Who came up with the idea of establishing a government? What was its original purpose? What about the family, or the Church? The Creator of all things, in His love for you, has uniquely created three foundational institutions. He has perfectly designed how these three institutions are to operate. Family, government, and the church are the work of His great wisdom. In Genesis 2:26-28, we see the design of marriage and family. In Genesis 9:6, God established government and more fully described it in Romans 13:1-7. We see God establish the church in Acts 2.
How does a biblical view of these institutes intersect with what we see in our culture? This is the first of a three-part series answering that question. Spoiler alert, the conclusion is that each serves as an illustration of His love for us.
Contrary to the original intent for the family institution, our generation, unfortunately, sees 41% of marriages in America end in divorce. Among the white demographic, the divorce rate is around 40%, and for black families, it is around 48%. As if these numbers are not sad enough, over 40% of all children in America are conceived to unwed parents—leaving many to grow up without knowing their fathers. This goes against God’s beautiful and inspiring plan of marriage.
The most heartbreaking of all divorce statistics is that the divorce rate among self-described Christians is 22%. Even though it is much lower than it has been sometimes proclaimed, it is still very high for followers of Jesus. Marriage was originally created to be an example of Christ’s enduring relationship to His people.
This is what Millennials have seen as the norm. Many have experienced their parents getting a divorce. A quick caveat to those who have experienced divorce in one way or another: I cannot claim to be an expert on marriage, nor should I claim that some divorces are not justifiable. But God hates divorce and it goes against His design, but it is not an unpardonable sin. God offers forgiveness to all who seek it, according to 1 John 1:9. That being said, divorce is still not meant to be the norm.
Instead, God had a different design in mind for marriages and for families. In His infinite love for us, the Creator designed the family as a foundational institution. These three lessons help us see God’s design for the family.
1. God created the family so that one family member can complement another.
Genesis 1:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’”
God has designed us to desire relationships. Family is the primary way we fulfill that relational need. The whole flow chart of a family from grandparents to parents to children complements each other in their particular roles. They are all equal in value but play different roles. Just like the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, equal in value but fulfilling different roles.
2. The family represents a picture of God’s relationship to us and love for us.
Paul writes in Ephesians 5:22-28 how the family should operate and how it illustrates God’s relationship with us. He says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
When a family is actively carrying out God’s design—with loving, sacrificial submission unto each other— it is a perfect reflection of God’s relationship with us.
3. God commands us to grow our family.
Growing your family is a blessing, as He said in Genesis 1:28 ,“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
God’s plan for the family from the creation of mankind was one man, one woman, created in His image, together for a lifetime (Genesis 1:27). God commands those who are married to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). So sex between a husband and wife is God’s great gift to married couples. God also recognizes that not everyone will get married (1 Corinthians 7). But it is through God’s design for marriage that a family is created.
Many couples cannot have their own biological children. For several that I know, this is a reality that confronts them every time they walk in a park, shop in a mall, or login to Facebook. It is real. It is constant. It is painful. But there are other opportunities to express the gospel and grow their family. For example, through adoption or spiritual parenting though mentorship and discipleship.
Your past may be scarred by a poor representation of God’s design for the family. In that, there is grace and mercy from God the Father of all. Maybe you know God’s intentions for the family but you have chosen a different plan. There is a great opportunity to experience grace through the gospel because as long as there is breath in your lungs it is not too late to turn and choose God’s design over the imperfect model the world has demonstrated to you.