Blended families, sometimes referred to as stepfamilies, are becoming increasingly common. A blended family forms when one or both parents have children from a previous relationship and then come together to form a new family unit. While blended families face unique challenges, they can also be a beautiful picture of love, grace, and redemption. As Christians, it’s important that we seek God’s wisdom on how to navigate the complexities of blended family life. The Bible does not specifically address blended families, since the concept of remarriage and complex family structures was less common in Biblical times. However, by examining principles and case studies throughout Scripture, we can gain insight into God’s heart for the blended family.
- God designed the family and values unity and harmony within the home. He wants to be at the center of all families, including blended ones.
- Loving one another supersedes biological ties. As followers of Christ, we are called to love and accept all members of our family.
- Parenting in a blended family requires grace, wisdom and patience. Do not expect stepchildren to immediately accept a new family dynamic.
- Manage expectations and anticipate challenges unique to blended families. Seek godly counsel if conflicts arise.
- Honor both biological parents. Speaking negatively about an ex-spouse to the children can be damaging.
- Rely on God’s strength to persevere when blending a family seems too difficult. His grace is sufficient.
God Values Family Harmony and Unity
The Bible opens with the first family unit ever created – Adam, Eve and their children. God designed the family and cares deeply about relationships within the home. Several Biblical passages emphasize the importance of unity and harmony within the immediate family:
Psalm 133:1 (NKJV) Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!
1 Corinthians 1:10 (NKJV) Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Ephesians 4:3 (NKJV) endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
God desires oneness for all family units, including blended ones. His perfect will is for stepparents, stepchildren and stepsiblings to live in harmony under one roof. Of course, achieving familial unity requires effort and intentionality, especially when blending two households into one. As the above verses demonstrate, God wants families to be joined together in purpose. This unity emanates from Him.
For the blended family pursuing oneness, Christ must be the center. In Matthew 19:5-6, Jesus affirmed God’s creation of male and female into one flesh through marriage. This “one flesh” principle can extend to the blended family when all members are united under Christ’s Lordship. As the spiritual leader in the home, the stepfather bears responsibility for stewarding peace and encouraging spiritual unity within the new blended family. When friction arises, prayer and mutual submission to God’s Word allow unity to prevail.
According to Ephesians 5, the husband also carries the call to sacrificially love his wife and any children residing in the home. As head of the household, the stepfather must serve his family with Christ-like humility and compassion. This prevents bitterness and resentment from taking root when inevitable challenges emerge in forming a blended home.
Through God’s enabling grace, a harmonious blended family exemplifies His redeeming love. Even a once “broken” family unit can experience wholeness through the unifying power of Christ.
Love and Acceptance Trumps Biological Ties
In Ephesians 4:2, Paul urges believers to walk in humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love. This exhortation applies aptly to the blended family, where parents and children alike must show immense patience and love toward one another. Forming bonds and embracing new family members who previously were strangers requires agape love. The Greek word agape refers to unconditional, sacrificial love as embodied by Jesus Christ. As followers of Christ, the virtue of agape should define our familial relationships more so than biological ties.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus emphasized spiritual kinship over flesh and blood connections:
Matthew 12:46-50 (NKJV)
While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus did not dishonor His earthly family. However, He elevated spiritual unity through doing God’s will above relational labels. When two families blend, the priority becomes fulfilling the will of the Father by loving one another. As John 13:34 states, loving and laying down our lives for each other proves we are Christ’s disciples. This agape-motivated service to new family members demonstrates true kinship in God’s kingdom.
Both Paul and Peter echo Jesus’ concept of prioritizing kingdom family over biological family:
Romans 8:14-17 (NKJV)
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
These passages assure believers that entering God’s family supersedes any earthly heritage. The same truth applies to blending families. Any child welcomed into a home becomes part of the spiritual family unit through Christ. This holds far greater weight than shared DNA. When biological parents and children accept new family members with open arms, they demonstrate fidelity to Jesus’ teachings.
Parenting in a Blended Home Requires Grace and Patience
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges faced by blended families relates to parenting. Disciplining and nurturing children that did not originate from the current marriage requires wisdom, patience and love. The stepparent in particular must earn trust and respect over time. Expecting an immediate, seamless bond with stepchildren often leads to frustration and misunderstanding. Proverbs 15:18 cautions that a quick temper causes quarrels within families. The stepparent and biological parent must exercise restraint and grace when blending two families together. Letting go of unrealistic expectations prevents discord. Loving one another earnestly facilitates unity, as described in 1 Peter 1:22.
In some cases, the children may initially resist the new family structure. Change often proves difficult, especially for those undergoing divorce recovery. For example, the child may reject a stepfather’s attempts at discipline, perceiving him as an “outsider.” Or stepsiblings may clash frequently as territorial disputes arise. Ephesians 4:2 encourages us to walk in humility – this applies to both parents and children when adjusting to a blended home.
Furthermore, parenting blended children almost always requires cooperation from both biological parents. Speaking negatively about an ex-spouse to the children or fighting over custody can breed pain and instability rather than familial love. The parent and stepparent must also exercise wisdom in ensuring equity among stepsiblings. Favoritism or making natural children feel less loved than stepsiblings can damage relationships. Proverbs 6:16-19 identifies “one who sows discord among brothers” as among the seven detestable sins God hates. Wise parents prayerfully consider how to nurture harmony between their children.
When friction arises within the blended home, reviewing Colossians 3:12-15 proves helpful:
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
This passage encourages patience, forgiveness, and love between family members. It also emphasizes giving thanks in all circumstances. When parents purposefully model Christlike conduct in the blended home, the entire family receives blessings.
Blended Families Face Unique Challenges
Those entering a blended family must prayerfully anticipate complexities that arise when merging two families into one. Expecting only smooth sailing courts disappointment. Even the most loving, well-intentioned families encounter turbulence navigating parent-child relationships, financial matters, and tensions between ex-spouses. Proverbs 4:7 states, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (NIV). Pursuing godly wisdom enables families to weather storms that arise on the journey toward harmony.
Among the challenges commonly faced by blended families:
- Establishing trust and rapport between stepsiblings. Just as parents must earn each other’s trust in a new marriage, stepsiblings also need time to form bonds. Respecting boundaries and giving one another grace prevents tension.
- Agreeing on discipline and rules. Stepparents cannot immediately expect the same authority as biological parents when it comes to discipline. The wise stepparent understands this and works cooperatively with the child’s parent to establish norms.
- Bonding with stepchildren. Rather than forcing close relationships instantly, stepparents wisely allow affection to develop over time. Let the child dictate the pace.
- Managing jealous feelings in children. Children often harbor jealously due to having to share their parent with a new spouse and stepsiblings. Parents must reassure children of their unconditional love.
- Dealing with ex-spouses. Navigating legal issues like custody agreements require wisdom and restraint, leaning on God’s grace to avoid reacting sinfully when conflict arises.
Seeking counsel from pastors or godly mentors helps blended families overcome these hurdles through Christ’s power. Turning to prayer as a family also invites God’s supernatural intervention. According to James 1:5, He stands ready to pour out wisdom generously when we ask for it in faith. As blended families rely wholly on the Lord rather than their own flawed human wisdom, they experience peace beyond understanding.
Honor Both Biological Parents
As previously discussed, cooperative parenting between households tremendously benefits blended families. When biological parents remain united in raising their children despite divorce, the children feel security. This means never demeaning or putting down an ex-spouse in front of the kids. The apostle Paul confronted this issue in his letter to the Corinthian church:
1 Corinthians 7:12-16 (NKJV)
But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him…Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.
While speaking plainly about the permissibility of divorce if an unbelieving spouse abandons their partner, Paul clarifies that the believer must strive to maintain peace. Applied to parenting, this means never speaking ill of an ex-spouse or creating conflict in front of the children. The kids should see their parents get along, even if they live in separate homes.
Both Matthew 18 and Ephesians 4 stress seeking reconciliation rather than petty disputes and vengeance. Jesus forgave us completely while we were still sinners, providing the ultimate model of grace. Similarly, Christian parents must humbly release any bitterness toward a former spouse for the wellbeing of the children. Displaying Christlike forgiveness fosters their emotional security.
Of course, severing ties with a genuinely abusive or destructive ex-spouse may prove necessary for physical and emotional protection. Even in such cases, however, parents can speak in truth while also guarding their tongue and not seeking to damage the abuser’s reputation. The words in Ephesians 4:29 offer guidance: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” This includes conversations regarding the ex-spouse.
Another passage emphasizing the care parents must take when speaking about each other appears in Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Demeaning or insulting language about an ex-spouse breeds pain and anger in children. Edifying speech promotes healing.
Rely on God’s Grace and Strength
Blending two families into one can often feel overwhelming. When frustration arises, parents may wonder if unity will ever define the new home. Here, resting in the promises of Scripture proves essential.
Isaiah 41:10 gives this assurance:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Through faith, the Lord infuses His strength into families navigating change and difficulty. His grace empowers believers to love one another even when human willpower falls short.
The comforting words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 also apply when caring for a blended family feels burdensome:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Rather than relying on their own power, parents entrust the blended family to Christ’s capable hands. His gentle, humble nature shines through when mothers and fathers become conduits of His love. As Philippians 4:13 declares, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
By clinging to God’s promises found in Scripture, coupled with prayer and counsel from other believers, parents gain courage to persevere. They can confidently echo Paul’s proclamation in Romans 8:37-39:
“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Navigating the intricacies of blended family life has its challenges. However, the Scriptural principles and encouragement we’ve explored remind us that God cares deeply about the relationships under our roof. His enabling grace makes supernatural love and unity possible, even between once strangers forming a new family. As the Bible makes clear in Colossians 3:14, love binds all things together in perfect harmony. By centering each blended family on Christ’s love and seeking counsel from other believers, Christian parents gain wisdom and strength to nurture an environment where all children feel equally loved. Their home becomes a testament to God’s redemptive purposes. May all who are called to the noble task of blending families be rooted in God’s Word and rely fully on His sustaining grace each step of the journey.