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A Biblical Catechism on Sex and Marriage: Marriage and Family

[This post continues a series of posts entitled 'A Biblical Catechism on Sex and Marriage'.  The intention is to provide basic material for further instruction by a trusted teacher of God's Word in a church that is committed to Biblical authority.  The Church’s mission is to invite all people to live under God’s righteous rule.]

Question 6. What are the purposes of marriage?

Answer: The purposes of marriage are procreational, familial, relational, and to satisfy sexual appetite.

[Comments 1 and 2 are on marriage and procreation.]

Comment 3: Marriage is secondly intended to provide a stable and caring family unit for everyone associated with it.

Comment 3a: The family is the smallest relational unit given to the tasks of being fruitful and multiplying and meeting human needs for care.  The household unit is based in a marital union for producing children and can be extended to include other, non-biological members.  Households, with kinship relationships, made up clans, and clans made up tribes, and tribes made up a nation or people (cf. Joshua 7:14; Ruth 2:1).

Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

1 Timothy 5:4 If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God's sight.

1 Timothy 5:8 And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Titus 2:4 train the young women to love their husbands and children….

Comment 3b: The local church functions like a family in its close relationships, inclusion of all persons, and meeting of one another’s needs.  The church can make up for weaknesses in a person’s family, such as the loss of parents, lack of children, and fellowship for single persons (unmarried or widows/widowers).  The church can be called ‘God’s family’ or a ‘household of faith.’

1 Corinthians 8:12 But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

1 Timothy 3:4-5 He [the church’s overseer] must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,  5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?

1 Timothy 5:9-10 Let a widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old and has been married only once;  10 she must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints' feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way.

Galatians 1:2 … all the members of God's family….

Galatians 6:10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

1 Peter 2:17 Love the family of believers.

Comment 3c: Christ’s relationship to the Church is like that between the oldest son of a large family in its growing up to be like him and in its being cared for by him.

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.

Comment 3d: Young widows do well to remarry and fit into the role of marriage, child bearing, and management of the household.  The alternative is possible sexual immorality.

1 Timothy 5:11-15 But refuse to put younger widows on the [church’s] list [of widows—giving them access to support from the church]; for when their sensual desires alienate them from Christ, they want to marry,  12 and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge.  13 Besides that, they learn to be idle, gadding about from house to house; and they are not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say.  14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, and manage their households, so as to give the adversary no occasion to revile us.  15 For some have already turned away to follow Satan. [Cf. 1 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 2:6.]

Comment 3e: Parents are to instruct their children in the way to live Godly lives.  The model Christian home is one in which the believing parent establishes godly rules and which the children dutifully obey.

Proverbs 6:20 My child, keep your father's commandment, and do not forsake your mother's teaching.

Exodus 20:12  "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. [The Fifth Commandment.]

Deuteronomy 4:8-10 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?  9 "Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children -  10 how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, 'Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.'

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  2 "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise),  3 "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."

Comment 3f: The church not only affirms but also transforms the family.  Belonging to the church transforms household relationships for the better, removing the contention and power relationships that create disunity because one rather seeks to meet the other person’s needs and interests first.

Ephesians 5:22 - 6:9 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.  25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  30 because we are members of his body.  31 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."  32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  2 "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise),  3 "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."  4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,  6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants1 of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,  7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,  8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.  9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master1 and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.  [Cf. Colossians 3:18-4:1.]

Titus 2:1-10 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.  2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.  3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,  4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,  5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.  7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,  8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.  9 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative,  10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Philemon 1:16-17 … no longer [receive the run-away slave, Onesimus, back] as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother - especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.  17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.