With the current debate over same-sex marriage, civil unions, and adoption, Christians make many assertions about the importance of traditional family structure. While I firmly believe that the only true marriage is between a man and a woman and that a family does consist of a father, a mother, and children, I am not convinced that we as Christians fully understand why.

Many Christians simply point out that Scripture teaches it. This is true, but why does Scripture set this family structure in place?

Well, perhaps because it’s the best practical arrangement. Malachi 2:15 says that God united husband and wife because he was seeking godly offspring, and studies confirm that marriage is the best context for raising children. I believe, however, that the reason for Scripture’s truth claims about the family goes much deeper.

At the deepest foundation of this issue is the nature of God.

In the Truth Project, Dr. Del Tackett explains that God is a relational being. Within the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit experience perfect relationship, union, intimacy, fellowship, love, and community. Roles of authority and submission exist within God himself with Christ doing the will of the Father, and God the Father delegating authority to the Son (John 5:19-23). God designed our human families, with complimentary roles and the ability for unity and community, to mirror his perfect nature. This is why Scripture focuses so much on marriage and the family—it’s pointing back to and revealing truth about who God is.

Should we be surprised that the institutions of family and marriage are under attack? The world opposes and seeks to change the structure of the family because it bears God’s divine imprint. Our first step toward supporting families must be embracing their significance as reflections of God’s nature.