At the dawn of human history, immediately after the days of creation, the Lord God stated that He would make “an help meet” for Adam (Gen 2:18). With the creation of Eve, the first family noted in the Word of God was formed. At this early point in history the importance and value of the family is emphasized. Thousands of years after that event the Lord Jesus would come in glory to the earth, and clearly the family unit would still be an essential feature. In Zechariah’s account of these momentous days mention is made of families: “All the land shall mourn, every family apart … the family of the house of David … All the families that remain” (12:12-14).
Adam’s family commenced with the joy of the Lord bringing the woman to Adam in what was the first marriage (Gen 2:21-22). We know of three sons born to them, Cain, Abel, and Seth. The discipline of rearing them, including teaching them their need to get to know and worship God, was carried out; but despite that, the family knew sorrow when Cain murdered Abel (Gen 4:8). The birth of Seth (Gen 4:25), however, after the death of Abel, brought renewed joy to his parents. The family principle would continue.
Today the “family” is under attack and increasingly ignored. Many regard it as meaningless, and society suffers the consequences. In such days it is wise to follow the pattern given by the Lord God. In so doing it was His good pleasure to determine that within the family essential features of His character would be displayed.
The family ought to be where order is practiced. God is a God of order. Who could read the opening verses of the Word of God and fail to see the superb order that marked the creation of the universe? Who could be involved in the construction of the Tabernacle and not wonder at the order that marked their work (Exo 28:21; 40:23; Lev 24:5)? An essential feature of family order is that man is the head of the family and the woman is a help suitable for him. This does not signify that the woman is inferior to the man. She has a different role.
The family creates a framework of order, based upon relationships and responsibilities. In the family there are relationships between a man and a woman that ought not to be entered into outside the family. There are responsibilities, such as the rearing of children that must be honored. The birth of children brings added responsibilities. These may appear to be simple statements but the damage that is caused by disobedience to the Word of God is seen around us today.
Husband and wife relationships, which are entered into for life, are one of the bedrocks of a well-ordered society. Without this, disease multiplies and separation and divorce result in tears and heartbreak. The satisfaction of love that grows and matures, and the advantages and blessing of long years together, are lost.
The family is where love should be shown. “God is love” (1John 4:8); “Like as a father pitieth (signifying deep love) his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him” (Psa 103:13). Within the family it is His desire that love flourishes as an example to others. Children will learn that they are loved and, through that, learn how to love. The first mention of love in the Scriptures is the love of a father for his son (Gen 22:2). It must not be forgotten, as is prevalent today, that love is experienced and enjoyed to the full in the family environment. The second sin recorded in Scripture, perpetrated by Cain, was the act of a son who had no love for his brother. Having attempted to destroy man’s relationship with God, the adversary attempted to destroy the relationship of brother with brother and thus to destroy the family. It has already been noted that he failed.
The family is where care should be practiced. David prayed: “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of Thy wings” (Psa 17:8). He knew the God Who cared for his well-being. Care for each other is the mark of a family unit. Parents care for the young and, as the years pass, the roles reverse. Care must be exercised for those who are ill and for those who are in trying circumstances. This can, at times, be difficult to put into practice. Despite the behavior of Lot, Abraham, although able to claim that his nephew was responsible for the plight in which he found himself, still cared for him and rescued him from those who had taken him captive (Gen 14:12-16).
The family is where discipline should be exercised. Society today has, and is continuing, to turn away from adequate discipline. From the beginning in Eden, Adam was to live a disciplined life, ensuring that the garden was kept in order. He was given responsibilities. He was told what had to be done and what had not to be done. Rebellion against discipline in the home is unacceptable. “Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Eph 6:1), is quite clear. However, it is equally clear that fathers must heed the exhortation, “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath” (Eph 6:4).
Today the world has cast the Scriptures aside and determined to order society in a manner that is contrary to God’s Word. The result is calamitous. Selfishness is the order of the day! It is necessary, therefore, for Christians to lead by example in their communities. The family is the basic building block of society. Experiments in changing the basis of family life and the abolition of marriage, in practice if not by law, leads to social instability.
A well-ordered family, with well-ordered children, seeking to honor the Lord in family life is a powerful testimony. What God ordered at the beginning is still effective. Society needs the family in order to function effectively; without it chaos reigns!