Chapter Four of the Westminster Confession discusses creation. The first point tells us that God created everything, and that it was good: “It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.” The second point discusses the sixth day of creation in more depth, specifically the creation of man and woman and their duties and obligations to their Creator.1) While all of what the Confession says in Chapter Four—brief as it is—is indeed true, a very crucial is point is overlooked by this historic document of Reformed theology.
Throughout the six days of creation, God pronounces a “benediction” (a “good saying”) over what He had made: “It is good.” Actually, the Bible never tells us that God says this, instead we read, “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). The first time we read of God speaking the word “good” is in Genesis 2:18, but in this verse God actually pronounces a “malediction” by saying that something was “not good.” “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.’” In the midst of God’s good creation, something is wrong, something is not good. Is this declaration from God an admission of an oversight, did He somehow miss that Adam would need a partner? Obviously not. This declaration wasn’t for God’s benefit, but for Adam’s (and ours).
When God said it was “not good for man to be alone,” He was making the point that man was created for community, not solo activity. When Adam finished naming the animals, and it was apparent that none of these were “suitable for him” as a helper, God put Adam to sleep and made a woman for him. The Bible ends this chapter by stating: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). In other words, God was saying that the natural order from that point on would be for a man to leave his birth family and begin a new one of his own with his wife. Community begets more community.
It is commonly heard within Christian circles that the institution of the family is under attack, as is marriage. While this is not untrue—attempts to redefine the family and marriage are being made on an almost daily basis—too often Christians have no idea how to respond to these redefinitions because they have gotten their own understanding of these institutions from the culture and not from the Bible.
As any military commander will tell you, knowing the objective is the most important part of drawing up a battle plan. In order to know how to fight, we must know what we are fighting for. The militant church (or the visible church if you like) can mostly agree that a battle is raging, yet cannot come to terms on the objective. Bound for Glory: A Practical Handbook for Raising a Victorious Family provides that objective in clear terms.
Veteran author R.C. Sproul Jr. understands that the war over the family begins with words, i.e. ideas and beliefs give rise to action. He knows that we must get back to basics: definitions, roles and responsibilities, and goals. As a product of the baby-boom himself, he is aware that not everyone means the same thing when they use particular words—words like: family, marriage, husband, wife, children, discipline, and education. Living up to its subtitle of being a “practical handbook,” Bound for Glory is nothing if not “practical.” Short on technical theological terms, but rich in wisdom and useful information, Bound for Glory doesn’t just explain the problem and lament over it. This book is about positive solutions, not simply critique and despair.
When God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone, he instituted both marriage and family. The family is the core building block of God’s kingdom. The church itself is a family—the true family—commissioned to be fruitful and multiply by making disciples. We often tend to forget about the disciples within our own homes and churches, thinking only of disciples to be made “out there.” The shema from Deuteronomy 6 is a constant reminder to teach God’s commands “so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments…all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged” (v.2).
God recognizes the limitations of the individual, commending community as His method for dominion and prosperity. Our modern culture extols the power of the individual to almost limitless extremes, to the point that postmodernism has now made each one of us our own authority and power. Covenant-breakers seek individual power, but God’s covenant-keepers should be seeking community. God has ordained that His singular purpose of glorifying His Name in all the world shall be accomplished through the plurality of His children working in harmony. Unity in diversity, one in many.
In addition to the book, R.C. has also recorded a nine-part DVD series on this topic. Also called Bound for Glory, this video series is the perfect complement to the book. Ideal for individual, family, small-group, or church study, Bound for Glory is a great way to begin your discipleship training. Whether you have 10 children, or no children, you will be blessed by R.C.’s insights. With graduation season upon us, this book and DVD would make a great gift for those who will soon be leaving their first families and beginning their own. If the church begins to understand these principles and teach them to their children and grandchildren, the war over family and marriage will be won without firing a shot. With a clear objective, we will not lose our focus in all of the battlefield smoke. The world is desperate for an example, it is high time for the church to begin providing one.
- “After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it: and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.” (WCF 4:2 [↩]