Life, Hope & Truth

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Redefining the “Family”

What comes to mind when you hear the word “family”? Few terms carry with them the emotional power of the concept of “family.” For many, “family” conveys feelings of warmth, security, safety and happiness. Sadly, it’s not that way for everyone.

A generation ago, most people had a fairly clear idea of the meaning of the word “family.” We knew that families had mothers and fathers and usually some children as well. We spoke of the family next door and family values and attended family reunions. Everyone understood that “family” referred to a group of people who were not only related to each other, they cared about each other. Oh, they might argue and fight with one another at times; but when the chips were down, people were always supposed to be there for their family.

Recent years have seen those traditional ideas being challenged. With the explosion of divorce, nearly two-thirds of all children will spend at least part of their lives in a home where one of their parents is missing. In large segments of society the majority of homes are single-parent homes, and the majority of children are born outside of the traditional family structure.

The effort to redefine the concept of “family” has become a hot-button issue in local, state and national politics. Self-proclaimed experts tell us that families don’t need to have a father and mother, that people of the same sex have every right to be considered as families. Children are encouraged to read books that portray same-sex relationships as nothing more than a different choice of family structure.

For the purpose of this commentary, let’s set aside for the moment the important issue of same-sex relationships in order to ask another question: Is it possible to redefine the family every time society changes its fickle values?

If the idea of family is a relationship created by humans, humans have every right to define it however they wish. But if the family relationship was created by God, He is the only one who can define it and establish its boundaries.

Some claim the family is an evolutionary outgrowth from ancient clans; that the structure of the family is male-dominated with the goal of subjugating women to the advantage of males. Some even say that the destruction of the traditional family is good and that a much “fairer” and productive relationship will eventually develop. Yet the great majority of evidence shows that the traditional family structure is the perfect environment for children to develop the characteristics needed for successful and productive lives. Man has tried other approaches, but none of them have ever been successful.

The family relationship as we know it simply does not exist in the animal world. The Bible tells us that when God brought the first man and woman together, He personally created the relationship we know as the family. According to this account, the One who created the family as the first relationship between two thinking human beings not only put His special blessing upon that relationship, He also gave specific instructions about how that relationship should be preserved and protected.

So where does that leave us?

If we accept the popular, evolutionary view, we have no right to be upset when society decides to redefine and restructure the family into forms we could never have imagined just a few years ago.

On the other hand, if we accept the idea that the family is a specific creation of the Almighty, we have a duty to make sure we learn and live by the standards He set for the family.

There is no room for compromise between these two views, and neither is there any way to avoid making a choice. Which will you choose as the foundation for your life and your family?

For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m David Johnson.