“So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them, and God said to them,
“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.”
Book of Genesis 1:27-28
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother
and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Book of Genesis 2:24
One can see from the Bible and the very biology of the human body that it is natural for a man and a woman to be together. God created woman because “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). From the beginning of time, as recorded in the Book of Genesis, God planned for man and woman to unite in love and harmony for continuity of his creation, the human race.
True love between a man and a woman leads to marriage. Marriage brings mutual comfort and a family. Children are the fruit and bond of a marriage. The family provides a framework for each family member to grow as a person in love and security.
Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
The family is the basic building block of society. The Bible gives us the beautiful example of the Holy Family. The family is a community of life and love, founded upon marriage, to protect each family member and to communicate love. Marriage provides commitment and security to each member of the family. A family gives you your identity and background, and a sense of belonging. Within our family we are able to share our daily experiences, and give our life meaning. The family is there to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and those important passages in life. The joy of a new baby entering your world is overwhelming. The family is there when you fall, to protect and support you in times of hardship. Your family is an opportunity to grow in virtue, such as love, generosity, and, yes, patience! And one quickly learns that forgiveness is the key to peace.
A child is a blessing from God! The theme of the gift of Life as a blessing of God reverberates throughout Hebrew Scripture, our Old Testament of the Bible (Examples: Genesis 1:27-28; Psalms 127:3-5 and 139:13-16; Proverbs 13:22 and 17:6). We learn in the New Testament that Jesus Christ treasured children in his midst, and in fact said that we must become like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3).
Mothers and fathers complement each other in love and the raising of children in a natural community. The traditional view of the man as head and woman as heart has somewhat given way to a blending of roles in Western society, although mothers and fathers contribute in a different way to their children. Mothers are gentle and receptive, give birth, nurse, and offer guidance and wisdom in an intuitive and sensitive manner. Fathers have physical strength and provide safety, tend to solve problems in an analytical fashion, teach survival skills and play sports, and serve as a role model for both sons and daughters.
Grandparents pass on love, spirituality, traditions, and values to their grandchildren, and today many assist in the daily care of children, especially when both parents are working. Relationships between generations give the child a true sense of community. When grandparents are ill or dying, grandchildren see their parents care for them, teaching them to seek not only their own good but also that of others.
A young family is especially lots of fun. All of us would play baseball in the back yard. Everyone liked to dance together in the family room to some of the latest songs. We enjoyed playing board games. One of our favorite family games was a version of “Hide and Go Seek in the Dark” – we would put on the theme song from Close Encounters of the Third Kind 21 while everyone would hide, and when the music stopped, the person who was it would look for everybody with a flashlight. Dinnertime together was a chance to pray and review the day, as well as a time to laugh. After bedtime stories, our children were very good about saying prayers before going to sleep. Sunday was our family day. We would start the day all going to Mass. Then we would go out to dinner and take a ride, and in the summer, we would go to the beach and pick up supper and ice cream on the way home.
Pope John Paul II calls the family the sanctuary of life in his encyclical The Gospel of Life. “Within the family each member is accepted, respected, and honored precisely because he or she is a person; and if any family member is in greater need, the care which she or he receives is all the more intense and attentive.”
As the parents have given life to their children, they have the primary responsibility in the education of their children. The family is the principal school of virtues which are necessary for every society.
The Bible offers some excellent advice on raising children, advice that our permissive society would be wise to heed!
“He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves his son is diligent to discipline him.”
Book of Proverbs 13:24
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),
“that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.”
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
St. Paul to the Ephesians 6:1-4
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.”
St. Paul to the Colossians 3:20-21