Is the family structure important to the well-being of society? Is it important to God? Is there a relationship between husband and wife resembling that between Christ and his church?
It is said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If we were to look at the various aspects that make up a society and refer to them as links, we would see that one of the most important links in the chain of society is the family. And it appears that Satan is doing his best to weaken, if not destroy, that link.
A solid family is becoming harder and harder to find. By solid, I mean one that functions on a good Christian, morally sound, foundation.
If we were to add up all the families that have been divorced, all the one parent families, all the people living together without being married, and all same-gender partners, the total would be staggering. And unfortunately this has become the accepted way of life for many. But God never intended it to be this way.
Family - A Divine Appointment
God instituted marriage very early after creating mankind. "And the rib, which the Lord had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:22-24).
From these verses, it can be clearly seen that God established an opposite-gender relationship. There are also other Scriptures that support this fact (Mark 10:7, 1 Cor. 7:2, Eph. 5:31)
No one needs look any farther than to the account of Sodom and Gomorrah to understand that God condemns h**lity. Even in the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans he strongly denounces that lifestyle. "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient" (Romans 1:26-28).
Clearly, God does not approve of the h**l lifestyle. Yet there are those in our society who demand acceptance of that lifestyle. He has, however, provided for His people to escape from every form of deviant behavior.
Reason for Divorce?
Marriage is something that God considers to be sacred, holy and permanent. But in today's society people pay little regard to God's instructions. For example, consider Jesus' reply to the Pharisees in Matthew 19:3-9. "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he [Jesus] answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He said unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, allowed you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
Today, most people pay little regard to Christ s statement regarding divorce.
In one of the letters which the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, he listed qualifications for elders and deacons. These qualifications included that they be the husband of only one wife (2 Timothy 3:2, 12). We usually associate this with polygamy which is hardly practiced in our modern society. But have we ever considered its application to Christ's statement that anyone who remarries commits adultery unless their divorce from a previous marriage was because of "fornication"?
The word fornication in the KJV is translated from the Greek word porneia which has to do with various forms of sexual misconduct.
Today, many people divorce for practically any reason, and then remarry. Some authorities even allow what is called "no fault divorce", which makes divorcing one's spouse quite "easy". But according to God's word they could well be permitting adultery.
The Spousal Relationship
To have a solid family, you must first have solid parents. And because the parents are to support the family, not only economically but morally and spiritually, the family obviously should be established on a good foundation.
In the apostle Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, he gave sound advice to husbands and wives. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.
"He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother. and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:22-32).
The apostle Paul was writing about the type of relationship that a husband and wife should have with each other. He wrote that wives should submit themselves to their husbands in all things and that the husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church, even sacrificing himself for it.
Paul then mentioned that this was a great mystery, but that he spoke concerning Christ and the church. What did he mean?
The Great Mystery
To begin with, Christ is the head of the church and he loved the church so much that he devoted his life to serving it, and finally sacrificed himself for it. We, the church, on the other hand, signify at baptism our desire to submit ourselves to Christ in all things.
The bond between us and Christ should be so strong that we should be willing to leave even our family, if necessary, to join ourselves with Christ (Luke 14:26, Matthew 10:37-38). And we, with Christ's Spirit in us, will become one (John 17:21).
The tight permanent bond and love that Christ has for the church, and vice versa, typifies the kind of bond that husbands and wives should have for each other. The focal point of the marriage relationship is Christ! "For we are members of his [Christ's] flesh, and of his bones, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." (Eph. 5:30-31).
Role of the Church
Paul wrote that those in his church have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry out "Abba Father" (Romans 8:15-17). We through God's Spirit are now members of God's family. We are legally adopted children (Galatians 4:1-7). The apostle Paul also mentions that we are members of God's family in Ephesians 3:14-15. 14-1
Question: Do we need the church?
For various reasons some people take lightly the need to attend church services and to regularly associate with God's people. They believe that it is not necessary. Yet we are unmistakably instructed in Hebrews 10:25 not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some. So we need to ask, Is the church important?
Since the Apostle Paul used the analogy of a husband and wife to represent Christ and the church, perhaps we should ask ourselves is a wife important in a family? To answer this question perhaps we need to ask another question, what are the responsibilities of a Mother? "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, (1 Tim 5:14)... cherish her children (1 Thess. 2:7) ... diligently follow every good work (1 Tim. 5:10) ... be sober, love their husbands, love their children, be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands (Titus 2:4-5). She bears, loves, and sets and example for her children. Are not these the same responsibilities and duties of the church?
What about the duties and responsibilities of a Father? "And, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) ... exhort and comfort and instruct (1 Thess. 2:11) ... rule well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity" (1 Tim. 3:4). He supports, takes charge of, and assumes responsibility for, his family. He instructs and admonishes when necessary, yet in mercy. Doesn't this sound like the God of our Bible? Yes!
We can see that God structured the family unit in the same fashion that He structured the church's relationship with Christ. With this in mind, is it any wonder that Satan would try to weaken, if not destroy, the family structure including the sacredness of marriage?
The Christian's Responsibility
God instituted the family structure and it is a vital link in the chain that makes a solid society. If Satan succeeds in destroying the family structure and the sacredness of marriage then society as we know it will crumble. Our nation will fall from within as did ancient Rome.
Our nation's only hope lies in God. Unfortunately, people are removing themselves farther and farther away from godly principles.
As Christians we need to ask ourselves, "Is our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father established firmly enough that we will stand whether or not our nation does?"' Perhaps we should examine ourselves and determine whether or not our life is aligned with the guidelines that God established for us And if it is not, to take the necessary steps to become so aligned.
Bill Faith serves as an elder of the Churches of God in Missouri.
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For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 1 Issue 4, July/August 1997. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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