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Monday, August 25, 2014

The importance of family

I am sorry I haven't written anything for several days - I just returned from a family reunion in Alabama. This event underscored for me the importance of family, and the profound impact that this group of people has on all of us. I was also struck by how each and every one of the people who attended this reunion are living with the consequences of their ancestors' decisions and mistakes. If you think about it, our families are probably the single most important element in the construction of our individual identity. After all, family embodies both nature and nurture.

This branch of my family has helped to shape the nation in which I live (U.S.A.). It has provided soldiers and patriots for the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI and WWII. Moreover, just as it has contributed to the history of these United States, America's story has also shaped my family. For my folks, The Great Depression helped to define a generation and influence their thinking for the remainder of their lives. In short, they struggled to keep body and soul together. Sometimes putting food on the table proved to be too difficult a task for them to accomplish - they often went hungry. They also had to deal with the consequences of the nation's participation in World War II.

If all of that wasn't enough, the patriarch of this particular clan was an irresponsible philanderer. In fact, his adulterous liaisons eventually resulted in the destruction of his marriage and disruption of his family. As a consequence, my grandmother and her siblings were forced to grow up without a father. This fact hurt and wounded many of them, and it left all of them without any example/model of what a family should look like. Their dad was an adulterer who had abandoned them and his responsibilities regarding their care and welfare. This, in turn, led to the failure of many of their own marriages/families. In short, not having been exposed to a loving and faithful relationship between their own parents (or between their father and themselves), they had nothing to inform or guide them relative to the conduct of their own marriages and the treatment of their own children.

The Bible clearly assigns the responsibility for the care and training of children to the parents of those children. (Deuteronomy 6:7 and 11:19, Proverbs 22:6 and Ephesians 6:4) Likewise, those same Scriptures demand respect, honor and obedience from the children toward their parents. (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-3) Jesus Christ also reprimanded the religious leaders of his day for their practice of contributing to the welfare of the temple at the expense of their parents. (Matthew 15:3-6 and Mark 7:10-13) Finally, Paul wrote to Timothy that taking care of one's own family was a prerequisite for anyone who wanted to assume the role of a shepherd over God's flock. (I Timothy 3:5) He went on to tell Timothy that anyone who failed to take care of his own family was "worse than an infidel." (I Timothy 5:8) Hence, according to the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, God expects family to be a priority in the lives of "His" people.

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