Imagine a stable and prosperous government without families. Society would be full of anarchy if not for the family structure. It naturally provides checks and balances, and some form of order. Imagine a church without families participating. It would be very difficult for the body of Christ to flourish without mothers and fathers discipling their children and providing a solid foundation for the church to build on.
When God designed the family, it wasn’t a haphazard or random design. He had a purpose in mind for the family and the role it would play in the unfolding of His plan for humanity.
The purpose of marriage
Some may view marriage as a worldly construct designed to fulfill our individual desires. This way of thinking leaves God out of the picture. This is proven by the high divorce rate in marriages. Oftentimes, men and women marry and then decide that marriage isn’t what they thought it would be. This shallow and worldly attitude leaves families broken. Husbands and wives divorce, their children feel abandoned, and it oftentimes takes a multi-generational toll.
Research shows that couples who are married often have a better physical and emotional wellbeing. In discussing this research, Dr. Robert Shmerling noted that “People in stressful, unhappy marriages may be worse off than a single person who is surrounded by supportive and caring friends, family, and loved ones.”
Of the numerous instructions for marriage in the Bible, this passage provides the best guidance:
“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. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:22-33).
The purpose of parenthood
Some view parenthood as only necessary to provide for the physical needs of children until they are of age to care for themselves. However, from a biblical worldview, parenthood is about nurturing, teaching, and disciplining children. The goal of parenting to raise the children to honor God with their lives.
The Bible often stresses the importance of guidance and instruction in parenting. Proverbs 23:13-14 says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” In biblical times the rod was used by the shepherd to guide sheep in the proper direction.
God also addresses how children are to respond to their parents’ instruction. Ephesians 6:1-3 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’”
Among many things, the purpose of the family is to contribute to the body of Christ, allow a couple to be fruitful and multiply, and provide a stable environment where the parents and children can flourish in the home and in society.