A Trinitarian Reflection of Family

Just what is a “family”? Will the marriage between a couple, a man and a female, automatically make them a “family”? Will the “marriage certificate” binds people into a “family”? Will cohabitation make people living under one roof, a “family”?

The recent exponential increase in the debate on the LGBT topic has propelled me to reflect on this topic from both societal and Biblical perspective. A deeper look at the trend of LGBT made me realize that the issue driving this phenomenon is the fundamental lack of understanding in the make-up of a “family”.

Earlier discussions that I’ve undertaken aims to analyze the functional aspects of marriage and hence, “family” (You can read about it here, “Why the Bible insists on heterosexual marriages?). However, a reflection on “marriage” is not sufficient to give us an understanding of what a “family” should be. Hence, for the purpose of this post, I will explore the concept of “family” with references to the Holy Trinity, and juxtaposing it with our earthly family on a micro-level before determining what a “family” is.

The Trinitarian View of Family

For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.
(Isaiah 54:5, NIV)

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
(John 17:22-23, NIV)

When Isaiah wrote that “your Maker is your husband”, I highly doubt he knew about the marriage of the Lamb that John saw and wrote in Revelations 19:7 [1]. But with this revelation that is consistent in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, we see God’s sovereign preparation to make Israel (or Zion) – or God’s chosen people as we have established here as Jesus’ bride. In other words, God the Father is forming a family in heaven through the marriage of His Son. His Son is God, and God they are, this is the formation of a heavenly family.

On the surface, whatever that is happening in heaven may appear to be far and unrelated to how we should form and manage our earthly families. However, based on the understanding that our earthly marriages and families should reflect the family that is in heaven (Ephesians 5:25-32), the very nature of the family in heaven should be of great significance to us.

“In the Trinitarian view of the Family, each and every member within the family should be in complete unity in the heart, soul, and body.”

In this view of the family, each and every member within the family should be in complete unity in the heart, soul, and body (Read more here: The Structure of the Trinity and its Implications). They are in such close communion with each other that their hearts and minds are completely intertwined with each other. They all have a common goal and a common dream, and they know each other so well that there’s almost no need to guess what the other person is thinking about. From a sociological point of view, we can say that the “society” – in this context, the family – lives inside them as how they are inside the family.

We cannot completely grapple with how three distinct Persons with independent existence can be in such a tightly knitted union that they become One. But the basic understanding of this concept can help us figure out how our earthly families should look like and how we can shape it to be that way.

What a Family Should Be?

In my humble opinion, I figure that the ultimate goal of a family should be reflecting God and His amazing love. In fact, the Bible teaches exactly this: that husbands should love their wives just as how Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25, NIV, paraphrased), and wives should submit to her husband in everything as the Church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:24, NIV, paraphrased). And this love between the husband and the wife should be centred upon the love of the Father’s love for us.

In my study of the Bible, the only way I can rationalize the love of Christ for a world that hates Him (John 3:19) to the extent that He may die for them, is in Christ’s love for His Father and His complete obedience that is the fruit of that love (Philippians 2:8).

Knowing that God works in our spouse and family members, do we do everything that God called us to do for them without grumbling and aruging?

Knowing that it is God who works in us (or in your spouse and your family members), we are to do everything (that God called us to do) without grumbling and arguing (Philippians 2:13-14) – this includes loving them with all our hearts.

In summary, a family is a unit that loves and serves each other in humble obedience to the teachings of Christ because God first loved us. And this idea is most beautifully encapsulated in Joshua’s proclamation, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15, NIV).

What About the Changing Family Trends?

In our day and age, when we refer to the “changing family trends”, we will normally refer to the formation of a certain social unit – a unit that modern people call, a “family” – through unconventional and unbiblical ways. This includes extra-marital affairs, adultery, LGBT, pre-marital sex, sex with animals, sex with objects, contraception, and so on.

The “changing family trends” that we see all got to do with the desire for bodily union.

With this list, we see a certain trend. Though their initial motivations may all be different, the adoption of unconventional expression of “family formation” all have got to do with the desire for bodily union.

Sure, sexual desires are important in the formation of a “family”. However, we must also take into account other aspects of love. Namely, intimacy on the soul level, and the commitment of the mind (Read more here: God, The Epitome of Love). The neglect of any one of this expression of love degrades the love of God to us and our obligation to obey in response to it.

If you are committing adultery, knowing that your spouses are heirs alongside you in Christ (1 Peter 3:7), are you loving your spouses without grumbling and arguing? Or are you finding an alternate means to self-gratification? You may be deliberately showing disobedience to your conscience and the Holy Spirit, and demeaning the covenantal vow that you have made with your spouse.

“The neglect of any one of this expression of love degrades the love of God to us and our obligation to obey in response to it.”

Or if you are feeling homosexual attractions or if you are in a homosexual relationship, do you truly love the other party because of God’s love towards you, or are you using that attraction as a way to satisfy your inner need to belong? Are you two truly going to serve the Lord as a “familial unit” if you undermine God’s original design for the family? Is this obedience to God in response to His love or is it a conscious decision to submit to the law of sin that you are struggling with? [2]

Or if you are cohabitating or enjoying pre-marital sex, do you think that you will be loved without having the need to commit? Is the prospect of marital covenant too scary? Do you see it as a deprivation for your sex life?

Or if you are thinking you are “trapped in the wrong body” [3] and are finding a way to be liberated through gender reassignment surgery. Are you knowingly enslaved to a law that torments you all day? Do you struggle with God to have it removed or do you surrender to the forces within you? We are weak but it is He who dwells within us that strengthens us.

“Without a proper understanding about God’s covenantal relationship with each Persons within the Trinity, we will resort to an unhealthy view of marriage that is nothing more than a certificate that allows two individuals to spend their lives together and have children.”

Or maybe you are in a normal family, happily married and enjoying the bliss of family life. Is your family striving to be in close communion with one another just as how the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father (John 17:21)? Are we loving one another because we are all equally loved by God? Are we devoting our families to serve the Lord, wholeheartedly?

The End of the Matter

The most important thing about contemplating familial life is our understanding of God and His role in every one of us. Without a proper understanding about God’s covenantal relationship with each Persons within the Trinity, we will resort to an unhealthy view of marriage that is nothing more than a certificate that allows two individuals to spend their lives together and have children. This view of marriage and family demeans the institution of marriage that was intended by God to be a desirable mirror for His divine family in heaven.

“A family that is desirable and pleasing to God is the coming together of two persons, seeing the love of God in each other and hence, loving one another as a response to God’s love. And in all things, seeking to serve God in the unity of hearts, in complete obedience to His words, as one.”

So, what is a family that is desirable and pleasing to God? It is the coming together of two persons, seeing the love of God in each other and hence, loving one another as a response to God’s love. And in all things, seeking to serve God in the unity of hearts, in complete obedience to His words, as one.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Revelations 19:7, NIV – Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.

[2] Paul teaches us that there is a law of sin hidden within us; a sin that we all cannot control. But Paul teaches us also that there is a way out of this law of sin that we are enslaved to. However, it is important to note that when Paul said, “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin,” (Romans 7:25, NIV) he is not saying that we are allowed to sin as long as we obey God’s law in the mind. Rather, he is referring to the daily deliberate struggle against it. This can be seen in Paul’s cry to God to remove his “thorn” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Having acknowledged that God’s power is made perfect in weaknesses, Paul boasts that he is weak so that Christ’s power may rest on him to strengthen him. (Refer to: Romans 7:14-25, 2 Corinthians 12:6-10).

[3] “Trapped in the wrong body” is a common expression for a person who feels a sense of gender dysphoria. This is one of the causes of transgenderism.

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