Though the Scripture is clear that the church is God’s foundational institution, there are still many who insist on believing that this role was given to the family. While it is not my intention to “sling mud” at those who make such claims, the following is important to consider with an objective mind and an open Bible:
For the Christian, our true family is not physical but spiritual.
In Matthew 12, Jesus posed the question: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers? Then He answered the question with, “Whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50). We all desire for our physical family to be members of our true spiritual family, but our loyalties cannot be divided. Jesus changed the definition of true family and while blood may be thicker than water, the bond of the spirit is stronger yet. Our true family is the Church.
Strong families do not create strong churches.
Rather, it is the church that is the key to strong families. In nearly 11 years of public ministry, I have yet to meet one strong or mature Christian family who was not also a part of a strong biblical church that put great emphasis on doctrinal precision and purity. This should not be a surprise to any of us. Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 4:11-16 that God ordained that believers (and families) grow spiritually through the teaching and preaching that takes place in the local church.
The local church is not a family meeting in a home, shepherded by a man who has proclaimed himself to be “daddy pastor.” The fruit of such practice is usually something corny, creepy or at best, totally out of step with the New Testament witness. The Bible teaches that a family is made strong, only through the corporate teaching and discipleship taking place in the church.
The Church exercises authority over the home and not the other way around.
I bring this up because it is a factor in our consideration regarding the church and the family. When Paul gives instructions to children in Ephesians 6, he doesn’t ask fathers (or mothers) if he has permission to speak into their lives. The same is true as it relates to husbands and wives. Paul speaks into each of those realms giving instruction and direction. He does so by his authority as a leader in the church, not by the authority of his apostleship. We know this because he charges other pastors to do the same with their churches (Titus 2:1-5).
Families are to submit to the authority of the church (Hebrews 13:17). Because of this, there is no way that we can say that the family is the foundation or the key to strong churches. Think about it: if the family is the foundation of the Church, then why is it not the family that is given authority? Why does the Bible teach that it is the church that holds the “keys of the kingdom”? (Matthew 18:18-19; John 20:23)
Christ did not die for the family, He died for the Church
That statement alone should end the argument. God sent the Son, not because He desperately loved families, but because He desperately loves His church. It is those in His church whom He decreed from eternity past to call into fellowship with Himself. This was the goal of the Son’s mission: to come and die for them.
We cannot be say it any more clearly: it is the church Christ that loves and came to die for and not the family (Acts 20:28).