What Is God’s Purpose for Our Family?
Families. We all have one, whether it’s a biological family or an adopted family. Families change when babies are born or adopted, and when marriages and deaths occur. When one gets married, it’s normal to accept their spouse’s family as their own. And there are times when, after the death of a spouse, the widow or widower maintains familial relationships with the family of their deceased spouse. If one re-marries, the family increases.
Family is an important concept in the Bible. God instituted family when He created Eve as a helpmeet for Adam. The rest of the Bible speaks of family in its various roles, and most important is the church as God’s family.
What Does the Bible Say about Family?
The Bible defines the family as do we – those of the same household, that being the pairing of a husband (man) and wife (woman), along with their children. Because God created the family, He is intimately involved with each one. Scripture is our great instructor of monogamy—the lifetime union of one man and one woman in marriage as the foundation of the family (Genesis 2:21-24). Throughout the Bible, the institution of family as the model God created it to be is prevalent; all other relationships are to stem from the family, God’s building block of society.
If we regard the Ten Commandments, we see the first four concern our relationship to and with God, and the other six speak to our relationship with others. Three are directly related to the family. The fifth commandment says to honor one’s father and mother (the family foundation) (Exodus 20:12). The seventh commandment says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14), thus preserving the sacred nature of the family. The tenth commandment, “you shall not covet,” (Exodus 20:17) speaks to God’s command for fidelity of heart. For within a family, it is not good nor godly to covet what others have, including a different family.
Jesus said in Matthew 15:19, “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Actions proceed from the heart’s intent, and God is all about preserving the family as He created it. He therefore gets the glory (Ephesians 3:14-21).
The New Testament includes historical narratives and epistles which include instruction (and reiterations from the Old Testament and Jesus’ teachings) as to what the family is to be according to God. Paul spoke to them when he said, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1) and “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).
Why Is Family So Important in the Bible?
God uses families throughout history to enact His will. The promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 15:5 involves family. “‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then He said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” A later unfolding of the Abrahamic Covenant reveals more details as God tells Abraham He has made him “the father of a multitude of nations…I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.” God established His everlasting covenant with Abraham and his progeny (Genesis 17:4-7). Thus began a family too large to number.
And within the family of Abraham, offshoots came. The most significant is the progression of families which led to the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world. We can trace His genealogy at Matthew 1:1-17 (a possible trace of Joseph’s side of the family) and Luke 3:23-38 (a possible trace of Mary’s side of the family). Not an insignificant aside is God used all sorts of people, including a Moabite woman (Ruth in Ruth 4:18-22), a prostitute (Rahab in Joshua 6:23-25 and Matthew 1:5), and an adulteress (Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 12:24). The point is God shows no partiality, and He will use families for His purposes in His perfect timing (Isaiah 55:8; Acts 10:34; Romans 2;11; Galatians 4:4).
Photo credit: Unsplash/Blake Barlow
Who Is Our Family, according to the Bible?
Is our family only biological? Happily, no. As Christians, we gain a two-fold family life when we accept and proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Savior. In one sense, we do have biological families (those who belong to us in the way God intended), for example mother, father, and siblings. In a second sense, as people belonging to Jesus, we have been adopted into the family of God (Romans 8:16-17). Christians who have been adopted by other families here on earth are part of a three-fold family (biological, adopted, and God’s family).
We can consider the family as a model for who we (as believers) are as God’s children. Each Christian is a child of God (Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:1). And, according to God’s design, we each have a father, mother, and siblings (usually). Each part of a person’s biological family is to act as God has mandated in His word. And each spouse is to be one with the other (Matthew 19:5), just as we are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28).
As far as the three possibilities, only one will endure forever, and that is the family of God. We are indeed to love our biological family, yet we will spend eternity worshiping the Lord with our church family (which may indeed include members of our biological families). Jesus said in Matthew 10:37, “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son and daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (See also Matthew 12:50; Luke 14:26).
Bible Verses About Family
The Bible has much to say about the family, more than I can devote within the space of this article. I recommend a visit to a concordance for a search on family.
We see the demonstration of a good family in:
Abraham – Genesis 18:19: He was to teach his children to do justice and righteousness.
Jacob - Genesis 35:2: Jacob commanded his family to purge foreign gods and honor God alone.
Joshua – Joshua 24:15: Joshua chose for his entire house to follow the Lord.
David – 2 Samuel 6:20: David blessed his household (family).
Job – Job 1:5: Job prayed for his children lest they sinned.
Cornelius – Acts 10:2, 33: Cornelius was a devout man who feared God along with his whole household (family).
Lydia – Acts 16:15: Lydia was a hospitable believer whose whole family knew Jesus as Savior.
Lois and Eunice – 2 Timothy 1:5: They lived their faith so Timothy learned through them.
We see commands for the family in:
Deuteronomy 4:9-10: Teach your children well.
Proverbs 31:27: A godly wife looks to the needs of her family.
Psalm 133:1: A unified family is a good thing.
Matthew 18:21-22: Jesus requires that families forgive one another.
Deuteronomy 14:26: Rejoice in the Lord’s provision together.
Deuteronomy 29:18: Be wary of anyone who foments a turning away from the Lord.
Click here to read more Bible verses about family.
What Is God's Purpose for the Family?
The Lord spelled out His reason for a family in Genesis 1:28 when He said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Families are to fill the earth, just as God said would happen to Abraham’s family. And God uses each one born to continue that process through the means of families.
In the end, however, each family member’s purpose is to, “Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13); God’s ultimate purpose for us is to bring Him the glory He so rightfully deserves.
We are to seek His kingdom first as individuals and teach our families to do the same. We are, as families, to grow in Christ and be witnesses to the world. A cord of three strands is not easily broken; we stand united in Christ to worship Him and enact His will.
Yes, we are all born into a family. Yet what matters, in the end, is to have been born again into the family of God (John 3:3).
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Monkey Business Images
Lisa Loraine Baker is the multiple award-winning author of Someplace to be Somebody. She writes fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing for the Salem Web Network, Lisa serves as a Word Weavers’ mentor and is part of a critique group. She also is a member of BRRC. Lisa and her husband, Stephen, a pastor, live in a small Ohio village with their crazy cat, Lewis.