Happy Families in the Purpose of God
1. What does Jehovah do to make his family happy, and so why should we thank him? (James 1:17)
JEHOVAH GOD is “the Father, to whom every family in heaven and on earth owes its name.” As “the happy God,” he knows how to make his universal family happy, too. (Ephesians 3:14, 15; 1 Timothy 1:11) He generously takes care of all the needs of his children, and for this we should continually thank him, as did the psalmist:
“Know that Jehovah is God. It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasturage. . . . Give thanks to him, bless his name. For Jehovah is good; his loving-kindness is to time indefinite, and his faithfulness to generation after generation.”—Psalm 100:3-5.
2. How did God purpose the command to “fill the earth” to be carried out? (1 Corinthians 7:10, 11)
2 Jehovah has made a most loving arrangement for families here on earth. When he commanded our original parents to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth,” this was not to be done in a haphazard way. It was to be accomplished through the honorable institution of human marriage. Each couple—husband and wife—would “become one flesh” in a permanent union that would be free of trouble and divorce, and that would provide a stable basis for nurturing and raising families in the paradise of God.—Genesis 1:28; 2:22-24.
3. How did Jesus confirm the sanctity of marriage? (1 Corinthians 6:18)
3 When the wicked religious leaders of Jesus’ day tried to trip him up with hard questions about divorce, he confirmed the sanctity of God’s original arrangement for marriage:
“In reply he said: ‘Did you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh“? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart. . . . Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery.’”—Matthew 19:4-9.
4 What a glorious future Jehovah purposed for this earth! Since man was created “in God’s image,” then all the families of mankind would likewise come to reflect His personality. At last, the entire earth would be filled with a multitude of perfect men and women, brothers and sisters, all praising God, the Creator. (Genesis 1:27) That purpose will surely be accomplished!
5 However, what we see today is far different from what God had in mind for married persons. And why? It is because mankind no longer reflects the “image” of God’s personality. Especially in these “last days” has marriage been marked by disloyalty and lack of “natural affection,” so that an epidemic of divorces, broken homes, social diseases, illegitimate births and abortions has resulted. Many persons have failed to heed the healthful advice of the apostle Paul:
6. How may we hold sex and marriage in honor? (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)
6 How may we hold sex and marriage in honor today? We may do so by shunning “fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness,” and clothing ourselves “with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it,” Jehovah God.—Colossians 3:5-10.
7 This “new personality” is of vital importance to all who wish to enjoy a happy, rewarding family life. By putting on this personality, family members can reap the benefits of living up to Bible principles on marriage. In this connection Paul’s further words apply:
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
Yes, love is “a perfect bond of union,” and this is fostered in a family by all taking an interest in one another, in spending time at meals and on other occasions in communicating with one another, in finding enjoyment together in recreation, vacations and other upbuilding activity. By conscious effort, all in a family—adults and children—can share in building this unity, and the result of a happy, harmonious family can be most exhilarating. Each individual should contribute his part, as Paul goes on to explain.
THE WIFE’S PART
8. (a) What place should wives hold to, and why? (1 Peter 3:5, 6) (b) How may a wife win the love and approval of her household?
8 Wives stand to benefit by heeding Paul’s words:
“You wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18)
This is in harmony with God’s original arrangement, that the wife is to be a “helper as a complement” to her husband. (Genesis 2:20) Where there are two heads, there is pulling and tugging against each other, resulting in disunity. But where the wife always shows “deep respect for her husband” and for his decisions, even to overlooking his failings, she can make a powerful contribution toward a harmonious and joyful family. If she is diligent in “watching over the goings on of her household,” including the instruction of her children, these will “pronounce her happy.” Also, her husband will praise her.—Ephesians 5:33; Proverbs 31:10-31.
9. What counsel does the Bible give concerning unbelieving mates? (Romans 12:17, 18)
9 Even if her husband is an unbeliever, he is still the “head” of his wife. On becoming a believer, she should continue to perform her wifely duties, but with even more loving interest in his welfare than previously, as becomes a Christian helpmate. (1 Corinthians 11:3) The apostle Peter recommends that wives put on a “quiet and mild spirit,” saying:
“You wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:1-4)
By loyally continuing with an unbelieving husband, even though he is opposed to her religious activities, a wife may have her patience rewarded in her husband’s later examining and accepting the “good news.” In any case, her young children, if obedient, are regarded by God as “holy” in the family arrangement that she perseveres to maintain. Similar principles apply where believing husbands are united in marriage to unbelieving wives.—1 Corinthians 7:12-16.
THE HUSBAND’S PART
10. How should husbands treat their wives? (Proverbs 5:18)
10 Husbands will be richly rewarded in heeding Paul’s next words to the Colossians:
“You husbands, keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them.” (Colossians 3:19)
The husband’s headship is to be exercised always in a loving way, not in a tyrannical manner. As he ‘keeps on loving his wife,’ he should apply himself to showing her “honor as to a weaker vessel,” having regard for her emotional makeup and womanly vicissitudes. (1 Peter 3:7) Before making family decisions, he should talk things over with her and give loving consideration to her opinions and desires. He should always have at heart her best interests, and especially her spiritual welfare.
11 In all aspects of life, the husband should continue loving his wife “just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it.” In the Gospels, we never read of Christ as being “bitterly angry” with the congregation, do we? Nor should husbands treat wives harshly. They should be “loving their wives as their own bodies,” cherishing them as their own flesh, for, indeed, both are “one flesh” together.—Ephesians 5:25, 28-30.
12. In what grand prospect do we want our children to share? (Psalm 148:12, 13)
12 But what of our children? They are very precious to us, and we want to see them share with us in praising Jehovah for eternity in the earthly paradise of God. We will examine next how we may help them toward this goal.