Life Punctuated: Proper Punctuation for Marriage and Family


If you want clarity and cohesiveness in your marriage and family, then be sure you use proper punctuation!

I desire to be clear in the message I convey to my children. How I punctuate each sentence as our story unfolds makes all the difference. Meaning can shift as simple as a comma moves in a sentence.

Observe the two sentences. Note the difference punctuation makes:

A woman, without her man, is nothing.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

See how punctuation has made the same sentence mean two exactly opposite things? The same type of confusion can occur within the home.

  • Grace without truth or truth without grace promotes an environment of insecure love, weak faith and uncertain purpose (from Grace-Based Parenting).
  • Failure to build character in to the lives of our children leaves the garden of their hearts full of weeds stealing valuable nutrients (from Raising Kids Who Turn Out Right).
  • Carelessly placing an emphasis on consumerism over a passionate love for God embodies worldly success—power, wealth, beauty, fame— instead of an unquenchable love and concern for others (from Raising Kids for True Greatness).
  • A parent high on control and low on poise/grace conveys a lack of earnestness to know and experience the goodness of God (from The High Cost of High Control).

For several years, I’ve been digging in to the scriptures for the necessary punctuation marks, their meanings, and when to use them in order to set the tone of our home and transfer an eternal message to my children.

Here are some great tips we’re incorporating in to our marriage and family:

  • Capital Letters: As you might begin a sentence, begin every day purposed: who is your master, what is your mission, how will you treat your mate? Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Capitalize the value each family member has in the Kingdom of Godlive a life worthy of the calling you have received (Ephesians 4:1). Demonstrate how to love and revere God and respect His authority as master/creator. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16). A leader becomes a servant to all.
  • Commas: As a comma invites pause, insert regular occasions to connect independent people.  Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39, 1 John 3:16b). The Bible speaks of over 35 ways to relate to one another:  be kind to one another, be compassionate to one another, bear with one another, be devoted to one another, serve one another, forgive one another, do not deceive one another, live in harmony with one another, teach and admonish one another, do not slander one another, offer hospitality to one another, have fellowship with one another, accept one another.

Be sure to provide opportunity to practice, without electronics, these expressions with face-face interactions: meals together, play games together, go on dates together, and partake in outdoor adventure as a family.

  • Semi-colon: The semi-colon helps to sort out and organize many things. Like the semi-colon, God’s Word allows a family to sort out and create significant harmony in thought and attitude. The scriptures of old are relevant and relatable to the events of today.  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Romans 15:4).
  • Colon: The colon allows for a formal presentation of information intended to equip the reader with knowledge. As with the colon, foster formal presentation of what to believe and why to believe it. Develop self-sustaining disciples of Jesus who can defend the faith. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15).
  • Quotation Marks: Quotation marks denote quoted or spoken language. Each member of the family is unique with a special calling. It’s important to recognize and cultivate the voice of every son and daughter of the Most High God. But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:14).

Encourage each family member be set-apart from the world so that others long to know the ONE true God who sets us free. Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).

  • Apostrophe: As with the apostrophe, sometimes it’s beneficial to omit letters and abbreviate. God prefers for us to love Him and love others before we bring our perfect behavior, ritual or religious duty.  For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6, Matthew 9:13). Like the apostrophe, it’s also worthy to denote possession, who we are and whose we are. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, (Galatians 3:26).
  • Dashes: Dashes announce something important, dramatic or exciting. God wants us to live a life of thrilling adventure as we trust and believe Him. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).
  • Question Mark: A question mark indicates the sentence is worded to elicit information. We are to create a culture in our homes where it is okay to make mistakes and have doubts. Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Jesus meets us where we are and yet gently postures us toward trusting and believing Him more. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1b-2a).
  • Parenthesis: The parenthesis surrounds something that seems a bit out of place in the sentence. It could be taken away without a huge impact. Like a parenthesis, we live in the world but do not need or even want the things of this world. Our hope is in things unseen and the treasures we long for are in heaven. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).
  • Period: The period allows a writer/reader to momentarily recess before beginning the next thought. We must be intentional about fostering each family member’s connection with God through prayer so that every thought and deed comes from God and receives His blessing. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19).
  • Exclamation Mark: The exclamation mark denotes strong feelings or astonishment. Like the exclamation mark, we are to emphasize praise, thanksgiving and worship of God. We are to remember what Jesus did for us and celebrate it often. Come and see what God has done, His awesome deeds for mankind (Psalm 66:5)!
  • Endnote: An endnote gives proper reference to the source. We are to remember and live in victory over evil because the ending to the story has been foretold. God triumphs over evil. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

Written by Edy Sutherland


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