God established the family in the dawn of human history when He made Eve out of Adam’s rib to be his wife. Since then, the family has become the foundation of human society, the cornerstone of all of our institutions. There is no other place where children can be properly taught the virtues of truthfulness, faithfulness, obedience, love, selfdenial, and kindness. These virtues must be learned in one’s youth. They can be honed and refined in school and society, but if they are to be learned at all, they are to be inculcated in those tender years when a child’s training is still entirely in the hands of it’s parents.
The deadliest perils that face both society and culture are those evils which undermine our domestic life: the breakdown of parental authority, feminism, divorce, abortion, sexual perversion, and the like. All of these undermine the very foundations of our social structure and “if the foundation is destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The establishment of the family antedates the entrance of sin into the world. Before sin entered the world, Adam and Ever were told to be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth and subduing it. Even if sin had never blighted this world, there would have been families and homes. The fundamental relationships implied in the existence of would have formed the groundwork of all human civilization. But the family, as well as the individual, was exposed to the ruinous effects of sin as soon as it entered the human heart. Through God’s providential care over His creation, the process of corruption was checked to such an extent that marriage and the home continued throughout the generations. It still exists today among the ungodly as well as those who seek after God. The instincts of mother-love, paternal diligence, and paternal self-denial have not wholly disappeared from the scene even in homes that do not seek to praise God’s holy name nor seek His will for their children.
The Christian home is one where the clear light of special grace is added to the glimmerings of God-given instincts. Here regenerated hearts perform parental duties which God requires with earnestness and joy. The virtues of love, obedience, self-denial, without which society cannot flourish, are rooted in the fear of God. Christian morals are taught. Such morality can only be founded on true religion. Unless Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the home, it cannot be the cornerstone of our public institutions.
Mere membership in a church does not transform a home into a Christian home. Regular contributions to a church can be made by a family, but will not make that family a Christian family. Adorning the walls of one’s house with Scripture texts is no proof that a Christian family dwells within those walls.
A Christian home is a place where Jesus Christ is worshipped and served. Such worship implies that He is confessed as the eternal Son of God, the Incarnate Word, very God of very God, and that He is worthy of all praise and adoration. The Christian home is a home whose members believe the Gospel and hold fast to the orthodox faith.
Worship of the Lord Jesus Christ in the home is to be both personal and collective. Each member must bend the knee before God in the inner chamber of their own room. At the same time, they must also call upon Him at the family table.
A Christian family in the real sense of the word is one where the family, as a family, worships and serves God. For this reason, it is important that the family spend time in prayer in each other’s presence. The family is a unit. Each individual in the family has his/her own personal needs and must be given opportunity to express those needs in prayer to God. Members of the family also have needs that they share in common. For this, the head of the house must lead the family in prayer, lifting up to God words of thanksgiving and intercession on behalf of the entire family.
The family whose members never unite in humble and fervent prayer unto the heavenly Father cannot truthfully be called a Christian family. The members may individually breathe a silent prayer to God before they partake of the meal. They may even be a family composed of Christians, but they are hardly a Christian family. How can the children in such a family be expected to grow up in the fear of God when God’s name is never mentioned in prayer? How can they be expected to learn what daily needs to pray for if they do not learn by example in the home? Children must be taught to pray from the heart, but also to pray with understanding.
Family worship consists of Bible Study as well as prayer. Christ cannot be the Head of any house unless His Word, which is the law of the home, is diligently searched. True religion is communion with God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. We commune with Him not only by pouring out our hearts before Him, but also by letting Him speak to us through His Word. If that Word is to be our light and our path for our own lives and for the lives of all within our family, then it stands to reason that the family, as well as the individual, should study that Word.
A Christian home is one where Jesus Christ is not only worshiped, but He is also served. Christianity is practical as well as doctrinal and spiritual. It consists of obedience to God as well as faith and adoration.
God has revealed abiding fundamental principles concerning the proper conduct of family life. These touch the mutual relations and obligations of husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters. Even though prayers can be recited, Scripture passages read, and hymns sung at the family table, the home is not a Christian home in the full sense of the word unless its members consciously endeavor to build their home life according to the divine pattern set by God in His Word. Where husbands neglect or abuse their wives; where wives scorn the wishes of their husbands; where children disobey and refuse to revere their parents; religious exercise is a mockery.
Is your home a Christian home? If it has grave defects in one respect or another, why not bend all your energies toward the improvement and purification of your family? Fill it with prayer, worship, and obedience to God.
Rev. Wybren H. Oord is the pastor of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He also serves as Editor of The Outlook.