21. The Christian Home


The family is of divine origin. It had its beginning in the Garden of Eden when God, seeing that it was not good for the first man to be alone, made “a helper suitable for him.” He caused a sleep to come upon Adam and from his side he created a woman and brought her to the man. “The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:23-24.

Jesus also endorsed this teaching. “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:4-6.


The purposes of marriage are:

1. To provide companionship.

“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18. “God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:6.

2. To avoid adultery and fornication (now often described as “relationships.”)

“But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:2.

3. To bring up the next generation.

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” Genesis 1:28.


The New Testament says nothing about how a marriage ceremony should be carried out. In those days it appears to have been celebrated with a feast at home. See John 2:1 and Matthew 25:1. Therefore it is quite scriptural to be married by a civil registrar or in whatever way the law of a country requires.

Christians may wish to make their vows in the presence of fellow believers, but no church ceremony is required to make a marriage valid. The important thing is that it should be a public commitment to a lifelong union between a man and a woman. It should therefore be a serious undertaking, not an excuse for a party.


A Christian should seek to marry a fellow Christian, and thus hope to avoid a great number of extra problems which may arise. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14.

See also 1 Corinthians 7:39, where Paul writes that a widow may be married to whom she chooses, but “only in the Lord.” It is by no means certain that a prospective marriage partner will be converted.

In particular, questions might arise as to how any children of a mixed marriage would be brought up, and whether they would follow their father’s or mother’s religion or, as often happens, no religion at all.


Christian love is needed in all walks of life, but especially within the family.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.


The husband is the head of the household. “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:23-24.

But the husband should rule with love. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25.

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28.

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life.” 1 Peter 3:7.

The husband is usually also the main provider for the family (and this would have included widows in New Testament times). “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8.


The scriptures teach that there cannot be complete equality between men and women. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16.

“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:18-19.

The older women should instruct the younger.

Titus 2:4-5 “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Although wives should be keepers at home (and not go about gossiping as did some idle widows mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:13, this does not mean they are to be strictly confined to housework. Compare Proverbs 31:10-31.

The woman described there whose “price is far above rubies” was praised by her husband and children for industriously buying, and selling, and contributing to the family finances.

Also note that Priscilla apparently worked with her husband Aquila as a tentmaker, Acts 18:3, besides helping to teach Apollos, Acts 18:26.


If people are already married before becoming Christians, they should try to hold their marriage together. “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” 1 Corinthians 7:16.

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2.

“But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15.


Fathers and mothers should endeavour to bring up their children in the Lord by setting an example for them to follow and should not rely on the church to teach them once a week. Grandparents also, 2 Timothy 1:5, can pass on their faith and teach scripture, 2 Timothy 3:15.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4.

There are no excuses for rebellious teenagers here. Fathers and mothers should keep children under reasonable control for their own good.

But in their anxiety to bring up their children as believers, parents should not discourage them by, for instance, excessive fault-finding, and remember the saying that Christianity is caught rather than taught.


When the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, he replied, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:6-9.

Paul writes “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:10.


It may happen that, for some reason such as the ‘present crises’ mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:26-27, it is better for the Christian to remain single.

Paul writes, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.” 1 Corinthians 7:8. He gives this as his own opinion not a command of the Lord and continues

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:32-34.

The New Testament says nothing about orders of monks or nuns, or celibate priests, and does not teach that the single life is better than marriage. Jesus himself indicated that it was only suitable for certain people. Matthew 19:11-12.

Most of the apostles were married, 1 Corinthians 9:5, and, as will appear in a following lesson, elders and deacons must be married men.

Some notable single women are mentioned in the New Testament such as Martha and her sister Mary, John 11, and some who were possibly single, including Lydia, Acts 16:14-15, and Dorcas, Acts 9:36.


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