Does social research support biblical ideals for family life? Evolutionary thinking has no explanation for the tradition of one woman marrying one man for life. This comes from Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave [join or adhere] unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Bible believers can rely on Genesis as a foundation for families for at least two reasons.
First, the results of behavioral experiments make more sense when the Genesis account of familial organization is taken at face value. Genesis is clear that the husband-wife relationship forms the core of the family. Experimental psychologist Abigail Millings’ report “Good Partner, Good Parent” says “romantic relationships between parents might be associated with what kind of parents they are,” showing that husbands and wives who are “tuned in to what the other person needs” typically avoid the negative parenting extremes of either being overbearing or cavalier when exercising parental authority.1
These extremes in parenting often cause children to “avoid committed romantic relationships” later in life, according to another study.2 If the Bible is correct that the married couple forms the core of a family, then one would expect that married couples who fail to nurture one another would also fail to nurture their children. “If the parent is unresponsive or overly intrusive, the child learns to avoid their caregiver,” which leads to resisting committed relationships like marriage.2
The results of a recent study on substance abuse prevention also reflect God’s design for families. Sociologist Toby Parcel wrote, “School programs that address alcohol and marijuana use are definitely valuable, but the bonds parents form with their children are more important.”3 It is as though children were built to respond to loving parents.
An array of studies proffer that the best situation for children is a home with both parents together.4 Of course, the Lord can be a father to the fatherless, giving hope to those in broken homes. But relying strictly on research results, one would conclude that above any other institution, families form the character of people.
The second reason Genesis is the foundation for families is that other biblical passages point to Genesis history as the basis for family life. Marriages that accurately portray the relationship between Christ and His bride—where a covenant of commitment mysteriously builds a bond stronger than blood-relations—are the most likely to foster healthy parenting and peaceful homes.5 The apostle Paul reiterates Genesis 2:24 as the foundation for families, where wives submit to their husbands and husbands sacrifice of themselves for their wives (see Ephesians 5).
Genesis teaches that families depend on a relationship in which the husband cleaves to his wife. Research verifies that when the primary relationship fails, the family can falter for generations. God invented marriage, just as He said in Genesis. So according to both the social sciences and Scripture, Genesis is the foundation for a marriage that can build the next generation.
- The Skills that Make Us a Good Partner Make Us a Good Parent. Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Posted on spsp.org December 7, 2012. Reporting results of Millings. A., et al. Good Partner, Good Parent: Responsiveness Mediates the Link Between Romantic Attachment and Parenting Style. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Published online before print, December 6, 2012.
- “Commitment-Phobic” Adults Could Have Mom and Dad to Blame. Tel Aviv University News. Posted on aftau.org December 10, 2012.
- Parcel, T. et al. Study: Parents Key to Preventing Alcohol, Marijuana Use by Kids. North Carolina State University news release. Posted on news.ncsu.edu December 4, 2012.
- See Manning, W. D., and K. A. Lamb. 2004. Adolescent Well-Being in Cohabiting, Married, and Single-Parent Families. Journal of Marriage and Family. 65 (4): 876–893.
- Piper, J. 2009. This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Thomas, B. 2013. Genesis Families. Acts & Facts. 42 (2): 18.