By Aaron Brown, Crosswalk.com
Due to the free will God has given us, we can make a number of choices in life. We are allowed to pick our occupations, our friends, our food.
In spite of the multitude of choices before us, choosing our family is not one.
Family, like many aspects of life, is something we cannot control.
Instead, God allows for us to be born into a variety of different households. This predestined quality of our lives leads to some being raised in homes with both parents present or missing. Sometimes we live with guardians who love us, and sometimes with people who do not.
No matter how we were raised or who raised us, God’s Word emphasizes that He does care about the family structure. We know this first and foremost because of the second greatest commandment.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).
The second greatest commandment is mentioned more than once in Scripture, and the word love appears constantly.
The commandment to love others as we love ourselves includes every human being: every parent, every guardian, every child.
When we fulfill this commandment, we serve as an example of God’s love, letting the world know that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:35).
Sharing love as a parent is showering children with sacrificial love, the same way God showed sacrificial love through Jesus (1 John 4:10). Parents perform their sacrifice through efforts of providing for children, giving them shelter, food, clothing, and sometimes gifting them with things they simply want.
One way children demonstrate love toward their parents is by practicing obedience, abiding by the teachings they learn (Ephesians 6:1). In the same way children listen to adults, we are called to obey God our Father.
These verses from Scripture are complemented by the numerous stories in the Bible that evoke the family structure. Adam and Eve, along with their sons Cain and Able were a family. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were a family. Joseph and his many brothers also represent family. There are many more in the Bible.
Through these numerous accounts of families, believers are given examples of how to and how not to treat relatives. God presents each story to us because there are lessons to learn. Not only do we have these examples, but there are several verses throughout Scripture that highlight specific roles in the family for spouses, parents and children, and even siblings.
This information answers whether or not God values family. However, one question remains: does God have a divine purpose for family?
20 Bible Verses about Family
“For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)
God’s intimate relationship with us and His plans for our lives begins at conception. As He is forming us physically, God has already decided His plans for our family structure. Whatever He decides, no matter what we have or do not, His sovereignty is clear. God has a plan wherever He puts us.
“For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
Unknown to some, God’s forgiveness is contingent on our ability to forgive others. This includes our families who sometimes hurt us worse than anyone else.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.” (Proverbs 17:17)
The ideal family has a bond built on love and one that has survived adversity.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)
Love calls for sacrifice, much like Jesus sacrificed himself. We as believers are also supposed to sacrifice for our family.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
Our words and actions have the ability to build others up. This is especially true for parent-child relationships where a child learns how to survive and thrive in life through their caretaker.
“Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Ephesians 20:12)
To honor does not mean do everything a parent says. The definition of honor informs us that we are to be respectful in how we manage our relationships with parents whether we are close to them or not.
“Listen to your father who gave you life, and don’t despise your mother when she is old.” (Proverbs 23:22)
The older some children age, the more rebellious they become. This mindset does not appeal to God. He wants us to respect and love our parents always.
“Start a youth out on his way; even when he grows old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Children enter into the world as blank slates. The duty of a parent is to teach them to walk like Jesus. One sign of successful parenting is a child living out those teachings.
“Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
There is a proper and wrong way to discipline. Discipline that is devoid of love and crumbles a relationship is not effective, and not what God wants.
“A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a youth left to himself is a disgrace to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15)
Children need the discipline of a parent to live successfully. Children who grow up ignorant of wisdom do not prosper as God desires.
“Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, offspring, a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)
Children are a blessing. The Bible mentions and gives examples of children throughout. We ourselves are children of God.
“Discipline your child, and it will bring you peace of mind and give you delight.” (Proverbs 29:17)
Parents feel joy at the sight of an obedient child. God is delighted when we obey Him.
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13)
The context of fear here is to love and abide in one’s teachings. Our earthly and heavenly Father appreciates that from us.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1)
God gives us commandments because He wants to redeem us and show us the right way to live. Parents teach their children the right way to live too.
“Don’t withhold discipline from a youth; if you punish him with a rod, he will not die. Punish him with a rod, and you will rescue his life from Sheol.” (Proverbs 23:13-14)
Controversial for some, the Bible takes a stand on corporal punishment that was definitely a part of old Jewish culture.
“In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children.” (Titus 2:3-4)
Mothers serve as examples for their daughters in how they should treat their husbands and how they should raise their families.
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:20-21)
God is pleased with obedience. However, this is a warning that parents should not go to extreme lengths to demand obedience lest they hurt their relationship with the child.
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 1:8)
While children may not always agree with their parents, they should at least examine the words of their elders for wisdom.
“See to it that you don’t despise one of these little ones, because I tell you that in heaven their angels continually view the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
God cares tremendously about how children are treated and with good reason. Children are less aware and less capable than their adult counterparts.
“Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
When we abide in God’s Word and help our children to as well, we begin to reflect God’s teaching in all aspects of life.
Does the Bible Say to Put Your Family First?
Like marriage, family offers a representation of God’s love and character. Within a family, everyone is able to benefit from instruction, obedience, caring, and sacrifice. These are lessons God has been teaching humanity since the Garden of Eden.
As we are able to magnify love amongst ourselves - loved learned from God - we are able to glorify God in our familial relationships.
The greatest commandment is to love God. The second is to love others the way we love ourselves. When families are able to meet the criteria in both categories we elevate the status of God in our lives, but not just for ourselves, our families benefit too.
Our renewed understanding gives further significance to the following 20 Bible verses about family.
What Christianity Says about Family Life
Though we do not control what family we are born into, we do choose how we respond. The aforementioned verses in the Bible highlight three key ideas we can use to ensure our family structure is godly.
First, we communicate. As Christians God has asked us to openly have conversations with one another. When we can express ourselves freely and kindly, we do not leave room for misinterpretation or resentment. Instead, we foster conversations that bring understanding and healing, especially in cases where we have sinned against another (James 5:16).
Healthy communication also allows for forgiveness. When we choose forgiveness, we choose to love others the same way God loves us.
In addition to communication, we create godly families by committing to the people in our lives. There are instances where actively participating in a relationship becomes unsafe. This includes family relationships.
Maybe a parent or child has in some way been threatened with violence. This may seem like an invitation to disconnect with the aggressor, however, that would not be Christ’s response.
When he said, “Bless those who persecute you,” Jesus was talking about anyone who has in some way rallied against us (Romans 12:14). He specified that he did not want us to curse the other person, but to bless them.
Therefore, whenever having a stable and healthy relationship with family is possible, we should commit to that ideal. Whenever that is not possible, we can at the very least pray for those individuals.
Lastly, we create a godly family by choosing the action of love. 1 Corinthians 13 is replete with details that describe love as God sees that word. The better we understand love God’s way, the better able we will execute that concept in our daily lives and with our families.
Through love, commitment, and communication we will be able to bring a heavenly attitude to our earthly families. Doing so allows us to fulfill the second greatest commandment and makes our Father proud.
Aaron Brown is a freelance writer, dance teacher, and visual artist. He currently contributes articles to GodUpdates, GodTube, iBelieve, and Crosswalk. Aaron also supports clients through the freelance platform Upwork.