The Salvation Army regards the family as an essential social unit in society, able to provide a foundation of stability and security for each of its members.

The situation

In New Zealand there is a growing acceptance of term 'family' as being used to encompass a wide variety of arrangements, including the traditional marriage-based nuclear family, with or without children, single-parent families, the extended and multi-generational family or 'whanau', common law unions, civil unions, and same-sex couples. All of these are perceived in the New Zealand context as providing a framework for that mutuality and community which assure stability and security for the individual.

At the same time, there is an increasing tendency for people to fall outside any of these groupings as the fragmentation of family units often leaves individuals isolated. Parents are also often without the valuable support of the extended and multigenerational family in the care and nurture of children.

Biblical principles

The family is a microcosm of the larger family of God (Ephesians 3:14-15, NIV) and the model for Christian community. It is the primary social relationship for the development of spirituality, intimacy, compassion, commitment and values. The Army believes that at its best the quality and permanence of a marriage of one man with one woman provide the ideal basis for the stability required by the family. It also affirms that the inclusive character of the Christian community provides the wider 'household of faith' (Galatians 6:10, NIV), available both to those who enjoy a stable family life and to those who do not.

Practical responses

While upholding Christian values and Biblical view of marriage, and believing that the family in which mother and father share in the raising of their children provides the ideal environment, the Church must adjust to the new realities in providing positive support and pastoral care for all.

The Salvation Army, therefore, through all of its programmes and services, seeks to enrich family life while extending the services and support of a caring Christian community to all persons in need. Salvationists, while highly valuing legal marriage, blessed in a Christian ceremony, are equally concerned for the stability of families not based on Biblically-informed marriage arrangements and we care for the people living in such circumstances. Salvationists must resist those forces in our society which disrupt the security and integrity of family life. The Church has a role in providing an extended family for many people in our community who have lost or have never enjoyed whole family life.

Approved by International Headquarters
December 2005