The Bible says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psa. 127:1a). Rather than being primarily concerned with the building of physical houses made of wood and brick, the teaching of God’s word focuses on the building of households, or families. A “family” is properly defined as consisting of a unit of people who are related to one another. The basic family unit is made up of a husband and wife (Matt. 19:4-6), as well as their children, should they be so blessed (Psa. 127:3).
While the world so often belittles, scorns, and seeks to discard the concept of the family, the Bible places a great deal of emphasis on its importance and significance. Why is the family so important?
1. The family is the first God-ordained institution. Long before the church was brought into existence and even before the implementation of civil government, God created the family arrangement. On the sixth day of the creation God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18). Accordingly, God created woman and it was decreed that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (v. 24). God made the family a priority even from the beginning.
2. The family is the first and only honorable arrangement provided by God for the procreation of mankind. With regard to the family unit consisting of a man and a woman, God said at the beginning that the married couple should “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). While children may be conceived outside of the marriage relationship, God did not intend it to be so. Concerning sexual fulfillment, the message of Scripture is clear: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). God arranged the family to serve as a loving environment in which children are to be produced and raised.
3. The family is the first place for providing for the physical needs of its members. God designed the family to sustain itself from a physical and material standpoint. With regard to this function of the family, the apostle Paul writes, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Rather than placing this responsibility upon the government or the church, the family has been created by God to take care of and sustain itself (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10-12).
4. The family is the first and best arrangement for the training and education of children. The word of God makes plainly evident the fact that God designed the family as a training arrangement. The biblical charge to parents is as follows: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6) and, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die” (23:13). God expects the family arrangement to be one in which godly guidance is provided.
5. The family is the first place where true religion is taught and practiced. Concerning the words of the Law of Moses, Israelite families were instructed as follows: “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” (Deut. 6:7). While the local church is responsible for teaching and upholding the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), the Lord has directly charged parents with the responsibility of bringing up their own children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). The undeniable expectation is that God and His word will be held in reverence in the family, as one generation passes His wisdom on to the next.
Conclusion: In numerous and profound ways God has made the family first. The challenge before us is to make sure that God is first in our families. As we seek to fulfill God’s expectations for our families, let us be ever aware that, “The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just” (Prov. 3:33).