Passing on Principles

Less than two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court redefined marriage to be the union of any two people—not just a husband and wife. 

This dramatic change placed the biblical view of marriage in direct opposition to the law, our prevailing culture and what public schools now teach your children. And those who believe marriage is the life-long union of a man and woman are increasingly viewed as being outside the mainstream and labeled as “hateful” or “intolerant.” 

We know God’s definition of marriage has not changed. Even so, we can no longer assume our children and grandchildren will think “one-man, one-woman” when they hear the word “marriage.”  

At Focus on the Family, we regularly hear from parents confronted with the aftermath of the many cultural distortions about sex—and now we’re hearing from them about the cultural distortions of marriage. They want to be intentional about raising children who understand and honor God’s design for marriage. 

So, how do we teach our children to understand and appreciate the biblical definition of this covenant bond? 

Here are a few suggestions:  

Review your wedding. God’s design for marriage is beautifully portrayed in the traditional Christian wedding ceremony.  The order of service provides rich symbolism of what marriage represents, including an exchange of vows and rings, the pronouncement of the couple as husband and wife, a kiss and a celebratory reception. Photographs or video of your wedding  will make this example more concrete for your children.  

Give examples of how marriage benefits society. Social science research confirms the benefits of man-woman marriage to children, adults and society. We know children live longer and healthier lives when raised by their married moms and dads, that marriage enhances parents’ abilities to raise responsible future adults and is one of the most successful ways to fight poverty.  

Model healthy marriage for your children. Children often learn most from watching their parents interact, so modeling healthy marriage to your children can accentuate your teaching. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Some simple ideas include writing love notes to your spouse and leaving them in open places your children will see, like the refrigerator. Speak loving and affirming words about your spouse in front of your children, as this will also communicate the value of your relationship. 

Prepare the next generation for godly cultural engagement. The new legal and cultural definition of marriage creates a tangible tension for those who embrace God’s design. Will your children (and grandchildren) be prepared to hold firmly to God’s design for marriage while also loving those who disagree? Bible stories of courageous people like Esther, Daniel and the apostles can be used to model standing for faith in challenging times.    

Originally published in the April 2017 issue of Citizen magazine.
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