This is the third in a series of articles concerning the divine mandates, as relates to the family. Previously, we touched on those concerning government and labor, while in anticipation of addressing the church mandate. As noted earlier, this is a topic of critical importance discussed in greater detail in my recently published The Divine Mandates. In that regard, I observed: "The family mandate emerges shortly after its labor counterpart. No suitable helper was found among the animals Adam was called upon to name. So while he was still sleeping, God removed substance from his side to create his female companion. She and she alone would serve in this capacity" (p. 87).
Accordingly, Adam observed: "This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man" (Gen. 2:23). "The similarity in the sound of these two Hebrew words underscores that a man may find a true counterpart in a woman and vice versa. The close bond between them, enriched by their sexual differences, afforded them companionship and overcame loneliness. So together a couple finds fulfillment in life" (John Hartley, Genesis, p. 63).
"‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ This constitutes a major change in the social structure. One that allows the husband to take leave of his parents, and justifies his giving deference to his wife."
Subsequently, "Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.’ Later she gave birth to his brother Abel" (Gen. 4:1-2). Sexual relationships are thus encouraged within the bond of marriage, and otherwise prohibited. Giving rise to the observation that there are three involved in giving birth to a child: God and its parents. All three are said to have invested interests, and legitimately so."
"Which recalls the observation, ‘Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Prov. 22:6). Qualifications aside, early training (is calculated to) have lasting results. Exceptions do not prove the rule. But only if parental training takes precedence over other influences."
"The family qualifies as the most venerable of our extensive social institutions. It also appears universal, allowing for modification to accommodate for exceptional circumstances. Moreover, it solicits a special affinity" (Morris Inch, Thumbs Up For the Family, p. 1). Giving rise to the notion that blood is thicker than water.
"Social conditioning was usually achieved informally, within the family circle. Children at an early age participated in the respective activities of their parents. When girls married, at or frequently before puberty, they were whisked away from their parental home. Their subsequent relationship with parents and siblings becoming remote, except in marriage between first cousins" (p. 89).
"The nuclear family has largely come to replace the extended family in Western culture. It essentially consists of the parents and their children. It may accommodate other family members, if and when the need arises."
"The mobile character of the post-industrial society further reduces the importance of the extended family. Persons are more inclined to pursue individual vocations, which often require relocation. Thus even relations within the nuclear family structure become manifestly strained."
"It would appear that the nuclear family now has a serious rival form (which) I will call the anonymous family. It is a make-shift operation, calculated to provide needed services—in lieu of some better defined alternative. The single parent home serves as a prime example."
From the perspective of the divine mandate, "Marriage is not, then, the effect of chance or the product of evolution of unconscious natural forces; it is the wise institution of the Creator to realize in mankind His design of love" (Pope Paul VI, "Human Vitae," 8).
"Current thinking has obscured this original focus, while fostering the goals of freedom and self-fulfillment. However, freedom implies obligation, and fulfillment should be understood in the context of God’s gracious agenda for humanity. Otherwise, even the best of intentions amount to idolatry" (p. 90).
"Prayer is an integral feature of the marriage ceremony. In abbreviated form, ‘send your blessing upon these your servants, this man and this woman whom we bless in your Name; that these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant between them and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to your laws, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’"