The more I counsel and coach married couples and families the more I find out that many families have pushed away from the family dinner table. However, they have not done this for health purposes as much as for the relationally unhealthy purpose of busyness.
Is it Biblical to Eat Together as a Family?
It is interesting to see that the Bible does not command families to eat together as much as it is assumed. To be frank, there is a great message in this in that there are somethings that should be so obvious to a society that the Bible does not go out of its way to provide a command. That said, this should show us how far we have strayed as a society. In other words, when the Bible assumes that something as natural as eating together is present in a society yet we have to encourage people to do so, then we may be in bigger trouble than we realize.
Here are a few biblical references that should encourage us to get back to the family table:
1. Revelation 3:20 – When Christ wanted to relay to the church (His bride) his desire for more fellowship, He likened his time with them to sitting down and eating together.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
2. Acts 2:42 – It was one of the first things the early church did together
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
3. John 13:4 – It was what Christ did with his apostles during his last night with them.
“He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.”
4. Genesis 18:3-4 – When the Lord visited Abraham, he ate with them.
“Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.”
A Few Practical Hints
The family table is a sacred time for our family. Though we are not able to eat together every evening, I would say that we eat together almost every night of the week. In fact, when we are not able to commune together around the supper table, I feel like something is greatly missing in our day.
Here are a few things that should be said about the family table:
1. It should be a place of safety
If you keep having rebuking sessions at the family table, check up on your parenting style or your timing. It should be a place of laughter and sharing of God’s blessings throughout the day rather than a place of judgement.
2. Turn the television off
3. No excessive phone usage at the table
If you don’t have the authority to make this rule, then you may have to regain your authority back in the home.
4. Laugh, laugh, and when you have finished laughing, laugh some more
Laughter is what binds us together as a family. Though we have the Spirit and the scriptures also, I would have to say that laugher is certainly one of the best medicines for family issues.
I know some really uptight parents that could use a good roll on the floor laughing session. It’s a great stress reliever.
5. Take advantage of those teachable moments
Jesus was always utilizing what I call teachable moments with His disciples. We see this in the parable of the fig tree (Mark 11), His encounter with the woman at the well (John 4), and the last supper (John 13).
Deuteronomy tells fathers to speak of the things of God on a consistent basis. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 words it as such:
“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Use the family table as a teaching time to relate the scriptures to real life. Take the real life stories of your family and incorporate them into biblical teaching. You don’t have to have a theology degree, just a simple understanding of the scriptures as well as a willingness to promote that wisdom is the principal thing.