What is God’s Heart for Families?

Acts 16:31 – And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Depending upon which English translation of the Bible you prefer, the word “family” appears upwards of 700 times. The Bible also refers to a family unit as a “house” or “household” some 2,000 times. In the history of the world, the most thorough and impactful instruction manual for marriage, parenting, and family relationships is, by far, God’s Word. 

A Bible dictionary defines family more simply as, “Members of a household who may or may not be related biologically. Responsible for the care of its members. The chief collective through which property is passed.” (1)

Murray Bowen says, “I think of the family as a combination of ‘emotional’ and ‘relationship’ systems. The term ‘emotional’ refers to the force that motivates the system and ‘relationship’ to the ways it is expressed.” (2)

For our purposes, family will refer to an emotional unit of multiple generations. Because a family is a system, feelings and emotions are shared as they “live under the same skin” as some counselors explain. Emotions, especially anxiety, are passed from one family member to another. 

Our emotional definition of family allows the inclusion of adopted children who are not biologically related and in-laws, including daughters-in-law and sons-in-law who marry a family member. Importantly, a family bonds or fuses more closely together emotionally the more time they spend together. Think of all the time you have spent with members of your family, and it is likely that you feel closer to the people you spend more time with. If you grew up without a loving family that spent time together, brain science and attachment theory tell us that you are missing some key developments in your maturity. 

The good news is, you can build new, healthy neural pathways in your brain by intentionally investing in healthy, loving relationships with godly people, starting with your spouse and children, extending to godly friends in your church family, along with healthy new relationship patterns with old family members. This work may seem difficult, but it is nowhere near as painful or lonely as not working on healthy, loving, joyful relational attachments. 

Lastly, the Father heart of God is to make a forever family. This is a major theme of the entire Bible and the reason why the Father sent the Son to forgive our sins and adopt us into His forever family. The heart of Satan is to attack and destroy the family. 

In the book Win Your War that I wrote with my wife Grace on spiritual warfare, we explain that, after attacking the divine family in Heaven, Satan attacked the human family on earth. Satan’s hatred for family explains why he did not even show up until after Adam and Eve were married and why Satan encouraged the first murder between the first brothers as Cain killed Abel. 

If you are committed to having a healthy family patterned after God’s forever family, do not be surprised to see an increase in spiritual warfare and outright attack. However, do not be discouraged. 

As my friend, a former Navy Top Gun pilot says, you know you are over a critical target when you start taking enemy fire. When Satan starts attacking you, know that he is losing a strategic battle for your family as God is breaking generational curses and replacing them with freedom. Don’t fret because the battle belongs to the Lord, and He will fight for you and your family! 

Pray for family members who have harmed you as the Holy Spirit brings them to mind. 

  1. Michelle J. Morris, “Family,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
  2. FAMILY SYSTEMS: A Journal of Natural Systems Thinking in Psychiatry and the Sciences, Fall 2021 | Volume 16, Number 1, pp 47-48.

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