SYDNEY, Australia (SWBTS) – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson spoke at the seventh World Congress of Families, May 15-18, in Sydney, Australia, where citizens and leaders from countries around the world gathered to affirm the value of the family unit in society. First Lady Dorothy Patterson also chaired three panels during the session.

The World Congress of Families holds that the perpetuity of the family unit translates into a thriving society.

“The natural family is the most efficient way of nurturing and educating children, of looking after the health and welfare of its members, of creating a vital domestic economy, of building cohesive communities and of extending a compassionate hand to individuals and households, whatever their situation,” the congress stated in a May 18 press release.

“We affirm that the productive economy is sustained by strong families, which reliably shape the virtues needed for healthy economic exchange. Social and economic research overwhelmingly demonstrates that children born into stable, loving homes have the best prospects for growing into healthy, intelligent, creative and morally grounded adults. On average, they become the most productive and engaged citizens and are the least likely to become dependent on the welfare state.”

During the four-day meeting, Patterson spoke about faith, family and civilization. He said not only is the family unit losing its shape and constitution but it is doing so at the hand of government, academia and culture and at the expense of the state of society.

“The relative to utter failure of government, secular school and culture to secure the position and influence of the family in the social order is demonstrable at every turn,” Patterson said. “In France, leaders are anticipating the replacement of Mom and Dad with Parent Number One and Parent Number Two. In the United States, the Supreme Court is now undertaking the definition of marriage. This incredible chutzpah ignores the fact that a court of any kind can no more redefine marriage or the family than they can redefine God, himself.”

Patterson claimed the family, while certainly including children, begins first with the union of one man, one woman and no one else.

“All other expressions of sexuality remain wrong,” Patterson said. “Civilization ignores this God-given order to its own peril and eventually to the destruction of civility.”

Patterson argued that in addition to providing definitions essential for social relations—such as marriage, the responsibility with the conception, birth and training of children, and the protection and care of family members until natural death—the family unit offers several other benefits to the surrounding society. He said the biblical family creates a center for sympathy and understanding of others, a sense of belonging to something greater than oneself, a sense of relationship absent from most other social structures, and a loving corrective to irresponsible behavior.

Looking to Proverbs, Patterson explained that a biblical model of each family member’s role in family would be an asset to both family and society.

“In Proverbs 31, the virtuous woman cares for her family above all else,” Patterson said. “She is not a career woman. She sought and found the nobler way and devotes herself to the well-being of her family. Throughout the book of Proverbs, the son is exhorted to wear the instruction of his father as an ornament around his neck and to make for a proud mother and a confident father.”

In closing, Patterson reminded the congress that when all else fails to reestablish order in society, a commitment to following God’s plan for family can refasten harmony to the nations’ tethers.  

“When the seams are coming unstitched in the social order, when hostility, hatred, war and death are rampant, and when the United Nations and the governments of the world have no answers, and when culture is bankrupt, is it not time for the wise to return to the purpose of God in the family?” Patterson asked. “We have tried everything but that. Let us hasten to reinstate the glue of society and honor the biblical home.”