I have extended family members who hold the belief that there’s no one more important than family.
They’re willing to sacrifice as many hours as it takes and suffer deleterious economic consequences all for family.
They’re even willing to compromise God’s truth to keep “peace” in the family.
Unfortunately, this view of family is anti-biblical.
Don’t be deceived, I believe the Bible is very clear that family is extremely important.
- It was the first institution created by God (Genesis 2:24).
- It’s clear that priority must be given to the spouse (Genesis 2:24).
- Significant emphasis is placed on the weighty responsibility parents have to rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Understand that I’m not trying to say family is unimportant. My wife and I have made life-altering decisions motivated solely by family needs, but the highly revered cultural concept that family is the necessary first-everything is frequently downplayed by Christ Himself.
“His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.’ And He said to them, ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’” Luke 2:48-49
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:20-21
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26
“Someone said to [Jesus], ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.’ But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And stretching out His hand toward . . . His disciples, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.'” Matthew 12:47-50
It’s true we have very important responsibilities to family, and the institution of the family was the first one created before the fall . . . but as with everything else in life, sin destroys and Christ unites. Just because someone is blood, doesn’t necessary mean they take preeminence over water . . . especially when the water that unites us is the Living Water.
First, notice how these verses show us that Christ gave priority first to the will of His Father. Second, we see the relationship between believers described in an intimacy that rivals marriage. Last, the third and fourth passages show that physical relationships are almost non-existent when compared to spiritual relationships.
I love my family, but there’s a bond that ties me closer than shared DNA. The kinship and oneness I experience with my brothers and sisters in Christ is far weightier than mere genetics. For this reason I have many closer relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ through His blood than I do with many of my family members who reject His truth. And that’s the key.
I would argue it’s very biblical to defer to family when there is a spiritual command to do so (I Timothy 5:8) or when the physical family is also spiritual family. In such a case you have a very special group of people representing the church within the biological family! But such decisions should never be made in non-Christ-honoring ways. If my sister (who is also born again) chooses to sinfully divorce her husband, I cannot simply “support” her just because she’s my blood and water.
The ruling principles must be as follows:
- Everything I say/do must glorify God by aligning to His revealed truth – “I must be about my Father’s business.”
- I should have a relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ that is uniquely more intimate than anyone else – “That they may be one even as we are one.”
- One of my highest goals should be to help my physical family become my spiritual family as well – “Whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.“
This idea can revolutionize how we relate to our kids in particular. My first priority is to the Lord’s Truth; my second priority is helping my family to submit to that Truth as well. And because Truth becomes more important than family, I’ll never be tempted to overlook the destructive choices in my kids because “I always stick with family.”