Only two people had the potential to be perfect parents. Created in God’s image, they were given the grand assignment to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and govern it.” They were to raise children who bore this same image, living in glad obedience to God. As their family grew, so would the boundaries of Eden. The whole earth would become a garden filled with offspring reflecting divine glory. But Adam and Eve failed to be what they were made to be. Their disobedience ushered in the reality of pain in childbearing—the pain of sinners giving birth to sinners.
Adam and Eve weren’t only the first human parents; they were the first to experience children raised in the same home turning out differently. They were the first to wrangle with sibling rivalry. They were the first to experience bereavement. Surely they were the first to wonder what they could have done differently so that things wouldn’t have turned out so terribly wrong.
But certainly they weren’t the last.
Countless Imperfect Parents
As people multiplied, wickedness multiplied. So God started over with Noah and his sons. Noah and his wife home-schooled their boys in the safety of the ark; and when they emerged, there was no culture left to lead them astray. But the evil in their own hearts led them astray. Ham became the father of the Canaanites, while Shem’s descendants included Abraham.
As we trace the story from Abraham, who fathered Ishmael and Isaac, and through Isaac who fathered Esau and Jacob, and then through Jacob, who had 12 sons (some of whom did despicable, we-wish-it-weren’t-in-the-Bible stuff), we see kids raised in the same home make different choices and follow different paths. By the time we come to the end of Old Testament, we’ve read about the parental failures of Aaron the high priest, Samuel the great judge, and David the anointed king. We wonder, Can this really be the family God plans to use to bless every family on earth (Gen. 12:3)?