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What Does the Bible Say About Families?

What does the Bible say about families? This is a challenging question. Even though families are God’s idea and were initially created by Him, the biblical references about families aren’t easily assembled or organized because they need to be interpreted in the context of the overall message of the whole Bible.

With exegetical challenges notwithstanding, here are fifteen standout biblical guidelines about families:

1. The initial reason for the family is to reproduce, populate the world, and rule over it.

“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground’” Genesis 1:28 (NIV).

2. God’s working plan for the family is to obey His Word.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV).

3. Families should be constructed on biblical knowledge and good sense.

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established” Proverbs 24:3 (NIV).

4. Families are not nuclear entities; they’re linked together in a family line.

“This is the written account of Adam’s family line …” Genesis 5:1 (NIV).

5. Monogamous marriage, God’s union for establishing a family, is sacred.

“And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” Mark 10:8-9 (NIV).

6. The health and welfare of families require submission and love.

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord … Husbands, love your wives” Ephesians 5:21-22, 25 (NIV).

7. Families face suffering and sorrow when they disobey God.

“The time is coming when I will put an end to your family, so it will no longer serve as my priests. All the members of your family will die before their time. None will reach old age.” 1 Samuel 2:31 (NLT).

8. There are transitory and enduring members of a family.

“Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever” John 8:35 (NIV).

9. Respect, gratitude, affection and esteem for parents should be normative in family relationships.

“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you” Deuteronomy 5:16 (NIV).

10. For family unity and harmony, children need to recognize their parent’s authority and obey them.

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” Colossians 3:20 (NIV).

11. For family well-being, parents shouldn’t aggravate or irritate their children.

“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” Colossians 3:21 (NIV).

12. Children and grandchildren should care for older members of the family.

“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God” 1 Timothy 5:4 (NIV).

13. Numerous families are broken, divided or dysfunctional (most Bible families are flawed).

“From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three” Luke 12:52 (NIV).

14. A relationship with Jesus should transcend and take precedence over family relationships.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:26 (NIV).

15. A commitment to Christ and truth may lead to division, not peace, in a family.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” Matthew 10:34-36 (NIV).

So with the above texts in mind, nurture and safeguard your family, for whoever brings trouble or harm to their relatives will lose their inheritance (cf. Proverbs 11:29). And provide for your family, because if you don’t, you reject the faith and are worse than someone who doesn’t believe in God (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8).

* Please comment. Are there some key verses you would add to What does the Bible say about families?

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© Scripture Union, 2023

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