Recently, at church, a man argued that the nuclear family was a modern, Western invention, of the last 70 years. That is to say, it is a social construct of the post-WWII West. Now, I applaud him for his willingness to make such a bold assertion, and for doing so with a straight, well-bearded face.
But I must say, if a day comes when this is a common assertion made by Baptists, it will be a dark day. It will be a day of leftist orgies, arboreal embraces, and Black Lives Matter soundbites. This is because such an assertion opposes the well-being of both the individual man and all societies of men.
Far from being a modern invention of the West, the nuclear family was created by God, at the beginning of all things.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth'” (Genesis 1:27).
“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him'” (Genesis 2:18).
“So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ 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 2:21-24).
“Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:20-21).
“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.’ Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground” (Genesis 4:1-2).
“Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, ‘God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:25-26).
This family unit, established when a man leaves his father and mother and is joined in holy matrimony to his wife, expanded when the two know one another and God grants children, multiplied when those very children leave and unite to spouses of their own, is the relational unit upon which all society of this world is built. It is the relational unit by which God’s creational covenant with man, specifically his charge to be fruitful and multiply, filling the face of the earth with his image bearers, is carried out.
The nuclear family is indeed an invention, but not a modern invention of man. Rather, it is an ancient invention of God for man, established some thousands of years ago, when creation was first created by the Maker.