Matthew 19:3-5: "Some Pharisees came to (Jesus Christ] to test him. They asked, "Is it lawtul far a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" "Haven't you read," he replied, "that af the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,'
(Gen.1: 27), and said, `For this reason a mon will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife. and the two will become one flesh'
(Gen.2:241? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has tamed together, let man not separate."
Exodus 20:12; 14: "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God gives thee. Thou shalt not commit adultery."
Malachi 2:14-15: ",..the Lord has been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou host dealt treacherousty: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly offspring Therefore take heed to your spirit. and let none deal treacherausty against the wife of his youth."
A, The Family. God's BasIc Social Inslitutlon
The origin of the family goes back to the creation of the first man and woman, Os we read in Genesis 2:18-24, and as our Lard Jesus Christ confirms in quoting from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:4-5. He then concludes that man and wife "are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." The holiness of the marriage and family bond is confirmed in God's reference to all the families of the earth, which are to be blessed in Abram, that is, Abram's offspring according to the flesh, Jesus Christ (Gen.12:3). At least two of the Ten Commandments confirm the will of God regarding the cohesion of the family, that is, husband and wife and their children, honoring father and mother, and the prohibition of adultery. The Tenth Commandment against covetousness "of your neighbor's wife" is further confirmation (Exodus 20:17), and this Scripture also protects the familys (and individual's) right to property, that is, management or stewardship over house, servants, cattle or any other thing entrusted to a family or individual by God. Man's stewardship and communal or social living is thus inextricably linked to his family: father, mother; brothers and sisters; spouse, with whom he begins a family of his Own: and children, whom he and his spouse must "bring up in the nurture ar,d admonition of the LORD" Ephes. 6:4 Children must obey their parents in the Lord, according to the Fourth Commandment (Ephes.6:1-3; Col. 3:20-21). Wives are to submit themselves to their husbands, and husbands to love their wives, even as Christ loves the Church (Ephes.5:22-33; Col.3:18-19; I Pet.3:1-7).
Marriage, upon which the family is built, is a union, not a business contract as now claimed all over the world. (*) C. S. Lewis's comments are to the point:
The Christian idea ot marriage is based on Christ's words thai a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism- for that is what the words "one flesh" would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact- just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument. The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined... As a consequence, Christianity teaches that marriage is for life....the Christian churches] are all agreed that [divorce] is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership...(Mere Christianity [New York: Macmillan, First Paperback edition 1960], pp.81, 82.)(*)
In addition, equality between the spouses, and even as in Sweden and increasingly all over the West, equality between parents and children is totally unbiblical. Family members even as members of all mankind are not equal but created to help and complement each other in the biblical Christian perspective. Husbands have authority over the wives, and parents have authority over their children (Genesis 3:16; Exodus 20:12,11 and 17; Eph.5:22-33; Col.3:18-21; I Pet.3:1-7). Also consider I Timothy 2:12-15, tracing the woman's submission to the husband to Eve's transgression in Eden. This does not eliminate the husband's duty to love his wife "even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for if' (Eph.5:25). Marriage and parenthood, being rooted and grounded in God's creation design for mankind, are a high and holy calling. A man's service as elder or deacon in the church depends on how a candidate has "managed his own family," for "it anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church7" (I Tim.3:1-5)
B. God's Purpose and Model for the Family
The purpose of the family is "godly offspring" (Malachi 2:15). This is why husband and wife are to maintain their unity in a faithful, lifelong marriage, and why they, especially the fathers, must bring up their children according to the ways of the Lord. The Lord shared His impending judgment upon godless, perverse Sodom and Gomorrah with His friend Abraham because He knew that Abraham would "command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment: that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him" (Gen.18:19). (*)Then godly Abraham interceded with his Lord for the righteous of Sodom and Gomorrah, though not even ten righteous people could then be found there (Gen.18:23-32; Gen.19:16, 26). A family may be spared for the sake of one righteous member, as Lot and his daughters were for Abraham's sake, Rahab's family for her kindness to God's spies (Joshua 6:22-23), and the line of Judah's kings for David's sake.(*) While each man will account for and die for his own sins (Ezekiel 18:30, Deut.24:16), the Lord does punish the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him, but shows love 10 a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments (Exodus 20-6). There are no "private" acts and no "victimless crimes": every act of man affects society, his own family firsf of all. As John Donne said, "No man is an island". Society is not an aggregate of individuals, each of whom can "do what is right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). Each and every one of us depends first on God our Creator and Sustainer, next on our fellow men. This is why all God's Law can be summed up in first, the love of God wlth all our heart, Soul, mind and strength, and next, the love of our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). the Trinity--one Godhead in Three Persons--is the model for man's Social relations. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit never work independently. In the act of the creation of all things the Father wilted in speaking through the Word, Christ, and in moving or hovering over the work through the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:1-3). Even so all members of the family, and by extension of all society, are meant to work together as separate persons with individual functions and talents, but in total harmonious, mutually complementary oneness. For "none of us lives to himself alone, and none of us dies to himself alone" (Romans 14:7), and "each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up" (Romans 15:2). Ultimate dependence and fellowship must be upon and with God.
Would-be independent man first cuts himself off from God, then more and more from his fellow men as well. This chosen isolation and "self-reliance" of each individual is part of man's fall, and so is blaming others for one's own misdeeds and troubles. Note how Adam blamed Eve and indirectly God for his disobedience to God in Eden (Gen.3:12), while Eve blamed the serpent (Gen.3:14). God assigned blame and penalties justify and impartially, and He also provided a covering for fallen man's nakedness by substitute animal sacrifice, pointing to Christ the "Lamb that takes away the sin of the world" (Gen.3:14-19.21: John 1:29)
C, Functions and Responsibilities of Family Members
The father is the head of the family and responsible for its "nurture and admonition" in the Lord (Eph.6-4). In alt too many Christian families today this rote has devolved upon the mother. The result is often that the sons eventually become lukewarm Christians or even unbelievers, while the daughters, though more earnest about the faith, tend to be lax about the importance of choosing truly Christian spouses The wife is to be a "helper suitable for" the husband (Gen.2:18), not to usurp his function and responsibility of headship. Yet if she is to carry out her God-given task, her husband must take her into his confidence, sharing his concerns with her and weighing her counsel. His own task will be the easier for such openness and trust. However, the final decision is his if they cannot agree upon the course of action to take. Both husband and wife must bear each other's good in mind, or rather, remember that they are really no longer two separate individuals but "one flesh" (Mt 194). The strong, capable, diligent, generous and wise wife "of noble character" of Proverbs 31:10-31, in whom her husband "has full confidence" (Prov.31i11) is the model for all true Christian wives. Her strong and God-fearing conduct is the background for the respect her husband enjoys "at the city gate...among the elders of the land" (Prov.31 :23). Note how through the godly functioning of the family the entire community is blessed and sustained.
Father and mother are responsible, of course, for the upbringing and training ot their children. Christian spouses who take God's Word seriously will of course "be fruitful and increase in number" (Gen 1:28; 9:7). The proliferation of birth control and abortion all over the world today shows how far we have departed from true family consciousness under our Lord (see Lesson 9). Though children now come into the world with pain to their mothers (Gen3:16a), though their upbringing is an awesome and heavy responsibility, and though they may grieve godly parents by rebellion (even as Adam and Eve, and after them all of us, grieved God's own Father- heart by our rebellion against Him!), yet obedience to our Lord requires that they be given life and core, and they are a reword from Him (Psalm 127:3~5'. Psalm 128), Handicapped children may be the greatest blessing of all as family members learn with them in daily service and love to care for others without expectation of "return payment." Truly the weakest members of the "body" --the family, society-are indispensable (I Cor.12:22). Children must obey their parents in the Lord and honor them, the commandment with promise for a long life in land given by the Lord (Ex.20:12; Eph.6:2). It ought to be obvious from the foregoing that sexual enjoyment alone cannot be the foundation of marriage, much less the family. As Proverbs 31:30 puts it, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Yet in modern society sexual attraction has become the first criterion for choosing a mate. Hence the ever greater ease of divorce and multiplied adultery (Mal.2:14-15J. Beneath these developments lies man's rebellion against God and desire to please only himself and his appetites. Material wealth has also been placed above family cohesion in the biblical, total sense, A prominent Sign of this idolatry of wealth and individual comfort is the widespread refusal to support one's needy family members. Such members are now even killed by abortion or euthanasia (see Lesson 9), or else their support is transferred to the stale (See also Lesson 6). Yet the Church must take care of "widows who are really in need," and children and grandchildren should support their own parents and grand-parents "for this is pleasing to God" (I Tim.5:3-~). In fact, "if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (I Tim.5:8)
D. The FamiIy Under Attack and In Danger
(*)Because the family is so central to building up a godly society, it has always been under attack by unbelievers and is in particularly great danger today. At the root of outright hatred of family bonds lies sinful man's craving to be independent of God and his fellow men so he may do as he pleases and not be burdened or restrained by any responsibilities or obligations. Such individual anarchy and selfishness among ever growing numbers of people eventually leads to the breakdown of society at large. But this is not the end: the most ruthless and selfish people will usurp the government and enslave the rest of the people to serve their own ends. He who will not serve God his Creator invites human tyranny, as history shows.(*)
(*) As C. S. Lewis wrote, "Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and [civilization) slides back into misery and ruin.. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice [instead of on God Himself]. That is what Satan has done to us humans." (Mere Christianity. p.39: see also Lesson 1).(*)
Modern enemies of biblical Christianity have attacked the family on the grounds of evolution, denying the biblical creation account (for instance. Sigmund Freud, see Lesson 5]. (*)The vituperative attack on the family by Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx's co-founder of Marxism-Communism, was based upon evolution. For him, the monogamous family was founded upon enslavement of the woman by the man, and original group marriage was replaced by individual marriages inevitably accompanied by adultery and prostitution. His idea of marriage was that of a contract based only upon physical love, which could be easily broken. Likewise Engels looked upon private property not as a trust under God, but rather as theft from communal ownership of all things, and to be abolished, as It is today in Communist countries. Consider that Communism dominates about half the world today and bids fair to conquer it all by invasion (Afghanistan, Tibet), subversion, and by confluence with New Age thought in the anticipated one-world state of the near future. "Communal ownership" means administration by the state/government, and in practice by the ruling elite (see also Lesson 2).(*) Because the biblical family protects true cohesion and love, and points to the God of Scripture and His true freedom in Christ, it is especially under attack in today's "post-Christian" world. One line of attack is to confuse the difference between a true family and "people living together" no matter who they are. Another is to take over the education of the children (see Lesson 11). Another is to discriminate against biblical families by peer pressure (as against families with more than two children). by tax disadvantages, and by contempt against "homemakers" in the name of feminist "self-esteem," "self-fulfillment," etc. Enemies of the biblical family also suppress the lesson all `History teaches, namely, that breakdown of marriage and family has always been a sure precursor of the breakdown of an entire society or state. Ancient Greece and Rome are perfect examples of this historical fact. Because the family is God's basic social institution, to abandon or destroy it is to destroy society.
1. What three of the Ten Commandments relate to the family?
2. Who has authority over whom in the biblical family?
3. Upon whom does every man depend. and whom do his actions affect? Cite Scripture.
4. Describe the functions and responsibilities of husband and wife/father and mother.
5. Are handicapped or weak family members needed by the family? Give a Scripture.
6. What is the end result of family breakdown for society?
For Further Reading.
"Focus on the Eamily" Magazine (with Dr.James C. Dobson), P.O. Box 500. Pomona, CA 91769.
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. New York: Macmillan. Eirst Paperback Edition 1960.
Carle C. Zimmerman. Family and Civilization. New York. Harper, 1947. (A thoroughly researched, scholarly volume. Excellent on family breakdown in ancient Greece and Rome.)
On the blessing severely handicapped, helpless children can be to their families and others, read Christopher de Vinck, The Power of the Powerless New York: Doubleday. 1988
Student Summary For Lesson 10
Biblical Creation And Society
Lesson 10 The Family
Matthew 19:3-5; Exodus 20:12,14; Malachi 214-15
A The Family, God's Basic Social Institution
1. Origin of family goes back to creation Gen.2:18-24; Mt.19:4-5;Gen.12:3
a. three of Ten Commandments confirm God-willed cohesion of family; family's right to property (Exodus 20:17)
b. parents and children Eph.6:1-4; Col.3:20-21
c. husband and wife Eph.5:22-33; Col.3:18-19; I Pet.3:1-7
2. Marriage is union, not business contract
a. husband has authority over wife, parents over children Gen.3:i6; Ex,20:1 2,14.17; Eph.5:22-33; Col.3:1 8-21; 1 Pet.3: 1-7
b. woman's submission to husband I Tim.2:12-15
c. husband to love wife Eph.5:25
d. Church office tied to famity rule I Tim.3:4-5
B. God's Purpose and Model for the Family
1. purpose is "godty offspring" Ma1.2:15
2. God honored Abraham with confidence because He knew Abraham would keep his family and household in godly ways Gen.18:19
3. a family may be spared due to one righteous member Josh.6:22-23; but each man responsible for his sins Ez.18:30, Deut.24:16. However. punishment reflects on "third and fourth" generation, blessings on "a thousand generations" Exodus 20:6.
4. no "private acts" or "victimless crimes" Jud.21:25; Mt.22:37-40
5. Trinity model Gen.1:1-3; Romans 14:7; Romans 15:2; Gen.3:12,14-19,21; Jn.1:29
C. Functions and Responsibilities of Family Members
1. Father is head of family, mother his helper Eph.6:4; Gen.2:18
a. wife of Proverbs 31:10-31 model for Christian wive
2. children commanded (Gen.1:28; 9:7); pain (Gen.3:16) yet blessing Ps,127,128
a. handicapped children & family members indispensable I Cor.12:22
3. children to honor parents (Ex.20:12; Eph.6:2)
4. sexual attraction not foundation Prov.31.'30; Mal.2:14-15
5. family and Church must care for its needy I Tjm.5:3-4,8
D The Family Under Attack and In Danger
1. sinful man's craving to be independent at root of relection of family
a. indMdual anarchy and selfishness leads to society's breakdown
b. then most ruthless people take over tyranny
2. modern attacks based on evolution
a. Friedrich Engels properly as "theft" from "communal ownership"
3 forms of attack today
a. confuse difference between true family and "living together"
b. wrest education of children from parents
c. contempt against large families, homemakers: tax discrimination