Dr. Randy White
Over the next few days I want to post a series of articles that speak to the family crises our society is experiencing. Because family is the foundational element of any society, a weakness in the family means a crisis in society.
If you enter any Christian bookstore today, you will find rows of family books filled with Christian psycho-babble about marriage, sex, child-rearing, romance, and any other family related topic that one could possibly imagine. If you skip the bookstore and go to the Bible (which I encourage, since most Christian bookstores have such low doctrinal standards that their shelves are filled with bad doctrine and even heresy) you will find just a few passages of Scripture that speak directly to family life. These few words, however, will be perfectly clear to even the average reader. There are no debates on interpretation, no confusing theological terms, and absolutely no psycho-babble! On the most basic issues of life, the Bible gives simple and foundational principles that, if followed, will save you from a world of hurt and despair.
As I begin this series, let me start with the cut and dried aspects of the Biblical family that are without dispute.
God’s Will is for one husband and one wife in a committed life-long marriage.
Polygamy is in the Bible, but never expressed as God’s will. Divorce is in the Bible, but never expressed as God’s will. Singleness is in the Bible, but only once expressed as God’s possible will, and then in an extremely limited circumstance. Single parenting is seen in the Bible, but a remedy is always sought in Biblical instructions about the family. In short, when God defines family, it is described as being built upon the committed relationship of one man and one woman.
In Matthew 19, Jesus is asked a politically charged question about divorce. His answer is that “from the beginning” God created man to leave father and mother and cleave to his wife, and that “what God has put together, let no man separate.” Today, we might need to paraphrase by saying, “What God has defined, let no man redefine.”
Divorce happens. It is never God’s will, and God always hates it. Even in the case of widowhood, the Word encourages young women to remarry. God’s will for the family–one husband and one wife in a committed life-long marriage– is consistent through Old and New Testaments.
Older couples used to joke that they never considered divorce, just murder! Today, sadly, divorce is considered as an option far too often. If you are in a marriage, you need to commit yourself to that marriage for the rest of your life. Find whatever source of strength you can in your church, your friends, and your relationship to God to make it to the end. No marriage is life-long romance, but every marriage can be life-long commitment.
God’s will is multiple children
When God created Adam and Eve for marriage, He instructed them to “go forth and multiply.” This plan has never changed, but western society’s view of the plan has. After World War II, American families began to shrink. This was done for pragmatic, not doctrinal reasons. The American family (as well as the European family) became “all about me” instead of “all about God.” Children were produced and raised for pleasure rather than God’s glory. The children could be an object of love and happiness. More than two or three would be expensive, worrisome, and stressful. We blamed the change on the loss of the agrarian mode of living, but it was really based on the rejection of God’s Word, which never changed. I hope that young married couples today will seriously consider multiplication! Every person born is created in God’s image, and thus procreation is an expansion of God’s glory.
God’s will is children raised in spiritual knowledge
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is the beautiful instruction to parents to raise their children with spiritual and Biblical knowledge (one is not possible without the other). Parents are instructed to teach the commands of the Lord diligently to their children and to “talk of them when you sit in your house.” I suppose a good start for most families would be to sit in the house and talk! When you do talk, talk about the things of the Lord. It is the parent’s Biblical responsibility to teach their children Biblical knowledge and spiritual truth.