A Family Circle Series: Grace in the Garden

By Leslie Diestelkamp

When Adam and Eve walked innocently in the Garden of Eden they represented and demonstrated God’s first grace and the greatest of God’s temporal gifts to humanity. In creating them altogether suited to each other, and in establishing the family arrangement, God had elevated humanity to a much higher level than all the other created beings. In arranging that each man should thereafter have his own wife and each woman should have her own husband, God provided the maximum in earthly possessions for us and supplied the ultimate in human satisfactions.

So much of the world that God created for our good has been abused by mankind, and this is most significantly true of the family. The beautiful rivers and lakes have been contaminated by man’s pollutants. The grandeur of the mountains has been scarred by the engineering feats of man. Even our atmosphere has been polluted by the industry man has devised. So it should not surprise us to discern that the family, God’s greatest gift to us, has also been defiled.

It was God’s intent that each man and each woman should be able to enjoy the companionship and benefit from the relationship that is the natural result of marriage. Likewise it was God’s design that each child should be born into the sheltered circumstance that only the family circle can provide. But God did not put a great banner high in the sky, where all could see, telling each man to take his own wife and each woman to receive her own husband. Instead, he instilled in the mind and body of man an instinctive and altogether natural desire for each other. There are and always have been significant exceptions to this principle (those who have no need and/or no desire for marriage and its relationships). Likewise, there have always been and still are perversions and abuses of God’s law regarding the family relationships (fornication, homosexuality, divorce, etc.).

The High Ideal

Even in these modern times when materialistic pursuits seem to prevail, when humanity seems to seek first the pleasures of this world, when the love of money is so great and the minds and bodies of the people seem to be given over to sensualism, there still remains the lovely, the beautiful and the pure that is reached only to the fullest extent in the sanctuary of the family circle.

The ideal in romantic love is perhaps demonstrated best by the story of Jacob’s love for Rachel (see Gen. 29:15-20). Notice that the Bible says, “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had for her.” In the Song Of Solomon we have the beautiful story of the love of the maiden and her humble sweetheart, a love that prevailed over the ardent wooing of King Solomon who wanted the maiden for his own. (Note: I do not pretend to know all the involved principles in this story and I decline to speculate on its application, as some would, to Christ and the church. But, whether it is a true story or a symbolic one, the romantic features of it are beautiful and meaningful).

My appeal in this essay is to Christians. We must not take marriage and parenthood for granted. We have the opportunity in these times to maximize the high ideal that God intended. We can, if we will, exemplify righteousness coupled with joy, holiness combined with happiness. We can have the greatest of life’s satisfactions while escaping the most terrifying of life’s tragedies. We can provide peace and tranquility at home that will enable us to face the carnal, materialistic world about us without fear.

Some may say I have over-simplified the matter and made it appear too easy. No, indeed, I have not said these ideals were always easy to reach. I have simply said they are possible! And I urge us to remember that they are worth the effort!

Thirty-five years ago a soldier came to me and admitted that he had strayed from “the straight and narrow.” But he said, “There was always one thing that kept me from going too far, and that always brought me back to the right way.” He did not tell me of great preachers he had heard in his youthful days in Oklahoma, nor of great churches he had attended, but he told me of the family circle “at home.” He told me that he could never forget that every night before bed-time his father would gather the whole family together and they would read the Bible and pray. The impact of that experience throughout his childhood saved him, he suggested, from complete departure. I think he later became a gospel preacher.

Where The Power Is

We are told that one great journalist of the previous century had been to Washington but was stranded in a small community en route to his home. There he participated in a family worship (devotional) in the humble home where he spent the night. Then he began to write a series of articles about our national capitol. He said, “I have been to the capitol of the U.S., but it is not in Washington, but in the homes of America where the Bible is read and where prayer is offered to God.” How true!

More significantly, I believe that if one wants to see the real kingdom of God today, that is, if he would observe the Spirit of God working through the instrumentality of the living Word, then he must go, not to the great cathedrals or even to the humble meeting houses where faithful saints meet, but to the firesides, to the family circles where devoted Christians live and love in joyful togetherness with each other and in sweet communion with God.

“Home, home, sweet, sweet home. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” Thank God for his grace in giving us home, sweet home!

Truth Magazine XXII: 43, p. 690
November 2, 1978