What do Seventh-day Adventists Believe About Marriage and Family?
Seventh-day Adventists believe that the idea of a family originated with God as our Creator. And that God has laid out principles to uphold loving family relationships. To help strengthen these relationships, they’ve included this subject as one of their fundamental beliefs.
Here, we will highlight:
- That the concept and institution of marriage and the family unit began with God
- That the Bible provides helpful principles for strong familial relationships
- What the Bible says about divorce, polygamy, etc.
- What the Bible teaches about parenting
- How God can be a refuge for those in dysfunctional families
There is much within Scripture to help you discover God’s intention for relationships, and how you can make yours a success with His help.
Let’s start with the official statement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on marriage and family:
“Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship.
For the Christian, a marriage commitment is to God as well as to the spouse, and should be entered into only between a man and a woman who share a common faith.
Mutual love, honor, respect, and responsibility are the fabric of this relationship, which is to reflect the love, sanctity, closeness, and permanence of the relationship between Christ and His church.
Regarding divorce, Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery.
Although some family relationships may fall short of the ideal, a man and a woman who fully commit themselves to each other in Christ through marriage may achieve loving unity through the guidance of the Spirit and the nurture of the church.
God blesses the family and intends that its members shall assist each other toward complete maturity. Increasing family closeness is one of the earmarks of the final gospel message.
Parents are to bring up their children to love and obey the Lord. By their example and their words, they are to teach them that Christ is a loving, tender, and caring guide who wants them to become members of His body, the family of God which embraces both single and married persons.”
What’s the foundation of Adventist understanding on marriage and family?
As with all their beliefs as a church, Adventists go to the Bible for their understanding about marriage and family.
And they don’t just learn from the great examples of family and marriage in the Bible. There are plenty of mistakes from the flawed families in the Bible that can teach us valuable lessons.
One of the powerful things about the Bible is that it does not hide the faults of fallen humanity. We can learn from the good examples and try to follow them; and we can also learn from the bad examples and avoid their mistakes.
Where does the idea of marriage and family start in the Bible?
The first marriage and family is introduced in the Bible during the very first week of creation.
After creating land animals on the sixth day, God also made humanity’s first parents (Genesis 1: 24-25).
And it’s only humans that were distinctly made in the image of God.
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 2:17,NKJV).
God’s creation of the man and the woman as male and female was depicted in more detail in Genesis 2 .
God made the first man:
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7, NKJV).
Then He made woman:
“And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’ . . . And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said:
‘This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:18, NKJV; Genesis 2:21-24, NKJV).
Notice the close connection between them—they were even made from the same flesh!
And then the idea that when a man and woman would come together in marriage, they needed to leave their human parents and become a family of their own.
The Hebrew word in Genesis 2:24 for “be joined” or “cleave” (KJV) implies a very close bond. It’s an intentional act of being united.
This word is sometimes used in the Bible to depict the closeness between God and His people.
“Him thou shalt serve, and to Him thou shalt cleave, and swear by His name” (Deuteronomy 10:20, KJV).
Also, at the first mention of the creation of the man and woman, the Lord said to them that they should “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28, NKJV).
This is a clear reference to creating a family.
(Though please note—this does not mean that married couples who don’t have children are not viewed as a family. Nor does this mean that those who are single are not considered integral parts of a family).
Also, it is worth noting that marriage had been a gift instituted in Eden in a pre-fall world. That is, we can see what it was meant to be like before the entrance of sin.
In a sense, marriage was the finale to the creation.
Being part of a completed creation, the man and woman could now rest together on the Sabbath.
Marriage was meant to be a wonderful blessing to humanity from the start.
God also told the couple to “be fruitful and multiply; [and] fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28, NKJV).
This was the beginning of humanity. These first humans were to have children and raise them up within the family unit. Father, mother, and children united together, forming the family framework.
The marriage relationship
As seen above, God instituted the first marriage between Adam and Eve. This was a union between a man and a woman.
God saw that the man needed a companion, so He made the woman for him from his rib.
If you think about it, she was not taken from his head, implying that she was to be his leader. Or from his feet showing that she was beneath him in any way.
But she was taken from his rib, which is closest to his heart, on his side. This meant that they were to engage each other’s tenderest affection and walk side by side as equals in the journey of life.
But after the fall, this relationship experienced corruption.
God told the woman that her desire shall always be for her husband, yet he shall rule over her (Genesis 3:16).
This came as part of the curse for enticing her husband to disobey God by eating the forbidden fruit.
The beautiful harmony between them could only be maintained by submission from the woman, and undying love from the husband.
That’s why the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian wives saying;
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24, NKJV).
And to the husbands, he wrote:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones” (Ephesians 5:25-29, NKJV).
Did you notice the same words used in the creation story repeated in this analogy? Of the wife being the husband’s flesh and bones?
So in this text, we find the equation of maintaining harmony in marriage. It’s simple but practical and effective.
It just requires the man to strive to “love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33, NKJV).
What about this concept of submission in marriage?
We must admit that the concept of submission is very uninviting to women today.
This is largely due to the abuse that women have faced in almost every culture in men’s hands. This state of affairs is the result when men assert their rulership without loving selflessly—and this is never supposed to be the case.
That’s why Paul outlined that authority doesn’t end with a husband being the head of his wife. But that he himself is also under Christ as his head. So he will learn to love his wife as he sees Jesus treating humanity with love.
“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:13, NKJV).
That’s why as you’ll see later, it’s important to have marriage between husband and wife who are both believers in Jesus.
Why is marriage important to Adventists?
Aside from being the roots of the family framework, the Bible uses marriage as a symbol of God’s relationship with His people.
“For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth” (Isaiah 54:5, NKJV).
And when Israel had been unfaithful to the covenant the nation made with God, look at the language used in the Bible:
“Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also” (Jeremiah 3:8, NKJV).
It’s all marriage language: husband, adultery, divorce, harlotry.
What does the New Testament teach about marriage?
The sanctity of marriage is affirmed throughout the New Testament.
In fact, the very first recorded miracle that Jesus performed was in turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11).
By His presence at the wedding, He sanctioned this divine institution.
Here are other instances when marriage is mentioned in the New Testament, and various principles endorsed.
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4, NKJV).
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7, NKJV).
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV).
“He answered, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6, NKJV).
The Bible presents marriage as being between one man and one woman. This is the model established by God in Eden, and it applies to all marriages after that.
What are some helpful principles for a good marriage?
Throughout the Bible, Adventists see how God used marriage as a symbol of His saving relationship .with His people expressed in the Gospel.
And these principles can be applied to married couples as well. Here are some that can be a game changer for your marriage.
The foundation of the Gospel is God’s forgiveness.
“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5, NKJV).
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1, NKJV).
“You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin” (Psalm 85:2, NKJV).
The New Testament is also filled with references to the forgiveness that God offers us.
“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7, NKJV)”
“I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12, NKJV).
No question, one of the most crucial elements in any marriage is forgiveness. Spouses need to learn to be patient with each other and forgive each other’s mistakes and shortcomings, just as Christ has forgiven us.
No marriage stands a chance without forgiveness as a foundational principle.
2. Accommodating each other’s faults
The Gospel also teaches us about the fallen nature of mankind. And Adventists understand that this includes all of us, husbands and wives.
It’s important to accept that each faulty, broken and damaged human being is married to another faulty, broken and damaged human being. And there are no exceptions to this.
Spouses must learn to live with each other’s faults. And to love each other despite the mistakes. That is, just as your spouse has to live with your faults, you need to learn to live with your spouse’s. It’s important not to obsess over those faults or they will eat you alive.
The famous “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13 outlines some key behaviors that can help give guidance on what a patient and loving relationship can look like, with God’s help:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NKJV).
Always remember that a holy and perfect God accepts us as we are through Jesus. Therefore, we who are hardly holy and perfect can do the same with our spouses.
Adventists have Jesus as their example. And in marriage, we can seek to adapt His attitude depicted by Paul when he wrote:
“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:4–6, NKJV).
Though not dealing directly with marriage, the principle is crucial for any marriage: Don’t always think of yourself first.
Try to put your spouse before yourself, just as Christ put us before Himself.
As humans, whenever a situation arises, our first thought is always, how will this affect Number One?
As Christ put our needs before Himself, we need to do the same with our spouses.
4. Try to understand your partner’s perspective
Understanding your spouse’s perspective, and trying to walk in their shoes can help us be more tolerant and accommodating.
This is a lesson that we can learn from Jesus Himself in His high priestly ministry for us in heaven.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NKJV).
Just as Christ put Himself in our situation by becoming like us in order to relate to us, we should do the same with our marriage partner.
When a problem arises, try and look at the situation from your spouse’s perspective. Try to see how it might appear to him or to her.
This principle can go a long way in alleviating tough situations and conflicts.
Other biblical principles for marriage and family unity
The idea of unity is a crucial component of marriage and family.
The Bible talks about the unity of the church, which reflects the unity of the home.
Remember what Adam exclaimed right after the creation of Eve?
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23, NKJV).
It cannot get much closer and united than that, can it?
But there’s more.
In coming together as a couple, and in order to establish the family unit, we are told that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5, NKJV).
Though often seen as a sexual reference (see below), it goes deeper than that. A man and a woman bring their lives together.
The idea of “one flesh” implies one life, as each one’s life is intertwined inextricably with the others’. What affects one affects the other.
In fact, this unity and sense of interdependence should mean that the spousal relationship should supersede all others (except for God). That is, loyalty to each other should come before loyalty to friends or to other family relationships.
Before God, marriage is a sacred institution indeed. One that should never be abused.
Now, let’s look at some factors that can ensure family unity:
Compatibility or mutual agreement in terms of beliefs is key to success in marriage. This is especially important when it comes to spiritual beliefs.
Paul emphasized this aspect when he wrote:
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14, NKJV).
Though this verse seems to be dealing with some kind of union of Christians with non-Christians, the principle can and should be applied to marriage.
The more closely a husband and wife are aligned in terms of faith, culture, worldviews, etc., the greater the chance that harmony will exist in the marriage.
As we saw before, the Bible uses the idea of marriage as a symbol of the love between God and His church.
And as Paul states it explicitly, husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).
The foundation of any good marriage must be love for each other.
And true love must go deeper than just emotion to the level of principle. This is especially important during the times of tension, stress, and conflict, when the feeling of love seems to vanish for a moment.
Sexual relations in marriage
One of the privileges that come with the marriage relation is sexual relations between a husband and wife.
But the other side of this privilege is the great responsibility to guard it both before and after marriage.
The Bible condemns adultery and fornication (Proverbs 6:24-32; Matthew 5:27-30; Revelation 22:14,15).
In fact, God dedicated one of the Ten Commandments to protect the sexual relation between a man and his wife. He commanded:
“You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14, NKJV).
Sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage between a man and a woman are against God’s will for humanity. And you don’t need to be a Bible-believing Christian to see the incredible damage that sex outside of marriage has brought to this world.
In contrast, the Bible promotes a healthy sexual relationship within marriage, which is not only meant for the creation of children.
Adam and Eve’s original nakedness (Genesis 2:25), in which they “were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25), points to the kind of physical intimacy that was part of the marriage relationship from the start.
Contrary to myths about the Bible being against sex, the opposite is true. See what this verse says:
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4, NKJV).
In fact, Paul urged married couples to enjoy the pleasures of physical intimacy by saying:
“Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5, NKJV).
In other words, though you might want to take a break now and then, don’t deprive each other of sex.
That hardly sounds like a prude!
What damage has sin done to marriage and family?
Like all humanity, Seventh-day Adventists have suffered from the effects of the Fall. None of us are immune.
They also understand the devastating impact that sin has had on the sacred institution of marriage and the family.
“The distortion of humanity’s reflection of God’s image that sin brought had its effect on marriage, just as it did on all other areas of human experience. Self-interest intruded where perfect love and unity once reigned.” 1
That’s why we hear the phrase “dysfunctional family” a lot nowadays.
Due to sin, most families are dysfunctional in one way or another. And it all comes back to the fallen human nature.
In fact, right after Adam and Eve sinned, we see the immediate effects of sin on marriage.
When confronted by God about what they had done, what did Adam do?
Instead of the man seeking to protect his wife whom He loved, he tried to shift the blame off himself. He said:
“The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12, NKJV).
First, he implied that it was God’s fault because He gave the woman to him. And second, that it was her fault because she gave it to him.
Alienation, blame, and disrespect had already started. And these are the very things which plague many family relationships today.
Since then, the situation has only gone downhill.
The dysfunction that would come to exist among so many marriages and families began right here. To this day, things like infidelity, divorce, estrangement, homosexuality, polyamory (where married couples have sex with others besides their spouses but with everyone’s consent), domestic abuse, incest, and so forth have continued to wreak havoc on our marriages and families.
Of course, all of these things can be forgiven by God, and God’s grace is offered to all. God promises that we can become new creatures despite our unsightly pasts (2 Corinthians 5:17).
But the truth is that even if people do stop, repent, and become new creatures in Christ, it’s unfortunate that the damage done by deviating from God’s ideal can last a lifetime.
Probably none of us have been immune to the pain and suffering caused by dysfunctional family relations.
What did Jesus say about divorce?
In one of His struggles with the Pharisees who tried to trap Him with a question about divorce, Jesus said something interesting.
“Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:8, NKJV).
Notice, two things.
First, Jesus talked about why divorce was permitted
Because of how man had become depraved and prone to mishandling the marriage relation, divorce was allowed under certain circumstances.
In the case where one partner violated the marriage covenant by committing adultery, God provided a way out. A way out of the emotional abuse and crippling turmoil that can result when the marriage unit has been corrupted.
In this context, divorce becomes God’s way of providing protection and reprieve from abuse and unfaithfulness for those abused.
Second, Jesus is very clear about the only biblical grounds for divorce
According to the text, divorce is an option in the context of sexual immorality or adultery on the part of one spouse.
This is clearly not an excuse for the careless disregard for the permanent nature that marriage is supposed to have which is prevalent today.
In fact, Jesus said this in response to what had become a common practice in His day of men abandoning their wives even for trivial reasons. It’s because this kind of trend always leaves behind a train of broken hearts and damaged lives, especially when children are involved.
That’s why God plainly says that He hates divorce in Malachi 2:16. And He warns us against it and takes note when anyone leaves the wife [and husband] of their youth.
“Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your marriage companion and your wife by covenant….So be careful about your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (Malachi 2:14-16, NASB).
Seventh-day Adventists seek to follow this principle, even though the unfortunate reality is that people don’t always live up to it.
And as a church, Adventists seek to bring healing, reconciliation, and the Gospel of grace to those who fall short of the biblical ideal, which is all of us.
As Paul wrote, “ we are all under sin” (Romans 3:9, NKJV).
What about polygamy, which appears in the Old Testament?
In the same way that the Bible tells us of good marriages like that of Adam and Eve in Eden before the fall, it also shows examples of bad ones.
It’s important to remember that just because something was done in the Bible doesn’t mean God condones it or accepts it.
The idea of polygamy is presented early on in the Bible with the story of Lamech. He was a descendant of Cain, the one who killed his younger brother, Abel (Genesis 4:8).
The text about Lamech says:
“Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah” (Genesis 4:19, NKJV).
Just a few verses later, we read of Lamech saying to his wives,
“For I have killed a man for wounding me,
Even a young man for hurting me.
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold,
Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold” (Genesis 4:23, NKJV).
Exactly what went on here we don’t know. But here was a man who was clearly not following the will of God in his life, which included having two wives. And we surely don’t want to follow him as our example.
What about all the biblical characters, even the ones deemed faithful, who had more than one wife at a time? Men like David, Jacob, and Solomon?
The answer is simple: they were wrong in what they did.
All humans are sinners, including the ones viewed as faithful to God.
The sad fact is that polygamy had become so common in Bible times that even those who should have known better, got caught up in the prevailing practices.
Yet it has never been God’s ideal.
And whenever people deviate from God’s ideal, pain and suffering always follow. And it usually affects even those who are innocent.
Who among us has not seen or experienced for ourselves the suffering that comes from other people’s wrong actions?
An example is the famous story of Abram (Abraham), who listened to his wife Sarah and took a second wife, Hagar, for the purpose of bearing children.
Later on, due to the anguish and confusion it caused, Abraham was pressured by Sarah to send his second wife and their son away.
“Therefore she said to Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac. And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son” (Genesis 21:10, NKJV).
Imagine having to send away his own son! The Hebrew word for “very displeasing” in his sight is a word that basically means—evil. Thus it was very evil in his sight to have to do this. But this was the result of him making a bad decision regarding marriage and family.
And if he thought it was that bad, just imagine how his second wife and son felt.
Of course, had he and Sarah been patiently faithful to God to begin with, this would have never happened. But since we are all sinners, mixed-up things happen to us.
Yet we have hope even when we fall short of God’s ideal. We trust that God’s forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation are there for all who chose to mend their ways and seek to live by faith and obedience.
This was the way for Abraham, and can also be that way for us all.
What does the Bible teach about parenting?
In raising children, Paul asks parents to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, NKJV).
Moses had told the Israelite parents to teach God’s words to their children at all times:
“Speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth” (Deuteronomy 11:19-21; Deuteronomy 6:6-9, NKJV).
Children are to be instructed by precept and by example.
Paul also asks parents to be careful in how they instruct the children. They must do it in love and Christ-like spirit. He says:
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath” (Ephesians 6:4, NKJV).
Whenever discipline is necessary, they should administer it in a redemptive way.
This means that the child is led to see their mistake for what it is and experience its consequence to himself, others, and the grief it causes God. Then they should resolve not to repeat it again. And this resolution needs to be voluntary.
This sounds like a huge task. A task that ideally takes both the mother’s and father’s input. Though they play different roles, they’re complementary to each other, resulting in an all round development of the children.
The role of the father
The father is the head of the home.
His name as ‘husband’ can as well be rightly called ‘house-band’ as he binds the mother and children together in his large, strong, earnest, and devoted affections.
As a priest of the family, he is also the spiritual leader and law maker.
He protects and provides for his family. Gives guidance and support to the children, and delights them with his presence and companionship.
Through his manly bearing, he illustrates and instills the sterner virtues of character to the children. Virtues like energy, honesty, integrity, courage, and practical usefulness.
And for him to adequately fulfill this vital role, he must not be a child himself. He needs to have matured and be able to control his passions. To have developed good morals and overcome selfish tendencies.
But most importantly, he should have learned to depend on God to teach him to love his wife and children as God requires him to love them.
The role of the mother
The wife and mother should be her husband’s equal in the family, just as God intended. She has a distinct and complementary role.
She earns the respect of her children as the queen of the household through her sweet, steadfast influence.
She nurtures her children by being their first teacher. She educates them for usefulness in life and molds their characters for eternity. She demonstrates and instills the finer virtues of character in her children. Virtues like love, cheerfulness, courtesy, sympathy, compassion, tenderness, etc.
She is always learning the best ways to motivate, inspire, and facilitate the highest development of her family. And gently watches over their wellbeing in terms of health of body, soul, and spirit.
The role of the children
For children, God has one of the Ten Commandments dedicated to show their responsibilities to their parents. The fifth commandment says:
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12,NKJV).
And Paul reinforces it by saying:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3, NKJV).
Honoring and obeying parents in the Lord means:
- Being glad and willing helpers at home
- Protecting their parents’ reputation
- Yielding to their counsel and wishes whenever it doesn’t conflict with God’s revealed will
- Taking tender care of them in their old age, etc.
What about those struggling in dysfunctional families?
In today’s society, families that follow this blueprint are becoming rare. It can feel like the odds are against it.
Maybe you’ve looked through the description of marriage and family in this post and found that your marriage is not anything close to this. Or you grew up in a home where these principles didn’t apply.
Still, there’s good news for you.
God is able to restore broken marriages and family relationships
Given that both parties are willing, He can help you to work with your spouse or your family to heal your marriage or family relations. He will draw you into a close relationship with Himself and walk with you through the whole journey.
You may need to have help and support from friends, church family, and even receive therapy from professional counselors.
All these will be means through which He’ll work to instruct or support you.
But He assures us that if we trust Him and follow His leading and principles, He’ll do it in His own way and time.
Even if you feel alone in your journey toward an ideal family, know that God is always there, and He has a plan for you.
In situations where the relationships cannot be worked on, He Himself promises to supply their place to heal and comfort us.
Some situations aren’t able to be “fixed” in the case of death, or if the other parties are not willing to work on it.
He tenderly identifies with us in familial terms.
He asks us to call Him “Father” and He calls us His children and members of His household (Romans 8:15; Ephesians 2:19).
He also comforts us “as a mother comforts her son” (Isaiah 66:13, CSB).
So, there’s hope for you even if you didn’t have a mother and/or father growing up. Or if they rejected or neglected you.
Still, you can have the same confidence in God that the Psalmist had when he said, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me” (Psalm 27:10, NKJV).
He specifically assumes responsibility for you when He says He is the “Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5, NKJV).
And He assures you that even if your mother could forget you, He won’t (Isaiah 49:15).
If your relationship with brothers and sisters has been rocked by conflict and sibling rivalry, He says that He’s the Friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
And for the lonely, He is “a present help in time of trouble,” and His promise to you is: “fear not, for I am with you” (Psalm 46:1; Isaiah 41:10, NKJV).
To widows, He says He is their advocate and husband (Isaiah 54:5; Psalm 68:5).
This is a promise you can claim even if you are a widower, or divorced, abandoned, or estranged from your spouse.
And it’s a good one for those who are single too.
God promises to supply you with the security and companionship that you long for.
So as we have seen, marriage and family are sacred institutions.
They were ordained at creation by God Himself. He provides us with principles that will ensure a successful marriage and family in His word. Even if we miss the mark, He has a tender heart for family and will help us get back on our feet.
But best of all is that God identifies Himself with us in our most fulfilling family relations. And He also comes to us as the ultimate fulfillment of our needs for those close ties as we safely lean in for a closer relationship with Him.
 Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, pp. 334-335
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