After creating Adam and Eve, God joined them together as husband and wife, blessed them, and then told them: "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it." Genesis 1:28. It was God's purpose that the earth should be populated with beings created in His own image, composed of families that would bring glory to Him and become members of the larger family in heaven. Isaiah 45:18; Ephesians 3:14, 15. Although God's original purpose was sidetracked as a result of man's sin, its ultimate fulfillment is certain. Romans 8:28; Revelation 21:3, 5.
The family is the beginning of society. The Christian family is one in which God is recognized as the supreme object of worship. He is the head, protector, guide, and instructor of such families. The Christian family is the smallest organic unit of God's church on earth. Matthew 18:20. The Christian family is also a school where its members are both teachers and students who share their knowledge and learn from each other. The Word of God, together with the book of nature, should be the main source of instruction in the family school. The object of the family firm should be to prepare its students for usefulness in this life and for graduation to the school above. Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Psalm 128:1-6.
A special work of restoration in the family has been prophesied to take place before the second coming of Christ. Malachi 4:5, 6.
The Husband and Father
The Christian husband, as the father and priest of the family, is its protector, instructor, guide, and provider. Genesis 3:19; 1 Corinthians 11:3. This is the role assigned to him by God. He is responsible for the spiritual, mental, and physical welfare of his family. Ephesians 6:4; 5:28-31, 33; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Peter 3:7.
In conjunction with his wife, he is to teach his children to love and obey God, and train them for usefulness in this life and the life to come, according to instructions given in the Bible. As the priest in the family, the father is the chief one responsible for the religious instruction and training of his children. He is also the one to lead out in the family morning and evening worship services. Genesis 18:19; 35:2-4; Joshua 24:15; Colossians 3:21.
The Wife and Mother
The Christian wife, as mother, is the main teacher of the children in the family, especially in their early years. She has a great and important responsibility in training and educating them in accordance with the instructions given her in the Word of God. Together with her husband, she is responsible for their spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing, and to develop a character in her children after the divine similitude for time and eternity. While the father is the houseband of the family, the mother is the homemaker. Proverbs 31:10-31; Ephesians 5:22-24, 33; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Timothy 5:4; Titus 2:4, 5.
The Children in the Family
Children are the heritage of the Lord. Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 17:6. They are the future of society and of the church of God on earth. They have been entrusted to fathers and mothers with the object of being trained, and educated by them to become members of the Lord's family above, and useful members of society while here on earth. Psalm 144:12; Isaiah 8:18. Children are to learn to love, honor and respect their parents and obey them as it is fit in the Lord. Exodus 20:12. They should also learn to love and obey God, and to respect ministers, teachers, rulers and all others to whom God has delegated authority. Children should be educated and encouraged to prepare themselves to become co-workers with God on earth by learning trades and/or professions which could help to advance His kingdom and hasten the coming of Christ. Leviticus 19:32; 2 Kings 2:23, 24; Psalm 78:2-7; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20.
"God created man for His own glory, that after test and trial the human family might become one with the heavenly family. It was God's purpose to re-populate heaven with the human family, if they would show themselves obedient to His every word. Adam was to be tested, to see whether he would be obedient, as the loyal angels, or disobedient."—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1082.
"In early times the father was the ruler and priest of his own family, and he exercised authority over his children, even after they had families of their own. His descendants were taught to look up to him as their head, in both religious and secular matters. This patriarchal system of government Abraham endeavored to perpetuate, as it tended to preserve the knowledge of God. It was necessary to bind the members of the household together, in order to build up a barrier against the idolatry that had become so widespread and so deep-seated. Abraham sought by every means in his power to guard the inmates of his encampment against mingling with the heathen and witnessing their idolatrous practices, for he knew that familiarity with evil would insensibly corrupt the principles. The greatest care was exercised to shut out every form of false religion and to impress the mind with the majesty and glory of the living God as the true object of worship."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 141.
"In order for parents and teachers to do this work [educating their children], they must themselves understand 'the way' the child should go. This embraces more than merely having a knowledge of books. It takes in everything that is good, virtuous, righteous, and holy. It comprehends the practice of temperance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love to God and to one another. In order to attain this object, the physical, mental, moral, and religious education of children must have attention."—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 131-132.
"Too much importance cannot be placed upon the early training of children. The lessons learned, the habits formed, during the years of infancy and childhood, have more to do with the formation of the character and the direction of the life than have all the instruction and training of after years."—Ministry of Healing, p. 380.
Mothers may have acquired knowledge of many things, but they have not acquired the essential knowledge unless they have a knowledge of Christ as a personal Saviour. If Christ is in the home, if mothers have made Him their counselor, they will educate their children from their very babyhood in the principles of true religion."—Child Guidance, p. 472.
"The greatest evidence of the power of Christianity that can be presented to the world is a well-ordered, well-disciplined family."—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 304.