What is needed to be a good husband?
How can a woman succeed as a wife?
What is involved in being a fine parent?
How can children help to make family life happy?
JEHOVAH GOD wants your family life to be happy. His Word, the Bible, provides guidelines for each family member, describing the role that God wants each one to play. When family members fulfill their roles in harmony with God’s counsel, the results are very satisfying. Jesus said: “Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!”—Luke 11:28.
2 Family happiness depends mainly on our recognizing that the family originates with Jehovah, the one Jesus called “Our Father.” (Matthew 6:9) Every family on earth exists because of our heavenly Father—and he certainly knows what makes families happy. (Ephesians 3:14, 15) So, what does the Bible teach about the role of each family member?
DIVINE ORIGIN OF HUMAN FAMILY
3 Jehovah created the first humans, Adam and Eve, and brought them together as husband and wife. He put them in a beautiful earthly paradise home—the garden of Eden—and told them to have children. “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth,” said Jehovah. (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18, 21-24) This is not just a story or a myth, for Jesus showed that what Genesis says about the start of family life is true. (Matthew 19:4, 5) Although we face many problems and life now is not as God purposed it to be, let us see why happiness within the family is possible.
4 Each member of the family can help to make family life happy by imitating God in showing love. (Ephesians 5:1, 2) How, though, can we imitate God, since we cannot even see him? We can learn how Jehovah acts because he sent his firstborn Son from heaven to the earth. (John 1:14, 18) When on earth, this Son, Jesus Christ, imitated his heavenly Father so well that seeing and listening to Jesus was just like being with Jehovah and hearing Him. (John 14:9) Therefore, by learning about the love that Jesus showed and following his example, each one of us can help to make family life happier.
A MODEL FOR HUSBANDS
5 The Bible says that husbands should treat their wives in the same way that Jesus treats his disciples. Consider this Bible direction: “Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it . . . In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation.”—Ephesians 5:23, 25-29.
6 Jesus’ love for his congregation of disciples sets a perfect example for husbands. Jesus “loved them to the end,” sacrificing his life for them, even though they were far from perfect. (John 13:1; 15:13) Similarly, husbands are urged: “Keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them.” (Colossians 3:19) What will help a husband to apply such counsel, especially if his wife at times fails to act with discretion? He should remember his own mistakes and what he must do to receive God’s forgiveness. What is that? He must forgive those who sin against him, and that includes his wife. Of course, she should do the same. (Matthew 6:12, 14, 15) Do you see why some have said that a successful marriage is the union of two good forgivers?
7 Husbands also do well to note that Jesus always showed consideration for his disciples. He took into account their limitations and physical needs. When they were tired, for example, he said: “Come, you yourselves, privately into a lonely place and rest up a bit.” (Mark 6:30-32) Wives too deserve thoughtful consideration. The Bible describes them as “a weaker vessel” to whom husbands are commanded to assign “honor.” Why? Because both husbands and wives share equally in “the undeserved favor of life.” (1 Peter 3:7) Husbands should remember that it is faithfulness, not whether a person is male or female, that makes one precious to God.—Psalm 101:6.
8 The Bible says that a husband “who loves his wife loves himself.” This is because a man and his wife “are no longer two, but one flesh,” as Jesus pointed out. (Matthew 19:6) So they must limit their sexual interests to each other. (Proverbs 5:15-21; Hebrews 13:4) They can do this if they show unselfish concern for each other’s needs. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5) Noteworthy is the reminder: “No man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it.” Husbands need to love their wives as they do themselves, remembering that they are accountable to their own head, Jesus Christ.—Ephesians 5:29; 1 Corinthians 11:3.
9 The apostle Paul spoke of the ‘tender affection that Christ Jesus has.’ (Philippians 1:8) Jesus’ tenderness was a refreshing quality, one that was appealing to women who became his disciples. (John 20:1, 11-13, 16) And wives yearn for tender affection from their husbands.
AN EXAMPLE FOR WIVES
10 A family is an organization, and to operate smoothly, it needs a head. Even Jesus has One he submits to as his Head. “The head of the Christ is God,” just as “the head of a woman is the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) Jesus’ submission to God’s headship is a fine example, since all of us have a head to whom we must submit.
11 Imperfect men make mistakes and often fall far short of being ideal family heads. So, what should a wife do? She should not belittle what her husband does or try to take over his headship. A wife does well to remember that in God’s view, a quiet and mild spirit is of great value. (1 Peter 3:4) By displaying such a spirit, she will find it easier to demonstrate godly subjection, even under trying circumstances. Furthermore, the Bible says: “The wife should have deep respect for her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) But what if he does not accept Christ as his Head? The Bible urges wives: “Be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.”—1 Peter 3:1, 2.
12 Whether her husband is a fellow believer or not, a wife is not showing disrespect if she tactfully expresses an opinion that differs from his. Her viewpoint may be correct, and the whole family could benefit if he listened to her. Although Abraham did not agree when his wife, Sarah, recommended a practical solution to a certain household problem, God told him: “Listen to her voice.” (Genesis 21:9-12) Of course, when a husband makes a final decision that does not conflict with God’s law, his wife shows her subjection by supporting it.—Acts 5:29; Ephesians 5:24.
13 In fulfilling her role, a wife can do much in caring for the family. For example, the Bible shows that married women are “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sound in mind, chaste, workers at home, good, subjecting themselves to their own husbands.” (Titus 2:4, 5) A wife and mother who acts in this way will gain the lasting love and respect of her family. (Proverbs 31:10, 28) Since marriage is a union of imperfect individuals, however, some extreme circumstances may result in separation or divorce. The Bible allows for separation under certain circumstances. Yet, separation must not be taken lightly, for the Bible counsels: “A wife should not depart from her husband; …and a husband should not leave his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:10, 11) And only fornication by one of the marriage mates provides Scriptural grounds for divorce.—Matthew 19:9.
A PERFECT EXAMPLE FOR PARENTS
14 Jesus set a perfect example for parents in the way he treated children. When others tried to prevent the little ones from approaching Jesus, he said: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them.” The Bible says that he then “took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.” (Mark 10:13-16) Since Jesus took time for little ones, should you not do the same for your own sons and daughters? They need, not small bits of your time, but large amounts of it. You need to take time to teach them, for that is what Jehovah instructs parents to do.—Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
15 As this world becomes ever more wicked, children need parents who will protect them from people who seek to harm them, such as sexual predators. Consider how Jesus protected his disciples, whom he affectionately called “little children.” When he was arrested and would soon be killed, Jesus made a way for them to escape. (John 13:33; 18:7-9) As a parent, you need to be alert to the Devil’s attempts to harm your little ones. You need to give them advance warning.* (1 Peter 5:8) Never before has the threat to their physical, spiritual, and moral safety been greater.
16 On the night before Jesus died, his disciples argued about who was greater among them. Rather than become angry with them, Jesus lovingly continued to appeal to them by word and example. (Luke 22:24-27; John 13:3-8) If you are a parent, can you see how you might follow Jesus’ example in the way you correct your children? True, they need discipline, but it should be given to “the proper degree” and never in anger. You would not want to speak thoughtlessly “as with the stabs of a sword.” (Jeremiah 30:11; Proverbs 12:18) Discipline should be delivered in such a way that your child will later see how appropriate it was.—Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:9-11.
A MODEL FOR CHILDREN
17 Can children learn from Jesus? Yes, they can! By his own example, Jesus showed how children should obey their parents. “Just as the Father taught me,” he said, “I speak.” He added: “I always do the things pleasing to him.” (John 8:28, 29) Jesus was obedient to his heavenly Father, and the Bible tells children to obey their parents. (Ephesians 6:1-3) Although Jesus was a perfect child, he obeyed his human parents, Joseph and Mary, who were imperfect. That surely contributed to the happiness of every member of Jesus’ family!—Luke 2:4, 5, 51, 52.
18 Can children see ways that they can be more like Jesus and make their parents happy? True, young ones may sometimes find it hard to obey their parents, but that is what God wants children to do. (Proverbs 1:8; 6:20) Jesus always obeyed his heavenly Father, even under difficult circumstances. Once, when it was God’s will that Jesus do something especially hard, Jesus said: “Remove this cup [a certain requirement] from me.” Nevertheless, Jesus did what God asked, because he realized that his Father knew best. (Luke 22:42) By learning to be obedient, children will make their parents and their heavenly Father very happy.#—Proverbs 23:22-25.
19 The Devil tempted Jesus, and we can be sure that he will also tempt young ones to do what is wrong. (Matthew 4:1-10) Satan the Devil uses peer pressure, which can be hard to resist. How vital it is, then, that children not keep company with wrongdoers! (1 Corinthians 15:33) Jacob’s daughter Dinah kept company with those who did not worship Jehovah, and this led to a lot of trouble. (Genesis 34:1, 2) Think of how the family could be hurt if one of its members were to become involved in sexual immorality!—Proverbs 17:21, 25.
THE KEY TO FAMILY HAPPINESS
20 Family problems are easier to cope with when Bible counsel is applied. In fact, applying such counsel is the key to family happiness. So husbands, love your wife, and treat her as Jesus treats his congregation. Wives, submit to the headship of your husband, and follow the example of the capable wife described at Proverbs 31:10-31. Parents, train your children. (Proverbs 22:6) Fathers, ‘preside over your household in a fine manner.’ (1 Timothy 3:4, 5; 5:8) And children, obey your parents. (Colossians 3:20) None in the family are perfect, for all make mistakes. So be humble, asking one another for forgiveness.
21 Truly, the Bible contains a wealth of valuable counsel and instruction regarding family life. Moreover, it teaches us about God’s new world and an earthly paradise filled with happy people who worship Jehovah. (Revelation 21:3, 4) What wonderful prospects lie ahead! Even now, we can enjoy happy family life by applying God’s instructions found in his Word, the Bible.
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
* Help in protecting children is found in chapter 32 of the book Learn From the Great Teacher, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
1. What is the key to a happy family life?
2. Family happiness depends on our recognizing what?
3. How does the Bible describe the start of the human family, and why do we know that what it says is true?
4. (a) How can each member of the family contribute to its happiness? (b) Why is studying the life of Jesus so important to family happiness?
5, 6. (a) How does the way Jesus treats the congregation set an example for husbands? (b) What must be done to get forgiveness of sins?
7. What did Jesus take into account, setting what example for husbands?
8. (a) How is it that a husband “who loves his wife loves himself”? (b) Being “one flesh” means what for a husband and his wife?
10. How does Jesus provide an example for wives?
11. What attitude is a wife to have toward her husband, and what may be the effect of her conduct?
12. Why is it not wrong for a wife to express her opinions respectfully?
14. How did Jesus treat children, and what do children need from parents?
15. What can parents do to protect their children?
16. What can parents learn from the way that Jesus handled his disciples’ imperfections?
17. In what ways did Jesus set a perfect example for children?
18. Why did Jesus always obey his heavenly Father, and who is happy when children obey their parents today?
19. (a) How does Satan tempt children? (b) What effect can the bad behavior of children have upon parents?
20. To enjoy happy family life, what must each family member do?
21. What wonderful prospects lie ahead, and how can we enjoy happy family life now?