This weekend, several of our members attended a retreat in Springville organized for the purpose of strengthening our families. A strong family is an important goal that every church should keep as a priority.
The family is God’s way of bringing children into the world, which is to say it is God’s way of creating human beings.
The family is also God’s way of teaching children about him. In the family, they are supposed to learn that they have been made in his image and that their design is best served by living according to his will, even when it sounds strange or counterintuitive.
Furthermore, families have been created by God to train children to lead godly lives. When God condemned the unfaithful husbands and deadbeat dads of Malachi’s day, he reminded them that they had been brought together into a family with their wives and children because he sought godly offspring (Malachi 2:15). Children belong to the Lord. He loans them to families so that they will train them to love him first above all else.
Someone might ask, “What about the church? Isn’t it the church’s responsibility to teach the world the ways of the Lord?”
The church, of course, plays a very important role in making disciples (Matthew 28:19 – 20), but before the church can do what it does, the family must do its work. How does a child find her way into a church unless she is led there by her mother or father? Granted, many disciples were introduced to Christ as adults and learned the truth in church. But even then, a process that is more like family than church initially brought them to a knowledge of Christ. No one comes to Christ in isolation. How is it possible for an adult to turn her life upside down to follow Christ without a close friend or family member caring about her and loving her enough to lead her through the first steps to conversion, which eventually leads to the church? Take away families, and the church will disappear in a matter of months.
Biblically, the family is framed upon a marriage consisting of one man and one woman who are devoted to one another for lifetime (Gen. 2:24). If God blesses a marriage with children, they are to be regarded as a “heritage” and a “reward” (Psalm 127:3).
We are told by our culture that families no longer have to adhere to this narrow definition of the family found in the Bible and that families come in all shapes and sizes. Just about any imaginable arrangement of two or more human beings is considered satisfactory. In fact, our culture celebrates any so-called family that breaks free of the biblical mold.
One who insists on God’s standard for the family risks accusations of hatred and intolerance. We are told that people should be able to marry whomever they love and that the traditional family was a cruel extension of a patriarchy that oppressed women, minorities, and homosexuals for centuries, but now we have escaped the chains of discrimination. Marriage can be whatever we want it to be.
It’s understandable why someone would want to be with the person she loves. But changing God’s plan for the family does more damage than good. Culture will not understand this because it is centered on humanity, not God. Culture does what it thinks is best for humanity, which always amounts to centering life on itself.
There are many very good reasons why God’s definition of the family should continue to be upheld. Consider two:
- The complementary nature of the male-female bond in marriage mirrors the love between God and his people. Paul called marriage a “mystery” because it symbolizes something beyond human happiness, the complementary bond between Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:32). Marriages built on “sameness” ignore this complementary element of marriage that makes it resonate so strongly in the heart of the believer.
- The traditional family, as it is now called, is ideal for raising children. This is not to say that children cannot be healthy or safe in untraditional families, such as a single parent home. But it is exceedingly difficult to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord without the committed, complementary relationship of a mother and father who each bring their unique contributions to the family so that their children will learn about the Lord and devote their lives to following him.
Family is not just about individual rights or enjoying life with the person you love the most. The family was created by God for reasons that are usually ignored, not just by our culture, but even by churches that reduce Christianity to a way of “being happy.”
Churches must use every tool available to strengthen their families so that God’s vision of the family may continue into the future. There is much at stake. If God’s people will not speak up for the divine arrangement of the home, who will?