This week finds Norma Jean and me in Temple Terrace, Florida, where we will be attending the annual Florida College Lectures. The theme is “From the Beginning: Recovering the Divine Design for Marriage and the Family.”
This theme and this week is an especially meaningful anniversary for us. It was 50 years ago that we had our first date. It was on Thursday, the last night of Lectures. And we heard Robert Jackson close the week with a powerful sermon on “The Final Word.”
From that time on, we never dated anyone else. We were married a year and a half later. Today, we are in our 49th year of marriage. We have two adult children–Kenny and Rachél. Both are married. And we have two grandchildren–Roy and Miles. And two more on the way in a few months.
From the beginning of our relationship we understood the basics of God’s plan for the Family. We both had been taught it. We believed it. We sought to put it into practice. And pass along these divine principles to our children.
Sadly, in the past 50 years, there has been a serious sift in the understanding of what family is all about. The God-ordained, life long relationship of the marriage of a man and a woman in which children are born has been under fire for a long time. And today is dismissed as irreverent and out dated by a large segment of our society.
The Bible teaches that God made the first pair, Adam and Eve, male and female. God ordained the union of a man and woman in marriage. He arranged the structure of the family. And gave orders regarding its function, respective roles and permanency. (Matt 19:1-9; Eph. 5:22-32).
As Bible Chair David McClister suggests in the forward to the Lecture book, these lessons may not change the world or our society, but they do serve as a reminder to Christians of God’s design for the family. And as a warning not to become entangled in the sins of the world.
The Bible says a lot about family. From the patriarchal period to the Mosaic dispensation, family was central to the Hebrew culture. The father’s role was paramount. Jewish women longed to have children. And the children were constantly reminded of who they were. Abraham’s descendants. A holy people. God’s family.
In the New Testament, family relationships are emphasized. In fact, Paul compares the relationship of Christ and the church to the husband-wife union in Ephesians 5. Submission. Love. Loyalty. Respect. Devotion. Compassion. Tenderness. And honor. All are qualities God wants us to develop in our families. The importance of family is reflected in the qualities required for God’s leaders that shepherd his people. And the fact that one of the metaphors for the church is “the family of God” speaks to the sacred nature of the family and it’s intrinsic value.
We return to Florida College with a special appreciation for the FC Family. Here I was privileged to meet and learn from some great men of God. Clinton Hamilton. Edgar Srygley. Homer Hailey. Bob Owen. Melvin Curry. Harry Payne Sr. And James R. Cope.
While at FC I was exposed to the greater community of “the brotherhood of believers.” I first heard the preaching of men like James P. Miller. Franklin Puckett. H.E Phillips. Rufus Clifford Sr. And Paul Andrews. At FC friendships were developed that have lasted a lifetime.
This lectureship on God’s Deign for the Family further reinforces and reminds us of His plan for His spiritual Family. It’s bigger than our local congregations. It’s all about “the whole family in heaven and earth” (Eph 3:15).
This week we thank God for our physical families. Our FC family. But most of all our spiritual Family in Jesus Christ.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman