Some of us remember these statements:

  1. “The family that prays together stays together.”
  2. “The family is the backbone of the nation.”
  3. “The community is a reflection of the families who live in them.”

When you hear the word FAMILY what comes to mind? Sadly, when some hear family in cause’s painful memories; others are filled with happy memories. From the first family—Adam and Eve—until the most recent family, families have faced challenges. Some families have grown stronger and closer together, while others have deteriorated.

     Whatever happened to family?

     “There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women, and there are families” (Margaret Thatcher). If society is composed of families, it follows that if there is something wrong with society there must be something wrong with families. What do you think?

     In recent years there has been a proliferation of TV reality shows depicting various constructs of families, from “Housewives” to the Duggars, Duck Dynasty, etc. All of these have had an effect on families. The bubble burst relative to the “perfect family” image of the Duggars when a son committed adultery.

     Whatever happened to family?

     Social science studies, as well as government surveys, and commonsense observations have clearly documented the breakdown of the 21st century family. Houses, instead of being homes, have become no more than motels where mom, dad and all the kids gather in their own mental space to spend time on their social media gadgets. I heard recently that the “Average family” in the USA shares one common meal a month around the dinner table. Houses are now being built without formal dining rooms. The rise of fast food locations is another evidence how families are being fed. Some wives and mothers brag about the fact that they no longer cook at home.

     It is obvious that the once traditional American family has been replaced by what social historians refer to as “the nuclear family.” Marriages once involved couples who grew up in the same community and knew each other; their marriages expressed the same values as the community they grew up in. Today, this is no longer true. Marriages are engaged in by couples who met online, in a bar, on vacation, at work, etc. The issues of ethnicity, culture, values, education, geography, and more have to be negotiated, in most cases with great effort by each partner in the marriage. Perhaps this challenge is one of the reasons the divorce rate is 50 percent in our nation. When the issue of same sex marriage becomes part of the mix, the challenges facing the traditional family and society explode.

     Whatever happened to family?

     The family structure that once was a haven of love, a training center, a safe place, a sanctuary of spiritual practices, and place dedicated to the welfare of each member, is dying a slow death. And in some homes it has died, as each family member is doing his or her own thing. Values that were once taught and practiced in the family and showed up in the work place, school, neighborhood, and in churches, have gone the way of the rotary telephone.

     Families in neighborhoods where they once knew each other and talked over the backyard fence, have been replaced by families locked behind walls with alarms, fences, guard dogs, and garages where cars speed in and out. Many neighborhood have become islands of isolated strangers. Neighbors peep through their windows to spy on their neighbors.

     Whatever happened to family?

     Think about this. The family is where we all start our journey in life. From the training and examples we have been exposed to, we were prepared to go out into the world with a negative or positive attitude. They formed our basic values, beliefs, fears, prejudices, and habits in life. Abraham Lincoln said, “I am what I am because of my mother dear.”

     Whatever happened to family?

10 FACTORS IMPACTING FAMILIES

In my personal opinion, based on research and 50-years of ministry, that there are 10 major factors, with numerous subsets, impacting today’s families:

  1. The changing roles due to economic forces that are requiring both husband and wife to enter the work force; for mothers and wives to compete with their husbands.
  2. The resentment of roles family members are being forced to accept: i.e., everyone having to work, responsibilities, etc. It’s the “It’s not my job” attitude.
  3. A loss of direction because of no clear agreed upon family values, rules, and ethics.
  4. The influence of the media and saturation of modernism.
  5. Deterioration of balanced education programs; ignorance of US Constitution, etc.
  6. Declining influences of churches as many are no more than marketing efforts to be the biggest gathering in a community. The Gospel is not preached.
  7. The worship of sports and other recreation and leisure activities.
  8. Drug and alcohol abuse.
  9. Increase of crime, violence, terrorism, gangs, corruption, etc.
  10. God is left out of plans and decisions.

     Whatever happened to family?

     It’s an irony that many churches that claim they are “a family” are composed of members who aren’t really practicing family in their physical homes. Which comes first? Does a family learn how to be “a family” at home and then take it to the congregation? Or does a family learn how to be a family in a congregational setting and then take it to the home? Which comes first?

     Whatever happened to family?

     Regardless of the answers we give to the question—whatever happened to family?—; there is no doubt there are many, however we always go back to the first family: Adam and Eve. The deterioration of their family unit, which later involved one son killing his brother, started with Eve obeying the voice of Satan, followed by Adam’s disobedience (Read Genesis 1-3). The word SIN, especially in the Greek language, means “To miss the mark, target, etc.” God has a “target” for the family. It is to glorify Him (Ephesians 3:21)

     Whatever happened to family?

     God gave Israel a commandment that required a set of behaviors in the home as well as in daily life. Notice Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today, shall be in your HEART. You shall TEACH them diligently to your children, and shall TALK of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall BIND them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall WRITE them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” From these core behaviors all values would emerge in the daily life of an Israelite and his worship of God. This serves as a biblical, positive and workable model for families today.

     Whatever happened to family?

     It is easy to cry wolf and talk about the symptoms of the declining family but the need is to offer some biblical, positive, and workable solutions. Here are a few:

  1. Families need fathers and heads of families to take a stand like Joshua did: “…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). You are not responsible for my family, and I am not responsible for your family. The government and church are not responsible for my family. Fathers take a stand!
  2. Families need mothers who love their husbands and children: “… the older women…admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus 2:1-5).
  3. Families need children who will respect and obey their parents: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment of promise” (Ephesians 5:1-3).
  4. Families need fathers who will train and educate their children: “And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

     Whatever happened to family?

     How are things with your family? What is your intentional plan to make sure your family is being taught, led, and encouraged to be what God desires?

    

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© Dr. JJ Turner and ©Jeremiah Institute - All Rights Reserved (usage)

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