The value of the month of July is family and family relationships.
It is impossible to properly paint a portrait of a family without such vital values like love, loyalty, sacrifice, patience, reliability, humility, simplicity, mutual trust, unity, honor and respect. It is also in the family that we learn how to love, serve, make sacrifices and obey. These values help us to become a full-fledged and mature members of society.
Families are the basic unit of society, so the relationships in our families reflect on the whole of our society. We certainly need to find time, especially during this month, to study family values and continue to grow in them.
Family institution was created by God. Although this blessed union is in God’s plan, crises arise in it. This includes divorce, extra-marital affairs, illegitimate children, the absence of fathers in children’s lives, same-sex marriages, civil unions (cohabitation), etc. Such changes in family patterns have a negative impact on children, leading to the “feminization of poverty” (the shift of poverty from the elderly to single mothers and their children) as well as the “feminization of kinship” (the trend towards women sustaining families alone, without the help of fathers and husbands). Most social scientists (sociologists, psychologists and economists) claim that these trends bring great damage to the whole of society.
The biblical view on family life gives clear guidelines for creating healthy families and shows us how to remove all the things that destroys families. The Christian doctrine on family can completely change marriage for the better and overcome family crises. The restoration of this sphere will largely enrich family life, and overcome the existing crisis in it.
The basic principles of family life ethics:
God established marriage as a monogamous marriage – a relationship only between one man and one woman.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. Genesis 2:18, 21-22
Monogamy is the Divine order. Monogamy is also the basis of family relationships in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 7:2, Eph. 5:28-33, Col. 3:19, Titus 2:4). Polygamy emerged as a consequence of the Fall, and was practiced in the Old Testament (Lamech – Genesis 4:19, Esau – Genesis 26:34, Abraham, David and Solomon.).
The original purpose of marriage is mutual assistance and management (Eph. 5:23-25), physical and spiritual satisfaction, procreation and to avoid immorality (1 Cor. 7: 1-7)
Those who marry must be willing to have children (Genesis 1:28, 9:1, 35:11). However, if a couple cannot have children, they can still enjoy their family and serve God. Families without children should never be considered as inferior.
Family relationships must be strong, both on the spiritual and physical levels.
Husband and wife must become one flesh and this means that two people share in each other’s lives in a complete and dedicated manner. However, marriage is more than sexuality. Marriage implies a deep spiritual relation because it is a triangular relation between man, wife and Christ (Eph. 5:21-33). It is also more than a mere legal contract. It is a covenant between a man and his wife before God, which is a symbol of the covenant between God and His people. In the New Testament, marriage is a sacred bond that is characterized by strength, holiness, intimacy, mutuality and exclusiveness.
Living together as husband and wife always affects society.
The Christian family has a responsibility before God and society. It takes its moral values from the Word of God. God created man, woman and the family, and He gives clear principles of their functioning and purpose.
Marriage grows out of love between husband and wife and is maintained by love and faithfulness.
Only love will make it possible for a couple to be compassionate, caring, committed, self-sacrificing and forgiving. It is therefore difficult to found the practice of arranged marriages or marriage of convenience for whatever cause on the New Testament.
Man and woman were created in God’s image.
This is the basis of human dignity and equality between people. Children carry the same image, and therefore, also have human dignity. The lives of children as well as adults, are highly valued in the Bible. There is no life that can be thrown away. The image of God in us also means that we were created to live in communion with God and men.
A husband and wife are equal as human beings, but have functional differences.
Men and women have different obligations. The man is the head of the family and he should take care of the family. Just as the head strengthens the body in an organic sense, and Christ, as the head of the Church, energizes it through the gifts of the Spirit, so the husband is the head of the family. He should not rule with a manly commanding authority but should inspire, guide, and be an example of obedience to God. Husbands should love their wives, and always be ready to sacrifice for the sake of the family relations. Parents should not irritate their children, but educate them on the basis of God’s truths. Wives should assist their husbands, not on the basis of subordination but of co-operation, as a help and a partner, because she bears the same image of God. Wives should love and respect their husbands, to be an example of purity (1 Peter 3:1-7).
Divorce mostly opposes the will of God, because it violates the promise to commitment and the covenantal character of marriage.
Nevertheless, God allows divorce in the case of adultery, willful desertion of an unbelieving spouse, when the actions of one spouse inhibits the other spouse to be obedient to God (Acts 4:19-20), when the life of one spouse is in danger because of the actions of the other spouse, etc. Nevertheless, this does not mean that adultery must always lead to divorce. Divorce is a right, not an obligation, for forgiveness and reconciliation are also possible and must be pursued.
Remarriage is possible after repentance and forgiveness. If not, other teachings of the Scripture regarding forgiveness and reconciliation will be violated. Divorce is always regrettable and should remain an extreme measure.
In the family, the couple shares their spiritual and material gifts to fulfill their obligations in marriage.
In the family, believers reflect unity, solidarity, mutual compassion, responsibility, and obedience within the functional differences between a husband, wife and children (Eph. 5:21- 6:9).
The family should be seen as a sphere where the reign of Christ extends to the deepest levels of intimate social relations. Family in Christian circles cannot be determined by culture but only by the moral teachings of the Scripture. Although the family is independent from the state, it cannot be above the law.
- Love is the answer to many broken families where there is hopelessness, loneliness and despair.
- Stewardship in family life reminds parents and their children that serving their family is part of their Christian duty.
- In a healthy family, self-denial and compassion to each other overcome the spirit of selfishness, which is the fulfillment of the commandment to love.
- Obedience to God’s truths is not only the remedy for unhealthy families, but also the characteristic of a sound marriage and family.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us study God’s truth about family life. May our family become our joy, a place of harmony, peace and tranquility, our ministry and God’s glory to the world. May the Lord help us!
With love and respect,
Pastor Abosede Adelaja
Recommended books to read:
- “Successful marriage takes work” by Sunday Adelaja
- “Heavenly atmosphere in the family” by Sunday Adelaja
- “Do you see God in this child” by Sunday Adelaja
- “How to be a good husband” by The University of Life
- “How to be a good wife” by The University of Life
- “How to form the backbone of a child” by The University of Life