Family Trends Aren’t Family


You would expect the head of a company or corporation to be highly knowledgeable about the business over which he presides. The same should be true of the family. God created the family to function under the headship of a husband, and anything less is dysfunctional. Therefore, Christian men especially must embrace and exemplify a biblical understanding of family.

A recent report by the Pew Research Center* showed that Americans are becoming more accepting of unbiblical trends regarding marriage. Same sex marriage, open marriage, single-parent families, falling fertility rates, and children being born outside of marriage are increasingly viewed as more acceptable--and all fall outside the biblical scope of family.

So, what should we understand when it comes to family?

First, it’s important to recognize that changing attitudes about marriage are a reflection of changing attitudes about the authority of the Bible that started decades ago. If God's Word is not viewed as authoritative, then there is no reason to uphold the biblical picture of marriage. Instead, we become our own authorities on the matter, basing our decisions on whatever seems right to us at the time. Hence, the Pew findings should not surprise anyone.

Changing attitudes about marriage are a reflection of changing attitudes about the authority of the Bible

However, marriage is not an arbitrary institution defined by human experience. Therefore, we must understand what the Bible teaches about family. Christian men in particular must have a clear understanding of God’s design for the home. This would include the following foundational truths:

1. Family was ordained by God.

The Bible prioritizes family in the Genesis creation account. Family originates with covenant marriage between one man and one woman. It is a heterosexual, monogamous union for life. According to Scripture, family is composed of persons related by marriage, blood, or adoption. The “powers that be” have no authority to change or discard God’s institution of marriage. To do so perverts family into something else that is not family regardless of what you call it.

2. Marriage pictures the relationship of Christ to his church.

Ephesians 5 is the “locus classicus” on biblical marriage and sets forth the principles of headship and submission exercised under the control of the Holy Spirit. Marital intimacy was designed to mirror the delight and faithfulness believers will experience with Christ our bridegroom at the great marriage supper of the Lamb and in the new creation.

3. Marriage is the sole outlet of sexual intimacy.

To be clear, all sexual activity outside of the covenant union of one man with one woman in marriage is immoral and sinful. In today’s culture, people are conditioned to treat sex as an appetite similar to hunger and thirst. Such a view completely contradicts God’s design for sex. To be sure, if you don’t eat or drink you will eventually die. Not so with sex. Once God is removed from the equation, the sex act becomes animalistic and degrading (see Romans 1:18-32).

4. Husbands are the head of the family.

Headship exercised in sacrificial love is the foundation of marital happiness. The husband is responsible to provide for his family, to bring up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, and to protect his family from harm and evil. The aberrant trends we’re seeing in marriage today are an attack on the family, and Christian men must resist and expose them.

5. Family can become an idol.

Godly men understand that family must not take priority over God. As a pastor I have seen it all too often: parents unwittingly teaching their children that sports takes precedent over church by consistently missing worship for games. This only contributes to the number of young adults who have decided God is no longer important. Kevin DeYoung writes, "The idolatry of the family can be a real problem, either from the church that ignores singles and gears everything toward married couples with children, or from the individual whose practical commitments underscore the unfortunate reality that blood is usually thicker than theology."

More than ever the church needs men to take the stand Joshua took when he said, “As for me and my house (family) we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

6. Family is hard.

Unrealistic expectations often lead to divorce. Many have gone into marriage thinking it will bring ultimate joy and happiness to their lives. But looking at marriage through rose-colored glasses tends to make it something it’s not. While it is a source of great joy and meaningful relationships it can also be a source of tremendous stress and conflict. After all, two sinners loving each other unconditionally is not automatic.

Christian men need to understand that God intended marriage to change us. Just as Christ’s purpose for his bride is to “sanctify and cleanse her” (Ephesians 5:26) so the purpose of marriage and family is to develop and mature us. Those who quit on their marriage miss an opportunity for God’s miraculous grace in their life.

Understanding these foundational truths will help anchor our faith in God’s good and gracious plan for family. The trends we’re seeing in modern culture are a direct refutation of that plan. Liz Wann writing for Desiring God sums it up well:

“The family is God’s means for us to drive upward into a far more important relationship and a far greater love. As Paul says in Romans 11:36, ‘For from him and through him and to him are all things,’ so the family obviously falls inside these lines. Family is from him, family is through him, and family is to him.”

Six foundational truths for family don't follow the trends.