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Keeping Your Family Strong and Healthy

How do you keep your family strong and healthy? It’s a question I get all the time. Too often it seems like a struggle—because it is. We are at war whether we realize it or not. The first step to winning this war is to recognize the Enemy and how he works.

It has always been the Enemy’s strategy to divide and conquer—especially when it comes to families. He isolates us and then takes us out, just like he did Adam and Eve. Later, the devil turns Cain against his brother Abel, and we end up with the first murder.

The concept of family is extremely important in the Bible, and family is meant to be our primary fellowship. If we as individuals are God’s masterpiece, families are even more so. That’s because, “Two essential elements of family—marriage and parenthood—reveal God’s character like nothing else in Creation.”[i]

God recognized it was not good for man to be alone, so He created woman—man’s ezer kenegdo, his equal and able helpmate. The love and intimacy between a husband and wife is a picture of Christ’s exceedingly abundant passion and devotion to us as His bride. The joys and challenges of parenthood give us a glimpse into the Father heart of God and his patience and tenderness towards His children.

Keep Your Family Strong and Healthy

Satan hates families. When God created Adam and Eve and brought them together in the first marriage ceremony, all was perfect in the world. They were happy and joyous and lacking nothing. But that perfection didn’t last long. Through the serpent, the Enemy, “launched the first attack on the first family, striking out against God and His perfect creation.”[ii]

His plan was ingenious and worked so well that he still uses the same tactics today. As John MacArthur observed, “From a military standpoint, Satan’s plan was brilliant and won an immediate victory. And his strategy didn’t end with the first parents—he used the same tactics on the first children as well. Adam’s first son, Cain killed his younger brother, Abel, incurring the curse of God on his life. Satan managed to inject poison between spouses, siblings, and in all human relationships.”[iii]

Stronger Together

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The first part of the devil’s ingenious plan was to divide and conquer.

The serpent waited until Eve was alone to tempt her. Don’t get distracted by the phrase, “she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6 NASB italics mine). All that tells us for sure is that at some point she gave it to Adam and he ate.

Adam is conspicuously absent from the Enemy’s conversation with Eve, “He [the serpent] said to the woman” (3:1), “The woman said to the serpent” (3:2), “The serpent said to the woman” (3:4). When confronted by God about her sin, Eve didn’t blame Adam for not protecting her, she blamed the serpent for deceiving her (Genesis 3:13). And Paul reminds his readers, “it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Timothy 2:14 NASB).

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Keep Your Family Strong and Healthy

There was a reason the Enemy went after Eve when she was alone, he knew she was more likely to be deceived than Adam. As Ambrose of Milan explained,

[The devil] aimed to circumvent Adam by means of the woman. He did not accost the man who had in his presence received the heavenly command. He accosted her who had learned of it from her husband and who had not received from God the command which was to be observed. There is no statement that God spoke to the woman. We know that He spoke to Adam. Hence we must conclude that the command was communicated through Adam to the woman.[iv]

Now, that is not to say that women, by nature, are more gullible than men. Not at all. Eve was more likely to be deceived because she had received the moral law second-hand. Which leads to the next part of the devil’s plan. There is something deeper at work here, something that is fundamentally true and yet politically incorrect to talk about. Something that, as a man, drives me to my knees. God, help me.

Pulling Together

Hands Pullling Together On Rope

There is an excellent article by John Piper called, “Manhood and Womanhood Before Sin.” In it, he discusses how God’s original intent for men and women and how we relate to each other was thwarted by the Fall. Men and women were created to enjoy. “equality of personhood, equality of dignity, mutual respect, harmony, complementarity, and a unified destiny.”[v] Can I get an amen?!

The world needs more godly men and women living in and recognizing our equality before God and each other. But something is getting lost in our post-modern world. God made them male and female. Clearly, there are physical differences between men and women, and thank God for that! Is it possible that God designed in other differences as well? Within the equality of personhood and dignity, is there room for differences in responsibilities and roles? As we mutually love and respect each other, is it possible that we have different basic needs and differences in how we receive and express them? In God’s perfect plan, he created man and woman. He designed us to be complementary, not the same. I recognize that sounds “old-fashioned,” but please, bear with me for a moment.

Keep Your Family Strong and Healthy

To understand how we were designed to relate to each other as men and women, we need to go back to before everything got messed up. We have to go back to the Garden of Eden—before the Fall. And the Fall itself leaves clues as to what went wrong.

At some point, Adam joined his wife, and they both ate of the forbidden fruit. Why Adam disobeyed God and ate is a mystery. Perhaps he didn’t want his wife to die alone. Maybe it was peer pressure. It doesn’t really matter. Eve fell into sin first, and Adam followed her. God still held them both accountable (Genesis 3:11-19). And it is through Adam that we inherit our sin nature (Romans 5:12).

Even though it was Eve who sinned first, God holds Adam primarily responsible. God created Adam first and assigned him the role of leadership. As Piper observed, “One of the responsibilities that came with being there first was the primary responsibility (not the only, but the primary responsibility) to receive and teach and be accountable for the moral pattern of life in the garden of Eden.”[vi]

Keep Your Family Strong and Healthy

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This is God’s design for families—husbands are called to lead their wives and children. Not through fear and intimidation, and not through dominance and superiority. That is not true leadership. Our example is Christ, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:6–7).

Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25), and “husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28). A godly man leads through sacrifice and service, not seeking his own advantage, but putting the needs of his family ahead of his own. I believe one of the greatest needs our country has is for husbands to begin taking responsibility and leading their families.

Piper pointed out, “This is the way God meant it to be before there was any sin in the world: sinless man, full of love, in his tender, strong, moral leadership in relation to woman; and sinless woman, full of love, in her joyful, responsive support for man’s leadership. No belittling from the man, no groveling from the woman. Two intelligent, humble, God-entranced beings living out, in beautiful harmony, their unique and different responsibilities.”[vii]

Keep Your Family Strong and Healthy

The Enemy’s overarching strategy was to overturn God’s pattern of marriage, and Adam fell right into his trap. In Piper’s words, “Satan spurns the order that God has established and simply ignores the man and takes up his subtle battle with the woman. And in doing that, he makes man into exactly what he wants him to be: a silent, withdrawn, weak, fearful, passive wimp. And a masculine wimp is a very dangerous person. One moment he’s passive and follows his woman; and the next moment he’s angry and blames her for all of his problems.”[viii]

Sound familiar?

The confusion and twisting of roles has haunted us ever since and continues to tear families apart. The world sees men as abusive and tells us to be more passive. Women are told to take charge and be more assertive.  True masculinity and femininity are lost, and the devil laughs all the way to the bank. We need to recover our God-given roles.

Take Responsibility

Couple Praying

Did you notice in the story, that even though it was the woman who sinned first, God confronted Adam first and not Eve? And notice what God says as He pronounces judgment on Adam, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you.” (Genesis 3:17 NASB). In other words, “Adam you were listening and following when you should have been leading.”

By dividing and conquering, and subverting God’s plan, the Enemy got precisely what he was after—both of them, and through them the whole world.

As a man, this drives me to my knees. I too have failed far more than I care to admit, and far too many times I stood silent when I should have spoke up. I have not always been the leader God called me to be and that my family deserves. God, help me.

Keep Your Family Strong and Healthy

This is by no means meant to domineer women or to in any way belittle or disparage them. Far from it. Eve was created from Adam’s side and is every bit his equal. “God created man in His own image, male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27 NAS95). No man should ever exalt himself over any woman. She bears the image of God the same as him and is a fellow heir in Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28–29)

This is also not a disparagement of single-parent homes. God knows there countless single and divorced parents who successfully raise healthy and happy children.  And despite the hardships, many men and women from broken homes rise above their circumstances.

At the same time, we cannot ignore the damage done to our families when men abdicate their responsibility and their roles. Beginning in our own homes and churches, we must commit to strengthening and encouraging marriages and families.

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Keep Your Family Strong and Healthy

To understand what has gone wrong in the American family, we have to go back a couple hundred years.  Nancy Pearcey, the author of Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From Its Cultural Captivity, says there was a time in our history when, “In their day-to-day life, fathers enjoyed the same integration of work and childbearing responsibilities that mothers did.”[ix] She went on to say, “In terms of the father’s constant presence in the home, nineteenth-century America was actually closer to the world of Martin Luther than to our own. ‘When a father washed diapers and performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool,’ Luther wrote, he should remember that ‘God with all his angels and creatures is smiling.’”[x]

Obviously, we could talk about biblical principles regarding the family, the way Scripture deals with the relationships between men and women, husbands and wives, and the strengths and roles of each in the lives of their families. But such discussions far exceed the scope of this book. My goal is to show how we are stronger together, pulling in unison, and within our natural strengths.

Why did God say it was not good for the man to be alone? I believe that everything God does is ultimately for His glory. The same is true here. When God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over [creation]” (Genesis 1:26), and then told the first couple, ““Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28), He is giving us a clue. He made them in His image so that together they could rule over creation—to make His kingdom come.

Keep Your Family Strong and Healthy

God lives in community within Himself—Father, Son, and Spirit. Adam needed Eve so that the two could “become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24), in order to accurately reflect the image of God.

God does not give us our spouses for the primary purpose of personal fulfillment and enjoyment, although certainly, that is part of it. God brings us together so we can live as one flesh and glorify God through our marriage and our lives. I thank God for His wonderful gift of my amazing wife, Tracy. Every day, she helps me be more like Jesus and to better represent Him.  Hopefully, I do the same for her.

So what do we do? We need to be continually and fervently in prayer every day for our families. Every family needs to make reading God’s Word a priority so we can know what God expects of us. And we need to start living intentionally rather than by default.

Pardon me for a second while I speak to the men. It applies to everyone, but I am directing it at the men. We need to be ready to lay down our lives for our wives and children. We need to take the initiative and responsibility to lead our families. One day we will stand before God and answer for our leadership and willingness to set aside our “rights” and desires to serve our families.

That includes leading our families and setting the example when it comes to spiritual and physical health. I’ve lost count of how many women have come up to me over the years asking if I can help their husband lose weight or improve his health. (Note to the men, our wives do this because they love us and want us around longer, not because they are trying to “fix” us).

I’ve already admitted that it was my wife who first ordered that DVD workout program. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be healthier and more fit, I just wasn’t as supportive of her as I should have been. As a result, both of us continued to gain weight, and our health continued to decline.

But when I finally stepped up and committed to being healthier, it changed the course of our lives forever.

Be The Parent

Young family cooking healthy

And do you remember those statistics back in Chapter 2 about this generation of children living less healthful and shorter lives than their parents? Guess whose fault that is? Right. It’s the parents. We are the ones who buy the food. Parents are the one who set limits on screen time or not. It is the parents who let their children eat whatever they want and do whatever they want. It’s time for parents to start being parents again.

There was a time when families used to sit down together to eat meals. Remember when there were only two options of what to eat—take it or leave it? Or how about playing so hard with your friends outside that your parents had to call to you to come in and eat.

The only way to combat the obesity and health crises facing our country is to start with our own families. I have seen over and over again how powerful it is when the whole family gets behind the common goal of being healthier. Husbands and wives supporting each other, making better food choices, and enjoying being active together. Parents leading and setting an example for their children. Children learning that there really are delicious foods that don’t come from a package. Families finding fun activities to do together.

Fellowships are essential, and the most important one is your family.

“Choose today whom you will serve. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15 NLT).

Keep Your Family Strong and Healthy

[i] “The Purpose of the Family,”

[ii] John MacArthur, “The First Attack on Family,” August 19, 2010,

[iii] MacArthur, “The First Attack on Family.”

[iv] Saint Ambrose, Paradise in The Fathers of the Church, A New Translation, vol. 42, trans. John J. Savage (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc, 1961), 333.

[v] John Piper, “Manhood and Womanhood Before Sin,” May 28, 1989,

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 328.

[x] Ibid. 329.