The institution of the family has been under sustained attack throughout most of Church history. Prior to the Enlightenment, many of the influences which undermined the family came from within the Christian Church itself. After the Enlightenment, as the West began its long march into its post-Christian utopia, the attacks upon the family came increasingly from the institutions of society at large: the legal codes, the courts, the schools, and the increasingly influential rights-based secular philosophies.
As God's Kingdom comes progressively upon the earth, the Spirit will restore the Family to its pivotal role within Jerusalem. Christian parents and households will once again take up place, assuming responsibilities and duties long since occluded and neglected.
Central here will be a recovery of the biblical and redemptive reality that the most basic and fundamental entity in God's Kingdom upon earth is not the individual human heart or soul. Rather, the most fundamental “building block” is the “householded” human soul. God does not establish His covenant of redemption with isolated, atomistic, individuals—but with individuals and their households. In this regard, Abraham is very significant. God made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12: 1—3), but that covenant was not with Abraham as an isolated individual soul: the covenant embraced Abraham and his entire household (wife, servants, and eventually Isaac). And so it has ever been.
God's grace and mercy flows within household walls and along household lines. As His mercy flows, the Family institution will again take up its true household responsibilities. Amongst these is the primary duty of nurturing children so that they grow in favour with God and man. It is primarily within the household-under-covenant that the faith is transmitted to the next generation and that children grow up having been disciplined in faith and obedience to our Lord.
One sign of the recovery of the Family to be what it is meant to be—one sign of the increasing presence of God's Kingdom upon earth—is when we hear young adults say that they have always believed in Christ, and that they can never remember a time when they did not call upon Him in faith and repentance. Such Family power and experience tells us that the Kingdom is present indeed.
A second aspect of the recovery of the importance and role of the Family is when it becomes normal for parents to view their role as including a responsibility to train their children for useful service in God's Kingdom. Nurturing requires education of the mind. For far too long Christian households have assumed they can safely leave the education of their children to the State. Of course Athens insists on its prior right and authority to educate all children in the land. But this is a gross violation of God's proscriptions and prescriptions for the State, as we shall see in due time. It is an assault upon the Family's integrity within the Kingdom.
Christian households, covenanted to God, must never cede their duties to educate their children to the State—or to the Church, for that matter. The Family, of course, will ordinarily employ specialist teachers or utilise schools to help them fulfill their responsibilities. But the responsibility to see that one's children are educated appropriately and properly, and the duty to ensure that one's children are trained for appropriate service in God's Kingdom, cannot be delegated or denied. God has entrusted our children to us, and will require an accounting from us—not from the Education Department.
Moreover, the kind of education given by Jerusalem's households is, in principle, radically different from the kind of education a non-Christian household, or the State, will provide. The Christian household is to teach and train its children coram Deo—before the Face of God—so that they learn of the world as it truly is. Every particle of being exists for God and is under His command. So the Word of God, the constitutional document of the Kingdom, is to be brought to bear upon all of life and all knowledge—in fact, upon the entire culture of the household. All knowing, all learning is through the prism of Scripture. God alone provides the foundation of truth and knowledge. As Augustine put it, one believes, in order to understand.
This has always been the case—and it has always been opposed and denied by Athens and all Unbelievers, who would see all knowledge and all learning through the prism of the autonomy of Man as the foundation and measure of all things. We have genuinely Christian households when the following die is being pressed upon the family:
Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is One! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.Thirdly, we will see the Kingdom of God coming amongst us as Christian families once again take up their responsibilities for welfare and the care of their immediate and extended households.
Deuteronomy 6: 4—9
The Christian household-in-covenant is to impart faith, it is to teach and train, and it is to provide and protect. Jerusalem is ever marked out from Athens by its families: their dignity, their authority, and their power. Godly families are central and essential to the success and spiritual power of Jerusalem in the earth.
We will now turn, in forthcoming posts, to the role and responsibility of the state within Jerusalem.