Over the last 3 months we’ve been looking through the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 to try and get a better idea of what our denomination believes about specific issues ranging from God and Scripture, all the way down to the government and various social issues. This has been a very informative study for me personally and I have enjoyed getting to see why Baptists believe what we say we believe in. In each of these articles, though, the most fascinating thing has been to see the plethora of Scripture references associated below the paragraph. To see specific Scripture references that can give us insight as to why we are so strong on certain issues as Baptists is extremely beneficial and I pray that this study has been both informative and enjoyable for you. I hope that this has been edifying as a church and we have grown spiritually as we have looked at what the BFM says but most importantly what Scripture says about key issues today.
Tonight we will conclude our study of the BFM by looking at article 18: The Family. The family is important. The family matters. There was an intensive study done in 2014 by the National Library of Medicine that examined the impact that family structure has on the health of children. Listen to their findings: “The demographics of families are changing, and with that, the philosophical underpinnings of relationships are also changing. Many young adults feel marriage is old-fashioned and confining, and that open cohabitating relationships provide a healthier option that is more conducive to personal development. If a relationship does not provide personal happiness, parents often believe that their children will adapt to new family relationships so that divorce or separation will have few long-term, adverse consequences. These beliefs have led to marriage occurring later, women having fewer children and doing so later in life, single mothers giving birth to many of our children, more parents cohabitating, and fewer children living with their married, biologic parents.”
Divorce rates are significantly higher today than they were 100 years ago, however they have begun to decline in recent decades. In the early 21st century, the statistic that floored America was that 1/2 marriages end in divorce. The sad realization was that even among Christians, the number was around 30%. Thankfully, this number is starting to decrease, however the study revealed some interesting statistics. In 1970, 500,000 couples admitted to cohabitating. In 2002, that number was at just under 5 million couples. Half of unmarried births are to mothers in cohabitating relationships and 7/10 children born to parents in cohabitating relationships will experience parental separation.
The family unit is vitally important to a Christian, but it is also important to our society! Our society is changing how we view the family and we must hold strong to what Scripture has to say about the importance of the Family. Let’s see what the BFM has to say about the Family.
“God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.
Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.”
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
The books of Proverbs and Song of Solomon have much to say about marriage and the importance of family.
18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.
provides us with several theological truths to dwell upon later.
There are countless other illustrations throughout Scripture that talk about the powerful relationship of a marriage and we see this unfold in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, God is seen as the husband the Israel as the bride. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the husband and the church is seen as the bride. Both marriage and the family are important and distinctly theological!
A healthy home has deep spiritual dimensions, and thus the Bible instructs us concerning the family. We as believers must look first to Jesus Christ, our bridegroom, to engage and understand the divine design for marriage. The family provides the altar of transformation where we learn to love and live like Jesus. God reveals Himself as a relational being and humans are created to be in relationships as well! We are created to have a relationship with God first and other humans, second. Aren’t you thankful for this fact? It would be incredibly difficult to go through this thing called life on our own. Even though our relationships with others can sometimes lead to heart break, we are relational beings and relationships with others are vitally important.
God has an ideal home in mind. One where a son will leave his father and mother and find a wife. One where husband and wife will come together to be one flesh. One where they will raise their children in the fear of the Lord and model grace and faith for the entire world to see! Marriage is certainly important and a Christian marriage is one of the ways that we can reflect the love of Jesus with the world around us because we know that there are so many theological images associated with marriage.
is a key text for the commands of a family, directed at all parties involved. A Godly husband will love, cherish and nourish his wife. He will love her as Jesus Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. A Husband is a submissive servant of Jesus Christ, humble, gentle and faithfully putting the needs of his wife above his own. A godly wife will honor that and respect her husband. She submits to him as to the Lord. This passage of Scripture can rub some people the wrong way because we don’t like hearing what we must do and submission is a word that we don’t like to hear or say… However, for each the Lord Jesus is the motivation and object of an obedient life. Both husband and wife, absolute equals before the Lord, fix their eyes first upon Him and then upon each other. Obedience for the Christian is neither optional, selective, nor conditioned upon the spouse‟s response or behavior. If our society didn’t have such a negative view of the word “submit” then I truly don’t think that we’d have as many problems with this passage of Scripture as we do. Submission is not about being lesser than your spouse. It’s about putting their needs first. Both parties are called to submit. We miss that part in this passage all too often. It’s not about a husband being a dictator. A husband is accountable to Jesus Christ! He is supposed to love his wife as Jesus loved the church and gave His life for the church. That is a mighty tall task.
If a family has the honor of having children, they will witness daily submission and godly love as they are charged to obey their parents “in the Lord.” The family of God operates in direct opposition to our culture and our natural tendency to self-centeredness, self-absorption and self-gratification, and requires the supernatural enablement of the Holy Spirit. The theology of family is characterized by each member outdoing the other in service, in sacrifice, and in submission to the Lord, reflecting gratitude for God‟s faithful, intimate love toward us.
The implication of verse 22 is that Christian wives’ submission to their husbands is one aspect of their obedience to the Lord. This is found to be the more appropriate when their submission to their husbands is seen to have a counterpart in the Church’s submission to Christ.
A couple of interesting things regarding the family unit.
The BFM affirms that the family is the foundational unit of society. God created and ordained 3 social institutions for the benefit of humanity. 1) the family. 2) the government. 3) the church. We know that the early church was birthed during Pentecost as the Holy Spirit was poured out. God instituted governments sometime after the fall, however God instituted the family in the Garden of Eden before the fall into sin. The family serves as both the foundational societal unit and a microcosm of society. As the family goes, so go the societal institutions of the government and the church. The family mirrors God’s nature as personal, relational and communal. The family is supposed to resemble the love between Christ and His bride.
The BFM defines the family as “persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.” The Bible highlights the extended family. We might not highlight our extended family as often, but the Bible makes sure to include other relatives: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws. This is how we are to think of our families as well. Not just a husband and wife but the entire family. Whenever Lindsey and I got married last summer, her family became my family and my family became her family. This is a beautiful picture of what it means to be a part of the family of God as well! Adoption reminds us that salvation unites all races, ages and backgrounds and brings us into the same family. This is a special family and we all share the same Father.
The BFM highlights the Biblical purposes of marriage. God created marriage for companionship. tells us that two become one in marriage. This is a beautiful truth in the marriage bond. This is a bond that encompasses the physical, spiritual and psychological relationship between husband and wife.
The Bible also teaches that children are a gift from God and that we should celebrate them! It follows along those lines that in a marriage union, sex is not something that is taboo or “evil”, but rather something that was designed by God to be good. Our culture has tried to pervert it and twist it to mean something else, but make not mistake about it, God intended it to be good within the boundary of marriage.
Ultimately, marriage and the family unit testifies to the Gospel in the Scriptures that use the bond of marriage as an illustration of the relationship between God and His people. Husbands are to reflect Christ. Wives are to reflect the Church. Neither party can take their responsibility for granted or “slack off”. Both are of equal importance and we must pray that we do our job to the best of our ability and that God would give us the understanding, courage and discernment that we desperately need along the way!