“The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the LORD blessed his household and everything he had” (1 Chr 13:14)—Notice the close connection between “family” and “household.”

We must conclude that while the term “family” occurs regularly in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament—the term occurs 123 in the King James Version, only the occurrence in Ephesians 3:15 is outside the Old Testament—there is no definition of “family” given in the Scriptures.

While we don’t have a definition of “family” in the Bible, we do have clear directives concerning marriage, the interaction between husbands and wives, children, and their interaction with their parents and parents’ interaction with their children.

Another problem we have in thinking about “family” is that people, even Christians, think of “family” in different terms. The only experience we have when we marry is our family of origin. If our mother always had supper on the table when our father came home or our father always brought home roses on Friday, it’s easy to see how we expect the same when we get married. On the other hand, if our father verbally abused our mother and our mother regularly gave our father the silent treatment, that’s likely what we’ll expect when we get married. Research has shown that adolescents and young adults develop expectations for family life from television, and that these expectations are associated with the degree of satisfaction they experience in their families. Previous relationships also teach us what to expect from marriage. What friends and former dating partners wanted or needed in a relationship may train us to think that everyone in a marriage acts that way.

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