The family unit, consisting of husband, wife and dependent children living in the same dwelling is considered the cornerstone of society. When it crumbles, through marriage breakdown as is happening throughout much of the world, the foundation of society disintegrates, with numerous children being raised by a solo parent, or in blended families incorporating members from two or more relationships. Healthy families respect individual differences and celebrate the special uniqueness of each member, while at the same time recognising that all members of the family are bound together by the things they share in common. Like all relationships, families are not exempt from times of stress so love that binds together, tolerance, forgiveness and consideration should be shown at all times with conflicts resolved. There should be a united pulling together, against the forces that would try to tear it apart, as a house divided against itself can’t stand (Mk 3:25).
The Bible concept of the family or house can also refer not only to the nuclear unit of father, mother and children, but also to much larger groups, eg. the house of Israel, and the whole family of God (Isa 5:7; Eph 3:14,15).
Sexual faithfulness between marriage partners is essential for the stability of the home and the emotional wellbeing of everyone including the children.
Actively doing things together as a family unit should be encouraged; this creates bonding and will result in happy memories. The family structure should provide training and nourishment for younger lives in the sound environment of encouragement, acceptance and counsel. Don’t alienate yourself from God’s planned means for your well-being and development. Don’t despise human relationships or the responsibilities of being part of a family.
A stable family is the basis of a healthy community
walking in alignment to adopt a similar stance, as the leader’s views often determine the same or similar culture as they have. There is a desire to copy the attributes of those we admire and live with.
Parents must not show favouritism to any one child; this is divisive, creating hostility and strains the family dynamics, as was the case with Joseph who was singled out for special treatment which sorely irritated his brothers (Gen 37:3,4). Each child has its own strengths and abilities, which need developing while weaknesses are addressed.
Children are to honour and respect their parents with the family unit being governed by submission, love and obedience (Ex 20:12; Eph 5:22-6:4; Col 3:18-21; 1 Pet 3:1-7). Although their responsibility to obey diminishes as they take authority for their own lives, children as they grow into adulthood must continue to respect their parents.
The responsibility of caring for those in particular need falls first on the extended family members – those closely linked – for if a person doesn’t provide for their immediate family they are not fulfilling Bible teaching (Mk 7:10-13; 1 Tim 5:4-8). The church and the state can then assist those without such support.
Future generations can bear the consequences of the sin of their parents through generational curses (Ex 34:7). Conversely, godly parents can leave an infinitely valuable legacy of blessing for their children by walking uprightly and instructing them in the ways of God.
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Sometimes it is essential to go against your family wishes and leave the family (not the marriage partner though) for the cause of Christ (Mk 10:29,30). This should only be undertaken after consultation with trusted advisors and/or elders.
The family structure is symbolic of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the body of believers: Christ as the head and protector; we the believers, like the bride, relishing in His love, submissive to His direction (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18).
The church as a Christian family
Timothy was given wise advice about how to naturally relate to the various groupings: treat the older men with respect as fathers, the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers and the younger woman as sisters needing protection (1 Tim 5:1,2). Respect and sexual purity must not be compromised. The NT pattern for church leaders was that only those who had proved capable of leading their own family well were to be put into ministry (1 Tim 3:4,5,12; Tit 1:6). Being connected and contributing to the spiritual family of fellow believers reflects that of the natural family - giving and receiving love, care and training. Families should incorporate single people into their activities and circle of friends, so they can develop into balanced, outward-focused people and be integrated into the church family.
The Family of GodGod’s original family was the Jewish people. However since Jesus came and died, all humanity has the opportunity, if they so choose, to become God’s children (Jn 1:12;