Pastoral Perspectives

Family Matters

Today, we begin the preaching series on ‘Family and Sexuality’. Since Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are round the corner, we have decided to set aside these two months to consider various family matters (noun) as well as explain how the family matters (verb) very much to members within the family as well as members of the larger family – the church. Our church mission is to love God and make disciples. To love God is to obey Him and part of the process of making disciples is to teach God’s people to obey all that He has commanded us (Matthew 28.20), which should include matters concerning the family. As disciples of Jesus, there is a need for us to grow in our convictions – our knowledge of God and our understanding of the Bible – in this aspect of our lives. This is to ensure that we do not tell right from wrong based on how we feel or on the myriad voices that we hear around us which are ever so subjective. Unless we know God’s intentions well, we will likely be buffeted by every wind of teaching and we will easily lose our bearing. The goal of a disciple is to become like his Master. For us to become like Jesus, it must start with a change in our perspective. The Apostle Paul said: ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind’ (Romans 12.2). Convictions will have to start with the mind and travel down to the heart before they can get translated into obedient actions. One way of building convictions is in the preaching of God’s Word through which the Holy Spirit grants understanding to our minds, convicts our hearts and bring about the transformation of our lives.

Family matters – what does God’s Word have to say about the role of husband and wife in a marriage? Is the husband being chauvinistic if he assumes headship over the wife? Should wives submit to their husbands given that we now live in a modern society where men and women are given equal opportunities in terms of education and career? What is the biblical understanding of headship and submission? What does the Bible have to say about divorce and remarriage? Is divorce permissible? Is remarriage permissible? Some Christians may not have qualms in divorcing their wives when the latter cannot fulfil their needs or live up to their expectations. They even have the audacity to say that God has given them the green light. Surely this is self-deception of the highest level since God has explicitly said that he hates divorce (Malachi 2.16). How can He contradict Himself? If this person knows his Bible well, he will have to surmise that he is merely hearing what he wants to hear, that is, his own voice! Of course, it is not always so clear cut. What if the spouse is having an affair? What if the spouse is abusive? Again you will hear differing views on this issue. The world is quick to say: ‘Be done with the marriage. You have the right to pursue your own happiness.’ Is that our stand too?

Sexuality is God’s design because it is He who has made us male and female but do we look more to the world for how we define our masculinity and femininity? In light of the on-going LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) issue, are we to show compassion and inclusiveness or should we exercise church discipline and ex-communicate? Many Christians empathise with the LGBT community and their cause. They participate in the Pink Dot event and sneer at fellow Christians who don’t, labelling them as conservatives and homophobic and questioning whether they have the love of Jesus in them. Some other Christians confess that they are confused. We read the same Bible yet the interpretations differ. How can our hermeneutics be faithful to the whole counsel of God so that it is not merely used to support our personal agenda? There are no simple answers. Therefore, besides the pulpit ministry, we are also holding a forum on 7 June (Sun) to allow people to ask questions concerning the more controversial topics: homosexuality and divorce & remarriage. We want to provide a platform for dialogue to take place since these issues can be complex theologically and pastorally.

When we think of family, we also think of both the parents and their children. During ACM Sunday, we will have our intergenerational service and the drama team will explore what it means for children to honour their parents, and it is not just about how our children can honour us but also how we can honour our aged parents. At the beginning of the year, I preached a series of 3 sermons on the ‘Fear of the Lord’, the second being ‘Fear of the Lord & Obedience’. In that sermon, I spoke of the need to teach God’s Word to our children and our children’s children. There is a great need for parents to understand that disciple-making must take place on the home front and the responsibility of raising children in the fear of God must primarily rest on the shoulders of the parents and not the U12 teachers or YZ DGLs. Since we are considering family matters, we will be revisiting this issue in greater depth and we are also organising a sharing session by parents for parents to resource and equip parents to conduct family devotion on a regular basis so that they can better fulfil their roles as a disciple-maker. Besides inviting 4 sets of parents whose children are of different age groups and having them share how they carry out their family devotions and the challenges they face because we know that it will always be an uphill task, I will also be sharing with you some internet resources compiled by Focus on the Family which can serve as yet another pool of resources for you to begin this exciting journey with your children. This is a call to all parents to join us for this sharing session on 24 May (Sun). We are all in it together. We are, after all, a family, the church as family.

Speaking of the church as family, we want to acknowledge that besides families, we also have others among us – courting couples, singles, widows and widowers, the elderly. God is our Abba Father, Jesus is our older brother and all of us are brothers and sisters in him. The church is indeed a family. How then can we be family to one another? How can we see each other as an important part of the Body of Christ? How can the whole tribe come together to bring up a child? How can we journey together so that we spur each other to remain steadfast in our walk with the Lord? How can we better understand each other’s struggles so that we can provide mutual encouragement? How can disciple making continue in different seasons of our lives? We are delving into these family matters because the health of the family matters to God! I pray that the series of messages will serve the purpose of helping us grow in our convictions. I also pray that, by the power of the Spirit and the grace of God, we will live out those biblical convictions so that we can be faithful disciples of Jesus.