Our understanding of family/marriage cannot be separated from our understanding of God and the Gospel.
Seven Foundations of the Theology of Family:
1. God Created Man and Woman in His Image
Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God created each gender with intentional and specific characteristics. Dr. Randy Stinson says it well:
Roles between men and women originated in the pre-fall garden and subsequently apply to all human beings. Since roles are a part of the original creation, then they are inherent in the lives of all men and women and thus should find an echo in every human heart. The idea that men and women are equal yet different, though rejected by modern feminism, is indeed a result of God’s purposeful and beautiful design.
2. God Blessed Man and Woman with the Gifts of Marriage, Sex, and Family
Genesis 1:28 and 2:24 says, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” and “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” God’s design [in marriage] is to join a man and woman together. He created the first family. Family didn’t evolve from societal needs for financial stability and domestic support. God created family, just as he created man and woman. Sex was created as a gift from God to bring a husband and wife closer together for enjoyment and to procreate a family.
3. God Gave Parents the Primary Role of Spiritually Discipling Their Children
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 proclaims:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Before there were churches, Sunday Schools, and youth groups, God entrusted parents with the privilege to teach their children. This command hasn’t changed. Teaching our children about the Lord is our privilege and responsibility as parents.
God will hold you responsible for the religion of your children.
4. God Calls Husbands to Love Their Wives and Calls Wives to Submit to Their Husbands
Ephesians 5:22, 25-26 declares, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” and “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” Just as God created family, He did so with an order to it. The Bible is clear that God sees husbands as the head of a family, regardless of what is popular in today’s culture. A husband has the privilege, responsibility, and duty to lovingly lead his family. Husbands must remember that Christ Himself modeled the kind of leadership they are instructed to provide when He willingly laid down His life to honor His Bride.
5. God’s Design is for Marriage to Be Lifelong
God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Christian marriage is sacred, as it represents Christ’s commitment to His Bride. Our marriage commitment speaks to the world that Christ’s love for His Bride is enduring. He wants our marriages to be light in the world, and churches must do all it can to rescue marriages caught in the storms of life.
6. God Seeks to Use Christian Families as a Testimony of His Love for His Children
2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “herefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Our families must be representatives to the world on God’s behalf. Our families must be distinct from those of the world, serving as a very real picture of Christ’s love for us.
The presence of Christ in our marriage must drastically change it. Christian marriages should be marked with confessing sin, asking forgiveness, serving selflessly and in humility regarding your partner as “more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3). Christ is making His appeal to the world through our marriage and our family, so the way we understand family is extremely important.
7. God’s Design is for Families to Unite and Partner with the Local Church for the Mutual Purpose of Discipleship
The Bible teaches that the church and family are to be united for the same purpose. Families are commanded to teach the children. Churches are commanded to teach all people. Why the overlap? The family and the church are to be united in pursuit of the same goal. Families should no more drop their kids off at the door of the church to be discipled any more than they should avoid the church and try to go in it alone. Family and church need each other to function like each is designed to function for the glory of God.
Times have changed, and that is why a clearly stated theology of the family is crucial. Quite honestly, we all practice theology every day. What does your practice/living reveal about what you really believe?
Steve Wright, A Parent Privilege, 52-60.