Technically, the Bible does not define a good Christian family, because that term is not found in the Bible. However, the Bible does delineate what a family is and conveys its importance. Once we have a biblical understanding of the family, we can carefully apply the adjectives good and Christian.
The biblical ideal of a family is one man and one woman united by marriage to become “one flesh” for a lifetime (Genesis 2:24) and to produce children whom they raise to adulthood. Ideally, then, a “Christian” family would be a believing man and woman united by marriage and raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). And a “good” Christian family would be one that possesses all the qualities necessary to be “Christian” and “family.”
Note that the above is the ideal of a good Christian family. We live in a broken world, and ideals are rarely realized. We are each marred by sin and “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This affects our marriages, our families, and so much more. So what we see most often in the church are imperfect families—struggling families—who are striving to respond in a Christian manner to the brokenness around them. It’s a family’s response to trials and dysfunction that can be properly called “Christian” or “good.”
So, a good Christian family might be one in which not all the roles are filled. A childless couple who are seeking God and growing in Christ is still a good Christian family, even without children. A single mother doing her best to make ends meet and provide spiritual training for her children is in charge of a good Christian family. A single father who loves his children and teaches them the Bible is leading a good Christian family. This is true whether the singleness is the result of a spouse’s death or a divorce.
A good Christian family might be one in which various members of the family wrestle with some serious issues. A husband fights an addiction, a wife struggles with depression, a son rebels, a daughter runs away—it is the response to each of these crises that shows a family to be “good” and “Christian.” A good Christian family is not perfect; it is one that seeks to follow biblical principles in every circumstance, that cries out to God for help, and that desires to provide a nurturing place of stability and growth even in the midst of hardship.
It is impossible to have a good Christian family without love. As we know, “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7, ESV). Believers in a family unit understand intuitively that God’s love is the bond that unites them, and they will seek to show that love to each other in practical ways.
A good Christian family may not often live up to the biblical ideal. In fact, it might be lacking in many respects. Despite its flaws, it can still be a picture-perfect representation of Christ’s redemptive power and the enduring nature of love.