Is a non-Christian family still a family? I have a personal reason for asking. I appreciate Focus on the Family's outreach and have benefited from many of your resources and broadcasts, but I don't share your religious views. Your family-oriented advice includes so many biblical quotations and references to Christian principles that I can't help asking: do you consider an agnostic-Buddhist family to be "less a family" than a Christian family?
You may be surprised to learn that Focus on the Family, as well as most Christians, do not believe that the family is primarily a Christian institution or an ordinance of the Church. In our opinion, a family is a family regardless of what its members may or may not believe. We don't say this because we're fearful of offending you. We're just telling you what the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments have to say on the subject.
The family is an organic reality. It's the natural outgrowth of heterosexual marriage. It's inherent to the order of creation. The Bible tells us that God established marriage (and thus the family) for the good of all mankind "from the beginning of creation" (Mark 10:6-8, quoting Genesis 2:24). He established it before the giving of the Mosaic Law, before the founding of the Jewish nation, and before the institution of the Christian Church. From a biblical point of view, marriage and the family are vital to the welfare of human society as a whole. This is true with or without the specifically Christian spiritual component.
Marriage and family, then, are thoroughly good, positive, and beneficial in and of themselves. That's a given. But because we are Christians, we also believe that marriage and family can only achieve their full potential "in Christ." The same thing can be said about every aspect of human life. We don't apologize for saying this. As we see it, the quality of life as a whole has been compromised as a result of sin and mankind's fall from grace. That includes family life. The family, like every other aspect of human existence, needs to be redeemed. Jesus Christ, the Divine Redeemer, has come to reconcile us to God and lead us to heaven. But He has also come to give us richer and fuller relationships with one another here in this present world. As He said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
If you'd like to know more, Focus on the Family has a staff of pastoral counselors who would love to speak with you over the phone. They are available at this number.
Marriage Alive - The Web site of Dave and Claudia Arp, a husband and wife team who strive to help couples build better marriages and families.
Marriage Mentors - This organization helps churches support the ministry of family by training mentor couples who help prepare other couples for marriage, as well as enrich or restore existing marriages.
Love and Respect - This ministry offers materials, articles, and conferences designed to help those already married to enrich their relationship and for those considering marriage to prepare for the journey together.
God's Design for Marriage