Monthly Archives: January 2015

Redefining Family

When you think of the family, most of us probably think of some of the TV families we have seen over the years. We watched them on the screen and lived many of their moments along with them. There was . . . The Bradys from The Brady Bunch . . . The Huxtables from The Cosby Show . . . The Barones from Everybody Loves Raymond . . . The Crawleys from Downton Abbey . . . The Taylors from Home Improvement.

In an article written for Time Magazine several years ago it said, “The very term nuclear family gives off a musty smell . . . Chances are good that it will also be interracial or bisexual, divided by divorce, multiplied by remarriage, expanded by new birth technologies or perhaps all of the above. Single parents and working moms will become increasingly the norm, as will babies born out of wedlock, though there will surely be a more modern term for them . . . The concept of the illegitimate child will vanish because the concept of the patriarchal nuclear family will vanish.”

Society has tried for years to change and redefine the basic definition of the nuclear family. As much as they might try, we must understand that the basic structure of the family must not change. God has given us a plan to follow for the family and it is contained in His Word.

Before you break ground to build a house you have to have a workable, dependable and approved set of blueprints to follow. You need to know the size and layout of the house so you can position it on the property and know where to put in the footers and establish the foundation. In God’s Word, He established for us that “blueprint” for what the family is supposed to look like.

The Bible contains for us the template and design for marriage and the family. A family begins with a husband and wife and then comes the potential blessing of children. Other than your relationship with God through Christ, marriage is the most profound relationship there is. The family might or might not consist of children but it always begins with a husband and a wife.

With that being the case, it isn’t surprising that God’s Word has so much to say about it. When Jesus, Paul and Peter taught or spoke on marriage, they all referred to Genesis 2. From the very beginning of time with the first humans God established what marriage and the family should look like. Adam and Eve’s marriage was truly “a marriage made in heaven.” We don’t know their exact wedding anniversary, but we learn later that their marriage lasted some 900 years.

When God was in the creation process, He looked at all he had created and realized that every part of creation had a companion except for man. When God finished a portion of creation God said, “It is good . . . It is good . . . It is very good.” But when He gets towards the end and sees man is alone and doesn’t have a companion, God says, “It is not good.”

Right after God’s design for marriage and family comes “the fall of man.” Immediately after the fall God says to Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring.” (Genesis 3:15). We see that played out more so today than at any other time in history. If you read the headlines, listen to the news and follow culture you don’t have to listen very long before it becomes obvious that marriage and family are under attack.

Marriage does not carry the same meaning and commitment it did years ago. Time Magazine did a survey. They proposed several different views of marriage and asked millennials how interested they would be in each one.
Presidential View- Vows last for another four years, but after eight years you can elect to choose a new partner. (21% liked this).
Beta View- The union can be formalized or dissolved after a two-year trial period. (43% liked this).
’Til Death Do Us Part- Divorce is illegalized. (31% liked this).
Multiple Partner- Marriage can be with more than one person at the same time with each one fulfilling a need in your life. (10% liked this).
Real Estate- Marriage licenses are granted on five, seven, ten and thirty year terms after which the marriage must be renegotiated to be extended. (36% liked this).

Of the millennials surveyed, 53% thought marriage vows should be renewed and 40% believed the “till death do us part” vow should be abolished. One person in the study said, “This is a generation who has not had to make as many long-term commitments as previous generations, so the idea of not having an out feels a little stringent.”

Many people do not see marriage the way God sees marriage. Many people today view marriage from a consumer perspective. A consumer relationship only lasts as long as the vendor meets your needs at a cost acceptable to you. In a consumer relationship the individual’s needs are more important than the relationship. Some people have what they call “starter” marriages. They go into it to see if it will work out and what they like and don’t like in each other. They go in knowing in five years or less they will end the relationship looking for something different.

God sees marriage from the Biblical idea of covenant. In a covenant the good of the relationship takes precedence over the immediate needs and wants of the individual. Throughout the Bible you have “horizontal” covenants between friends like David and Jonathan. There are “vertical” covenants between God and people like with Abram, God and the nation of Israel. Out of all these type of covenants the marriage covenant is the deepest covenant relationship possible between two human beings.

Marriage is an equal partnership. Husbands and wives have different roles in the marriage relationship but they are equal in significance and compliment each other. “18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18). Every other part of His creation has a partner but Adam is alone so God says, “I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18). God is on a search to find a helper or mate for Adam. He brings all of His creation past Adam for him to name them and find something in creation “fit” for him.

But out of everything that has been created thus far, there is nothing or nobody for him. “Helper” (Genesis 2:18) means the woman will play a vital part in the human survival and success. What is lacking in the man the woman provides! “Helper” (Genesis 2:18) is one who supplies strength in the weakness of “the helped.” This does not imply that the helper is stronger or weaker than the one being helped. It means woman is an indispensable partner to man so together they can experience all that life has to offer. Man can’t do it without woman; woman can’t do it without man! Together they will achieve the blessing God has in store for them that is impossible alone.

Man was incomplete without someone to come alongside him in fulfilling the task of filling, multiplying, and taking dominion over the earth. This points to Adam’s inadequacy and not Eve’s insufficiency. Woman was made by God to meet man’s deficiency. When God says, “fit for him” (Genesis 2:18) it means “corresponding to, made for, complimenting, etc.” “Fit for him” (Genesis 2:18) or “matching him” is not the same as “like him.” A wife is not her husband’s clone; she compliments him.

Have you ever been putting together one of those puzzles with 500-1,000 pieces? You are looking through this pile of pieces for that one piece and they all look the same. Some are “so close” but you can’t find just the right piece. Out of all those pieces there is one piece made to fit with that piece. Then after an intense search you finally find it!

That is what is described here. They are not exactly alike but together they create a complete whole. Adam and Eve had a growing friendship, strong partnership and companionship. They complimented each other in every way because they were created for each other. Both were created equal in God’s image to help each other fulfill God’s purposes for them.

Up until God created woman, God had created everything from the dust of the ground. “19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens . . .” (Genesis 2:19). But when God gets to Eve His “modus operandi” changes. He creates her from Adam’s side. “21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:21-22). God took a rib and made Eve from Adam’s side so they could be partners.

At this moment, Adam shows emotion he has not ever shown before. He is so excited to have finally found his “helper, mate and companion.” “23 Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” (Genesis 2:23). In the Hebrew language Adam is elated. He overwhelmed and ecstatic. He has finally found the answer to his aloneness. He acknowledges their alikeness and differences because in both of these they were meant for each other.

For Adam the puzzle piece has been found. He was not alone anymore and now he could “leave and cleave.” “24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). In the King James Version it says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24).

There are several key words in Scripture that ordinarily would not be key words. Words like “But” when it will say, “But God.” That means God is turning a situation around. Then there is “Therefore.” When there is a “Therefore” you have to ask what is it “there for.” When it says, “Therefore” (Genesis 2:24) other translations say, “For this reason.” God is letting us know He is giving us His design and His plan for marriage and the family. God is saying, “Because of what I have done in creating men and women for each other, the man must leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.” If there had been another plan for relationships and marriage other than husband and wife (man and woman) God would have told us.

“Cleave” or “hold fast” means “united to.” It is a Hebrew word that literally means “to be glued to something.” It also means to unite to someone through a covenant, binding oath or promise. It’s like when you use super glue to put two small pieces back together. It glues your two fingers together and you can’t get your fingers apart without taking skin from one finger to the other finger. Because of what he has experienced, Adam is more than willing to let go of what he knows to embrace the mysterious unknowns of a lifetime with Eve.

Hannah Seligson said, “Yes, marriage can be terrifying and it’s probably the biggest leap of faith you’ll ever make. But you’ll never be able to peer into a crystal ball or map it out on a spreadsheet.” There are a lot of unknowns in marriage and family. You are taking two people from different backgrounds and personalities and putting them together under one roof. But even with the mystery God has given us a blueprint to follow. God has put His blessing on the marriage of a husband and wife and the family.

There is an illustration I like to use in pre-marital counseling when talking to couples about their relationship. It is the simple geometrical design of the triangle. God is at the top and the Husband and Wife are on the corners of the base. The key to growing closer to one another is to grow closer to God. If you both are growing in your relationship to God, you are growing closer to each other. If you drifting further from God, you are drifting further apart from each other.