What is a Family?
There is so much confusion about the definition of a family today where secular society, governments and politicians have made up their own definitions, and so this question is not quite as simple as it might at first seem.
Marriage and the family have been generally accepted for a long time that they are the building blocks on which a stable society is founded. However, attitudes have changed; the liberal society with its permissiveness has invaded every nook and cranny of society and, instead of looking for inspiration and direction from the Word of God, most countries now find themselves overtaken by secularism. God is generally excluded from any discussions about right and wrong, with man making up his own definitions.
One UK politician said that a family was any group of people who lived together. That was something that he thought up without consulting the Holy Bible. That means that he (and others) would consider that homosexuals living together would be a family, as would be two lesbians. Co-habiting would also fall, erroneously, into that same category. Any group, however made up, would be a family! And politicians who make such ridiculous assertions are those who frame our laws!
On the BBC News Channel on 6th November 2007 it had an article “The UK family: In statistics” and quoted the following:
“Families are changing shape and facing up to new lifestyle challenges. The facts and figures below give an idea of what the typical UK family looks like in the early 21st century.
“WHAT IS A ‘TYPICAL’ FAMILY?
“There were 17.1 million families in the UK in 2006 – up from 16.5 million in 1996. Most were still headed by a married couple (71%), although the proportion of cohabiting couple families had increased to 14%, from 9% 10 years earlier.”
Of course, since that time, laws have been passed to legalise same-sex marriage which is a contradiction in terms. Marriage as God ordained it is between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24).
The official site of PruHealth states: “Civil unions are now permitted in Western countries, but for nearly a thousand years marriage in the Western world was a religious contract. The Christian church undertook its supervision in the 9th cent., when newlywed couples instituted the practice of coming to the church door to have their union blessed by the priest. Eventually the church regulated marriage through canon law.”
To shed further light on this issue, one of our Q&A’s asks and answers the question: “Is it a Biblical obligation or merely a Church tradition that God’s ministry officiate during a wedding or burial of Church members?”
Whilst there is much confusion, even argument and debate in society about the definition of a family, the Bible can give us clarity with real clear-cut answers.
The Creator God Who created man in His own image gave a blueprint in His instruction manual for mankind in order to enjoy life and live happily. The general definition of a family used to be “A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.” We must further add that those parents should be married as the Bible clearly teaches that “living together” without being married is sin. There are many verses in the Bible that condemn fornication (see 1 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; and many other references).
It is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman who then have children. That group is a family. Of course with the divorce rate so high, a spouse can be left on his or her own to bring up any children from that union. That of course is still a family.
Those who are reared in a family where Christianity is a strong influence will, in general, tend to be so minded but those who are not brought up in a family with those same core values may very well adopt a secular position. We know that there are examples where this does not apply but often they would be in a minority. In Proverbs we read: “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Parents are to heed the words of Deuteronomy 6:6-9: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 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.”
In a family environment, parents (or a parent) can teach their children the right way to go and how to follow the ways of God. We read in Proverbs 13:1: “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” There are many other wise admonitions about family life in the book of Proverbs.
“The Christian Home” is the sub-heading of Colossians 3:18-21, showing the duties and responsibilities of family members, wives, husbands and children: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”
One on-line commentator made these observations: “All Christians believe families are important. Many Christians believe that the family is the best place for having, and raising children. They believe God intended the family to be a place where children can be raised in a loving and supportive environment. They also believe parents should raise their children to learn about, and believe in God. The love that family members show to each other, should show how much God loves everyone. Many Christians believe that parents play an important role in showing their children, and non-family members, how much God loves and cares for them.”
The five cardinal sins of Rome—and of all past great nations—are described in Edward Gibbon’s work “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (1788). The first of these five reasons was “the increase of divorce and breakdown of the family.” It happened then and it is happening again now.
We read in Hebrews 2:9-11 the following: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”
This passage, written by the apostle Paul, shows that Jesus “is not ashamed to call them brethren.” This clearly shows that true Christians are of the same family – the God Family.
God is a Family now. In our free booklet “God is a Family” the following is taken from page 1: “The Bible reveals that God is not just a single being, but is comprised of two separate beings. These two beings are often referred to as the ‘Father’ and the ‘Son,’ illustrating the fact that God is actually a Family. While the Bible reveals that God is, in fact, a Family, it also shows that God is not a trinity. The Holy Spirit is not God, nor is it a separate being within the God Family. It is literally the power of God through which the God Family works.”
If Satan the devil can confuse society as to what a family is, he will be able to hide the fact that Spirit-born members can become part of the God Family. Revelation 19:7-9 states the following about the marriage between Christ and His Church: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb [Jesus Christ, compare Revelation 5:1-14] has come, and His wife [the Church, compare Ephesians 5:31-32] has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”‘…” Satan wants to distract and divert those called by God by causing confusion as to how much marriage matters and what a family is.
The last three paragraphs in this booklet are very instructive and read as follows:
“We would like to encourage our readers to read or re-read our free booklet, ‘The Gospel of the Kingdom of God,’ which proves from the Bible that it is indeed the potential of man to enter the kingdom of God—by becoming a member of the Family of God.
“The very last book of the Bible tells us the destiny of those who become born again members, that is, Spirit beings-God beings-in the God Family. We read in Revelation 3:12, ‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God.’ They will receive God’s name—they will enter the very Family of God as born again spirit beings. Revelation 22:4 confirms this, ‘They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.’ At that time, they will be truly ‘born again’—and not before then. At that time, they will truly have inherited ‘all things.’
“Yes, God IS a Family—and He wants YOU to truly become a born again member of His Family—His spiritual offspring. This is the reason WHY you were born. Just imagine YOUR awesome potential and destiny-to become, and to be named, GOD!”
The family, as correctly defined, is vital to a healthy society today. For even more information, please also read our free booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families!”
In the future, in the Kingdom of God, all those who are saved and changed from physical into spirit will be a member of the Family of God forever!
For additional information, please see one of our Q&A’s, discussing the “spiritual analogies applying to our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ.”
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)