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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Baptist Faith & Message Article XVIII. The Family

Here is my final lesson on the BF&M 2000 that I have been teaching on Wednesday evenings.

XVIII. 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.

Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15-25; 3:1-20; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 1:26-28; Psalms 51:5; 78:1-8; 127; 128; 139:13-16; Proverbs 1:8; 5:15-20; 6:20-22; 12:4; 13:24; 14:1; 17:6; 18:22; 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 24:3; 29:15,17; 31:10-31; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 9:9; Malachi 2:14-16; Matthew 5:31-32; 18:2-5; 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-12; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy 5:8,14; 2 Timothy 1:3-5; Titus 2:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7.


The inclusion of an article on the family in 1998 reveals the great upheaval in society surrounding the family. The family was and still is in such a crisis in our day that Southern Baptists felt compelled to address the crisis by adopting a significant statement (notice its length) on the family.

The Church should be front and center in this crisis concerning the family by obediently and joyfully living out God’s will in our own homes. However, the Church has dropped the ball in many respects when it comes to the family.

If we hope to recover God’s ideal for the family it will come when preachers faithfully preach God’s word from the pulpit, Christians earnestly seek to be faithful to God’s instruction, and when the Church in love practices accountability and discipline.

A. Family as a Foundational Institution

Read Paragraph One

When we think of institutions we likely think about government, banks, or educational universities and colleges. However, the most important societal institution is the family (I am thinking of institutions common to both the regenerate and unregenerate, so the church is excluded here). In many ways how the family goes, society goes. And we would all agree that as we take stock of the family presently, we are in agreement. The family is struggling mightily. And not surprisingly, our American society is struggling too.

I believe one of the main reasons why the health of the family and society are so interwoven is stated in the article in the last paragraph where it reads, “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.”

Godly character should be taught and modeled in the home to each successive generation, but this is not happening by in large today. Many families are not staying intact long enough to instruct and model biblical character to the next generation. Many families have three and four generations of passing on ungodliness and are incapable apart from a miracle of God of making any significant change. Still others are so intermingled with the world they are apathetic towards their children’s future or too selfish and preoccupied primarily with themselves.

And when the institution of family suffers all the other societal institutions suffer as well because when character is not taught, when virtues are not valued, when godliness is not modeled, then business and banking institutions value greed over stability. Governments become wasteful instead of being good stewards. National leaders become corrupt and try to perpetuate their own legacies by latching on to power even through deadly means. Schools fail to educate mainly because of the failure at home.

B. Marriage as Foundational for Family

Read Paragraphs Two & Three

One of the most significant reasons why the family is struggling today is due to our low view of marriage. The low view of marriage no doubt arises when marriage is separated from the truth it was meant to display, namely the marriage between Jesus and his bride, the Church.

Additionally, marriage is more and more being severed from its roots which are in God where he married the first man and woman. Marriage today is simply viewed as a social contract that can be broken for any reason in most states (no fault divorce).

When marriage is severed from God’s intent then we also lose sight of what is good and appropriate only in marriage such as having sex and raising children as the article states, “Marriage is…the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.”

In paragraph four, the statement says, “Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage.” However, as the number of children born out of wedlock continue to rise, it becomes impossible for them to inherit godly patterns for marriage because they cannot be modeled by one parent. Furthermore the pain of having one or both parents disown their children through abandonment forever sears a child’s life and soul. It becomes near impossible for a child from this environment to even fathom a loving Father.

If the family is to be recovered then marriage must be recovered. And if marriage is to be recovered we must repent of our sin and turn to God for his instruction concerning the very institution he ordained. And when we do this we will recover important truths such as:

1. God’s expectations of a husband… “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).” The article expresses that the husband fulfills this command in part by providing for, protecting, and leading his family.

2. God’s expectations of a wife… “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:22-23).” The article elaborates more on the role of the wife calling her the husband’s helper who works alongside him managing the family and nurturing their children.

3. The marriage covenant between a man and a woman should display in many ways the new covenant between Christ and the Church… “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32).”

4. This truth leads us to the permanency of marriage just as Christ will never forsake his Church, so a husband should never forsake his wife and vice versa. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 says, “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.”

5. When sex is reserved for a man and a woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime, then children born out of wedlock become a thing of the past and families are much more prepared to bring a child into the world and properly model for them godliness.

What was very intriguing when this article was affirmed and adopted into the Baptist Faith & Message was the outcry against the statement “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.” Not surprising was the mainstream media’s attempt to paint this article negatively, but what was very surprising was the many Christians who denounced this statement because this statement comes directly from Scripture in Ephesians 5:22, 24.

C. A Biblical View of Children

Read Paragraph Four

Because our society has lost its positive view of children, Southern Baptists have deemed it necessary to also reaffirm a high view of children. First, we affirm that children “from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord.” We say “from the moment of conception” because of the terrible reality of abortion and its fruits present in our society.

While our society continues to raise standards in how we treat our land and how we treat animal life, we are making little progress in how we treat young human beings. We even have at least one political candidate who confesses that he isn’t sure whether life begins at conception but inexplicably sides not with caution but freely fights for the right of every American to have an abortion for whatever reason.

Children are not to be torn apart in the womb through abortive measures. The Scripture describes the awesome nature of procreation in Psalm 139:13-18…

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them. If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

And Psalm 127:3-5 says of children, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."

Children are not hindrances to be bemoaned, but rewards to be treasured. Children are not diseases to be rid of, but are blessings to be enjoyed. Children are not biological impediments that damper our futures, but human beings are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God which help parents know God more deeply and make life more meaningful.


The recovery of the family, marriage, and other institutions will occur to the degree that we humble ourselves and repent of our rebellion against God and his divine wisdom and begin to diligently search his revealed Scripture and embrace his perfect teaching regarding these vital institutions.

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