While each new generation has witnessed a restructuring of individual roles and responsibilities within the context of “family,” there remain key relational elements which give the family its definition and dynamic. Psychologist Penny Newall has pinpointed these “constants” as intimacy, love, support and nurture; and indeed, even in today’s permissive society, a family is identified, such when these basic elements are responsibly practiced–between husband and wife, parent and child, child and child and when they result in positive individual growth.
We declare that it is the expression of these elements which sets the Christian home apart from its secular counterpart and gives the Christian home its unique distinctive. For the Christian, the family is intrinsic to the creation ordinance of marriage (Genesis 2:24). The family’s strength derives from the godly character of the covenantal marriage relationship. That is, a man and woman shall be faithful to one another; become one, be of like mind and judgment, and be fully committed to each other as Christ is to His church.
The marriage relationship undergirded by selfless love finds its supreme embodiment in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom Paul’ said: “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he become poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9); “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Moreover, relational responsibility is an integral part of this Christ-centered love; husband to wife, wife to husband, each to God. Indeed, men and women are made in God’s likeness and, therefore, are responsible primarily and ultimately to Him for the total conduct of their lives.
Scripture says children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3) and a sacred trust by God in the hands of their parents. In the outworking of this trust God calls parents to a divine stewardship of nurturing, sustaining, protecting and training those whom the Lord has given them.
Parents must help their children to become caring and responsible persons.
Respect and responsibility begins at home. Obedience, however, is not to be required without regard for the child’s feelings or sense of personal dignity. “Fathers,” writes the apostle Paul, “do not exasperate your children” (Ephesians 6:4). And again he urges, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). Obedience, therefore, does not justify wrongful means in bringing it about.
Parents have the privilege and responsibility to help children grow and develop. God has created human beings with great potential to learn through experience and social interaction. In the home, children need opportunities to experience love and justice, examine values, come to understand Christian values .and make them their own.
Finally, parents must bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Rearing children by discipline means correcting, training, chastening, rewarding, setting limits and enforcing them, and dealing with problems immediately and tactfully. Nurturing by instruction includes placing in the mind and laying upon the heart principles rooted either explicitly or implicitly in the Scriptures. Only then can proper advice, wisdom and motivation be communicated.