Family: Marriage, Singleness, Children, and Home
Deut. 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9 and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Matt. 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Matt. 19:13 Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”
Matt. 6:9-15 “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Faith and Practice: Northwest Yearly Meeting
Marriage is ordained of God for the ordering of the human family in love and discipline. It is no mere civil act. We feel it should be entered into reverently within the church. The body of believers has a responsibility to pray for and encourage couples who are in marital distress, believing that diligent care within the Body may avert the tragedy of divorce. Marriage is for life and ought not be broken by divorce except on scriptural grounds. In all cases serious attempts should be made for forgiveness and for reconciliation.
Where divorce has occurred, it is the responsibility of Friends to demonstrate the love of God so that the divorced person may live purposefully within the Christian fellowship. Whether the person remains single or remarries, the church is to show love. If a remarriage occurs, the church is to encourage the new marriage relationship to be centered in Christ’s love. Persons who have been divorced but are living consistent Christian lives should not be hindered from joining the church or working in it. A central purpose of the church is to assure men and women that Christ brings a new beginning in life and its potential fulfillment. When there is forgiveness, there is no desire to remember the past. Just as Christ called and blessed those whom He forgave, so must we.
Friends affirm the state of singleness (non-marriage) as an appropriate lifestyle chosen by some (1 Corinthians 7:6-9) as well as a state in which one may unwillingly find oneself. Not all are expected to marry and some may find the state of singleness preferred. A single person is considered qualified equally with others in regard to spiritual gifts and abilities for use in the Lord’s work.
Christian Witness to the Home
We believe the church sustains the home whether the home consists of immediate family members, persons together because of need, or one person alone. We value the single person and respect singleness whether by choice or circumstance. Gospel order affords equality to single and married persons. We believe that marriage is ordained of God to order the human family in love and that it is a lifetime commitment, not to be broken except on scriptural grounds; but we also recognize the church as a place for the healing of hurts, including those of broken marriages. We hold the godly home accountable for the nurture and care of those within its circle, particularly the children and the aged. For all in our various homes, the church provides support for the disciplines of truth and love and sustenance in times of distress.
Christian Faith and Practice of the Religious Society of Friends (1960)
Children should be taught early to pray, and as soon as possible they should be encouraged to speak to God in their own way; the natural difficulties that occur when prayer seems to bring no result should be handled with understanding and sympathy. #507
Parents can do much to help their children understand Friends’ approach to the principles of Christian truth. It is of value both to the meeting and to the family when parents and children come regularly together to meeting for worship. Even young children, who do not usually stay to the whole of the meeting, can respond to the atmosphere of silence. The habit of quiet waiting may be the starting-point of the child’s spiritual development. #508
The Quaker home offers a supreme opportunity for the expression of the Quaker way of life. Outward circumstances have varied with the times: from abundance of domestic help to none at all; from leisure, which could be sacrificed for service, to overburdened lives calling for simplification…[But] Nothing has changed the basic spiritual experience of Quaker home-making. Husband and wife are partners with God; and though inevitably young children are more dependent upon the mother for physical car and training in the early years, and though a child will often respond more readily to one Patten than to the other, the parent responsibility is a joint one at every stage. As the children grow up they should share actively with their parents in the concerns of the home, the performance of domestic task and the interchange of ideas; there should be perfect freedom of expression for all, but no forcing of expression for any. The atmosphere of such a home will give young people a basic security which will remain with them even in periods of rebellion and assertiveness. In some cases a breakaway is essential to growth.
In the busy years of home life the parents are upheld and strengthened by their dependence upon God and upon one another; the efficient running of the home, the simple hospitality, the happy atmosphere, are all outward signs of this three-fold inner relationship. Home-making is a Quaker service in its own right. It should be recognised as such and a proper balance preserved, so that other activities – even the claims of Quaker service in other fields – should not be allowed to hinder its growth. #499 (1959)
Queries – Northwest Yearly Meeting
Do you conduct yourself in a manner that supports and preserves the sanctity and permanence of marriage? Do you who are married yield to each other in decisions and build up each other as individuals, always cherishing your common bond?
Do you who have children under your care educate them for upright and useful lives? Do you nurture them toward Christian faith and commitment, giving them the Scriptures for their guide? Are you watching over your young people with loving concern and providing a place for each one in the life of the church?
Are you teaching your children the ways of Friends? Do you encourage them to participate in Friends programs and to attend Friends schools?
Do you and your family use your free time in ways that refresh the spirit and benefit mind and body, that encourage creativity and friendliness? Is your home a pleasant, peaceful place?
Pacific Yearly Meeting
Do I make my home a place of friendliness, joy, and peace, where residents and visitors feel God’s presence?
Are my sexual practices consistent with my spiritual belief and free of manipulation and exploitation?
Do we provide our children and young adults with a framework for active, ongoing participation in the meeting?