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The Family: God's Defining Tool

  • Zan Tyler Editor of the HomeSchool Channel
  • 2002 9 Feb
The Family: God's Defining Tool

Every family is unique, with a character and way of doing things all its own. This is God’s providential design. He sovereignly places each one of us into families to define who we are in time and space. In a day where the importance of family is denigrated - where peer pressure and pop culture clamor to define our children for us - we need to take every available opportunity to provide our children with a positive, lasting family heritage and legacy.

As always, we need to look to Scripture to find God’s perspective on the importance of the family, as well as the importance of establishing a family heritage. Once we open the Word of God, we don’t have to look far. In the second chapter of the Bible, in Genesis 2:18, we hear this from the mouth of God himself: "It is not good for the man to be alone."

At this point we need to make a noteworthy observation: Adam did not have an empty life. He had a gorgeous place to live - verses 8 through 15 tell of the beautiful garden God created for Adam’s residence. Adam already had a personal relationship with God, as evidenced by God’s conversation with Adam in verses 16 and 17. And Adam had a career - verse 15 says the Lord God "took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it."

From the very beginning, Adam already had some of the key issues of life settled. He knew God. He knew where God wanted him to live. He knew what God wanted him to do. With God’s blessing of Himself, a beautiful home, and a fulfilling career, what more did Adam need? Was this not enough for Adam? Evidently not. For the first time in the creation account, God surveys his handiwork and declares something "not good."

What was God’s solution to Adam’s aloneness? He created the family. It all happens very quickly. In verse 22, God creates Eve and brings her to Adam. In verse 23, Adam voices his obvious approval. And in verse 24, God uses the terms father, mother, and wife. From the very beginning of man’s existence, God, in His infinite, eternal wisdom and mercy, has chosen to place human beings in families. Families are His gift to us - His divinely appointed way of meeting our needs for intimacy, identity, and companionship.

God created and instituted the family before the Fall. Throughout Scripture we see God’s continued use of the family as a tool to shape and define history. In Genesis alone, seven chapters contain genealogies (or lists of descendants). These are records of families. In Numbers, chapter 1 and 26, God orders censuses to be taken of the people of Israel - by their families. In Numbers 34, when the Promised Land is portioned out, it is done by families. And, after a four-hundred year interlude, what is the first thing that God tells us about Jesus the Messiah in the New Testament - in the very first verse and the very first chapter of Matthew? He gives us His genealogy - His family background.

If God views men in the context of families, shouldn’t we follow His example? If God views the family as the foundational institution in society, shouldn’t we? Theologian R. J. Rushdoony says, "The family is man’s first state, church, and school. It is the institution which provides the basic structure of his existence and most governs his activities." The family is a "framework which extensively and profoundly shapes his concept of himself and of life in general."

According to Jay Kessler, president of Taylor University, "The identity crisis of today’s young people, individually and corporately, is the largest single factor affecting this generation ... (in the colonial era) identity came more from being linked to a family than from being just an individual. A young man was ‘the Jones boy’ and he knew where he belonged and what he was to be."

Do your children know who they are and what they are to be in the context of your family?

Zan Tyler is co-author of the book Anyone Can Homeschool and senior education editor for She and her husband have three children and have been home schooling since 1984.