Written by Victor Stanley Jr.
Family is one of the fundamental structures of society. It is the first institution established by God in Genesis chapter 2:22-24 where we see the first marriage. In Genesis 1:28 we see the purpose of marriage when God commands the man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply.” Furthermore, Genesis 1:28-29 states that mankind has been given dominion over all creation and is to subdue the earth, but this subduing is specifically carried out through the offspring produced by the man and woman. Genesis 1:28-29 reads: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,’” (Genesis 1:28). So it is by filling the earth with offspring that man will subdue it and exercise dominion. Genesis goes on to say that when a man takes a wife the two shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24), which is often said to be seen through the act of sexual union. However, the two literally become one flesh in the creating of a child that shares the DNA of both parents.
From the beginning God establishes marriage as the ideal situation for mankind—Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”—and conveys that man’s purpose is fulfilled through the building of families that will rule over and subdue the earth. The family, then, is foundational to the Gospel and the living out of the Christian life.
In Genesis 12 God calls Abraham out of the land of Ur and says that He will bless Abraham and his descendants, and through him all nations shall be blessed. In chapter 15 God makes a covenant with Abraham saying that his offspring will be as many as the stars in the sky. In Christ we see both of these promises come to fruition. Jesus Christ is Himself a descendant of Abraham, and through Him and in Him people of every tribe, tongue, and nation receive salvation. Second, as Paul makes clear in Romans 4:9-18 (especially verses 16-17) it is those who are in Christ that are the true descendants of Abraham and members of the covenant community. Thus the nations are blessed through the salvation Christ brings, and all who trust in Christ become heirs of Abraham. The Gospel is grounded in a familial context where “God’s plan for the salvation of mankind involved choosing Abraham and his family for special blessing.” Through a family salvation comes to all people, and all who enter into this salvation become members of that same family by blood, namely the blood of Christ the descendant of Abraham.
While this spiritualization of the family may seem to overshadow what we call the “biological family,” it would be a mistake to take such a position. The Genesis mandate for marriage is neither negated nor replaced by the New Covenant instituted by Christ, rather it is reaffirmed. The most poignant metaphors surrounding God and His people, Christ and the Church, are grounded in marriage and family. To supplant the family by over spiritualizing it and suggesting that the Church is now the family, and offspring are produced by the making of disciples is to break up the foundation upon which Christian life is built. Do not mistake me for saying that family is the foundation upon which Christianity is built, rather I am saying that Christian life and growth are grounded in the family unit.
Ephesians 6:4, Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 4:9; 6:7; 11:19, and Psalm 78:4 all speak of instructing children in the way of the Lord. In Matthew 19 Jesus reaffirms the Genesis mandate for marriage and the two becoming one flesh. Paul, in Ephesians 5 Paul also reaffirms the Genesis mandate as well as pointing to marriage as a symbol, or icon if you will, for Christ and the Church. The Song of Solomon, if one hold’s to the Jewish and Early Church allegorical views, depicts God’s love for His people in the context of marriage. In the book of Hosea God brings divorce proceedings against Israel, again grounding His relationship to His people in the symbolism of marriage. I have listed ten scripture references here, some of them entire books of the Bible, that point not only to the significance of family, but also the purpose of family. Two points can be made from all of this, first, that within the family is where our primary disciple-making efforts take place, namely it is the raising and rearing of children. Second, marriage is beneficial to both man and woman, but even more, that it is to serve as an earthly representation of Christ’s relationship with His covenant people, the Church.
We are meant to create and build up Christian families that serve as a microcosm of the Church as a whole in which disciples are made through the birthing of children and raising them up in the fear of the Lord. Marriage, which is a covenant relationship between a man and woman and God meant to produce families, stands as an icon of sorts for God’s covenant with His people. The biblical foundation of family is found right in Genesis 1 & 2, and in the biblical understanding of family we see the plan of salvation unfold and the living out of the Christian life take place.
In a previous piece titled The Problem With Sex… I spoke of how contraceptives and birth control serve to dismantle the family to a certain extent. This current article shows the significance of family and its purpose within a Christian context. In light of this it becomes more clear why stifling procreation within marriage is problematic.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 2:18.
 Thom Blair, “Family,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).