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Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

A wonderful Christian wife and mother with five children went to her doctor because she was expecting their sixth child. Surprisingly she received anger from the doctor and staff as if being pregnant again was a curse to her and the whole world! At a time her family was very thankful to the Lord, they were also shocked at the response of the world around them. As the years went on, strangers who saw her in public with all her children would sometimes ask her with disgust, “Are they all yours?”

When the two brothers, Jacob and Esau, met for the first time after many years of estrangement, Esau was amazed at the size of Jacob’s family. We read: “And when Esau raised his eyes and saw the women and children, he said: Who are these with you? Jacob said: The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” (Genesis 33:5) Large families may be a mystery to the world but not to the Lord and the Christian. They are graciously given gifts from God.

Parenting certainly has its trials. Your toddler may throw a tantrum. A teen may be rebellious. Grownup children may be dishonor their aged parents. Our sinful nature will want us to view children as world often does, as a curse. Our selfish thinking may only look upon our children as a drain on our resources and time. They bring to us trials and even times of great sadness. Sin has come to our children as well as to us. Yet, children are never a curse.

Yet we learn from our Lord that children are always a blessing from God. Psalm 127 says: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.” (Psalm 127:3–5)

The eternal Son of God was sent by His Father to be a baby and child … to be man. Jesus was the perfect child. Baptized into Christ our children are given new birth, forgiveness of sins and a new life. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children” (Acts 2:38–39). Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:16)

A parent will have those dark days when the family seems to be falling apart. When parenting gets tough, when we fail and sin in our parenting, when our children sin, we repent of sin and Christ is right there with perfect forgiveness. Who would have thought that Jacob and Esau would have such a wonderful meeting as they did in Genesis 35? By God’s grace in Christ there is divine reconciliation.

Our children are always a blessing from God. Even as teens and adults they are still God’s gracious gifts. Look how the adult Christ cares, loves and honors His dear mother as He dies for the sins of the world. Jesus says: “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:26–27)

As you look into you children’s eyes, as you bring them to Jesus, as you watch them grow into teens and adults, you can know from God’s Word that they are always God’s gracious gifts.

This article has been reprinted from The Lutheran Sentinel, March 2016, by permission of the author.


The Rev. Robert Harting serves an ELS congregation, Richland Lutheran in Thornton, Iowa, and a WELS congregation, Prince of Peace in Mason City, Iowa. He and his wife Dawn have four children who have been homeschooled. They both have a great interest in Lutheran education, especially classical Lutheran education, in the home and in the congregation.

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