Establishing The House Segment
Reordering Our Familial Perspective
By Sean Mungin
Writing about the family can be a challenging feat, especially when trying to approach the topic from a Biblical perspective. Times have changed drastically since the time of authorship, and so has the family dynamic. In all of this, one component of the equation has not changed, and that is the Author of the family institution…God. God has not changed throughout the timeline of institutional change, and neither has His original Plan and purpose for the family.
As with other topics mentioned in the Bible, we cannot select certain passages to support our preconceived ideas about the familial institution. We have to study the whole framework of Scripture in order to ascertain the purest essence of God’s original plan and purpose for the family. This includes: 1) understanding the context and cultural climate in which the Scriptures were written and 2) how we are to view its correlation to the contemporary context and cultural climate.
The order of the familial institution can be observed throughout both the Old and New Testament passages in the form of covenantal relationships between God and Israel in the Old and Christ and the Church in the New. Both ‘relational types’ demonstrate the ‘husband / wife’ dynamic, as well as, that of the ‘parent / child.’ The preface for the covenant relationship is based upon unconditional love. This covenant love binds the family together in ways unlike any other relationship. Although the blood of the parents flows through the veins of each offspring, it does not bind them in a manner similar to love. This can be witnessed in relationships wherein two or more people who have not experienced the conventional family model. However, when there is a pledge of unconditional love to one another, this causes the relationship to be equally as binding. Hence, the pain experienced when there is a breach of the promised covenantal love. Covenantal love is the tie that binds all forms of familial relationships.
Understanding this, we begin to see that the family relationship is a process, not a structure. Once a structure has been erected upon its foundation, it is firm and unmovable. The only way for any type of expansion and growth would be to alter the structural framework, and even possibly make structural amendments to the foundation as well. Because of these significant variables, a structure is often viewed as being rigid and non-pliable. Any type of movement can cause some break or crack beneath the surface and lead to further damage in the future if the damage is not repaired immediately.
When viewing the family as a process, we are able to better understand that a process promotes growth and allows the possibility for changes that will enhance the family dynamic as a whole. Within a process, there is liberty whereby each individual component maintains its autonomy and identity, while also finding its identity as a functional member of the family as a whole. In other words, processes allow liberty and structures demands control and can be restrictive in nature.
Based on what God has disclosed to us in His Word about Himself, He desires for us to live our lives in liberty based upon the work of Christ and our covenantal relationship with Him. Once we begin to function in rigidity, grace can no longer be extended. Covenant relationships are based in love and are extended to us by God’s grace. If our families were intended to be reflective of the God / Israel and Christ / Church relationships, then there must be a reordering of our familial relationships to correspond with what God expects from us.