Families that Discuss together, stay together

Families that Discuss together, stay together
Families that Discuss together, stay together

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Theology of the Family

The men and women of the Old Testament understood the theology of the family. Adam and Eve were given the command to multiply and replenish the earth. Throughout all of the biblical teachings we see that family life is safeguarded with divine commandments. The three major pillars of the gospel hinge upon the family; the Creation, the Fall, and Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice were implemented to create, teach and save the families of God.

Julie B. Beck taught gospel educators that; “The Creation of the earth was the creation of an earth where a family could live. It was a creation of a man and a woman who were the two essential halves of a family. It was not about a creation of a man and a woman who happened to have a family. It was intentional all along that Adam and Eve form an eternal family. It was part of the plan that these two be sealed and form an eternal family unit. That was the plan of happiness.” (Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast, August 4, 2009, Conference Center Theatre.) The Fall provided a way for Adam and Eve to leave the garden and to form their family. Adam was commanded to work hard and “in the sweat of [his] face [could] he eat bread.” (Genesis 3:19) Eve, his wife, would work alongside him throughout their lengthy lives. They begat children and taught them to work hard, but most importantly, to obey God. The Atonement, not only would accomplish the necessary salvation for individuals, but would provide a means for the family to be sealed together eternally under the Celestial Law.

Throughout the Bible, the prophets acknowledged the doctrine of eternal families. Isaiah wrote that Israel must follow after righteousness and ought to, “look unto the rock whence [they] are hewn, and to the pit whence [they] are digged.” He continues his plea to the families, “Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.” (Isaiah 51:1-2)

The children of Israel were forewarned of the dangers of mingling with other faiths and marrying outside of their faith. And yet, Israel, not listening to the warnings, lived and mingled among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and others. As is the case in any setting where we lurk among physical and spiritual dangers, we put ourselves at risk physically and spiritually. Israel was not immune to that fact. In Judges we read about Israel’s spiritual danger in intermingling with the godless and then we observe the loss of covenanted families. “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger…And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.” (Judges 2:11-12; 3:6) Another time we see Israel’s physical danger from not heeding the Lord’s command to “destroy the accursed” from among them. Joshua records the destruction of many disobedient Israelites, “Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.” (Joshua 7:12) God warns his people because he loves them and knows that the only way to preserve them is for them to live as covenanted families and to know and live His law.

Numerous examples in the Old Testament describe righteous women and mothers who knew His law for families. These ancestral mothers taught their children to love God and eschew evil. They taught their daughters the theology of families and to desire the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant. Julie B. Beck recounts the story of Isaac and Rebekah,

“If Abraham wanted these blessings—to be the ‘father of many nations’—how important was Isaac’s wife? Isaac’s wife was pivotal in Abraham being able to receive his blessings. She was so important that he sent his servant on a mission to find the right girl—a girl who would keep her covenants, a girl who understood what it meant to form an eternal family and have those same blessings…Now, Rebekah gave up everything—she left her family and her homeland to go form an eternal family because she wanted these blessings. And of her two sons, she had one left; and of the daughters of the land, there was not one who could form an eternal marriage with her son. She needed to see that her righteous son got the blessings. Rebekah used her influence to see that the priesthood blessings and keys passed to the righteous son. It’s a perfect example of the man who has the keys and the woman who has the influence working together to ensure their blessings.” (Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast, August 4, 2009, Conference Center Theatre.)

Ruth understood the covenant and blessing of Abraham. Having lost her husband, but not wanting to leave her Mother-in-law and the God of Israel to go back to her godless family among the Moabites, she chose to stay and was blessed to marry a kinsman of Naomi and stay within the faith. She understood her role as a wife and mother in the family chain of God’s covenanted children. She bore Obed, the father of Jesse, who became the father of David and the ancestor of Jesus Christ.

Hannah understood the blessing of Abraham and desired a child, however barren. She vowed to the Lord that if she were blessed with a son, she would dedicate him to the service of God’s work. She poured out her soul, “O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but will give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life. And there shall no razor come upon his head.”

Diligent, obedient wives and mothers of the Old Testament were women who understood their divine role and mission of the families. They knew how to create the seedbed for their children to grow up unto the Lord. They taught the theology of the family so their children would know how to perpetuate the blessings of Abraham. Malachi records the Lord’s last words to His people in the Old Testament; they are a powerful statement to future generations on the unifying of the family, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6) In the last days of God’s kingdom on earth there will be a mighty change in the hearts of parents and children as they learn and understand the theology of the family.

How does that mighty change come about? Just before Malachi writes of the unified hearts of the family members, the Lord’s words remind us to, “Remember…the law of Moses…which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” The change of heart will surely come about as we remember the law of God. In Deuteronomy we learn that we are to fear God and keep His commandments, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy might.” (Deut. 6:6) However it is not enough to live in this manner, but more important is it to teach our children continually that they might remember the good examples of our ancestral parents in Israel. “And thou shalt teach [the laws] diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deut. 6:7) Moreover Moses pleads with the parents to instruct their children respecting their heritage and remind them continually of their divine deliverance out of Egyptian bondage.

Do the rising generation know the rich heritage of their ancestors, of their country’s treasured heritage? Do they know that they are the future fathers and mothers of a coming generation of the Lord? Do they fully understand the theology of families that they may have the power to safeguard future families and continue the blessings of Abraham throughout all the nations of the earth? If so we can be assured of Isaiah’s prophecy, “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isaiah 54:13)
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