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Family

Family - Family Members Reading to Children

Family is the primary source of support for many Canadians, and families are a foundational part of Canadian society. Yet many families feel the weight of a number of economic, social and relational stressors, and are experiencing breakdown.

We are created to live in community, born to a mother and father by God’s design, within a network of relationships. A family is called to care for its members physically, emotionally and spiritually, as it enables them to serve God, other people and creation.

The Bible describes God’s creation of man and woman in His image (Gen 2:24) and Jesus affirms that the two are joined through marriage (Mark 10:6-8). God calls some to be married and some to be celibate. Marriage is one among the many meaningful and fulfilling relationships we can form with others and in community.

Related Themes

The EFC encourages churches to have written policies on their religious beliefs and practices of marriage, including solemnization of marriage and facility rental.
 

The majority of Canadians live with a family member, whether with a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling or extended family.

The United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights Article 17 states: “The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

As Supreme Court Justice La Forest wrote in the Egan decision, “… this is the unit in society that fundamentally anchors other social relationships and other aspects of society.”

Marriage was redefined to include same-sex couples by the courts beginning in 2002 and by federal legislation, the Marriage for Civil Purposes Act, in 2005. The bill was amended to state that there would be no penalty for persons or organizations in matters of federal jurisdiction if they opposed same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court was asked to review proposed legislation before it was introduced. The court ruled in 2004 that Parliament may redefine marriage, but did not rule that it must. In this decision, the court affirmed that the Charter protects religious officials from being compelled to marry couples against their religious beliefs. The court also said that sacred places would be protected under the Charter. The court made it clear that the solemnization of marriage is a provincial responsibility and that provincial legislation should include these protections.

Early sexual activity has the potential to bring life-long consequences. Lifestyle choices which entail risk, such as buying cigarettes or alcohol, are regulated according to age and prohibited for those in their early to mid-teens. Because sexual activity can carry certain risks and serious consequences, the age of consent to sexual activity should be the age of majority, when many rights and responsibilities accrue to Canadians.

Through no fault of their own, thousands of children and youth in Canada are in government care and in need of a permanent home and family. Canada lacks a central information database on the number of children who are in government care or awaiting adoption. It’s estimated there are 30,000 children in Canada’s child welfare system who are eligible to be adopted.

While individualism gives the illusion that we live and die to ourselves, the reality is that people need one another for emotional, physical or financial support at one time or another throughout their lives. The family provides the primary source of support for many Canadians.

One of the primary tasks families fulfil is the care of dependants, whether they are children, elderly or those who are dependent because of illness or disability. Stronger families enhance the well-being of the society in which they live. The family is a foundational part of Canadian society that must be supported and encouraged in order for society as a whole to do well.

God calls each family to care for its members physically, emotionally and spiritually as it enables them to serve God, other people and creation. Children are a gift and a blessing. As Christians, adoption is a key concept of our faith, as we have been adopted into God’s family through Christ (Romans 8:14-17).

Parents have the privilege and responsibility of leading their children to know God and his ways, as well as the world around them (Deut. 11:19). 

Biblical teaching indicates that marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman. Genesis describes God’s creation of man and woman in His image (Gen 2:24) and Jesus affirms that the two are joined through marriage (Mark 10:6-8). Our faith teaches that sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage.

In both the Old and New Testaments, the people of Israel and followers of Jesus were commanded to care for those who were vulnerable in their midst -- the foreigner, the widow, the orphan and the poor.

Children and youth are among our society’s most vulnerable persons. Protecting children and youth means protecting them from the actions of others and from undertaking serious or dangerous activities before they have an appropriate level of maturity. Early sexual activity has the potential to bring serious, life-long consequences. The age of consent to sexual activity should be the age of majority.

Pray

  • For a culture that respects and fosters faithful, committed relationships
  • For the marriages and family relationships of the people you know
  • For wisdom and relevance in teaching our kids
  • For families in crisis
  • For children and youth in government care needing a permanent home

Become involved

  • Affirm and support single adults, married couples and parents. Take steps to encourage and strengthen marriage and family relationships
  • Support and benefit from pre-marital counselling, marriage enrichment and parenting programs
  • Offer practical, tangible support and encouragement to pregnant women and parents of young children

Ask for change

  • Ask your legislator to:
    • Consider the effects of new initiatives on families
    • Collect and make public annual data on adoption and the numbers of children in care
    • Launch a public awareness/public health campaign to promote adoption
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