Musing on the biblical model of family

Recently, the theme of family has been standing out as I study the Scripture and reflect on the various issues that our society is facing, till the point that I have started to be convicted that family, being the axiom of our society, has to be strong and follow God's model. Hence I shall muse on the traditional makeup of a family according to the Scripture.

Perhaps the first place for all Christians to look at for all issues that relate to family lies in Genesis 1-3, a passage which I have gained an increasing appreciation over the past few months. In Genesis 2:18, God said that it was not good for man to be alone and thus made man a helper after he finished naming the creatures. At that point, it can be argued that man has also realised that he is short of a suitable helper after naming all the creatures in creation. The implication thereafter is clear - God then created woman to help man. If I am to take this at its own, I will say that God has not created another man, but a woman to help man. His idea of a family thus consists of a man and a woman as the nucleus of a household. This is perhaps undeniable that it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. And it is further said that the man will join with his wife and two will cleave into one. Never in the Scripture has otherwise been mentioned.

Male and female, God created them and His command to them was to go forth and multiply. Now, we do see that the formation of the family nucleus in the garden of Eden is to go forth and multiply, an act which is only possible naturally in the union between a man and woman. And this is perhaps one of the major mission of the family. I once read an interesting story from Candice Watters, who mentioned that one of her Christian lecturers once said that the way for Christians to make their voice heard in politics is to go and give birth to more babies. The rationale is that if the families can raise biblically strong children, they will add onto the population and make their voice heard in a democratic society.

Of course, the story in Genesis 3 means that there are a lot of brokenness in the relations within the family and a lot of natural order got corrupted.

Musing further from this, I would expect some objections based on the exposition from the above. One of them, which I can already anticipate and have already seen, is that the Bible does not understand mankind and is too conservative and close-minded. I have seen friends posting articles criticising that Paul does not understand the natural make-up of man when he wrote Romans 1:18-32. However, it really depends on your presuppositions. If your presuppositions are already pitting you against the reliability and authority of the Scripture, I won't be surprised that you will find yourselves disagreeing with the Bible, and that is understandable. It is a bit unfortunate more for Christians who bear the same presuppositions but that is another story for another day. But if we believe that the Bible is indeed the word of God and is indeed theospneuma (God-breathed), then we need to take heed of the model of family and marriage that God is espousing in the Scripture.

One further point to make for this musing before I close - when God created male and female, the intention, as I have mentioned somewhere in this blog before and I have held this view with great conviction, is for the man to take on the leadership within the family - to be the husband to the wife and to be the father to the children. His role, therefore, becomes a very important one. Research has shown the importance of a father's role in a family, especially in the development of a child's upbringing. One such research can be found here. The biblical model does place a heavy premium on the involvement of men in the lives of their children. Just take a look at Ephesians 6:4, which places the responsibility of bringing up the children in the instruction of God solely on the father. This is not to undermine the role of mothers, but what I am saying here is that the implication of fathers in the family can be very far-reaching. Again, if this is the natural order of things, then we need to understand that any deviation from this natural order is bound to see undesirable results within the family. I am not discounting the grace of God which can break certain cycles in the families but if we ourselves are the product of our families, then it makes sense for us to stick with God's model as close as possible when we are building one, for the sake of the society and our future generation. An abnormal family with no father, no mother, or 'two fathers' or 'two mothers' will not work.

Well, if I am to sum up, we need strong families in our societies - families which really follow the biblical model.


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