Two weeks ago, I began speaking in a series entitled “Family Matters” at the Vine modern worship experience at FPC Lakeland, and truth-be-told this isn’t the first time I’ve spoken on the subject… And it won’t be the last. Some might wonder why it’s such a big deal to me… In an age when more and more couples are opting for a childless lifestyle, in an age when the very thought of having children becomes a topic of public debate and children are sacrificed at the altar of convenience, and in an age when the definition of the family seems to be more matter of legislation than religious conviction – is there a place for an honest look at Scripture on the topic of families?
For one reason, God characterizes himself and his relationship to humanity in family terms. God is Father, God is Son (not to mention the completion of the Triune family with the Holy Spirit). Jesus is called our brother (Heb. 2:11, cf Rom. 8:15-17), Paul refers to believers in the churches he serves as his brothers and sisters, God’s discipline is framed in terms of parental love (Pro. 13:24), the Church’s relationship to Christ is in one sense analogous to that of a spouse (Eph. 5:22-33), and the list goes on. Understanding how God thinks about families is vital to better understand God and our relationship to him.
On a more corrective though, the Christian understanding of families reminds us that families are not human inventions born out evolutionary necessity and therefore are not cast aside when they become inconvenient or somehow less-necessary. In Genesis 2, God determines
it’s not good for man to be alone
Of all that God made and declared “good” – this was one thing God said was not good and needed changing. We need other people. So God designed the family to fill that need.
Finally, we are all part of families. They are certainly imperfect. Many are broken into shards so small they couldn’t possibly be mended… but we are all sons and daughters with parents who, at the very least by genetic heritage, determine something about who we are to become. Most with impossibly deteriorated family structures spend their lives trying to find answers to the question of “why?” Why did my family fall apart? Why did my parents get divorced? Why did my child die? Why did my dad abuse us? The hope needed to cope with those questions can only be found in understanding that God has a design for families, and because of the sin in the world families break. God, in Jesus Christ, came to make right what sin sought to destroy by giving himself up as a sacrifice on the cross. As a result, not only is salvation offered for individuals, and not only can families find restoration in relationship to him, but we are united to a more eternal and perfect family through the adoption of God through Jesus Christ in the Church… So that when our earthly families are an abyss of darkness there is a place of light with physical people, physical arms to hug, and audible voices reminding us we are loved.
That’s why talking about the family matters. That’s why it matters for everyone.