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By Alexandra Nyoni

Since the essence and functions of the family are ultimately defined by love, and the family is entrusted with the mission of guarding, revealing and communicating love, as a living reflection and participation of God’s love for humanity and the Christ’s love for the Church his Bride, it is in the Holy Family, in this original “domestic Church”, that all families must mirror themselves. In our days, the family has been the target of powerful evil attacks… Let us remember that when a family is destroyed, a society is destroyed. So let us preserve the sacredness of the family and its importance in creating people of integrity and rooted in values and virtues.  (Father António Pelágio Cachingona, IMBISA)

“For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s Church?” – 1 Timothy 3:5

In many parts of the world, throughout varying cultures, the idea of ‘family’ takes many different forms. And while modern culture has heavily influenced current familial structures, the Bible details a timeless and God-honouring structure for Christian families to follow, to glorify His name. The importance of Christian families upholding these biblical principles cannot be overstated. It’s important that Christians, regardless of their marital or familial situations, know and live out these principles in order to witness to the unbelievers around them, and to not fall into the temptation of living by secular culture rather than biblical culture. 

According to scripture, the husband is the head of the household (Ephesians 5:23), and thus, most of the responsibility of cultivating a healthy family culture lies on the shoulders of the man. This is not to dismiss or diminish the role of women and children within the family structure, however, it is with healthy Godly leadership from the man that women and children are able to carry out their respective roles to the best of their abilities. When families follow the God-given structure, it allows for each member to thrive in an environment of peace, harmony, and effective ministry. However, this structure is often the first to be criticised by modern culture. While modern culture says that this structure is oppressive to women, hindering them from fulfilling their potential, Biblical culture says this setup maintains that both men and women have equal value before the Lord, but were made with different strengths, giftings, and purposes. 

There are many ways that Satan has sought to destroy this Biblical family structure. The Enemy knows that if he can destroy families, he can destroy communities and eventually whole nations. As we read in Genesis, Satan’s first attack was on the family, demonstrating the importance he knew had been placed on human relationships. When God created Adam and Eve in the Garden, he created them in perfect unity and perfect harmony, both with Himself and with each other. The original sin not only separated Adam and Eve from God, but essentially separated them from the perfect unity they had previously shared. The first instance of familial violence came shortly after when Cain murdered Abel. The original sin and that which followed opened the door to the familial breakdown that we are still experiencing today. 

Attacks on the family often show up by means of divorce, familial violence, and fatherlessness. One does not have to look far to see the evidence of these attacks on families. UN Women reports that global rates of femicide (the murder of women and girls, primarily by family members) has been on the rise, while research conducted in America shows that most of what are considered ‘societal plagues’ (for example poverty, high crime rates, and drug and alcohol abuse) are caused by fatherlessness. According to Forbes, approximately 50% of first marriages end in divorce. 

The only solution to these societal issues caused by a breakdown of the family is for men, women, fathers, and mothers to come to a saving knowledge of Christ and allow Him to transform their families for the glory of God. The Church cannot witness to those around them if the individuals within it do not take up their family responsibilities first themselves. Christians are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5). This includes demonstrating Christian values of love, kindness, forgiveness, and peace-making – first within families, and then to the external community. There is much work and opportunity for local church communities to intervene in the lives of families, ultimately bringing restoration to broken communities and nations. In Malachi 4:5-6, the Lord tells his people, “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” Believers can take this verse to heart, recognising that unless we work to turn the hearts of parents and children toward each other, we will, as a society, continue to struggle with the ‘curses’ we face. 

One way of knowing if a family is operating well within its God-given structure and purpose is by its ‘fruit.’ “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit.” (Luke 6:43-45). Some examples of ‘good fruit’ coming from a biblically sound family include practical outflows such as community engagement, missions activities, involvement in a local church, and so on. Cultivating a missionally-minded home is one way that Christian families can help to ensure that communities and nations are reached with the Gospel. Encouraging our families to be mission-minded is not the responsibility of just one family member. Teaching children about the world, about the Gospel, and encouraging them to be active in their faith are all ways to cultivate mission-mindedness. Other practical ways to do this include praying for missionaries, travelling and gaining exposure to different cultures, and getting involved with your local church’s missions programme. Strengthening our families and encouraging an active faith is one of the strongest weapons we have against the enemy in this life.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • For the cultivation of healthy, Christian families in societies all over the world
  • For local churches to reach out and intervene in the lives of families that are struggling with the effects of familial attacks
  • For the Lord to come and break generational curses and to heal individuals, families, communities, and nations

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