Director of Truth.Love.Parent. I was the house dad for around eight at-risk teens every year at Victory Academy for Boys.
Over the past thirteen years, I’ve parented over 50 kids from various countries and backgrounds ages 0 to 18. I’ve also had the privilege as a family counselor to help dads and moms become the parents God called and created them to be.
I love my life, I love my job, and I love you and your family. That may sound strange to you because we’ve never met, but I believe that the highest form of biblical love is to want and to work toward God’s best interest in the life of another.
That’s what this podcast is all about. I deeply desire and am working hard to share with you the most important parenting resource on the planet . . . the Bible.
Truth.Love.Parent. is a faith-based ministry. 99% of the resources needed to keep this ministry running require gifts from our listeners. Everyone who has ever given is to thank because he or she has partnered with us to create as many free biblical parenting resources as possible.
Check out TruthLoveParent.com when you get a chance. It’s your family’s source for all things biblical parenting, and don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions, comments, or encouragement.
TeamTLP and I recently received this email from someone who’s been listening to the show from almost the very beginning: “As a 1st generation Christ follower in every aspect and having experienced multiple types of abuse as a child, I have suffered in silence for many years to ‘fully’ trust God and people. So for me, TLP has been a source of peace, mind renewal, comfort and wise counsel. Most people talk about having Oprah in their head but through this powerful medium, I have [TLP] in my head. Often, it has been the only practical ‘get me through the moment’ counsel I have had. I can truly say that my family and I and all those I have shared [TLP] with are truly experiencing mind renewal and transformation. For years, I wavered between feeling overwhelmed at the enormity of this calling or feeling angry that I could not lean on someone else to do this heavy lifting in the vineyard. By God’s grace and loving kindness, he raised up TLP to provide biblical parenting/disciple-making resources that were used to disciple me, and now I do believe God has called me into a new season [of discipling others]. I know trials will come, but I am committed and so clear about trusting God in all things.’ Thank you for discipling me and inspiring me to act and dream bigger than I ever have. I am eternally grateful.”
Praise God for how He graciously allows us — mere jars of clay — to hold such great treasures and share them with each other.
I’m humbled that this listener has spent the past three years with us, and I’m honored that you have joined us today.
So, let’s open God’s Word together and answer the questions, “Why Does My Family Argue?” and “How Can We Stop it?”
By the way, we also offer free episode notes and show transcripts on our blog, “Taking Back the Family.” You can find that resource at TruthLoveParent.com or you can simply navigate to TakingBackTheFamily.com and save it as a favorite or bookmark.
I’m going reference a familiar passage today, but since this is a stand-alone episode, we’re going to study it in brief. That means that there will still be a ton more helpful information buried in this passage that you can mine in your personal Bible study.
James 4:1-10 asks, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?”
That’s the question we’re asking.
1. Why do we argue?
James, the half-brother of Jesus, goes on to answer by way of another question, "Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”
I love that he asks this as if we should have all known it. And, you know what? — we should.
My dad always taught me that we do what we do because we want to.
It’s an ugly Truth, but it’s true nonetheless.
By the way, if you’re new to the show, you may enjoy a series we did all about why your kids do what they do. It starts in episode 95 and is called “The Merest Christianity.” I’ll put a link in the description and show notes of this episode. You can also search all of our podcast episodes at TruthLoveParent.com.
So, James has answered the question. Why do your kids argue? Why do you and your spouse argue? You argue because you want to argue. Literally — it pleases you to argue.
Now, most people say they don’t like conflict. They would say that arguing is not pleasurable in the slightest.
James isn’t saying that the process of yelling and hitting and throwing things is pleasurable . . . though I believe more of us than want to admit it actually do experience a rush from arguing — at least in the moment. He’s saying that it’s worth it to argue because we’re fighting for something extremely valuable.
So, the next logical question is . . .
2. Why do we want to argue?
James explains: “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.”
We’re not just arguing to argue. We’re arguing to achieve our pleasure.
That’s the ticket right there. I want something. I don’t get it. That’s unacceptable to me, so I fight to reclaim what I believe I deserve.
James goes so far as to include murder in the list of examples of what we’re willing to do to get our way. Consider Cain and Able. We have no reason to assume they absolutely hated each other, but Cain justified taking his brother’s life in order to assuage his own guilty conscience.
Why do your kids argue? Why do you argue with your spouse?
You wanted something and didn’t get it. That’s it.
James explains further when he says,“You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
James is basically saying that we argue because we don’t have what we desire, but we don’t have what we desire for two main reasons:
A. We simply didn’t ask.
How many times has a child wanted the toy with which his sibling was playing, and instead of asking for it, decided to take it from him?
How many times have we had an unspoken expectation for our spouse that — when not met — we used it to justify our anger?
Sometimes our arguing is simply a product of our own sinful stupidity. But the second reason James gives for unrequited requests is . . .
B. We ask for something that’s sinful.
The Merest Christianity series I referenced earlier uncovers why all people do what they do, and it boils down to motives. Why are you doing what you’re doing?
Here James warns us that even though we shouldn’t expect sinful desires to be fulfilled, we still use that as a justification for our anger and quarreling.
To recap, we’ve learned that we get angry because we want to get angry. And we argue because we’re trying to capture what we believe we deserve.
So, the next logical question is . . .
3. Why do we believe we deserve something so badly that we’re willing to argue and fight and murder to get it?
Before I return to the book of James, I want to share another TLP resource with you. We recently finished a series called “Parenting Angry Children.” Many of you have called and written in to tell us what a help that series was for your homes. If you haven’t heard it before, I strongly encourage you to listen. It’s tied very closely to today’s subject.
James uses very powerful language to answer why we’re so delusional as to think fighting is justifiable to get our way. He says, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?
Why would James focus in on the sin of adultery? Your kids aren’t even married! How could the source of their desires be adultery?
All throughout the Bible, God uses the metaphor of infidelity in marriage to illustrate what happens when we sin against God. Choosing my own desires above God is spiritual adultery. He’s the only one Who gets to set the trajectory for my life, so when I choose my own path, I’m cheating on God. When I steal that right from Him, I’m being unfaithful to Him. I've become an adulterer.
But, not only is my arguing rooted in my cheating on God, but the text reveals that this infidelity makes me a friend of the world and an enemy of God.
When we follow the example of the world, when we don’t give God His rightful place in our lives, when we desire all the wrong things in our own puny self-worship, and then choose to persecute anyone who doesn’t give us what we want . . . we’re an enemy of God.
Now, you may be wondering how a child of God, a person who has peace with God through the blood of Christ, could possibly be considered His enemy post-conversion. Here’s the answer — though we may not be positionally His enemy, we have definitely chosen to practically be His enemy. It’s the same thing that happens when we cheat on a spouse. Yes, legally we’re still married, but I’m acting like I’m married to someone else. The practical enmity is what’s being discussed here.
Your kids argue because they’ve cheated on God, placed their own desires on His throne, and ordained themselves Chief Thunderbolt Hurler when the puny masses of your family don’t fall in line.
The consequence of their failed coup is that they have made themselves the enemy of God, and — if they’re born again believers — they’ve earned an additional helping of God’s righteous jealousy.
Due to some unfortunate translation work, the following verse has caused confusion. Allow me to clarify with a slightly better rendering: “Do you think the Scripture speaks in vain? The Spirit which He has made to dwell in us lusts with envy.”
The Scripture hasn’t wasted Its breath. Numbers 23:19 tells us in no uncertain terms, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”
If you’ve followed the Disney+ original series, The Mandalorian, then you probably smiled as I did when the diminutive character of Kuiil proclaimed to the formidable Mandalorian, “I have spoken.”
Well, my friends, we don’t have to worry about an alien moisture farmer with a big attitude. God has spoken. He jealously desires the fidelity of His children. The Bible does not speak in vain, and the very Holy Spirit who indwells all believers is vexed that He has to endure such a pathetic attempt to unseat God.
By the way, we have an episode called “5 Ways You Take God’s Job," and we’re working on another satirical one called “Teach Your Children to Take God’s Job.” This is a ridiculous human tendency with which we all struggle.
So, here we have a bunch of tiny people arguing and fighting and murdering each other because they’ve decided that they should get their way. All the while, the God of the universe watches — grieved, cheated upon, and jealous for the love and loyalty and worship due Him.
This is what occurs when we argue with our spouses. These are the consequences of our children’s tiffs.
Could there possibly be a more depressing situation?
I don’t know about you, but this prompts another question in me.
4. Is there any hope for the situation?
And the Lord answers us with the sweetest words in the Bible! “But He gives a greater grace.”
How marvelous! How precious! How amazing!
If a colony of termites were ticked off at each other because they each wanted the best parts of my house for themselves. I’d laugh them to scorn as I exterminated them. But God doesn’t wipe us out in our self-indulgent violence.
He graciously and mercifully sacrifices Himself to redeem us and gives us the power to serve Him instead of ourselves. But there is an important warning attached to His grace:
“Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”
God is not ambivalent toward us. He is either standing against us when we pridefully worship ourselves, or He is gracious to us as we humble ourselves before Him.
This should prompt another question.
5. If humility is the only way to be saved from our constant bickering, how can my family humble ourselves?
James gives us the answer: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
Now, there’s just too much to unpack and apply in our last few moments. Each of these points could be studied out in much further detail. This is where I encourage you — in your own Bible study — to dig deeper into what these behaviors look like in your family.
A. The first step is to intentionally submit to God. We did a two-part episode called “Teach Your Children to Apologize.” This is a necessary phase of submitting to God.
B. The first part of submitting to God is fighting our sinful influences. God tells us to resist the Devil. We need to equip our kids to recognize demonic attacks and respond accordingly. Here’s a spoiler . . . Season 14 is going to be all about the Spiritual Warfare the rages in our lives and the lives of our children. I’m really looking forward to that Season, and I hope you’ll join us.
C. The flip-side of resisting the devil is drawing closer to God. True repentance is moving from sin to the Savior. We can’t merely stop doing wrong without starting to live righteously. Helping our children move from their sinfulness to righteousness is part of the Interpretation Stage of parenting.
I encourage you to check out our “Parent’s 5 Jobs” series to learn more about the Interpretation Stage as well as the other four vital parenting responsibilities.
Let’s recap again. We’ve learned why we and our kids argue and have discovered that humility is the only way to defuse the constant contention in our homes. But how do we do that? First, we need to submit to God. That requires that we stand against sinful influences and run toward our Savior.
But another question arises, how does one practically “draw near to God”?
D. We must live righteously because we desire righteously.
James said, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” The obvious metaphor is one of spiritual scouring to remove the gross from our lives. What works itself out in our hands starts first in our hearts. It starts with our motivation and moves into our behavior. Instead of wanting our own way, we need to want Jesus’ and then live accordingly.
It’s more important that I please God by loving my sibling than by wanting to get his toy. It’s more important that I want to help my spouse be conformed to the image of Christ than I convince them of my opinion.
But we’re talking about rewiring the very basic tendencies of our kids! How does one choose to upend their lives like that? Up until now, we’ve wanted our own way and murdered when we didn’t get it. What’s going to stop that now?
James gives the answer.
E. In order to stop sinning, we must see our adultery for what it really is and be broken by it.
This point is so incredibly important that he goes into more detail on this point than he does the previous points.
In verses 9 and 10, James quotes his Brother’s Sermon on the Mount. James says, “Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” In Matthew 5:3-5, Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”
I’ve quoted this passage so many times on this show because Jesus starts the Sermon on the Mount with the most basic, life-altering Truth in the universe. It’s required for salvation, and it’s required for every step of maturity thereafter. First, we must honestly recognize ourselves for what we really are. We are spiritually destitute. Second, that reality should rock us to our core. Instead of brazenly laughing at our own iniquity, we should be grieved on a cellular level for our highhanded sin against our loving Creator. And that should lead us to meekly, humbly submit to God.
And when we do that, God exalts us. He lifts our heads. He enables us to live in a way that pleases Him.
If you have bickering, argumentative children, I would recommend you use the 4 Stages of parenting to Teach your kids the truth about their desires and spiritual adultery, Interpret the situation for them and call them to apologize and repent, Counsel them by showing them a better way, and Train them by helping them to reinforce on a daily basis what they’ve learned.
This is now the third time I will have encouraged you to listen to the “Merest Christianity” series. And this time I’m going to admonish you to listen to it with your argumentative children. Sit down as a family. Listen to the lessons. Discuss the applications. I believe it will provide you a fantastic foundation on which to parent your children through their quarreling.
Remember, intentional, premeditated parenting takes time. You wouldn’t want your doctor to zip through your surgery as quickly as possible just to get it done. You’d want him to take his time to do it the right way. You are being used by God to help perform surgery on a child. Don’t rush it. Take your time to Teach, Interpret, Counsel, and Train your kids.
And then the final logical question we should have after all of that is:
6. What does that kind of life produce?
I believe the question is answered by going back through the passage. If we understand the wickedness of self-worship and tyrannical living, we will be grieved, we will turn to God for help, He’ll graciously give us everything we need for life and godliness, by the power of the Holy Spirit we won’t serve self, but instead we’ll faithfully submit to God, desiring what He desires and deriving pleasure from holy living. And we will not be tempted to argue or fight or murder because we will trust the Lord and — as Matthew 5 teaches us — we will be able to rejoice and be glad when people insult and persecute and lie about us . . . not fight.
We fight because we want to be God, so submission to Him is the only way we’ll ever find help for our fighting. There’s no other formula.
So, make sure you implement God’s cure for your family arguing — start today — but also share this episode on social media so other families can be rescued from their bickering and self-worship too.
And, if you’d like specialized help for your unique family struggles, please contact us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love.
To that end, join us next time as we discuss my cousins recent Facebook post and remind overwhelmed moms that they’re not alone.
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