Volume 1 • Issue V | 2015
With recent rulings by various courts on marriage and other matters, the whole question of, “What Is a Family?” has garnered a lot of attention. Among the many definitions to be found in dictionaries and other sources, this one is typical: “The basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children”. [Merriam-Webster College Dictionary, © 2008, definition 5] For the most part, even those who wish to re-define what they think society should view the family as can agree with large parts of that definition.
For example, the family is, always has been and always will be THE basic unit of society and culture. Family has always had, at its root, bringing up a new generation (read – children). And there is broad consensus that, understanding that one person can and sometimes must raise a family, that is not the ideal.
The idea of “the family unit” being under assault is also nothing new. What follows is a sample of definitions given by people in a Pew Research poll (2013), when asked what they thought a true definition of family was:
- “A bunch of people who hate each other but still eat dinner together”,
- “The close relationships among a body of human beings through blood who are usually annoying and invasive, especially around the holidays”,
- “A word used to force you to do things you don’t want to do”,
- “People who get into your business and live in the same house as you who you’re stuck with for the rest of your life till you move out. The worst thing is, sometimes you have to talk to them”,
- “The one thing in life you can never change – and usually the one thing you want to change the most”, and
- “An excuse to get out of work, as in ‘I have family commitments’”;
As humorous as these may be, they show quite clearly that, if Satan wants to do his best work, a good place to start is in the family – be it in individual families, or how people view what families really are.
Now is there ANYONE who has what might be considered a perfect family? No. Even the first family that was ever set up, a sinless husband and wife couple named Adam and Eve, managed to bring sin into the world even before this “perfect” married couple could bring children into the world. And once they did, child number one (Cain) ended up actually killing child number two (Abel). What a delightful beginning for THE basic unit of society and culture.
And yet, jokes and blunt human history aside, for society and culture to survive, there MUST be a vigorous defense of family and what it really is, if either are to survive. That must begin with accepting and embracing the arrangement God has made for the human family.
Jesus summarized it best. After some of His opponents challenged Him on the subject of divorce, Jesus reminded us that even though such human institutions may be necessary ‘because of the hardness of our hearts’, from the beginning it was not so. “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate”. [Matthew 19:4–6, NIV]
Three things should be evident from those words. One involves the fact that it is God, not humanity or any of its institutions, that has established this wonderful estate of marriage. Another is that such a marriage is based on two people, each of whom came from other ‘one-flesh’ relationships, becoming a new ‘one-flesh’ relationship. And finally, God created us “male” and “female” specifically to form this unique ‘one-flesh’ union. From that union, God has given us the blessing of children.
The problem, of course, is that the reality of humanity, especially today, finds SO many ways to get in the way of this. But again, is that anything new? In some of the famous books of Mark Twain (and many others from that era), we see children having to be raised by aunts, uncles, and so much more as parents, in an era of a much shorter life-span, often did not survive to see their children become adults. Jesus’ earthly father and guardian, Joseph, seems to be one of them.
So what do we do, especially in light of a society that seems intent of forcing its will and ways of life on us (ironically, the very thing they have tried to accuse Christians of)? It would be easy to “wave the white flag of surrender”, and coin the old phrase, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” But the child of God should find that unthinkable. Instead, we should be aroused to action – ready to learn, ready to speak, ready to defend, ready to explain, ready to show others the Holy Scriptures.
Friends, it matters not to me what has happened in your life, when or how. Whatever it may be, Jesus died on the cross for you also – and for whatever sins need forgiveness. But since He has given you TWO families – one that hopefully survives spending holidays together, the other here at 5443 Sunset Rd. that reminds us why we are family, and how God has blessed us to be a part of HIS family – let us celebrate being in that family.
PEACE TO YOU!
Pastor Tom Wenndt
II Thessalonians 2:16–17; 3:16, 18