The Bible tells us that when God made man, He established the first Christian home. After He made Adam, He said, "'It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a helper comparable to him.'. . .the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept, and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. . . .therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."(Gen. 2:18-24)
1) What significance is there in this act of God in using Adam’s rib to make a woman? Skeptics have argued that men’s anatomy doesn’t have a missing rib, so this record in Genesis must be a fable.
Answer: That is not a scientific attitude. For acquired physical deformities are not transmitted from father to son. This act of God is significant. He performed the first surgical operation on Adam to teach a truth. "Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him. A part of man, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, she was his second self, showing the close union and the affectionate attachment that should exist in this relation. 'For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it.' Eph. 5:29.
" God celebrated the first marriage. Thus the institution has for its originator the Creator of the universe. 'Marriage is honorable' Heb. 13:4; it is one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is one of the two institutions that, after the Fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. When the divine principles are recognized and obeyed in this relation, marriage is a blessing; it guards the purity and happiness of the race, it provides for man’s social needs, it elevates the physical, the intellectual, and the moral nature." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46.
2) What is the Bible formula for preserving the sanctity of the marriage relation? Why is it that even some Christian couples find it hard to keep the family bonded together in Christ? What is the secret of a lasting union?
Answer: The secret of a Christian home is in a simple formula given by our Lord, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matt. 6:33. A happy marriage should not be made an end in itself. Husband, wife and children should be dedicated to the advancement of the kingdom of God and His righteousness. If God is left out, money, pleasure and sex tend to divide a home, because they make people self-centered---not binding a family together, but causing every member to live for self.
Whenever a Christian man and wife have a hard time getting along, it won’t do just to sit down and try to iron out differences, but they should pray and ask God to help them both to do something positive to advance the kingdom of God. This is why a single Christian should find a Christian mate if he expects to make marriage a success. Otherwise the difference in dedication will fail to keep man and wife together.
When their attention is put on winning souls and helping the needy, they will no longer be thinking each of his own problems, but will be drawn together by a common center of interest---Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Then they will be happy, just as Jesus said to the disciples, "I have food to eat of which you do not know. . . My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." John 4:32,34 All men relish food, while Jesus relished the doing of God’s will.
3) But Jesus was not talking about family life here. How can you relate these words to the Christian family?
Answer: True. Jesus was not talking here about family life. But His absolute dedication to the will of God is the secret of a truly dedicated Christian family. That is, we are not to think merely of how to hold a family together. We are to see in Christ’s words the only power that will make a family truly Christian. Eph. 5:25-33 says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies, . . and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
Here the Bible sublimates the husband-wife relationship to that which exists between Christ and His church. If we rise to that level, we will find in this relationship the secret of holding a Christian family together.
Another holy institution---the Sabbath---was established by God in Eden to keep the first family united not only within itself, but also closely bonded to Christ. These two holy institutions---one established on the sixth day of creation week, and the other on the seventh day, must be kept sacred in order to attain to the victorious consummation of God’s plan of salvation. Perhaps few have noticed the close relationship of the Sabbath with the Christian home. One secret of keeping husband and wife faithful to each other is for each one to observe the Sabbath day faithfully. It has been said that if all people kept the Sabbath faithfully, there would be no atheists today. Similarly, if all husbands and their wives faithfully kept the Sabbath together, there will be no divorces today. Loose Sabbath observance leads to loose sexual relationships.
The Sabbath, properly observed, has a sanctifying influence on the children as well. A Christian mother in China, soon after she learned to keep the Sabbath, went to the schoolteacher of her two boys and asked her to let them stay away from classes on Saturdays. The teacher was not sure they could keep up with their studies. The mother said, "Give them a try for one month." The teacher agreed, and in the end of that month, the teacher observed that her two children had not only kept up with their studies, but were also better behaved than other students. The Sabbath sanctified her children.
Another Chinese Adventist mother of five failed to get cooperation from the teachers of her children, who met with difficulty in school because of Sabbath truancy. Yet the Lord watched over them, and despite continual friction with the school administration, the Sabbath was a steady bonding force in this Sabbath-keeping home. They felt a sense of unity in Christ the Lord of the Sabbath, who blessed them with His presence. It gave them the assurance that they belonged to God and not to the world.
Do you want a firmly unified and Christ-centered home? Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. And be ready to sacrifice for it. And you will be blessed. In this matter the mother plays a leading role. Because she is the homemaker, and her example of preparing for the Sabbath and observing it properly, gives the children the right impressions from the start.
4) Yes! That agrees with our key text: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." And the Sabbath is really inseparable with the kingdom of God. I’ve heard it said that the Sabbath is the identifying flag of God’s kingdom. That’s why Satan tries so hard to abolish it. But we are soldiers in God’s army, and our duty is to lift high the Sabbath banner of His kingdom.
Answer: That’s right! Ellen White writes, "All who love God should do what they can to make the Sabbath a delight, holy and honorable. They cannot do this by seeking their own pleasure in sinful, forbidden amusements. But by exalting the Sabbath in the family, it may be made the most interesting day in the week, so that its weekly return will be hailed with joy by every member of the family. In no better way can parents exalt and honor the Sabbath than by devising means to impart proper instruction to their children and to interest them in spiritual things, giving them correct views of the character of God and what He requires of them in order to attain to eternal life. Parents, make the Sabbath a delight, that your children may look forward to it, and have a welcome for it in their hearts. Thus will God be honored in the home." Signs of the Times, May 20, 1886.
Parents must exert a steady influence on their children that God is to be first in all things. His word must be obeyed, and His day hallowed. This influence on the children is the secret of maintaining a Christian home. It prepares every member of the family for a probable role of a modern John the Baptist---Christ’s forerunner at His first advent. We are to be forerunners at His second advent. Because of this we may, like John, be cast in prison. So we cannot expect to spend all our years in comfort. Jesus says, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:26,27.
5) What does that have to do with the Christian home? Could it mean that some of us may not even have a home?
Answer: We need to understand that we are living in extraordinary times. The closing scenes of earth’s history are right upon us. These last few chapters of The Great Controversy speak of a time of trial that will come very soon. Our present Sabbath-keeping is preparing us for that time. If we want to be faithful Sabbath-keepers when the Sunday law is passed, we will have to be faithful Sabbath-keepers now. God is preparing us now in our homes, to see how obedient we are. Jer. 12:5 says, "If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?" The experience we need is described in GC 621:
"The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger---a faith that will not faint though severely tried. The period of probation is granted to all to prepare for that time. Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His victory is an evidence of the power of importunate prayer. All who will lay hold of God’s promises, as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for His blessing, will not obtain it."
6) It is a fact that many Bible characters like John the Baptist were destined to a solitary life under trying conditions.
Answer: Yes, and Jesus said, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." Luke 9:58. On another occasion He said, "Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery, and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." Matt. 19:9. The disciples said, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry." Then Jesus said to them, "All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it."Matt 19:9-12.
The Bible nowhere requires celibacy of God’s servants. But Jesus, like John His forerunner, never married and could not stay home to look after His widowed mother. Paul and Barnabas chose to remain single, and Paul argues, "Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?" 1 Cor 9:5. Then Paul says, " The time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none. . . . But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord---how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world---how he may please his wife." 1 Cor. 7:27-33.
7) Now what if both man and wife are dedicated to spreading the truth. Then the husband would not care about things of the world---how he may please his wife, for she, like her husband, would also be thinking of how to please the Lord.
Answer: That is a possible ideal. Perhaps Paul was being realistic; for married couples are, as a rule, more occupied with worldly things, such as rearing children, etc. And it is a fact that many great characters in the Bible lived solitary lives. Even Moses, who was married and had two sons, had to send them back to Jethro his father-in-law when his work became perilous, and though later Jethro brought them back to him, in the end he died all alone on Mount Nebo. Some apostles were married, yet because most of them met martyrdom, none of them enjoyed many happy days with their loved ones.
In speaking of a Christian home, we should note that a single Christian could glorify God in a home of one, as much as a Christian couple. This is very true in the mission field, where single workers are most effective gospel workers. As far as financial outlay is concerned, single workers require less housing and smaller salaries, but win many souls.
A case is on record of an American missionary who resolved to give herself to China and stay there all her life by marrying a Chinese taxi driver. She did not care to enjoy a cozy home. No, her ideal of a Christian home was to be a mother of ten Chinese orphans. When I knew her she had already adopted three unwanted babies—one with a harelip, another with a tumor on his spine. She gladly paid the price for their surgery. Here is a fine example of gratitude for God’s love translated into action---in deeds of love flowing out through us to save more souls for Him, as in the song, "Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus King of kings!"
8) That is amazing! Now I begin to see the true application of "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." It is not enough just to say good things, we need to practice good deeds.
Answer: Correct. Here is a case of real Christianity. Few think of being mother of unwanted babies as an ideal of a Christian home. In fact, it puts lesser ideals to shame. It is a concrete example of the love of Jesus in action. It is not enough just to gaze on the cross of Christ and be enthralled by His love. Are we touched by His sacrifice? Very well, He wants us to translate our feelings into action. We are to love our children, and also those who have nobody to love them. After telling the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus said to His questioner, "Go, and do likewise." Luke 10:37.
9) We have often taught people to study the Bible intelligently and appreciate God’s love sentimentally, but now I see we need most to practice the truth. "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world," James 1:27.
Answer: James 1:22 says, "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." And it is often true that the doing of God’s word entails sacrifice and patient toil. We recognize that a Christian home does require happy marital relations and proper training of children. But God also wants our homes to be candles in the dark to lead souls to Christ who are doomed to die. . We must not just enjoy a cozy home. We must look outward and see the needs of others and do what we can to bless them.
10) Could it be that some so-called "Christian" homes are divided because man and wife have been too self-centered and need to look outward and practice the love of Christ in reach out to those in need around them?
Answer: Yes. The true Christian home is a soul-winning one. Be it the souls of our own children, of orphans or the souls of friends and neighbors. Our homes are not meant for self-gratification, but to be soul-winning centers. Sister White wrote in MS 7, 1904, "We must educate our children so that we can come up to the gates of the city and say, 'Here am I, Lord, and the children that You have given me.' We must not come up without our children to hear the words, 'Where is My little flock that I gave you---that beautiful flock that I gave you, where are they? And we reply, 'They have been left to drift right into the world, and so they are unfitted for heaven.' What we want is to fit them for heaven so we can present them to God, and say, 'I have done my best.'"