Over the past 6 months we have carefully reviewed basic Southern Baptist doctrine in a variety of areas. We have looked at our core theological beliefs, as well as our role as Christians within the church and within society. This morning we will discuss the final statement in the Baptist Faith and Message. It deals specifically with 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."
This morning we will consider what Scripture says about the family in general, about marriage, and about parenthood. While this is an extremely extensive topic, and we could spend weeks on it, today we will simply hit the high points as we summarize what the Scripture teaches.
The Bible distinguishes the family from the nation, explaining that nations are made up of families. Likewise, churches are made up of families. As a matter of fact, the family is foundational institution of society. Like cells within a human body, the healthiness of its individual families will determine the health of the nation/church as a whole. In order for a family to be and remain spiritually healthy, the must fear the Lord. By knowing Him, loving Him, and exalting Him, families demonstrate Godly wisdom upon which they are strengthened and firmly established.
God ordained the marriage relationship as the first and foundational human relationship. It is an institution created and established by God alone. Man has no legitimate right to define or redefine marriage, as God has already done so. Scripture is abundantly clear - God’s original design for marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Marriage is a covenant relationship between God, the husband, and the wife. It is a binding commitment, cemented by God himself. Marriage is a mystery in that two individuals become “one flesh”, inseparable from one another. While divorce is an unfortunate consequence of fallen humanity, it is not God’s desire or original design. The Bible is clear that God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:16)
God created both male and female in His image. As such, both are equal in worth to God. Neither is to elevate themselves as more valued or favored by God, particularly in the context of a marriage relationship. Marriage is a union of equals, mutually pledged to one another. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. They are to give of themselves completely and sacrificially for the sanctification of their wives, by providing for her, protecting her, and leading her. Husbands are to love their wives as their own body, for indeed they are one flesh. Wives are to lovingly submit to the Godly leadership of their husbands. They are to respect him and be a helper to him, particularly in the management of the household.
Parents are to teach their children the truths and ways of God, thereby passing Christianity from one generation to the next. This is the primary means of evangelism, and God’s design for the continuance of His kingdom. The are to train the kids as directed by Scripture. Training involves modeling. Parents are not just to tell their children about God, but to model Christian living. In order to adequately prepare children for adulthood, parents are to lovingly disciple their children, just as our Father at times disciplines His children. Such correction is critical for raising God-fearing children. In turn, children are to honor their parents. This means that they are to hold them in highest esteem, revere and respect them. Children are to obey their parents in the Lord.
For most of my life, I have been told that half of all marriages in the U.S. fail, and this is roughly the same figure both in and outside the church. However, I read research this week that declares this information to be false. Rather, only about 30% of marriages end in divorce, and that rate is cut in half among evangelical Christians who attend church regularly. While not perfect, it does reveal that God makes a difference. The best thing you can do for your marriage - for your family - is to know, love, and serve the Lord.