by Wayne S. Walker
"God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a dry land" (Psalm 68:6). God ordained three basic institutions for the good of mankind on earth: the family, the civil government, and the church (some would add a fourth: private enterprise or business). The scriptures teach that God intends the family to be the basic unit of society, without which neither the government nor the church can fully accomplish its purpose. This is clear from the very beginning. A man is to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (Genesis 2:24). It is within this context of God’s creation of both male and female that He said, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it" (Genesis 1:26-28).
Therefore, the scriptures have a lot to say about family relationships. Parents are to teach their children about God and His words (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). As the head of his family, each father is told, "Do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). We live in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. The family is to be a haven where each member can retreat to find solace, where the needs of husband and wife can be met, and where the children can be led to remember their Creator. One of the reasons for the general breakdown of morality in our country today is the dysfunctionality that has arisen in so many homes. Fathers are not leading, wives are not nurturing, and children are not being taught to obey.
Of course, this situation is not necessarily unique to our day. There have been times in the past when homes were strong, and there have been times when they were weak. Perhaps the homes of the people of Israel were not what they should have been when the time drew near for the Messiah to come, because when John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Lord, it was prophesied that "he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:5-6). Today, we need preaching and teaching that will once again turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.
Sometimes, situations occur completely beyond a person’s control in which his physical family may be nonexistent or not fulfil its purpose properly. The Lord has made provision for this. If one does not have brothers or sisters or father or mother in this life, Jesus promised that he can "receive a hundredfold now in this time–houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands" (Mark 10:29-30). Where can such a family be found? "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is name" (Ephesians 3:14-15). The church is God’s family in heaven and earth who is named after Christ. Let us do everything that we can to make our physical families on earth what God would have them to be. But let us also be thankful that we can be part of God’s spiritual family, the church. Many people who have faced various troubles on earth have found comfort and help in this wonderful spiritual family.