FRIEND OF THE FAMILY

It’s heartwarming to see happiness shared by close-knit families. In these loving, self-contained environments, each member knows that he or she is an important part of a greater whole. Families like that enjoy a number of advantages. For one thing, all the persons in it have the confidence of belonging to a special group to whom they can turn if for any reason the going gets tough. They also learn that the world doesn’t rotate around the individual, which is a very valuable lesson. Beyond that, through their close interaction with several very different personalities, they acquire a variety of experiences that lead to a well-rounded knowledge of what makes people tick.

If the family experiences allow the members to grow in wisdom, the interaction among its members becomes synergistic, wherein they complement each other like in a well-oiled machine. The whole then becomes greater than the sum of its components and acquires its own distinct objectives, personality and method of interacting with the world outside it. It truly has a life of its own. As I noted in my book Family of God, “The family is the singular means within our comprehension by which separate individuals may become component elements of a greater whole, a oneness in love that both transcends the individual person and extends his own significance.” (As long as supplies last, the book will be sent free to any person who contributes to this blog and supplies a mailing address.)

Man was designed by God such that family is necessarily an integral part of his life. The baby needs its mother for sustenance, comfort and survival, and its father more indirectly for the survival of its mother. The mother and father, on the other hand, need the child for the continuation of life itself. Without the family setting, mankind simply can’t exist. There are totalitarian societies, to be sure, that attempt to play the surrogate parent. But the attempt requires a sophisticated system to be workable at all, and at its best it fails to supply some basic ingredients, both physical and emotional, that have been found to be vital to the proper rearing of a child. In the end the surrogate process can’t sustain itself and falls apart. Even then, inferior as it is, the totalitarian state does try to emulate God’s family arrangement by attempting to substitute for it.

Genesis 2:24 illustrates God’s plan for mankind for which the family is an integral component by noting that when male and female unite, they shall leave father and mother and start their own family as an independent unit:

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

The grandfolks may return later as live-ins, but the authority over children rests completely with the parents. Then, too, the fifth of the ten commandments given to Moses by God (Exodus 20) is to honor father and mother “that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you”. Among his exhortations, Paul in Ephesians 6:2 commented that this particular commandment was the first to carry a promise for its observance, illustrating its importance to God.

A most interesting facet of Genesis 2:24 is the implication that in the context of the marital union, the male and female become one. When the marriage bears fruit with children, the family unity extends to them. Much more will be said about this later.

Is there a more fundamental reason for the inclusion of family in the design of mankind? Does it also represent a promise to us regarding our relationship with our God? Genesis 1:27 can be taken to imply just that, for the reason that God created man in His own image and in the process created male and female versions of mankind.

To be fair, many Bible experts think that to attempt to make this connection between man and God is reading too much into the passage. But the more one takes a larger picture in viewing mankind and God, the more he’s prone to make that connection. God’s design of mankind, which includes his necessity for a family setting, obviously doesn’t necessarily impose the same requirement on God Himself. But, as we shall see, both the marriage and family relationship do apply to at least one Member of the Godhead, Jesus.

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