FAMILY FUSION: Fiddling with family foundation (1)
“The family is both the fundamental unit of society as well as the root of culture. It is a perpetual source of encouragement, advocacy, assurance, and emotional refueling that empowers a child to venture with confidence into the greater world and to become all that he can be.” – Dr. Marianne E. Neifert
DURING A WORKSHOP in Grenada initiated by dynamic family-oriented organization My Child and I, one of the facilitators subdivided her large group of participants into four smaller units and asked each unit to assemble miniature houses from material she supplied.
The “finished” product of one group caught my attention and that of the facilitator. Whereas three units built their houses from the foundation up, this fourth group managed to put together their structure without a foundation. They had four sides and a roof in place but no foundation on which the structure was built. What an excellent analogy of what is happening globally in family life today, where mankind seems to believe that God made a mistake when He laid the foundation for family life.
For decades, humankind has been fiddling with the foundation of marriage and family by introducing fragile substitutes. Such insecure foundations, on which brittle family structures have been constructed, continue to show up the structural weaknesses when put to the tests of life’s storms.
The hurt individuals, crushed emotions of children, the multiplicity of social ills, and the moral mess that pollutes every stratum of society, speak in part to and reflect the infirmed nature of man-made manufactured family foundations.
Experienced builders and engineers inform me that tinkering with any solidly laid foundation is dangerous because there is a high risk of compromising the integrity of the entire structure. The same principle can be applied to the foundation of marriage and family life. The blueprint for the family foundation is documented in Genesis in the Holy Bible; God sets out the model for the family as one man to one woman within a marriage union.
Before such a marriage union takes place, it is implied that the man and woman should be mature enough to psychologically disconnect from their parents and decide to have an eye single to each other.
Within that arrangement the couple is expected to begin the process of building a secure and stable lifelong relationship with each other if the marriage is going to be productive and sustainable. This plan does not mean the absence of challenges from internal and external forces, but with the power of unconditional love and unswerving commitment for each other, the chances of the relationship steadfastly holding are very great.
Adherence to the directives and counsel given by the Architect of the marriage institution in His Manual, the Bible, is very essential. Such foundation principles and general instructions are captured within the first three chapters of the book of Genesis. It also suggests, among other things, why the couple should close their ears to the voice of deceivers, why working as a team is so necessary, why intimacy is so significant and why investing time and energy to first build a home and not just a house is crucial.
When a society does not abide by the family life principles as outlined by the Founder and Originator of the family, it opens the doorway for a number of family substitutes. Such replacements that totally or in part ignore the architectural design and divinely non-corrosive foundation principles have never fit the bill of success.
When mankind developed a desire to move away from the counsel of the true and living God for family life at the beginning, he began to trust his own wisdom and knowledge. Such a deviation laid the foundation for what is now commonly known as “human rights” which do not totally ignore all the principles that the God of family life has put in place.
However, when certain principles do not please the human way of thinking, laws are devised to facilitate humankind’s wisdom or lack thereof. A glance back at the historical records may strengthen my point. God said that monogamy was the model for humankind. Later the man decided that polygamy was his human right (Genesis 4:19) and a whole domino effect took place that created chaos for family and the wider society.
King Solomon had 300 other women (concubines) along with his 700 wives. The Bible sadly remarked that his wives caused him to turn his heart away from the living God (1 Kings 11: 1-4). Someone remarked that “the wisest man became the biggest fool”.
As the years rolled on the long list of other deviations from the blueprint continue to prevent harmony from developing in society. A perfect example of society fiddling with the family foundation is seen in Genesis Chapters 6 and 7 of the Holy Bible. Acute degeneration had taken place.
The narrative states that “every intent of the thoughts of his (mankind) heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5) and the “earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). Thanks to the “wisdom” of mankind and his right to do what he believed was right. It is noteworthy however, that Noah followed God’s model and had only one wife (Genesis 6:18).
The Bible remarked that Noah “walked with God”, an expression which meant that he was in the habit of bringing pleasure to God by his moral and spiritual lifestyle. Senior Policy Analyst at the Centre for Law and Social Policy in the US, Theodora Ooms, reinforced the truth of the divine blueprint in this twenty first century when she remarked: “Society should try to help more children grow up with their two biological, married parents in a reasonably healthy, stable relationship… because the overwhelming consensus of research shows that’s the very best way to raise children.”
Anything that mankind put in place is subject to failure, including alternatives to family life which the greatest lover of family life, God, the Creator Himself has so carefully and wisely formulated. Therefore, fiddling with the divine family foundation is a recipe for social, moral and spiritual disaster.
Rev Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email [email protected]