Paul the Apostle was more than just a missionary and preacher, having founded churches and being the principal theologian of the early Christian Church; he was also a pragmatist. The influence of his teachings on marriage, the family, interpersonal relationships, and their practical application has been profound and far-reaching. He taught that a Christian’s daily lifestyle has to be consistent with his faith.
Paul’s teachings on family life in Ephesians Chapters 5-6, Colossians Chapter 3, 1 Timothy, and Titus emphasise its importance as a testimony of our Christian faith, and it has to be consistent both within and without.
When a Christian speaks of loving, it has to first be practiced at home. Likewise, when Christians talk of patience and showing compassion, it is not only about the way we relate to others in church and the community; it is also about how we ought to be treating our own family.
The Bible gives equal importance to wholesome family life and a Christian’s spiritual maturity, as it says, “For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1Timothy 3:5)
Many would consider the traditional image of an ideal family to be one with loving parents and filial children. While it is a great blessing and joy when Christian couples and parents remain loving and devoted for life, and the children are good Christian examples as they love and worship God, care for others, and are successful in their studies or careers, this should not be the be-all and end-all. We should not assume that this is the model family demanded of all Christians, nor should we consider it the only kind of family that pleases God and is blessed by Him.
After all, we are living in very complex and turbulent times. Christians, like the rest of the world, are also grappling with the many complicated problems and issues that confront humanity today – having to also face disruptions and influence from others.
However, we must not let negative life experiences or our being in imperfect relationships, marriages, and families affect our mark as Christ’s disciples and witnesses. God’s will and purpose for us is very clear, and His desire is for us to live pure and holy lives.
It is therefore the responsibility and mission of every family member to help build a healthy marriage and home, no matter what that looks like in their particular circumstances, seeking to be a family that pleases God, one that will be blessed for generations.
Our Social Principles in The Book of Discipline include a section titled ‘Sharing God’s Love in the Family’ (¶84), which contains many basic principles and practices of building healthy, happy families.
Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung –
was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2016. He served as President of the Chinese Annual Conference for two quadrennia from 2008 to 2016.