Earthly Families: A Reflection of the Family in Heaven

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Last Sunday (May 12), countless Americans, Europeans, and many others celebrated Mother’s Day and will be preparing to celebrate Father’s Day next month (June 16). For many, this time of year is filled with nostalgia and memories of loving parents, accompanied by cards and gift giving. However, for others this time of year can be difficult, bringing to mind thoughts of broken families, estranged children, or even sharpening the pain of infertility.

According to the model set forth in the Garden of Eden, the ideal family unit is composed of a loving, supportive mother and father; yet because of sin, this model will never be completely realized this side of Heaven. Even within the Adventist church, parents and children are not unable to escape sin’s sting.

However, the news isn’t all bad! As part of the 2018 Global Church Member Survey (GCMS), members around the world were asked about their relationships with their parents (Q22.01). Over four out of five (almost 80%) of respondents agreed (40.4%) or strongly agreed (38.5%) that they feel close to one or both of their parents/guardians. Less than one in ten (7.5%) shared that they are not sure of their relationship with their parents, while about 6% disagreed to one extent or another.

These figures are encouraging, overall, given the crucial role that parents or guardians play in a child’s development. One of many parental duties is to, “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6) and for many Adventist parents, this “training” includes leading their children in religious discussions and answering hard spiritual questions.

As part of the same survey, respondents were asked if they were able to talk to one or both of their parents about religious issues (Q22.03). While not all of the respondents grew up with Adventist parents, their continued relationship with the church suggests that, during their formative years, they were encouraged to speak about religious questions with one or both of their parents. Seven in ten respondents agreed (40.6%) or strongly agreed (30.5%) that they had this type of relationship with their parents or guardians, while 9.1% admitted they weren’t sure. Only 9.3% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, indicating that they were unable to talk to their parents or guardians about religious issues.

Ellen G. White wrote in Testimony to the Churches, “God designs that the families of earth shall be a symbol of the family in heaven. Christian homes, established and conducted in accordance with God’s plan, are among His most effective agencies for the formation of Christian character and for the advancement of his work” (vol. 6, p. 430). It is clear that parenting is a humongous responsibility with outcomes that extend into eternity.

Today, if you have enjoyed a close relationship with one or both of your parents or guardians – the kind of relationship that is “a symbol of the family in heaven” – take a moment to share your appreciation with them. Or, if perhaps your relationship with your parents has not been so “heavenly,” resolve to make changes in how you raise your own children or grandchildren.

For more data on 2018 GCMS look at or watch GCMS Data Report by Dr. David Trim, Director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research:

2018 Annual Council - Global Church Member Survey Data Report | [Watch Video]