In essence, man is like an animal that has been given the capability to connect to the heavenly realm. But if he does not relate to God in the spiritual realm, if he lives his life merely in the physical realm, then he has failed to live up to his full potential with which God created him. For You made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.
But he is not as low as the animals, which are only physical. Thus, man is a one-of-a-kind, in-between creature, a sort of spiritualized animal. Included in the image of God is the ability to possess the attributes of God. This includes emotions like love, joy, peace, security, kindness, and other positive, God-like qualities. It also includes the possession of superior intelligence, curiosity, complex desires, the need for companionship and relationships, the need to find meaning in life, to worship something somewhere, etc.
He designed into human beings a need and craving for positive, loving relationships. We suffer untold damage without these interconnections. God Himself is a God of love and light, and He wants us to reflect His love and light in this world. This is especially true now that sin has broken the spiritual connection man had with God, and the world is now filled with darkness. The family also reflects the image of God in its structure. God, Who is over the husband, who is over the wife. The Apostle Paul reviews this set up in 1 Corinthians A proper family is not just a motley group of people who love each other and decide to live together, as some people define it today.
A properly-formed family is not just a woman who chooses to have a baby and raise it on her own. A proper family consists of three necessary ingredients: Still, everyone involved, including society, is greatly damaged when any of these three basic ingredients of a proper family are missing. The second purpose of the family is to conduct government for God. This concept is repeated throughout the Bible—in Genesis, in Psalm 8: Because human beings possess the image of God and many of the abilities of God, they are the only creation on earth capable of having dominion.
The ultimate object of all of this ruling and having dominion, however, was not to make man himself into a god, but to maintain the worship, service, and glorifying of the one true God, the one true Sovereign King, throughout the whole of creation. How horribly we have failed! Thus, woman was created, and the concept of marriage and family was begun. It serves as further proof that every family has a specific God-given calling and purpose to fulfill.
This also tells us that the family alone must evidently impart some special qualities that enable people to rise to their full potential, and without which they cannot have dominion. What exactly are some of those special qualities that are to come through the family? These qualities include the concepts of love, acceptance of others, placing a high value on life, self-esteem, security, morality, peace, justice, mercy, liberty, self-denial for the good of others, and protection of the rights of the individual.
These things are learned best within the structure of a strong family, which explains why so many of these qualities are missing from our society today: Our families are very weak. But most of all, the family is to impart and perpetuate the experiential knowledge of God. Only by possessing these special qualities are people, and governments made of people, fit to rule. Thus, if the family, for any reason, is prevented from producing people who possess these special qualities, the whole society suffers.
The society, the government, and the average person will be motivated by selfishness, and selfishness is always self-destructive. History has shown that any society ruled by selfishness eventually collapses upon itself. One of the most important purposes of the family is to raise a godly heritage—to fill the earth with God-fearing, morally-mature, emotionally-sound, Spirit-filled, righteousness-working, God-worshiping young people who, in turn, will do the same after they become parents. His desire is that His people would extend a godly heritage throughout the present world and down through the coming generations.
Notice the following scripture passages regarding children: In body and spirit you are his. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: The first scripture, Genesis It is also a very challenging concept in our world of today, where marriage and having children are increasingly disassociated from each other.
More and more marriages are childless for a variety of reasons, and more and more children exist outside of wedlock. And why did he do this? I also created marriage, where you could find love and happiness and physical pleasure with another human being and still be in My will. I give you the privilege to have and enjoy sex; you give Me godly children.
He gives us the right to use good, sanctified judgment and common sense in the matter, but He does not give us the right to be selfish. Nor does He give us the privilege to allow secular humanism and worldly philosophies to dictate our practices regarding family planning, attitudes towards abortion, and other issues involving human sexuality and reproduction. His premise is that sex in marriage is the total gift of self, an oath in action, an embrace in which a man and a woman hold nothing back from one another.
This rules out the possibility of divorce, adultery, premarital sex—and artificial contraception. This view was at one time the overriding consensus in the Christian community. So obviously, teaching against artificial contraception was not just a Catholic peculiarity as it is today, but a widespread Christian belief that has succumbed to humanistic philosophies only in the last few decades. Another argument for tying the producing of children to marriage is what could be called a natural argument: For example, it is natural for males to mate with females.
The two are complementary. It is not natural for males to mate with other males or females with other females. The equipment simply does not match up quite right. Similarly, it is also natural for females to have babies through the process of mating. Fruitless mating is not natural. Prevention of conception and birth is an unnatural capability made possible by birth control pills, abortion, and the like. All of these preventative measures are man-made, and have only become effective and widespread enough to affect society in the last couple of generations.
If she got married and became sexually active, inevitably she was going to conceive and give birth. There was hardly any way to avoid it. The development of the birth control pill and other effective birth control methods, not to mention the legalization of abortion, is what has enabled recent generations of women to have the choice of whether to concentrate on a career or concentrate on a family.
Women now have a choice, but that choice is entirely artificial, not natural or God-given, and as such, ethically questionable. Birth control, if used at all, is not supposed to prevent or eliminate having children but, at most, to help a couple regulate the timing of their children. It is an indisputable fact that having a baby every year is not the healthiest or wisest choice for either the mother or her babies.
So birth control can help couples regulate the frequency of births. If birth control is used, we recommend that natural family planning e. Such an assumption is false. Because raising a godly heritage is one of the chief purposes of the Christian family, having children should be viewed, not merely as a privilege , but as a duty of Christian parents. All of the scriptures we have read so far indicate that it pleases God for His children to bear children to raise them for Him. Thus, one of the primary callings of a Christian wife is to bear and nurture a godly heritage for the Kingdom of God.
Only she can do this. This is actually the most important task in the world, and every wife and mother should feel proud that she has been chosen to play such a significant role. It is also essential for her to feel happy and fulfilled in this role, because the blessings to herself, her husband and children, and society in general cannot be measured.
Of course, this teaching is greatly offensive in our world today, even to many Christian couples. Therefore, submission to the divine will is required here, as it is in every other area of a life of holiness. Therefore, Christian couples must deliberately submit to God regarding this concept: By this we mean raising them to be untainted and unmarred with secular humanistic worldviews, crippling emotional insecurities, false, non-eternal values, etc.
Accordingly, the couple must submit to dedicating their lives to literally pouring themselves into their children: Obviously, if the parents do not have these qualities, then they must submit and bring themselves under the discipline of the Lord to obtain them.
Doing this right is obviously a full time responsibility. This verse expresses the Biblical principle to support our assertion that making a home is the natural role for women. This is not merely a social custom for that time and that society: In 1 Timothy 2: But the principle of women having a natural, God-given homemaking role is still biblical.
Furthermore, for a female to refuse to have children is a form of rejecting her own identity. Everything about her— physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially, from the way she thinks to the way she moves—is a built-in, inseparable part of her ability to bear children. To refuse to allow this natural ability to be utilized is thus a negation of her own identity, a rejection of a dimension of her being that makes her who she is.
Having and raising children fulfills her natural calling. Child bearing and child raising also have the effect of expanding and enriching both parents. It develops and increases their ability to love. It provides a transcendent purpose in life as they concentrate on something beyond their own personal development and as they become responsible for someone completely dependent on them. And child raising grows and matures their characters with intangible qualities they can learn only by experiencing children.
A huge realm of the human experience can be tapped into only by having children. To refuse to allow children into their lives cuts off both husbands and wives from this invaluable dimension and whole-being growth process. This is not something they should voluntarily deny themselves from experiencing. Of course, our modern society has very successfully re-educated young women to believe the lies that marriage is unnecessary, children are unnecessary, and the two—marriage and children—are not necessarily connected at all. And our society is suffering greatly for this failure to encourage women to concentrate on nurturing properly-formed families and building a next generation that is emotionally, spiritually, morally, and socially healthy.
We find several more important concepts expressed in Psalm Instead, it could be saying that children are a reward we give to God. Although some may not like this metaphor, it is like a master in Bible times owning a pair of slaves, husband and wife. When his servants had babies, the babies also belonged to the master, thus increasing his number of servants for free. Abraham, with his large household of hundreds of servants, was just such a master—and so is God.
He is actually looking for us to produce godly offspring for Him. And He expects us to make sure they serve Him. The idea that our children should be believers is made clear in the passages above, and also in Psalms If we withhold from having children, we are withholding His reward.
We should know that God feels even more cheated than we do: He created us, He owns us, He loves us, He sacrificed for us, and He gave us the privilege to reproduce, but the devil, who did not and could not create anything, reaps all the benefits.
And if we have already lost some of them, we will do our utmost to reclaim them at any cost. Thus, Christian couples who voluntarily choose not to have any children when they are able to have children actually violate the concepts contained throughout the Bible and even in nature. There is really no way for a couple to deliberately avoid having children—as many as the Lord wants them to have—and still claim to be living under the principles of holiness, lordship, and entire consecration to God.
Few of the various reasons given for why they do not want children are, in the light of these and other passages, valid or legitimate. Indeed, most such reasons are secular humanistic in nature, i. A Christian couple should choose not to have any children only in the extremely rare instance that God Himself reveals to them both that He has another calling and task for their lives that forbids children.
They make it a one-sided deal where God gets short-changed. It should be obvious that there is some selfishness involved here somewhere. Of course, it could be that God might want just the two of them to serve Him in some other capacity. Another scenario, very common today, is that of grandparents stepping in to help raise—and rescue—their grandchildren. Whatever the case, it is all in agreement with this very important purpose of the family: To raise a godly heritage—to fill the earth with God-fearing, morally-mature, emotionally-sound, Spirit-filled, righteousness-working, God-worshiping young people who, in turn, will do the same after they become parents.
This is the reward due God. And, we might add, it is a reward He does not get nearly enough of. And one other thing: Children are a whole lot of unexpected, life-fulfilling fun! Having children is one way to share your life, with them and with the world, distributing your life into several smaller containers who will love you forever. You will never regret it. Children may be your biggest liabilities, but they are also your biggest assets. And when properly trained and prepared, they can bring loads of happiness, love, and pleasure into the family, the church, and the world.
Just look at the major influence Susannah Wesley had and still has on the whole world through just two of her nineteen properly trained children—John and Charles Wesley. Christians can use this tool, just as they use evangelism, to help change society, all the while receiving lots of love in return.
The fourth critical purpose for the family is to serve as the nurturer of people. God designed human beings to live and thrive on love. Love is the power that energizes heaven and earth. Love is the greatest and most powerful motivator on earth. But it is not the most prevalent motivator. Because of sin and selfishness, fear—insecurity, pride, self-seeking, hatred, lack of self-esteem, and dozens of other forms of fear—is the most prevalent human motivator.
But love should be.
God made us dependent on and addicted to wholesome, positive, and loving relationships and interconnectedness. Our emotional, mental, social, physical, and spiritual health depends largely on the health of our relationships. In all creation, humans appear to be the one creation that cannot thrive without loving relationships with others. Babies that do not receive love actually have a higher infant mortality rate. Psychologists have noticed that many of the toddlers adopted from sub-standard orphanages in Romania and other Balkan countries have been so neglected and unloved that it appears that many of them will never be able to sense or receive love again.
When God "called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord" a body and a bride, a people and a temple, a lady and her children. What is God's design for family, and how can we have the relationships God . God says the woman's “desire” would be for her husband. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for.
They have tuned the world out and no longer respond to other people. Psychologists now have a name for such a condition: The fact is that we were made to live on love, and when it is missing or replaced with rejection, the results can be literally devastating. Therefore, one of the most important purposes of the family is to provide love and nurture to people throughout their lives. But this nurturing is especially needed when people are in their development stages. We need this kind of environment because God did not originally design humans to be able to deal with rejection and abuse.
We were designed to love and to be loved. Thus, we crave love and acceptance from other people, and when that fails, we are indelibly negatively affected. This is the very reason God sent Jesus Christ into the world: This is the good news of the Gospel: He came to bring us love, and thereby bring us life. Children victimized by families that are dysfunctional, abusive, neglective, collapsing, or just unknowledgeable usually spend the rest of their lives recovering. Depending on just how awful their family conditions may be, people adapt to and compensate for rejection and absence of love and nurture in various ways.
They may substitute their need for love by seeking and piling on possessions, money, power, fame, etc. They may compensate by destroying themselves with negative behavior fueled by low self-esteem, e. Or they may lose themselves in non-productive romantic relationships, e. They may try anesthetizing themselves and drowning out their pain with drugs, alcohol, sex, pleasures, and other addictions.
Even at the best, people are affected in subtle ways that they may never even realize: Therefore, families must concentrate more on building and nurturing people—both within and without the family. For some reason, many families seem to aim most of their thoughts and efforts on materialistic goals, and forget all about nurturing each other. Many parents seem to focus most of their efforts on their own desires, careers, comfort, and personal fulfillment, failing to make the nurturing of their children and spouses their chief duty in life.
Our entire society continues to reap the negative results of such selfish practices. We are almost no longer shocked by such appalling behaviors. Also this might be of interest: It should now be pretty obvious that the family is no small matter. It is eternally significant simply because families are the basis for the most important factor in human life—relationships.
The world is only as good as the people who make up the world. But the people are only as good as the families from which they come. The health of our relationships determines the health of our lives—and the health of our society and world. This does not negate the wonderful miracle that God can and does make new creatures out of whoever comes to Him, no matter how much our families may have scarred us in the past.
It merely acknowledges the fact that most human beings are marked and scarred for life by their original families—and most never completely heal. It's Christian, named after the one through whom you were adopted, Christ Eph. Now you're part of the whole family of God. And this is no dysfunctional family, with family members estranged from one another. And this is no polite and formal fellowship. It's a body, bound together by our individual decisions but also bound together by far more than human decision—the person and work of Christ.
You would be as foolish to say, "I'm not a part of the family," as you would be to cut off your own hand or nose. In short, it's impossible to answer the question "What is a Christian? Not only that, it's hard to stick with just one metaphor for the church because the New Testament uses so many of them: And never does the New Testament conceive of the Christian existing on a prolonged basis outside the fellowship of the church. The church is not really a place. It's a people—God's people in Christ. Joining an Actual Church When a person becomes a Christian, he doesn't just join a local church because it's a good habit for growing in spiritual maturity.
He joins a local church because it's the expression of what Christ has made him—a member of the body of Christ. Being united to Christ means being united to every Christian. But that universal union must be given a living, breathing existence in a local church. Sometimes theologians refer to a distinction between the universal church all Christians everywhere throughout history and the local church those people who meet down the street from you to hear the Word preached and to practice baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Other than a few references to the universal church such as Matt. The relationship between our membership in the universal church and our membership in the local church is a lot like the relationship between the righteousness God gives us through faith and the actual practice of righteousness in our daily lives. When we become Christians by faith, God declares us righteous. Yet we are still called to actively be righteous. A person who happily goes on living in unrighteousness calls into question whether he ever possessed Christ's righteousness in the first place see Rom.
So, too, it is with those who refuse to commit themselves to a local church. Committing to a local body is the natural outcome—it confirms what Christ has done. If you have no interest in actually committing yourself to an actual group of gospel-believing, Bible-teaching Christians, you might question whether you belong to the body of Christ at all! Listen to the author of Hebrews carefully: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.