The Importance of the Family Mirrored in the Trinity

Since the Enlightenment and the drive by Western cultural elites to make secularism the default plausibility structure of reality, the family has been under attack. It may not have appeared this way to the average mom and dad in the street until the 1960s, but many Western intellectuals have been trying to throw off the shackles (for such is how they see it) of the family for several hundred years. The successful effort to legally redefine marriage is only the latest in this long march. The family is a reflection of the very nature of God, and thus of immense importance; it’s not up for redefinition.

In Genesis 2 when God makes a “suitable helper” for Adam, he established the foundation for the family, but the Triune nature of God is the true basis on which the family exists. The essence of the Triune God is life-giving love, unlike the monism God of other religions. I was reminded anew of the beauty and logic of the Trinity recently as I thought about some who can’t or don’t accept it.

In December of 2015 a professor at Wheaton College, the well known Evangelical college in Illinois, made the claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The two religions venerate the Old Testament, but the Gods they worship couldn’t be more different. I also recently learned about a Christian sect called Apostolic Pentecostalism which rejects the Trinity. For them God is one, end of story. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are only different revelations of the one God, not three persons in one as understood since the first church Council of Nicea  in 325. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses also have the trappings of Christianity, but deny its core. While adherents of these religions think the Trinity is illogical, it actually makes total sense logically.

British theologian Michael Reeves helped me see this in a way I hadn’t before in his book Delighting in the Trinity and in a series of lectures on the topic. If you have any doubts about the Trinity, I highly suggest both. The case he makes, in my opinion, is indisputable. One many Christians, let alone non-Christians, have likely never heard. It centers on God being a person, which may sound like, Yeah, so, tell me something I don’t know. Well, not so fast. The implications of God being a person inexorably lead to the Trinity, and to the ultimate rationale for the family. Some random questions on Triune implications:

  • The nature of personhood is bound up in relationship, is it not?
  • Why is solitary confinement in a prison considered a punishment?
  • Why do we get lonely? Because alone is not the natural state of persons, even for “loners.” Other people affirm and confirm our personhood.
  • Does it make any sense to have persons where no relationship is possible?
  • If God is a person, as Islam, Judaism, and various Sub-Christian sects say he is, then what was this mathematical monad God doing for all of eternity? Thinking?
  • If God is love, as Christians believe, who was he loving for all eternity? Love is meaningless apart from relationship. I notice that Islam has 99 names for God, and Father or love is not among them, which makes sense if he is a mathematical monad. By definition a father gives and a son receives life. If God is love and God is eternal, then Father and Son must be eternal.

The concept of a Triune God may be incomprehensible to us, but it is not illogical or irrational. It makes perfect sense. And because we are made in God’s image, we too can be life-givers, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, a unity of harmony as family, in diversity as persons. Just like our Triune God.