The purpose of the family is 1) to maintain and nourish the one-flesh relationship between husband and wife, and 2) to prepare children to leave the home of their parents and establish their own home. The family does not exist for itself. Genesis 2:24 teaches that the husband-wife relationship does not exist primarily for children. Children are only temporary residents. A husband and wife are to remain together after the children have left. Parents, note this well: God wants your children to leave home. They are to move on. Parents are the ones who stay put.
When children become the primary purpose of family life, the focus of parents shifts to the enjoyment of children. Children become an end in themselves. In the 21st century, children are often wanted simply for the experience of having children. Famous single people, both homosexual and heterosexual, adopt children or bear them outside of marriage because they don’t want to miss the parenting experience. To be sure, the Bible teaches that children are a blessing from God. Being a parent should be a profound and wonderful experience. However, this experience must never become the primary goal of having children. They are to be raised for His glory and for His purposes. When people, married or single, Christian or not, have children and raise them for their own purposes, awful consequences occur. Wrong priorities distort the entire concept of family.
This shift in focus from the training of children to the enjoyment of children actually diminishes the pleasure of parenting. Children are selfish, devious and ungrateful by nature. Unless children are instructed and disciplined to follow God, they will follow their own natural ways. They will always frustrate the expectations of parental enjoyment. Parents looking primarily for enjoyment from such creatures are in for a major disappointment. Loving, enjoyable relationships between parents and children are a by-product of good parenting, not the goal. Even at that, the enjoyment of children is a blessing from God that should not be assumed or taken for granted. Many good parents have endured heartbreaking situations with their children.
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