By Larry White

    In God's provisions for man living on the earth, he has in process of time established three distinct institutions that would care for the needs of man.

    The first need, the first experience of a human. Physical and emotional development. Had its beginning with Adam.

    1. Husband
 Duty to love and protect the wife. Eph.5:25, 28;
Provide for his own.

    2. Wife
    Duty to love her husband and submit to his rule and love her children. Eph.5:22-24; Tit.2:4-5

    3. Children
    Duty to obey the parents. Eph.6:1-4
After the children grow up, they have the duty to care for their aged
Parents. ITim.5:4

    This is the Nuclear family ... as God designed it. The overriding idea and purpose of the family is to Nurture. God has provided the care and protection (both physically and emotionally) that we all need.


    This is the second institution that God has set up and is to provide for man's collective working and relationship with other men in the world. It has three functions.

    1. Justice and Penalties
Jesus says the same thing. Jno.19:10-11
So we see it was ordained of God for this very purpose, for police action. This of course would also extend to a national army for the protection against invading armies.

    2. Protection
We just read it in Rom.13, that is why we pay taxes, so that we can be protected from the evil and violent man. This is what Paul used it for when he was threatened. Acts 25:9-12

    3. Social Services
We see this function in Acts 12:20-23
"Not giving God the glory" - these are God's provisions.
    The local government provides a way for individuals to act in concert toward the needy (Welfare) the poor or orphaned. However in the beginning of these United States, they had the wisdom to keep the government out of social services, but then the godly were in the majority and they took care of the poor.


    This is the third institution God has made and is for man's Spiritual development. Jesus said in Mt.16-18, that he would build his church, and he built it out of all men everywhere who would come to God. Eph.2:16-22 It also has three functions.

    1. Edification
The building up of the congregation of saints to a point of spiritual maturity in Christ. Eph.4:14-16

    2. Evangelism
The holding forth of the word to the world; preaching it to save lost souls for Christ. Phil.1:27; 2:15-16

    3. Benevolence to Saints
First on a local level. (the case of widows) 1Tim.5:9-10
Then on a congregational level you have examples of Paul taking a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem during a famine.
Acts 11; 1Cor.16; 2Cor.8-9

Now, God has made everything perfect for the purposes he intended for them to achieve. It is when these institutions begin doing things that they were not designed to do is when you start having problems.

1.) About the only thing that the family can do that is beyond its God given role is to step into what the State should be doing. Individuals can practice anarchy where they do not obey the rule of law at all. The family can be vigilantes, like mafias or the legendary family feuds where the role and authority of the State is usurped.

2.) However the father and mother can stop nurturing their children and let the State do it for them. We can see this manifested in an earlier and earlier age at which children are institutionalized in the public school system. This surrogate child care and programming leaves the mother free to pursue a career which has contributed to a steady decline in the break-up of the God ordained home. Of course the best example of the State overtaking the home are the communist countries when the State takes control of the child's nurturing practically from birth while the mother goes to work for the State. The responsibility of raising children must remain with the parent.
    A good book I recommend is "School Can Wait"  by Raymond S. Moore and Dorothy N. Moore. Brigham Young University Press, (ISBN: 0-8425-1314-0)

3.) The State usurps the role of the family by the government's involvement in distributing contraceptives to minors, and even abortions to minors without parental consent. Planned Parenthood (a private company) is so hot on stopping population growth that they will supposedly by law, legally, usurp your parental authority to guide and influence your child. Contraceptives, when I was a child was just a joke to us. Now the government will give them to you children without your knowledge, let alone consent.

4.) The State gets out of its realm when it proposes to decide if a church can discriminate between a practicing homosexual and other normal members of the group. Pretty soon States are going to be deciding whether or not we can have home Bible studies because of zoning laws. Anytime the government thinks it can decide what we will teach, where we will teach it, and what we do with our money, they have gone beyond their God appointed jurisdiction, let alone our Constitution and there is going to be trouble. Russia and Cuba are perfect examples of this.
    A good book I recommend on the subject is "A Christian Manifesto" by Francis A. Schaeffer, Nims Communications, Crossway Books (ISBN: 0-89107-233-0)

5.) The church can also go beyond its God given function and create problems. Those who practice a social gospel are having a great problem in this area.
    1. Day-care centers run by the church. (Family)
    2. Education. Church schools and colleges. (State - Family)
    3. Entertainment and P.E. programs, camps and gyms. (Family)
    4. It is the family's primary duty to nurture its members. The only time the church can get involved in a permanent way is when a destitute person does not have any family left.
    Paul refers to this person as a "widow indeed". 1Tim.5:3-16.
What you have is this: If a Christian has a widow in his family then he is to take care of her so the church will not be charged, (It is not the church's job). If a widow does not have anymore family, then she is a widow indeed - she can be supported by the church, i.e. become a ward of the church. Paul lists qualifications for this arrangement.
    Jam.1:27 is speaking of individual action by Christians.
    The point in this is the principle, "let not the church be charged." It is not the church's business to fulfill the family's responsibility or the responsibilities of individual Christians. The church can help its own members in an emergency, but not to take the place of the proper institution, the family or the state.
    When it steps out of its role as the church then its primary spiritual goal is missed and its strength and resources are diverted into something which is not the church's business. Social services belong to the civic center run by individuals and not in the church. The church in not suppose to feed the hungry of the world, but only saints in an emergency when they cannot feed themselves. The Salvation Army and the Goodwill Industries, orphan homes and many other benevolent institutions are not in the mission or work of the church. The individual Christian is responsible for that. But if we need an organization to do it bigger and better, it is not through the church, but our civic centers we need to be working through. It is wrong to take the energies and monies of the church and divert them into the physical needs of the world when it was not designed for that or even given that job.
    The function of the church is spiritual. When the church becomes a social club in which we can collectively do about anything that society happens to be interested in at the time - then what becomes of our primary purposes, our goals? We lose sight of what God wanted the church to do.

Here is an interesting point for your consideration. The idea of autonomy.

    The Family cares for its own. (unless there is an emergency and they need outside help)
    The State cares for its own. (unless there is an emergency and they need outside help)
    The church cares for its own. (unless there is an emergency and they need outside help)

An excellent book I recommend is the Bible.

    God has made everything perfect and sufficient to perform the functions he has ordained for it to do. When we start ignoring or blurring the lines between these institutions, then none of them can do the work and the result is confusion and decay.
    If we keep these principles in mind, everything will work in harmony and it will be pleasing to God.

    Let the Family be the family - not the State or the church.
    Let the State be the State - not the Family or the church.
    Let the church be the church - not the Family or the State.

It is really quite simple.

(Originally delivered as a sermon at Eagle Point, OR September 9, 1984)


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