Rev. Gary P. Baumler, Editor of Forward/NL
“God sets the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68:6)
We have the challenge to promote the family and help build solid Christian families in our midst. Here is one inescapable fact: We all come from a family. We all were born of a mother and sired by a father. A mother, a father, and a child make a family — at least biologically.
A more important fact: overall, we do better in families.
That’s not a novel thought. Ever since God brought Adam and Eve together in marriage and told them to be fruitful and multiply, the family — composed of father, mother, and children — has been the basic social unit. We need family for companionship, for identity, for succor.
If the importance of family is not a novel thought, however, many would like us to believe it is a quaint thought, an outdated thought.
With the coming of sin, too, family quickly broke down. Brother killed brother. Husbands sought many wives and mistresses. And worse.
Over time and in our society, many families have become more like the Simpsons than the Cleavers.
We live with the sad results. Couples live together without the commitment of marriage and without shame. Marriages end up in divorce at an alarming rate. And the pundits sneer, “So what?”
Besides the moral and spiritual implications, the question has a social answer. Multiple studies reveal that we are paying a steep price.
Those who indulge in the benefits of marriage before getting married (does anyone call it “living in sin” any more?) are less likely to get married, and more likely to get divorced if they do.
The children in families broken up by divorce have more behavioral problems, lower academic scores, and more psychological distress and health problems than those in intact twoparent families. They also have a higher level of distrust in people and a greater fear of marriage.
Broken families experience much higher levels of poverty.
Still, people seek “family.” What they miss at home they often seek elsewhere. This need for family helps build cults and gangs and secret societies. Even counterculture enthusiasts begin to look alike and gravitate to one another. Some expect the government to replace family.
All this leaves the church with both a challenge and an opportunity.
We have the challenge to promote the family and help build solid Christian families in our midst. We are challenged to confront the twin sins of livein and divorce. We need to go against the flow of society. We need to challenge people to take seriously God’s admonition through Paul: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
More so, we have the opportunity to live as the family of God in a way that sees all members as brothers and sisters and parents and children together in Christ. We can help fill in where we see things missing in members’ families. We can provide a home for never married, married but now single, married with children, childless, empty nesters, young, old. We can be family.
We can do it because Jesus did it. Whom did Jesus call his family? Whom did Jesus call his brothers and sisters? Who of us is worthy of that? Still, we are family through faith in Jesus. Let’s work hard to live like family.
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